Dismantling Public Ed, How will YOU Participate?

by JAC and Ben's Mom 6. February 2015 09:00
First came the attack on students with abusive high stake tests and developmentally inappropriate curriculum, then came the attack on teachers and Cuomo's proposal to use 50% of the test scores to rate teachers and bring flyby outsiders to observe them causing a test centered learning environment and then the promise of the denial of funding resulting in the cutting of staff, programs and the lack of materials. Next up power will be the BOE. Who needs them anyway? Half the time they do what they want and do not listen to the community any way. As FED and SED strip away local control over Special Education and School Boards and Administration......will you go along with it? The plan is to send our best teachers to the neighboring not so great district and send their not so great teachers to us....so it all evens out...this is what your tax dollar is going to pay for....one size fits all, all the same...but we will still pay the high taxes...we just won't have the great school to show for it anymore because a lot of people thought it best to go along and be quiet....really it is just a test, what's the big deal? Even if it is not effecting your kid today, it is hurting many others in this school district, around the state and country. All eyes are on NY. If we fall, the rest follow. The only way to stop the dismantling of public education and stop this invasion of charter schools and the private sector marketing from profiting from our children and devaluing our teachers is to stop giving their machine what it feeds on. Data. It feeds on data. Refuse the tests. Stand up for your kid. If not for yours, stand up for mine. This is hurting MY kid and these reforms are a roadblock to the future of his and many other kids who learn differently or at a different pace. Stand up for your child's teachers. These standards, this curriculum, these reforms are sucking the joy out of teaching and does not allow teachers to use their own skills and experience to teach creatively and to the individual needs of the students. Teach to the test and one size fits all is not teaching and engaging our kids to be life long learners and valuable participants in society. Out best educators are leaving the profession because the job no longer allows them to make the difference they hoped to make. Stand up for your school. The goal of dismantling public schools through high stake testing is to fire teachers and close schools. How will you participate? What role will you play? Will you stand on the side lines? Or will you fight? 

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Blog | Take back Public Schools

Speaking Up at the Board of Ed

by JAC and Ben's Mom 6. February 2015 08:49
“I am a parent of two middle school children. First I would like to acknowledge and thank Mrs. Adams and the Board for the resolution against mandated field tests. This is a great district, we have tons of arts, music, sports, clubs but the thing that makes it great is the experienced and dedicated teachers. As many of you heard in the Governor’s State of the State Address he plans to hold our school aid money hostage unless his new mandates and demands concerning education are met. They have a special word for that. Extortion. With Cuomo's plan, all will be lost. Even teachers that have held onto the concept that you teach to the child regardless of test scores will have to change to a test-centered curriculum. The Common Core Curriculum with the high stake tests tied to using 50% of the scores for APPR will ensure that there will be no creativity in our class room ,no joy of teaching, love of learning and no teaching to the individual needs of students. I know from experience that the key to my child’s success at school, in class is his teacher’s ability to teach creatively and to teach to his individual needs. The key to his success is not hours of homework, it is not more and harder tests and age inappropriate curriculum, it IS his talented, caring teachers. If we sit back and let the Governor have his way all that makes our district great, art, music, sports, clubs will disappear. It is much easier to fight before it is gone. Once it is gone it is gone forever. We will not get it back. Our great teachers will be replaced with a revolving door of teachers that do not question test prep, are skilled in collecting data and do not know our children. We have zero tolerance for bullying in this district. And yet, we allow this bully to hold our aid money, our teacher’s right to teach and our children’s future ransom. First our children were attacked with abusive tests and tests prep and developmentally inappropriate curriculum, now the teachers are being attacked with the scores used for their ratings. Next will be the BOE. Local control is being stripped away. Our children’s future is a stake; the jobs of teachers, our best educators will leave. We must do what is right; we cannot just do what is easy. The time for silence has passed.   This is the dismantling of public education. The time to lead is now. The time to fight is now.”

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Kindergarten Teachers Scores

by JAC and Ben's Mom 16. October 2014 09:59
Like all young mothers I worried about my children hitting developmental milestones on time. They almost never did, before or after, but rarely on the mark. They both had speech delays due to hearing difficulties. They received early intervention services through our local school district. I tried not to compare and compete. I really hated that. I struggled with the reasoning behind potty training my boys before they were ready just to send them to pre-school. A wise older Mom told me not to worry so much. “No one wears diapers to Kindergarten”.  Implying that they all get there in their own time, but they all do get there. And she was right. It did no good to try to squeeze them into the projected timeline, they developed, bloomed beautifully at their pace given the time and nurturing to do so. My oldest son had a wonderful kindergarten teacher that we were very fond of. She was warm and cheerful and truly loved to teach. She had been teaching kindergarten…forever.  It was easy to see that she enjoyed the youngest children at our school and she really understood them, how they felt, how they behaved and best of all, how they learned. She knew that they were, in fact, just little kids, each one different, unique and special and growing and learning in their own way, at their own pace, in their own time. Years of experience told her that some of them were just developmentally too young to sit still for long periods of time, or too learn to read big long strings of words…they were still growing. Her kind encouragement nurtured each one to do their best. A welcome letter to my son came in the mail. At orientation she gave the Moms a poem, and tea bag and tissues; she knew we needed nurturing, too. They read The Kissing Hand. We read it at home, too. They made a cut out of their hand and strung it on yarn and wore it around their neck. It helped us all let go a little bit. We trusted our precious little ones to experienced hands and you knew….somehow you just KNEW that they were in good hands and they were going to learn the right stuff. Back in the day…there was a lot more play, a lot more laughter, a lot more paint, clay, glue, songs…mess…a lot more learning about how to get along…..there was a lot more time to just be a little kid. There was a little wiggle room to grow and stretch and catch up.  It was okay to make a mistake and as my younger son was fond of saying “I am still only small”….when great expectations were not met.  But I digress down memory lane….those days are gone. POOF. No Child Left Behind came marching on with its tests.  Every child must meet the standard. Hit the mark; make the grade, no matter learning disabilities or proficiency in the language. More tests. Race to the Top. Corporations, billionaires and politicians jumped on the band wagon. They wanted a voice and a piece of pie. There was money to be made and they wanted to make it. They have slowly changed our schools. In the process they have sucked the joy out of teaching, silenced teacher’s voices, taken away their authority over what happens in their own classroom and in our schools. Since when do politicians and businessmen know better than parents, teachers and early childhood development experts? They hold the MONEY.    Since most parents ALLOW it, by sheer indifference to what their School Board does. Since taxpayers say it is OKAY. They say, it has not been tested or proved, no one knows if it will work. There is going to be some casualties. Kids will fail, teacher’s careers will tank. They say one size fits all and the ones that don’t fit will just fail. NYSED manipulate and cut the scores to show 70% are failing. Now they want to show that if that many kids are failing most of the teachers are failing, too. It’s hard to believe especially in the suburbs where there is no poverty crisis. It’s just a test….well, 6 days’ worth of State Assessments plus hours of test prep…don’t forget the pretest, the post test, the field tests taken to help the test company—the children don’t even get paid for giving up their class time to work for the test company. None of this is used by the teacher. It just collects data about your child and is used by companies to market materials back to the school and to us. $$$. Of course we have the bench marks and the SLO’s, given 2-3 times a year to “see how they are progressing”, really it’s used as part of the APPR to rate teachers like the State tests. None of this is about your kid. The State tests are never seen by the teacher and not used for diagnostic purposes or promotion. It’s about rating teachers so they can be fired and closing schools and the privatization of public schools. Most parents allow it, they are too busy to be bothered and tax payers say it is okay, what’s a few more dollars? Does anyone even know what they do with all that money that goes to the school? They keep asking for more and the kids keep getting less. They also say it is okay to not teach creatively and it’s okay to use a curriculum that is of poor quality and developmentally and age inappropriate.  Somehow even college educated parents are going along with it hoping the new curriculum will make their kid “college and career ready”.  Maybe someone needs to tell the businessmen and politicians that not all kids go to college and trying to prepare first and second graders to be “college ready” robs them of valuable play time and their childhood.  It’s clear our School Boards are not standing up for our children, they have gotten on the “college and career ready” bus. Although some people complain, the home work is not so bad. Whose kid’s go outside to play anyway? The district is holding parent workshops to help people unable to assist their 8 year old with 2nd grade Math. Personally, I find it insulting, that college educated adults need a workshop for this, they insinuate that both the parent and the child need “extra help”. Is that really the problem? Or is it just that most little kids are developmentally not ready for the kind of critical thinking that kind of math requires….or is it that they have Common Cored the math so badly and tied so much reading to it that those kids that are struggling with reading but did not have a problem with math before NOW struggle with math because of all the reading? Oh, well, no matter, the Board of Ed thinks this is great….so it must be good. Right? After all, they did vote YES on Resolution #10 of the 2014 NYSSBA Resolution Book…you know, supporting the use of student performance in APPR. Right. TESTS again. Keeping those scores tied to the teacher rating. Is that why  ELA Workshop is now more like ELA Test Prep with the purpose of raising the scores? Those handy dandy scores, cut and manipulated by NYSED, may not really show how your kid is doing and truthfully is no measure of how your child’s teacher is doing either but the state and the school district hopes to use them to make it easier to cut loose some of what they perceive as “old dead wood”. Or in other words, teachers who were educated and trained in teaching to the whole child, who got into teaching to make a difference and who came up through the years making their own lesson plans…and they are not trained in CC and they would rather be teaching children than giving tests that have nothing to do with what they are teaching and logging in tons of data on students for the district to share. Those are likely the teachers your child loved, that you loved. Years ago teachers stayed in the classroom until they are old and grey, well into their 60’s or later. My first and 2nd grade teachers looked more like someone’s great grandmother.  You can bet we all behaved respectfully and we all worked hard and learned to read, write and do math.  They were born to teach, they loved children and they ruled the class room. They taught us to love to read and to love learning.  Now the district pushes teachers out after 20 or 25 years. While their best work with the kids are still in them. Somehow our BOE thinks that experienced educators have lost their usefulness. The current trend with Common Core, EngageNY strips teachers of their creative license and sucks the joy of teaching out of the classroom.  They are going to be replaced by young Common Core certified graduates who already know how to input data and do not question that your child is no more than a score. The new generation of teachers will test prep and give assessments without question of what is best for the child. But they too, will not be needed long, because the trend is for computerized learning.  Unless we vote down the Smart Schools Bond on November 4th we will be stuck with a ton of technology that will be obsolete in 2-3 years but we will spend many, many more paying for it. Some tax payers don’t care. New class rooms will look like rows of desks with tablets or laptops with a technician to monitor them.  They will start by taking tests that way. It will collect the answers. It will collect their data. Then they will add a class here and there. Before you know it, it will collect it all and send it out…….because parents will not mind and tax payers will not complain. You don’t think it is coming to your school but it is. It will. Already they use iPads in classes for assignments in middle school, high school But the Superintendent smiles, the Principal smiles, everything is awesome. Oh, CC, don’t worry, the kinks are worked out, just a few bumps in the road. Have your kid take the test. It builds character and they learn perseverance.  If they don’t take the test it will hurt our school. Smile, smile. Lie. Lie.  http://www.nysape.org/if-my-child-refuses-state-tests-will-my-school-lose-funding.html The test scores will need to go higher, maybe they will take away recess, just like they have in some Districts upstate. They have to have gym a certain number of minutes a week. But recess….nope. Your kid doesn’t need a break to run around outside in the middle of the day anyway, right? Don’t worry somebody will speak up. Maybe the BOE will pay attention to the one or two parents speaking up. But they probably won’t. 4 or 5 parents writing emails and showing up for a District with 6,500 students is just an annoyance.  We care about our kids’ education, if we want more than this pile of error filled worksheets and close reading of fiction that takes all the teachers time so there is no time left for fun, if we value our teachers—and I know we do because I saw how many people made a fuss about moving one beloved teacher to another building….we need to make some noise. We need to stop the DATA. We need to refuse the State tests. We need to advocate for all kids, not just our own, not just the ones hurt by this, because eventually each one will take a hit. It may not be an educational hit; it may be a data breach. Stop the DATA. To help our teachers and to help our school out of this mess of relying on test scores we have to refuse. And we have to do it on the first day, so our teachers do not suffer because of the low one day score.  http://www.nysape.org/refusing-the-test-resources.html The BOE and the smiling new Superintendent will continue to do whatever they want….PARCC testing, online learning, bigger class sizes, cutting arts and music, clubs, adding test prep, extending the learning day if they can….for as long as parents  sit back and let them. They are counting on no one looking. Those things are coming for us and unless a large number of us stand up and show up and start reminding the BOE and the Superintendent they work for US it will arrive. The lovely kindergarten teacher had a great phrase she used with the tots to help them accept when things didn’t go their way, when they made a bad choice and had to live with the consequences……..”You get what you get and you don’t get upset”. When the class size increases, when they need more money for more tech that will need repair and replacement in 2 years and it cuts into clubs and 3rd grade music….when the grants run out and we have to pay with our taxes or cut “nonessentials” from staff and material and electives to pay for all the tests that are not even used or seen by the teachers or used in your child’s grade…don’t say you did not know….you get what you get and don’t get upset. http://www.ccsdli.org/files/1422429/boe%20meetings%20schedule%202014-2015_revised%2010012014.pdf

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