Not Who But What

While it is important to know and understand the level of integrity of any individual running for public office, it is impossible to know whether they will maintain their integrity once in office.

Those who drafted and ratified our Constitution knew this which is why they incorporated term limits into their plan. They also warned against the perils of party politics.

Before voting for any leader, it is the duty of every citizen to know the issues of the office, the perspective of the candidate on the issues, and how they and the general populous feel about those issues.

Unfortunately, since party politics has taken over our elected leadership positions, citizens have allowed their party affiliates to tell them, without knowing or understanding the candidate or the issues personally, who is best for the job.

Knowing for whom to vote into a particular elected office and knowing the level of integrity of that individual is as simple as watching the news and reading the paper.

True leaders are not politically groomed by party power mongers. Leaders are supposed to rise up from among the people to address those issues that negatively affect their lives.

A community leader is easily recognized by their work in the entire community while politicos serve only those they believe can and will advance their political career.

A leader in the community has a reputation for being knowledgeable and passionate about the issues of their leadership.

A leader can intelligently discuss the problems of their community while offering realistic, operable, positive, solutions to those problems.

A leader that comes from the people has suffered with the people and, in understanding the suffering of the people, has a more in-depth perspective on possible solutions to end that suffering.

An individual who has shown themselves to be a community leader has done so at many times, in many venues, before many people.

Voting for community leaders who have shown themselves to be knowledgeable, passionate, and involved in their community is the only way to ensure knowledgeable, passionate, and involved leadership from our elected officials.

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What Are We Fighting For?

Many people in education believe that our current system of education is sufficient but needs fine tuning.

That is the impression one is left with when listening to the Board of Regents and the new New Education Commission. It also seems to be the position of New York State’s Teacher’s Unions.

On June 8, 2013 educators will rally in Albany and stand together to push back against APPR and the barrage of standardized tests that our children are forced to endure.

Unfortunately, when asked if the Teacher’s unions are willing to fight for the Constitutionally guaranteed right of all of America’s children to an excellent, free and public education, the response, in very many words was, no.

Fighting for adjustments to a system that improperly educates our children is not only a waste of time but it deters energy and resources that would be better spent changing the focus of education on discovering, developing, and directing the gifts and talents of all children.

Teacher unions should be rallying their ranks to fight for a system of education that recognizes and values the individual talents and passions of the teacher, allowing the trained professional to make autonomous decisions that directly relate to enhancing the love of learning within the hearts and minds of the children in their classes.

Teacher’s unions should be fighting for the right of all teachers to be able to decide which grade level they are most proficient teaching instead of allowing administrators to make those decisions based on arbitrary reasoning that has nothing to do with what is best for the children or the teacher.

Teacher unions could be fighting for respect for the profession of teaching by demanding that those who have not proven themselves proficient in the classroom not assess those who are expected to be proficient in the classroom.

There are a great many things New York State teacher unions could and should be addressing. Fighting to fix a system designed to fail more than half of our children is misleading.

Our children’s educational success must come first.

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For Clarity’s Sake

There seems to be quite a bit of confusion in the community concerning Tuesday’s blog.

Several questions have been asked, some which can be answered, some which cannot.

People have asked, “Why aren’t the faculty and staff raising this issue?” The answer to that is unclear. However, there does exist, within the district, a culture of institutional intimidation that would prevent faculty and/or staff from speaking up.

Another question, “Which school was involved?” The answer, the school involved is irrelevant. It was the decision to keep the school open that is of critical importance. For, if the decision to place our children, parents, faculty, and staff in eminent danger of the possibility of being shot, was made for one school, it would have been made for any school.

There is no question as to who made the decision to keep the school open. It is the responsibility of the Superintendent of schools to determine whether or not to close a particular school or all schools.

However, there is also the responsibility of the administrator of the school to impart the seriousness of the situation to the Superintendent and advocate for the safety of the students, parents, faculty, and staff of their school.

It is evident that in this case, neither the administrator nor the Superintendent determined that the threat of a shooting taking place, while warranting the police, school lock down, and a search of students and their lockers, did not warrant closing the school in order to insure the safety of the school community.

To allow this type of blatant disregard for the safety of all of the members of the school community to continue without accountability is to publicly announce that we will stand for any inhumane treatment the district wishes to impose upon the children, parents, faculty, and staff of our schools.

The system will not change, it is up to the collective efforts of the interested stakeholders in education to come together to stop the widespread inefficient, ineffective, and now dangerous practices of our school district.

Our children must come first!

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Beyond Reprehensible

“Sent: Friday, May 10, 2013 11:50 AM
Subject: Rumors of a shooting . . .
Good morning faculty and staff,
Yesterday evening, it was brought to my attention that there was going to be a shooting. . . today. We immediately contacted the District and the police department. “

These are the first two sentences of a communique sent out to faculty and staff after the threatening situation was resolved.

At the end of the day on Friday, parents received a letter stating,

“I’m writing to inform you of a situation that occurred at our school this morning. Let me assure you that your child was safe, and we had a relatively normal day of school.

It came to our attention that several students were talking about rumors of a potentially violent incident taking place at our school today. While we weren’t certain how credible the story was, we always act in the interest of protecting our students.

Before students arrived this morning, police officers and District security officers were already at the school. As soon as students arrived, they were directed straight to their classrooms. The school was briefly put in lock down, while some student belongings were searched by our security team. Security officers didn’t find anything lending credibility to the rumors, and there was no need for further action. Again, please let me reassure you that your child’s safety was never in question.”

Given the violent atmosphere in Rochester, rumors of a shooting should not have be taken lightly. If the situation was serious enough to involve the police, at the very least a robo-call to parents explaining the situation, would have allowed them to decide whether or not to bring their child to school Friday morning. To be perfectly safe, the school should have been closed until the threat was resolved.

Every child’s safety came into question when they were placed in a situation they were unaware of and helpless to control.

As well, the administrator decided to place the safety of the faculty and staff into question by not informing them of the situation until after it was resolved.

Closing the school to save lives or keeping it open to make money, in a child centered system of education there would be no question.

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The Board Race Begins

Last night the Democrats held a community forum to introduce the community to the newest candidates running for school board.

Each candidate had a passion for and a grasp on a particular issue within our system of education that addresses the failure of our children.

Six candidates with six varying perspectives on the problems our children encounter when entering the current educational system.

Though there were candidates who understood the complexity of the problems inherent in education, it was clear that several candidates did and do not understand that our current system of education is not broken but working extremely well.

There are those who truly believe that we can “fix” the system of education without realizing that it’s function is failure and therefore does not require fixing.

What is required is change.

Our current system of education must be discarded and replaced with an excellent child centered, experiential, education that discovers, develops, and directs the gifts and talents of all children.

One of the primary issues discussed in the forum was institutionalized racism.

For some, this is the major problem within education. However, to limit the scope of the destruction perpetrated by our educational institutions to race is to limit our effectiveness in changing the system for all children.

When we send our children to school they are entering a system of institutionalized hate. In school children learn to first hate themselves and then others. They learn to adopt artificial standards of success and use those artificial standards to make themselves feel superior intellectually while sorely lacking in human skills such as respect, kindness, and love, attributes which all of our children possess at birth, all of which are diminished with each passing year in school.

We do not need more security officers as one candidate suggested, we do not need more Culturally relevant professional development for teachers as was suggested by others.

We need and must secure for our children a system of education that concentrates on promoting integrity, respect, and love, for themselves first and then others.

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Suffer Not The Children

Erica Bryant’s column in the Democrat and Chronicle Chronicle exposes the devastating effects of post traumatic stress disorder on urban inner city children who witness or are primary or secondary victims of, violence.

While this is undoubtedly an extremely relevant and serious problem, it is not exclusive to children of the impoverished inner-city.

Until we realize and understand that children everywhere are subject to the PTSD of violent encounters we only continue to place band-aids on wounds requiring amputation.

Violence does not encapsulate itself within races, colors, creeds, or cultures. Violence respects no one.

It is the desensitization to relationship building that creates in our children and society a disconnection to our humanity, making the choice to commit an act of violence against another human being acceptable.

The system of education provides the most relevant solution to this problem as these children generally attend school every day to escape the violence of their home life.

The video below “What Role Do Relationships Play In Learning” explains why it is so vitally important to change the focus of education so that it concentrates on building positive experiences and relationships with our children.

What Role Do Relationships Play In Learning?

Violence is not a problem in our schools it is an indictment of our society. Our current system of education has cultivated an attitude of self-hatred and apathy in our children that is manifesting itself, within our community, as an unprecedented number of violent crimes committed by our children.

All adults in the educational environment must role model positive attitudes, positive behaviors, and positive problem solving skills. School may be the only model of positive behavior and attitude some children have.

A child centered education that concentrates on discovering, developing, and directing the gifts and talents of ALL children will not erase the violence too many children experience in their day to day lives.

Changing the system of education so that it focuses on the child will offer every child the opportunity to rise above the negative situations in their lives and become a successful positive adult.

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Our Children Are Able – Are We?

“If people are given an accurate assessment of their abilities and the likelihood of achieving certain goals given those abilities they may gravitate toward domains in which they have a realistic chance of becoming an expert through deliberate practice,” Michigan State psychology professor Zach Hambrick explained.

Our current system of education doesn’t adhere to the same belief. When we send our children to school, they are not given an accurate assessment of their abilities.

The exact opposite is true.

Too many children, who do not fit the “norm”, are given an inaccurate assessment of their disabilities and are forced to learn skills that are contrary to their gifts and talents, making them resistant to the process of education and reluctant to engage in learning for learning’s sake.

If our leaders in education truly believed that “every child can learn” our system of education would focus on the gifts and talents of every child, recognizing that each one has something wonderful to offer this world that would make it a better place in which to live.

However acknowledging and advancing the humanistic aspect of education is counterproductive to the corporate bottom line, profit.

Educating children to recognize and believe in their personal power breaks them free of the control of capitalism. Believing in themselves our children have the potential to truly change the world so that we evolve into high order thinking beings that work together to preserve the beauty and love that we were given to enjoy in our lives and our world.

Science has proven time and again that a child centered education produces educational and personal success. We now know that the Scientific community believes that discovering, developing, and directing the gifts and talents of our children will provide them with a realistic chance at being successful in life.

How can we continue to ignore the truth that will save our children’s educational lives?

Regardless of the cost, we must begin to provide all children with an excellent, child centered, experiential, education that will connect them to their families, communities, and their world.

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