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I am an elementary school teacher just trying to do the right thing

Archive for the tag “Change”

End of Year

It’s that time of year when we start seeing end of year lists in review. We become inundated with lists of everything from soup to nuts. Especially nuts this year!

Here is my list of questions,  still unanswered, as 2014 comes to a close. Feel free to provide an answer if you can or pass them along.

  1. Why are graduation rates at historic levels ( high school, college and post secondary) if our public schools are failing?
  2. The stock market is at an all-time high, so why are public schools underfunded?
  3. In New York State and many other states, property values are driven by the quality of the school district, so why is Governor Cuomo tying the hands of local communities to fully fund their local schools?
  4. New York State is no longer in financial trouble, so why does Governor Cuomo continue to use a “robbing Peter to pay Paul” scheme ( Gap Elimination Adjustment) that robs public schools of budgeted school aid?
  5. Why is New York State funding schools below 2009 levels while giving tax breaks to casinos?
  6. Where is the evidence that Common Core State Standards are age appropriate?
  7. Just what does the term “college and career ready” really mean. Especially when it is used to assess kindergarten through 6th grade children?
  8. Why does the New York State Education Chancellor and Governor Cuomo continue to state that our teachers are failing students when 93.8% of all high school graduates ( excluding NYC) are earning a ‘Regent’s Diploma”?
  9. Where is the evidence to support the underlying requirement of the Common Core that all students should be at the same level of understanding at the same time?
  10. Where is the research that supports the current practice of having elementary age children take hour upon hour of tests to measure teacher, administration, and district effectiveness as well as their own level of understanding?
  11. Why is it acceptable to dismantle and hand over our communities’ most important assets ( our schools) to private entrepreneurs?
  12. Why do our legislators do so little for the social needs of our communities while at the same time blaming our schools?
  13. How do states justify reducing the number of teachers while at the same time proclaim all students deserve a good education?
  14. Why have our public school teachers become the nation’s scapegoat for poor public policy?
  15. Why are special needs children being denied special education services?
  16. Just where is the evidence that supports the ideal that Charlotte Danielson and her contrived rubric should be the standard for teacher evaluation?
  17. Why are teachers’ unions unfairly labeled when the evidence shows that where they exist student achievement is higher?
  18. Why has President Obama been silent on high stakes testing since his State of the Union 2 years ago when he said testing should be limited?
  19. When will states be up front and honest and inform their residents that Lotteries do not increase funding for schools?
  20. When will all public sector unions join together and demand in a collective voice, “workers’ rights, pay, benefits and pensions for all”?

Dear President Obama

The deadline to send emails to the President to support the Campaign for Our Public Schools is October 17. Here are instructions about where to send them.

Send them either to this blog or to Anthony Cody at Anthony_Cody@hotmail.com.

Here’s mine 

October 15, 2012

Dear President Obama,

This election will be very close, unnecessarily close in my humble opinion. I’m afraid that some teachers may be reluctant to vote for you due to your often contradictory statements and policies regarding education reform.  Due to your perceived unwillingness to truly listen to the concerns of teachers across the nation, we may be facing a situation that could bring us the devastating educational consequences of a Romney presidency.  It’s never too late for true change. Even for you.

Mr. President, teachers aren’t interested in dedicating their life’s work to a competition. We’re not interested in having a “Race to the Top” or having to worry about financial awards or punishments based on junk science. Financial incentives may work in sales, but they don’t work when working with children.

Mr. President, you proclaimed, in your State of The Union, that we need to stop teaching to the test and we need to respect teachers. Unfortunately, your policies do neither. Race to the Top has spawned even more testing than ever. In New York State, under our new teacher evaluation plan (APPR) students are tested multiple times in all subjects (even in gym) to measure their teacher’s effectiveness!  I calculated my students will lose at least the equivalent to 90 periods of valuable learning time due to APPR and Race to the Top. 90 periods lost forever! That’s not change to believe in, that’s abusing teachers and students.

My school has been named a ‘Reward School’ in New York State. That means we are one of the top performing schools in the entire state. Yet, Mr. President, our students must undergo even more testing, to ensure we teachers are effective. Is this respecting our accomplishment? Is this respecting us as professionals? As teachers?

Teachers have become our nation’s scapegoats and we are waiting for you to push the pendulum of blame towards the real culprits. Mr. President, graduation rates are at all-time highs, the achievement gaps are closing rapidly, college enrollments are up, and more students are graduating with advance degrees than ever. Yet you have us “Racing each other to the Top”.

Most importantly, Mr. President, our public schools are what sets our country apart from everyone else. Public school teachers are the true backbone of our nation. Our public school doors’ are open to all, unlike private and charter schools. Mr. President, we need you to stop endorsing the privatization of public education. 84% of charter schools underperform public schools. Thousands of Public schools outperform the best charter schools. Our future should not be for sale to the highest bidder or to the ‘reformer’ that’s more focused on profits than children.

Mr. President, your policies are demoralizing our nation’s teachers. It’s time do what you promised us. End Race to the Top, put an end to abusive testing, and respect our nation’s teachers. It’s time to move forward and give us the real change we can believe in.

Mr. President, it’s not too late, we really want you to win. It’s up to you.

Respectfully,

Ralph L. Ratto

Proud Teacher

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