Welcome Aboard

The Continental Army was comprised of volunteer soldiers from the thirteen colonies who were tired of being unfairly taxed and forced to live under the British rule of an unjust king. The British army had plenty of money, weapons, and allies. Yet, after suffering several defeats, General George Washington led a rag tag group of soldiers across the Delaware River in freezing weather on Christmas night. The rebels were tired, hungry, wounded, and discouraged. Most had died or deserted and it seemed that all was lost. However, the leaders of the revolution united and planned a coordinated strategy that defeated the Hessians and changed the face of American history forever.

Another group has joined the revolution, Educate New York Now.
“EDUCATE NY NOW! unifies parents, students, educators, administrators, unions, school board members, community organizations, civil rights groups, education advocates and others statewide around a broad-based campaign to demand that our state government fulfills New York’s constitutional obligation to provide all students with a quality education.” Educate NY Now! – Campaign Launch

While the battle must be fought locally, it is equally important to connect with our allies across the state in order to create a plan of action that will ultimately win the war and change the system of education for all children.

As with any war, we will suffer defeat. There will be those who are tired, hungry, wounded, and discouraged. Some will die out and some will desert. And though the leaders of the revolution may themselves feel that all is lost, history has shown us that we must not give up. We must, instead, unite. We must coordinate a strategic plan of attack against those who would unfairly tax American citizens in order to support the political and financial gain of special interest groups whose goal is to create a system of indentured servitude through the mis-education of our children. They have more resources so we must be more determined.

In order to win this war, we must recognize and welcome all allies. We must support each other in order to support our children.

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Ride The Waiver

Several weeks ago Superintendent Vargas and the Rochester Teacher’s Association were recognized for their teacher evaluation agreement. Most recently, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan awarded another eight states, including New York, waivers that will give these states, “more flexibility with federal funds and relief from NCLB’s one-size-fits-all mandate in order to develop and implement locally tailored solutions to meet their unique educational challenges” Duncan said.

According to the Associated Press nineteen states have already been given waivers with another eighteen states and Washington, D.C. waiting for their waivers to be approved. That will make a grand total of thirty-eight states that will be given “more flexibility and relief” from the No Child Left Behind mandate that, according to US principals and superintendents was, “either politically motivated or aimed at undermining public schools.”

NCLB is the reason for the increase in standardized testing, undecipherable report cards, Average Yearly Progress, Reading First, and funding changes. And, as stakeholders in education would agree, NCLB has left more children behind than ever before.

Though Democrats and Republicans agree that NCLB legislation must be rewritten, no one seems to know exactly what shape the new law should take. Everyone agrees that accountability is key in reaching the goal of education, 100 percent proficiency, however accountability is the very thing that is lacking in all areas of education.

Without accountability from all major stakeholders in education, parents, students, teachers, administrators, superintendents, school boards, and state education agencies, no legislation will be effective in improving education.

The “valued added” should be to the importance of education for every child. Average progress should be measured daily not yearly and if the child is not performing and the parent is not performing, measuring teacher performance is moot.

Undermining the importance of education by demeaning those who are called to educate will only serve to diminish the level of service provided. In order to effectively improve “the educational lot of disadvantaged students” you must first improve the attitude of disadvantaged students and parents toward education.

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Ch. . . Ch. . . Ch. . . Changes

In the past, finals were given in June and students would patiently await their scores praying that they passed. If they did not, they were either retained or were remanded to summer school.

Today however, finals are taken in April and students don’t know if they passed until the next school year and their scores have nothing to do with moving up to the next grade. In fact, retention is rarely an option and summer school has become something you must apply to get into not work to stay out of.

With only nineteen days of school left teachers are working diligently trying to keep students engaged in learning. This is the time when field trips become an abundant resource and all the “fun” of learning can be had. During these last days, some teachers utilize students by having them help pack up their belongings, wash off desks, clean out closets, and cover shelves, all the things teachers are given one paid day to do.

Students, being under the distinct impression that school is over, pay little attention to anything being taught. In fact, they seem resentful towards those teachers who try to squeeze the last ounce of learning out of the school year. They actually seem more content packing, washing, cleaning and covering than they do working on projects or going on field trips.

Way back when, learning was difficult for most children. However, when you received your final report card and you passed, you felt a sense of accomplishment. You knew you worked hard to make it through, you earned your place in the next grade.

There is no sense of accomplishment for students today. They know they’re moving up, and with very little effort. There is an unearned sense of entitlement that detracts from the goal of education, to create critical thinkers.

The system of education has changed and our children are the worse for it. They are no longer players in the game, they have become pieces being moved by an irresistible force, failure.

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Happy Memorial Day

With Honor and Respect for all those who serve, fight, and have fought to protect the rights and freedoms of these United States.

We are and shall forever be grateful for your responsibility and duty to your country and its citizens.

God Bless you all!

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In Honor Of Those Who Fight The Good Fight

Monday is Memorial Day, the day this country honors those who have fought and died to protect our values and our freedom. Public schools across America have today and Monday off to celebrate Memorial Day.

Unfortunately, if you were to visit public schools across America and ask students what Memorial Day is and why we celebrate, very few children could respond with the correct answer. In fact, though each school day begins with the pledge of allegiance, very few public school students know what the words they are blandly repeating even mean.

Students are not taught about democracy, the Declaration of Independence, the Preamble to the Constitution, Constitution, or the Bill of Rights. Most students are not taught about the forms of government and don’t know the difference between a mayor and a governor. They have no idea what a city council is and they think that the President runs the country, not the people.

Children in America, and many adults too, think that the “free” in freedom means free food, free clothing, free shelter, and free education. And, while this is not far from the truth, they don’t understand why and at what price those things are free.

Americans have had the right to “free” things without the responsibility of protecting and governing their freedom for so long that democracy has been relegated to those who would usurp the power of the masses and surrender to the tyranny of treasures handed out by those whose agenda is to subjugate the very people this government was created to protect.

The mis-education of America’s children and the subsequent lack of civic engagement of America’s adults is no surprise, it’s more of a plan. An evil plan that distorts the circle of life into a spiral down to the depths of damnation.

Memorial Day is a day that we honor those who have fought and died to protect this country’s freedom. It is time we begin to fight against the tyranny and oppression that exists on our own soil, the educational failure of our children.

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Let’s Go Back For The Future

Back in the day, going to school was not fun or exciting. It was school. Your parents told you you’re not going there to make friends, you’re going there to learn.

You didn’t have to go to school to make friends because most of your friends went to the same school. You probably had the same teacher, you did the same work, and you worked together on your homework.

Back in the day, you didn’t need to text or tweet because you lived in the same neighborhood and you played together, hung out together. You belonged to a community where people knew each other, were friends and friendly.

Schools were the hub of those communities. Schools held community events and there was generally a library nearby which also held community events but mostly for children.

There has been and continues to be a push for the return of neighborhood schools by the community. The district, while not rejecting the idea has not accepted it either. They have done the research which proves that returning to the neighborhood school concept would be beneficial to the successful education of our children. Then they ran the numbers. They told district officials that the process of returning to neighborhood schools, though saving tens of millions of dollars, would place undue stress on the Placement and Transportation departments.

The concept of neighborhood schools, smaller class size at the elementary level, mandatory, all day kindergarten, all day early childhood education, young parent education, life skills education, all of these research proven and effective programs are ignored by the district in favor of failing programs aimed at trying to re-engage students who have dropped out of the system of education.

We’re changing school names while shuffling children and moving staff from this building to that, playing the “shell game” with our children’s future in an effort to appease those who hold the purse strings. We have yet to elect a Board or employ a superintendent with the integrity and strength of character to do what is best for children.

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Teachers Are Human Too

At some point it became a widely accepted premise that teachers were somehow less than human yet more than mortal. Most teachers have encountered this phenomenon from children but none ever believed that adults held the same fantastical conception.

Teachers everywhere joke about the fact that children believe teachers don’t use the bathroom and never leave school and that at the end of the day are put into the closet and plugged in to recharge for the next day. They are there when the children arrive and still there after they leave. Teachers don’t have families, friends, or feelings. They can take a licking and keep on ticking.

It is no joke however when adults carry this same fantasy about teachers and support business people, politicians, and lawmakers, in their efforts to dehumanize and immortalize teachers.

Teachers are to be evaluated on the success or failure of the students in their classrooms even though there is no accountability on the part of the parent or student to actively participate in their education.

Teachers are expected to, in one hundred, eighty-five days or less, take a child who begins school with few academic skills, low self esteem, possible learning difficulties, social/emotional deficiencies, no respect for authority, no love of learning, no willingness to succeed, and no educational support from home, and by May, when standardized tests are given, turn that child into a successful, productive, constructive, respectful, individual whose goal is to go to college and become an actively engaged member of society.

This may be possible if it were only one child on which this miracle were to be performed however, at the elementary level, in inner-city schools, there are many, too many.

The community is told repeatedly by businessmen and politicians alike that the failure of students to achieve academically is the result of bad teaching. And, while the community is focused on condemning to death the only hope their children have at success, businessmen and politicians are getting richer and richer from their failure.

Teachers are the solution, not the problem.

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