Treating the Symptoms vs Curing the Disease

Last night V.O.T.E. held a school board candidates forum at the Frederick Douglass Center.

Only one incumbent, Cynthia Elliott, was there to support her position on the Board. In all, seven candidates answered questions posed by the moderator and the audience which consisted of parents, teachers, and community members.

The issues addressed ran the full gambit of problems with which our currents system of education is wrought.

There were many ideas on what the Board and the community can do to address poverty, racism, institutional and otherwise, culturally relevant curriculum, professional development, social promotion, top heavy administration, unions, unqualified teachers, uninvolved parents, undisciplined students, ineffective and inefficient leadership and stewardship, and even the protest of New York State Education Commissioner John B King.

We must recognize that all of these issues are extremely important indicators that the current system of education is failing our children and our society miserably. They are the symptoms of the disease Mis-education.

We cannot continue applying band aids and taking pain medication in the form of corporate funding since history has shown that this approach has not and will not benefit our children.

The only way to insure an effective and efficient system of education that provides every child with an excellent education is to wipe out the disease and create a healthy system of education that celebrates the gifts and talents of all children.

Concerned stakeholders in education must take the initiative to create a system of education that focuses on the abilities of children, showing them that they are valuable and have a great deal to offer their world.

The cancer of hate and self loathing that is destroying our children must be purged from education.

Providing and excellent education to ALL children will cure the disease and eliminate the symptoms of mis-education.

Ultimately, within two generations, the cancerous hate that is killing the body of education will be in remission and, within four generations, will be completely healed.

We must enact the cure now so that our children can become healthy, mentally, physically, and spiritually.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

“No More Common Core”

Listed on the Federal Register for Friday, August 23, 2013

Education Department
Proposed Rules
Title I-Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantaged
A Proposed Rule by the Education Department

The Secretary proposes to amend the regulations governing Title I, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended (ESEA) (the “Title I regulations”), to no longer authorize a State, in satisfying ESEA accountability requirements, to define modified academic achievement standards and develop alternate assessments based on those modified academic achievement standards. These proposed amendments would permit, as a transitional measure and for a limited period of time, States that administered alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards in the 2012-13 school year to continue to administer alternate assessments based on modified academic achievement standards and include the results in adequate yearly progress (AYP) calculations, subject to limitations on the number of proficient scores that may be counted for AYP purposes. These proposed amendments also would apply to accountability determinations made by eligible States that receive “ESEA flexibility” and have requested a waiver of making AYP determinations.

The comment period for this proposal ends October 7, 2012.

It seems that those states that did not immediately jump on the Race to the Top bandwagon in order to secure funding for their failing LEA’s are being given even more leeway in adhering to federal education requirements.

This is yet another reason for New York State residents to demand that the legislature repeal State law regarding the institution and instruction of Common Core curriculum.

As reported by Diane Ravitch, the Gesell Institute of Human Development Statement on the Common Core Standards Initiative March 18, 2010 states, “The core standards being proposed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers are off the mark for our youngest learners. . . The proposed standards for Kindergarten through grade 3 are inappropriate and unrealistic. Policy must be set based on hard data and not on unrealistic goals surrounding test scores.”

When leaders in education enact policy that is contrary to our children’s educational health, it is time to elect more knowledgeable leaders.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

Rochester Represents

Rochester’s advocates and activists filled buses and drove cars to lend their voice to the 50th Anniversary March on Washington.

It was a very different affair than the original, t-shirt salesmen and trinket hawkers lined the streets with the hopes of capitalizing on the multitude of participants from around the country and spectators from around the world.

Save Our Schools together with United Opt Out marched from Farragut Square to the Washington Monument spreading the word to participants and passerbys about the devastating role mis-education has played in the reality that 50 years after this country’s initial awakening to the truth of inequality, the struggle continues.

As educators, parents, students, and community members settled into their place on the monument grounds, they immediately began to educate those walking by to reject the common core and opt out of standardized testing.

Shouts of “Educate to Liberate!” and “No More Common Core!” resounded enticing participants to stop and listen to knowledgeable and impassioned witnesses tell their stories and relate the true information about the damaging effects of our current system of education.

Deeper conversations convinced rally goers that the entire system of education must change its focus from disabling children to discovering their gifts and talents, from enabling children to empowering them.

No one asked, “What can I do?” Everyone there understood that the only way to affect change is by raising our collective voice through the power of our individual vote.

Rochester voices were also heard speaking out against racial profiling and the injustice of our local, state, and federal justice systems.

There were many participants who attended the original March on Washington in 1963 who were disheartened by the fact that there needed to be a second and hopeful that a third would not be necessary.

The only way to insure that we will not revisit the Washington Monument to protest injustice in another 50 years is to change the system of education so that it concentrates on discovering, developing, and directing the gifts and talents of ALL children.

A strong America requires a strong people.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

UnCommon Community Against Common Control

*Correction to the August 20, 2013 post.
Commissioner John King will be at School of the Arts on Wednesday, August 28, 2013.

On Wednesday, August 28, 2013 parents, students, teachers, and community members will come together, at the School of the Arts, at 1:00 pm, to protest against the Common Core curriculum being imposed by the New York State Department of Education under the direction of Commissioner John King.

Parents object to the stress on their children and the time away from “real” learning.

Students object to the tediousness and irrelevance of the test.

Teachers object to the exorbitant amount of time taken away from “real” teaching in order to practice for the test, take the test, and review after the test.

And, community members object to the cost of testing to taxpayers with no benefit in return for students or teachers.

With nearly everyone objecting to the Common Core, how is it the State was able to legislate its use as a student assessment and teacher evaluation tool?

The entire community must understand that State legislators and NYSUT worked together to comply with Common Core edicts and in making them law.

States that resisted were given the option to apply for a one year waiver to comply and with the current uprising against the Common Core, there may be even more “back peddling” concerning its nationwide implementation.

It is vitally important that this community protest Commissioner King’s visit since parents, students, and teachers, the most important stakeholders in the educational process, were not invited to meet with and speak to King.

However, it is also vitally important to recognize that this must be the beginning of the battle.

All concerned stakeholders in education must come together to convince state legislators to repeal Common Core legislation.

All concerned stakeholders in education must come together to fight for the right of our children to be educated in a system where they are the focus and an excellent education is the goal.

We must come together to protest, we must work together to change the system of education.

Our children are not “common” and their education should not be “common” either.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

Failure Fuels Funding

“Thirty-four states and the District of Columbia have made it more attractive to seek welfare benefits than entry-level employment.Cato Institute.”

“The federal government currently funds 126 separate programs targeted toward low-income people. . . State, county, and municipal governments operate additional welfare programs. . . . welfare spending has steadily increased at an unchecked rate, outpacing average entry-level incomes and making it more attractive in some areas to seek welfare over employment.”

New York State Welfare Spending
Pre-tax Equivalent ($): 43,700
Hourly Wage Equivalent ($): 20.01
Unemployment: 7.5 percent

(New York State’s unemployment rate is .1 percent higher than the national rate.)

Most Americans don’t mind the government spending their tax dollars on social welfare programs. These social welfare programs employ thousands of people per state, and millions across the country. In order for these people to remain employed, there has to be an impoverished population to maintain the necessity for social programs and the people that run them.

Considering the fact that even the most basic employment requires an education, the failure to provide that education to a certain group of people, African Americans and Latinos, insures that the educated, who are primarily White and Asian, will have jobs while the impoverished will remain on welfare.

Being paid more on welfare than working is not new. Looking at the reality of why a certain group of people are paid to remain on welfare has yet to be examined.

The truth is, in order to maintain the class system that exists in America, there has to be a lower class and the majority population of that lower class has always been African Americans, Latinos, and Native Americans, not so ironically, the same groups that our current system of education is failing.

As long as Americans accept the notion of “Middle Class” they blindly agree that there should be a “lower class” of people and an “upper class”. Only mis-education can perpetuate this kind of ignorance.

The only way to change this dehumanizing system is to properly educate every child.

The only class our children should be in is a classroom.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

What You See Is All You Get

Orient: To acquaint with the existing situation or environment.

Orientation: The act or process of being oriented.

The District began its orientation programs throughout the city on August 20, 2013. The purpose of these orientation events are to “set the tone for the school year with informative and enjoyable activities for students and their families.

Each school orientation date is given however no times, room numbers, contact names or numbers for individuals who are knowledgeable about these events are posted.

Will parents be told of the existing environment of their school?

Will the district explain to parents why their child has a 50% chance of failure depending upon the school they attend and that there is no hope of enrolling their child in a successful school because all the seats are taken?

Will the district admit to parents that the current situation of the district is chaos since many teachers, paraprofessionals, and school staff have no idea, at this point, where or what grade they will be teaching?

The Prekindergarten & Early Childhood page of the District’s website has a link that directs parents to, “Find Your Child’s Teacher. Browse our Teacher Directory for PreK to find your child’s classroom page.”

Unfortunately there seems to be no requirement for teachers to actually post a classroom page as many of the links take parents to a blank page. Fortunately for some parents, their teachers took the initiative to create some very helpful and interactive pages.

Why would District leaders direct parents to “Find Your Child’s Teacher” which leads them to a teacher with a blank classroom page?

If the district sees this information as important to parents, why wouldn’t they make sure that every teacher listed actually had a “classroom page” that was informative?

These are the things that frustrate and alienate parents. Parents can see there is no real effort by the District or district leaders to connect parents and teachers in the process of educating their child.

Our children deserve our best. We are their role models. When we don’t care, they don’t care.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

Buffalo Gets The President, Rochester Gets The King

On Wednesday, August 21, 2013, a group of teachers and parents who “have been meeting for the past four months attempting to educate the parents and teachers about Common Core” will meet again in an effort to understand these new standards.

On Wednesday, August 28, 2013, New York State Education Commissioner John B. King will be speaking before Rochester City School District principals at the School of the Arts.

The invitation from Superintendent Vargas states, “We have invited the Commissioner to address District administrators about our plans to improve student achievement, working together to achieve our goals, and implementing the best strategies possible for success.” Administrators will be able to ask questions about the Regents’ Reform Agenda.

The Regent’s Reform Agenda calls for “Transformational Leadership”.

The “Challenge” of the reform agenda, “Graduating all students college and career ready.”

How will they do this:
* Implementing Common Core standards and developing curriculum and assessments
* Building instructional data systems
* Recruiting, developing, retaining, and rewarding effective teachers and principals
* Turning around the lowest-achieving schools

Attending this talk is by invitation only, and the current sitting Board of Commissioners, teachers, and parents were not invited, we are told, due to Commissioner King’s time constraints.

It would seem a better use of Commissioner King’s time to address all interested stakeholders, especially parents, teachers, and Board members, in an open forum in order to bring clarity to those individuals most directly affected by the Reform Agenda.

By addressing only a small group of individuals, principals, who were invited but do not have to attend, the information provided by Commissioner King can be easily misconstrued when being disseminated among larger groups.

As well, part of the Reform Agenda calls for “Utilizing Limited Resources” by asking districts to “Communicate with your Schools and Community.”

Commissioner King could have been given the opportunity to address the concerns of all individuals directly affected by the Regents’ Agenda.

Superintendent Vargas could have opened the district’s doors to every interested stakeholder.

Transparency means that everyone can see clearly, not just a select few.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!