Actions Speak Loudly

Though there are 34 New York State Assemblymen supporting the Graf Bill to rescind legislation requiring adherence to Common Core and Race To The Top standards, only two Monroe County legislators, Republicans William Nojay of the 133rd District and Stephen Hawley of the 139th District, have lent their support.

Republican William Reilich of the 134th District, Republican Mark Johns of the 135th District, Democrat Joseph Morelle of the 136th District, Democrat David Gantt of the 137th District and Democrat Harry Bronson of the 138th District have not signed on in support of Graf’s Fix New York Schools Bill.

This is important and very telling since Common Core Standards legislation stands to do more harm to children living in large urban areas like Rochester and, with the exception of Reilich and Johns, these are the legislators who have constituencies in Rochester.

It is no secret that Gantt and Morelle favor mayoral control of schools which the Rochester community fought diligently to suppress.

Is it possible that these elected leaders are relying on the failure of our children to once again support their intent to remove the School Board of Commissioners and gain control of the District?

Are our children being used as pawns in a political game of power and control?

Are the various unions, NYSUT, ASAR, RTA, RAP, and BENTE truly concerned with stopping the forced implementation of Common Core standards and curriculum guidance? Are they urging their members to sign Assemblyman Graf’s petition?

There is no doubt that signing the petition and contacting your State Assembly representatives will have an impact on their decision to support Graf’s Bill.

Our actions will speak volumes and influence their actions.

Contact:
Joseph Morelle, 1945 E Ridge Rd, Rochester, NY 14622, (585) 467-0410, morellej@assembly.state.ny.us

David Gantt, 4 University Avenue, Rochester, NY 14605, 585-454-3670, GanttD@assembly.state.ny.us

Harry Bronson, 840 University Avenue, Rochester, NY 14607, 585-244-5255, bronsonh@assembly.state.ny.us

Our children should not be used as pieces in any game of the wealthy.

Every citizen of Rochester must make their voice heard.

We must fight for the right of every child to an excellent, child centered, developmentally appropriate, experiential and successful education.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

Express Yourself

Introduced by Assemblyman Al Graf, the following Bill was proffered as:

An act to amend the education law, in relation to the common core state standards initiative and the race to the top program.

The people of the State of New York, represented in Senate and Assembly, do enact as follows:

Section 1. The education law is amended by adding a new section 115 to read as follows:
S 115. Common Core State Standards Initiative. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the department shall discontinue implementation of the Common Core State Standards developed by the Common Core State Standards initiative. Any action taken to adopt or implement the Common Core State Standards are void.

Section 2. The education law is amended by adding a new section 116 to read as follows:
S 116. Race To The Top Program. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, the Department shall discontinue implementation of the Race To The Top Standards developed by the Race To The Top Program. Any action taken to adopt or implement the Race To The Top Program are void.

Section 3. This act shall take effect immediately.

Assemblyman Graf also has a petition that every concerned citizen, parent, and teacher in New York State should sign on his Fix New York Schools site.

To date, thirty-four Assemblymen have supported the Bill and more than 18,000 people have signed the petition.

The NYS Senate webpage points out, “Citizen comment is an important part of the legislative process. Public opinion often affects the shape of a bill as well as its eventual success or failure. Remember, your input can play a crucial role in determining how a bill becomes a law.”

It is important that we take our role as citizen participants in government seriously and that we make our voice heard for the sake of our children.

Never has it been easier to let our elected officials know how we feel and how they should vote.

E-mail your Assemblyman, sign the petition, and make sure your elected representative speaks with your voice.

Our children deserve an excellent education.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

Questioning Questionable Management

Superintendent Vargas earns $201,000 a year to manage the district. By his own admission, “student achievement ranks in the bottom 10 percent of schools across New York State.”

Why are we paying that amount of money for a superintendent who does not have the expertise to manage a primary or secondary school?

Vargas states, “Colleges and universities — especially the 19 in the Rochester area — have strong track records of operating a successful educational institution. Leveraging that expertise to manage a primary or secondary school would bring a fresh perspective and level of focus the district cannot match.”

RCSD is a “focus district” who will help those schools that are not turned over to area colleges?

Colleges and universities focus on their students. They must maintain a level of success in order for draw graduates into their learning institutions.

Is this the level of focus to which Dr. Vargas refers?

Vargas points out that, “Beyond the management benefit, our students could receive access to world-class libraries, college-student tutors and volunteers, part-time jobs, faculty expertise, visits to college events — the potential benefits are enormous.”

All of these things are accessible to RCSD students now.

Why isn’t the district currently utilizing the relationships with area colleges and universities that have been created by past administrations?

The problem could lie in the fact that Superintendent Vargas believes that, “From an economic perspective, it makes sense to help these students get ready for college at an early age.”

Why isn’t it clear that from a human perspective, it makes sense to help every child get ready for a successful life as an adult?

Why is the School Board willing to accept this solution to their failure rather than change the focus of education and begin educating our children to become successful, concerned citizens?

It is obvious that the leadership of the RCSD is incapable of successfully managing the district.

It is also obvious that until we change the system of education so that it concentrates on the gifts and talents of all children they will continue to fail.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

the Ignorance of the people Is Bliss for the leaders

By voting along the Democratic party line, those who wanted Lovely Warren to be mayor of Rochester also voted to re-elect the School Board Commissioner incumbents.

These are the same elected leaders who have supported every failing initiative of every Superintendent hired for four and more years adding up to decades of failure for our children.

Now these elected educational leaders are supporting yet another failing plan proposed by Superintendent Vargas, college managed schools.

A report from City News columnist Christine Fien states, “Most board members complimented Vargas for introducing the proposals, which include ideas they said they’ve been discussing for several years. Board vice president Van White seemed especially enthusiastic about the college management proposal.”

In her article Ms. Fien reports that Superintendent Vargas said, “Adam Urbanski, president of the Rochester Teachers Association, supports the idea, at least conceptually.”

For the untrained eye it is difficult to see the danger in allowing colleges to manage the system of education for city schools.

However, when recognizing that community and state colleges have a budget to maintain and student enrollment is the best way to meet budgetary demands, allowing the education of children to be managed by the business of education is in direct opposition to the true intent of education, to produce knowledgeable citizens, while giving in to the corporate agenda which is to prepare our children for their workforce.

We must remove the blinders from our eyes and demand that the focus of education be on the gifts and talents of all children.

We must demand that passion be brought back to the classroom through an engaging and enriching educational environment that allows the teacher to be the leader in the classroom, providing the individual instruction necessary for the educational success of every student.

We must properly educate ourselves so that we are no longer ignorant to their deceptive practices in order to provide our children with a proper education whose standard is excellence based on the best of human qualities, love, kindness, care, and compassion for one another.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

We’re On The Move

Hundreds of concerned citizens attended the New York State Assembly Education Forum held at the Memorial Art Gallery last night.

Most were there to listen and support the more than forty registered speakers who surprised legislators with their knowledge, passion, insight, and sense of humor about a topic that has created an unprecedented amount of attention in the education arena, the Common Core.

The evening began with an innovative use of technology when Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb recognized there was no flag to salute in order open the meeting. Thinking quickly, he brought up a picture of the US flag on his iPad which began the endless flow of speakers both for and against the standards.

Not everyone had the opportunity to speak their peace since legislators underestimated the number of respondents willing to share their beliefs, opinions, and ideas on the proposed topic.

Attendees were asked to keep their comments to two minutes after being told in the invitation they would have five. Most ignored the request as everyone had prepared to speak for five minutes and did so.

To their credit, legislators stayed an additional hour, until the MAG closed, in order to hear as many speakers as possible.

Speakers were adamant about the fact that the sterile curriculum attached to the standards had to be eliminated along with the standardized tests and the evaluations they support.

Parents, teachers, and community members spoke against the scripted modules that left no room for creativity, imagination, or inspiring the love of learning in children. And, while it was understood that use of the modules was compulsory not mandatory, it was made clear that State Ed was using funding to intimidate districts into adopting the modules.

Very few disagreed that there should be standards however, as mentioned at the Brighton forum, the existing Common Core Standards are developmentally inappropriate and detrimental to children at the early childhood and elementary level and insufficient at the secondary level.

The message of the evening was clear, our children must come first or we all fail.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

A Wolf In Sheeps Clothing

With the community fighting back against mayoral control, the powers that be, have simply changed their strategy and infiltrated our system of education by placing their people in key positions in City government and RCSD leadership.

Superintendent Vargas announced plans to allow New York State colleges management of failing city schools. This is not an innovative idea but simple mimickry of the plan set forth by corporate moguls and political sycophants trying to sell the concept of “college and career readiness”.

In reading between the lines one finds this is nothing more than rhetoric for “preparing our children for the 21st Century workforce” a phrase they stopped using when it quickly became synonymous with “modern day slavery”.

As parents, educators, and community members we must be cognizant of phrases such as these.

In an article released by the New York City Department of Education it is not necessary to read between the lines, the “college and career” track is spelled out clearly.

“In collaboration with the City University of New York and a set of high-profile industry partners—Microsoft Corp. and New York-Presbyterian Hospital, SAP, and the American Association of Advertising Agencies—the schools will deliver a six-year, career-focused program that is aligned with the Common Core Standards. . . IBM, the City’s first industry partner, guarantees that graduates will be first in line for jobs.”

While parents and educators are fighting an imaginary foe, Common Core Standards, the real enemy, multi-billion dollar corporations are taking over the nation’s system of education and herding our children into mindless factory jobs that keep them chasing a carrot they can never hope to attain, freedom.

We must fight for the right of every child in America to an excellent, child centered, free and public education that concentrates on their gifts and talents in order to realize the true intent of education, to produce knowledgeable citizens capable of self governance. Translation, freedom and justice for all.

This is the America we have fought for and died to protect, the America in which our children deserve to live.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!

What Is And What Isn’t

WXXI will host, “Common Core: A Forum on Education Reform in New York State” on Tuesday, December 3, 2013 at WXXI Studios from 8:00pm – 9:30pm.

Education Commissioner King will participate in a live forum to discuss Common Core Standards. The forum will broadcast live at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV and AM 1370, and stream online at WXXI.org/commoncore. Dr. King, along with members of the New York State Board of Regents, will answer questions from a studio audience. After the broadcast, an additional half-hour of discussion will be webcast on WXXI.org/commoncore until 9:30 p.m.”

“Individuals interested in attending the forum can register online to enter a lottery for available seating. CLICK HERE FOR THE REGISTRATION FORM.

It is suggested that before attending any of these forums participants read the “Key Design Considerations” section of the standards.

This section states:
The Standards define what all students are expected to know and be able to do, not how teachers should teach. . .

While the Standards focus on what is most essential, they do not describe all that can or should be taught. . .

The Standards do not define the nature of advanced work for students who meet the Standards prior to the end of high school. . .

The Standards set grade-specific standards but do not define the intervention methods or materials necessary to support students who are well below or well above grade-level expectations. . .

It is also beyond the scope of the Standards to define the full range of supports appropriate for English language learners and for students with special needs.

It is important to understand that the management of the district in meeting the educational needs of our children is entirely up to the leaders we elected and the people they appoint to leadership positions.

Last night Superintendent Vargas publicly admitted “the district is having difficulty managing so many low-performing schools at one time. . . College leadership would have all of the supervision powers of the superintendent. . .”

Changing the system of education so that it focuses on the gifts and talents of all children is our only chance to successfully educate our children.

Join the Movement to Save Our Children!