Opine I will

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

Archive for the tag “classroom practices”

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”?

Dizziness

It has been one dizzy week. Dizziness comes in many forms. Dizziness may be experienced, physically, socially, spiritually, and intellectually.  I’ve been trying to cope with each one of these forms of dizziness all week.

Without going into too many details, I’ve been experiencing bouts of vertigo this week , due to Miniere’s  Disease.  I don’t want to go into details about these physical experiences of dizziness.However, I will share that it has quite literally shook me to the core and has me rethinking and researching alternative remedies to my infliction. It has also set the tone for my views this week.

It seems our ‘social agenda’ seems to be a little dizzy this week as well. Watching the GOP debate  and campaign in South Carolina this week my head was spinning the hypocritical  statements and reactions I was witnessing.  Who wasn’t thrown a little off-balance when a very evangelical audience was applauding Newt Gingrich and his  feigned outrage that his failure to honor his sacred vows of marriage  were being questioned? Or that we would be witnessing a campaign that supports throwing people off  any social service support they may need. Have we really reached a point, that a Presidential Candidate can actually say that we are a nation of entitlements and the audience goes wild? Talk about our world being turned upside down.

Spiritually, it has been a week with some odd turns. I’ve been reading  Republic of Noise and I’m beginning to experience that inner feeling of validation.  Even though, I’m in the beginning of this thought provoking book, I’m seeing a serious  contradiction to some of the classroom practices that we as teachers are being forced to do to fulfill ‘Standards’. I am also questioning my own inner feelings of solitude and whether or not I’m actually in tune with it.  I’m on shaky ground here, I know, sharing on Twitter, Facebook, or this blog.

Intellectually, I’ve been experiencing tremors that have caused me to reach out for rationality that will steadily guide me. Yet when I discovery that the Virginian Legislature is trying to prevent third grade teachers from teaching any subject other than Math and English Language Arts I nearly fell over.

When NYS Gov. Cuomo threatened to hold off funding to schools unless negotiations between teachers and districts agree with his views, he quite literally declared that collective bargaining rights in NYS were worthless. My head was spinning with questions of how does a democratic Governor attack collective bargaining.

This week I’ve had to test, pre-test, and coach students to prepare them  to take standardized tests in April. Every mandated minute of test prep, takes an equal amount of time from learning.  Those of us in NYS have discovered, that this year’s tests will encompass many more questions, requiring more student written responses, and even though more time is given, not enough time is allocated for a student to perform adequately.No wonder students across the country hold their heads when teachers announce another test is on the way.  Don’t be surprised when we are all labeled failures due to this year’s unfair attack (test). Our world is being turned upside down.

I’ll be searching for solutions to my physical dizziness this week. Trips to specialists are on the agenda. However, I’m really concerned about the wobbling and confusion that has been surrounding us all. Will we find adequate remedies to our national dizziness, or will we all fall to our knees when vertigo hits us all?

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