Will We Work Together To Save Public Education in New York State?


Our public schools NEED YOU!

Remember those times the teacher or administrator went the extra mile for you or your child? Well, we now need YOUR HELP. PLEASE.

Our public schools need you to understand the implications for OUR STUDENTS if Governor Cuomo’s proposals are passed and enacted as law. What it boils down to is that there will indeed be a revolving door of teachers in your children’s classrooms.

Imagine if your medical specialist who performed a particular surgery for you only was able to evaluate your progress 15% of the time. The rest of the time less experienced specialists — without mentors — were brought in to follow your health and healing.

This will be detrimental to our students and our civil right to a free and equitable, public education.

Even if you are right now hearing that your public school is a failing school, please consider the perspective of this judgement. Does this label originate from test scores? What about the perspective of a nurturing environment? What about the perspective of growth but dependent upon the unique individual instead of modules?

For so many of us, the public school is the beacon of hope in our neighborhoods.


1. Educate ourselves and each other; read several sources.
2. Share. Pass it on. Talk to other teachers, administrators, and parents.
3. Please set aside a few moments and sign petitions AND write you own
letter to your local legislators.
4. Keep the message positive. Share the positive reality of your public
5. Watch for publicized gatherings. Get involved.
6. Learn about the Opt-Out option for your children regarding the grades
3-8 State Assessments.


Do you remember your history teachers discussing the tutors for the elite and the lack of education for the less fortunate — the days before a free and public education?

–a teacher
–a mother

Let’s J.A.M.!

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New York State Governor Cuomo’s State of the State Address: THE END OF PUBLIC EDUCATION

What are you passionate about?

What if you really are one of the few who truly believe in what you have chosen for a profession / career?

Now, imagine that one human being — but a human being with vengeance, power, and money — has just confirmed once and for all that what matters in your heart so much is baloney.

I am crushed.

I see and work with incredibly caring and nurturing adults each and every day. I see and work with incredibly curious and imaginative students who want to do well and absorb all that they can. I see and work with young people who need me and need the amazingly, supportive adults with whom I work. Damn it, WE ARE NOT FAILURES. WE ARE A FAMILY.

Fellow Educators, in particular, it is time for ALL of us to stand up for OUR PROFESSION. We are always so busy standing up for everyone else; that’s what we do naturally. We’ve got to open our classroom doors and unite to demand these bullies leave the teaching to teachers!

Many years ago, I had a professor who said that he didn’t understand why teachers were not marching in the streets demanding respect for the profession. SO, WHAT WILL YOU DO?

50% of our evaluations left to test scores. This is it. If we do nothing, this is the end. Our brothers and sisters in rural and urban education will be run out of the profession, first.

Those of you not in the teaching profession, HOW can you support your children’s teachers? Don’t let yourselves be fooled, either. Are you just thinking about how you will spend the property tax relief? I can answer that for you: private school for your child/ children. Be careful what you wish for, eh?

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“I’m sorry; there must be some mistake. I’m a high school English teacher … not a social worker … not a physician … not a Sunday school teacher …”

We’re ten weeks in now.  Year eighteen teaching high school English.  Year fourteen with tenth graders.  YES!

Honors English has just completed our reading of my beloved novel of all time, Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.  Students are polishing essays and practicing presentations. They have chosen symbols, themes, or motifs to examine at work in this novel.  They will share a creative product portraying such while highlighting the writing accompanying this project.

For example, two young ladies are commenting on Harper Lee’s acknowledgement of the impact of racism through a sort of “taste-testing” of rice crispy treats: some the natural, beige color and some obviously treated with red food coloring.  Another young lady is demonstrating Atticus Finch’s denial of the traditional beliefs of the impossibility of black and white working together as she leads the entire class in a team-building activity.  Twenty-three students must all touch a bean-bag globe, in order, within a one second time frame.  Impossible?  Actually, no.

What is impossible, tragically, is the translation of this amazingly genuine and creative learning to my English Regents classes.

I have always considered my career as a high school teacher as one I value and appreciate and approach with integrity.  My role is public.  I am not only an educator; I am also a mentor, a role model, a nurturer, a listener, and a lifelong learner.

However, what I am not is a social worker, a physician, a Sunday school teacher, … a behavioral therapist.  I am ill-equipped.

Typically, my Regents classes experience much of the Honors classes yet with less depth and at a slower pace.  More and more, however, this is not possible.  With budget cuts that have not been restored in Public Education and thus the elimination of more individualized learning programs targeted for particular needs, students who benefited from such resources are now floundering in classes with little to no appropriate support.

Public schools do not have many options.  And, we teachers who have perfected our craft in a particular area are beginning to raise our voices stating, “I’m sorry; there must be some mistake.”

Young people have progressed to a tenth grade, general ed. setting with reading levels that hinder basic plot line, class discussions.  Extremely anxious students and students who require constant reminders of etiquette for large group gatherings monopolize class time leaving fewer and fewer opportunities for moving the learning to the creative, analysis and application phases.

Impossible?  Sadly, many days, the answer is yes.  I, needless to say, am no Atticus Finch.

Please, help me J.A.M.!

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I’m back: Reflection of Teaching Year 17. Will you follow me, again? Let’s JAM!

School Year 2013-14. Teaching Year 17. English 10 Year 13.

A successful year of learning and teaching. A year that transformed from demoralizing mandates of pretests, benchmarks, and forced midterm exams to wiping this slate clean in favor of instruction and the student-teacher relationship. A year that saw a leader basically retire into the shadows while a beloved former leader re-emerged with gratitude, love, and healing arms.

The autumn saw several opportunities for voices to be heard at Common Core Forums. The spring brought wonderfully validating and sky-rocketing numbers of parents who opted-out students from Grades 3-8 Assessments in New York State. Then, the school year ended and summer began with serious threats to the Teacher Tenure Laws in both California and New York.

‘Tis the season of the roller coaster, right?

Let’s JAM in terms of students and families. I just experienced a year like I never have before of extremes with students and families.
Extremes of brilliance with student participation and analysis and the willingness to extend responsibility with the learning process. But, as well, extremes of apathy, disconnect, and physical and mental burdens from stress.

As a beloved leader and mentor offered at the final day of the 2013-14 school year, it is now a time of thanksgiving. Indeed. I am incredibly grateful for the learning and the giving. Our kids and our profession are continuously giving; it is quite humbling.

I do hope, additionally, we can also enjoy the summer as a time of reflection. A time of questions and discussions. This is what I would like to accomplish over the next couple of months here with this space. Will you JAM with me?

How are we going to define the following? How are they defined currently? Does your understanding differ from the more widely held views?
–Public Education
–College and Career Ready

Let’s JAM!

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The Outrageous Costs of Testing Associated with Common Core. Why are we Americans allowing this to be the case for our children?

PARCC Test Cost: Higher for Nearly Half the States

July 22, 2013  by Catherine Gewertz



So, on this beautiful, summer day, I sat down at my laptop thinking I would search some current events articles to enrich our novel and poetry units this upcoming school year.

Look what I stumbled upon.  As an educator, I constantly feel like the Common Core Curriculum Standards are lurking in the shadows, stalking me.

I always look forward to a brand new school year.  I consider this rejuvenation a perk of the job.  I know I will always harbor this excitement, especially as I receive class lists and then greet and meet new young people entering our classroom.  However, there is now a strand of dread within me because of the country’s direction in Public Education with THESE Common Core Standards.

I am not against federal guidelines and expectations nor am I against accountability and assessment.  However, we parents need to see through the rhetoric of this proposed panacea for our students.  Not only are there unnecessary and outrageous financial costs, but more importantly, please consider the human capital costs of measuring every unique child with the same criteria.

We truly are in the fight of our lives for this generation of our youth!

Let’s J.A.M.!

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If it reads like a script and sounds like a script…

Thank you, Chris Cerrone: The “Parentucator.”

As Diane Ravitch has continued to plead, these Common Core Standards are not research-based and have not been proven effective by any brain-based research, for instance.

Why then is there SO much hype over these standards? Come on! $$$$$$$$$$$$$

Why are teachers then utilizing the standards and “reading the scripts?” FEAR!

Parents and community members, teachers and our students NEED YOU to become informed.
Is “a script” — and only one script — really the most effective method of educating your children?

Teachers and administrators, our profession NEEDS YOU to write letters of your experiences to local media outlets. Voices need to be heard.

Thank you.

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My response to the response of the initial response on the @aftunion “survey” @rweingarten

Fellow Blogger and Educator,
I salute you and your dedication to the truth! This takes more courage, at times, than most actually consider. I could not agree more with your thoughts and your passion for seeking what is right for our profession and for our youth.
This past spring, I wrote an email to both Mr. Dick Iannuzzi, President of NYSUT, and Ms. Randi Weingarten asking them to consider resigning on their own terms if they are not willing to use transparency regarding the CCCS and to actually begin to steer us away from these corporate-driven, scripted standards. Ms. Weingarten, to this day, remains silent to my plea. Mr. Iannuzzi, at least, has been in contact with me and we were able to briefly talk in person, as well.
Although I did indeed feel that Mr. Iannuzzi was listening to me and am appreciative of his time and most of his leadership, I was very discouraged about his seemingly sincere belief in “the potential” of the CCCS.
With this said, I must confess I can understand that as large organizations, this past year, with so many rapid changes coming from our NYS Commissioner of Education and from our US Secretary of Education, priorities such as the obsession with testing would drive the PR jargon and action steps, ie. the June 8th Rally in Albany, NY. Now, however, it must be the membership, perhaps with grassroots origins, demanding our leadership take the next step with transparency and the truth about the devastation NOT the potential of these corporate-driven CCCS.
We teachers must take to the streets to demand our voices are heard and our expertise respected! Get ready! Please do not allow summer vacation to become a respite from the truth!

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