Kids Are More Than a Test Score

Spring break is over and kids are heading back to school.  Students, teachers, and parents that are in grades 3-8 in New York State will begin the high-stakes testing on Tuesday. Of course, my sixth grader will be refusing the tests for the third year in a row.

Refuse the NYS Tests

Quite simply, my son is more than a score and he deserves an authentic public school education that is not all test prep. If things do not change within the next year, I will refuse the tests for my younger son in 2016. Watching recent events unfold in New York has been especially difficult for me. This isn’t simply an attack on the education for my children, this is my career. While I may not be in a classroom right now, I am still a teacher. My colleagues and friends are in the trenches right now dealing this first hand. I want to be able to go back and teach one day, and with the current environment it will not be possible.

Here are two songs to lighten up the mood a bit.

If you have any questions about Refusing the tests in NYS, please feel free to email me Beth @ OptOutAlbany.com. I have many resources and will point you in the right directions to get answers if I do not have them. Remember, it is NOT too late to refuse the test. Please help children across NYS by refusing the powers that be the data they need to destroy and privatize public education.

It's Me

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World Autism Awareness Day

Autism is part of my world. As the mother of a child on the Autism Spectrum, I am an autism advocate. I not only want people to be aware of autism, I strive for complete autism acceptance. Part of the way to do this is to work on educating others about autism so they understand more.

Autism Awareness Jamberry Nails and Bracelet

A very smart person once said, “If you know one autistic person, you know one autistic person.” 

We are very lucky to have an amazing Autism Community in the Capital Region. We have programs like Friday Knights at the College of Saint Rose that is for the entire family. The Autism Society of the Greater Capital Region is also a fantastic local resource. Now we also have Puzzles Bakery & Café which is a wonderful new restaurant that hires adults with developmental disabilities. More coming soon about our lunch at Puzzles.

Puzzles Bakery and Cafe

If you have a loved one that has a new autism diagnosis, please look for local support in your area. It can be a tough time, where you can feel lonely. Connect with others who will have tips and tricks in your area for places to go that are friendly to individuals on the spectrum. We know and share what works for us and what may have been something to avoid because of potential sensory overload. The more information you have, the easier it will be to get things into place to assist your entire family. Previous posts related to autism may be found here.

It's Me

If you are interested in the Autism Awareness Jamberry wraps, I am a Jamberry Independent Consultant. You can find the style above and a new one released today on the Commitment to Charity Page. You may also request a sample to see what Jamberry is all about.

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Sharing More with Video Slides on the Go

#VZWBuzz Disclosure

Do you ever have a large number of photos that you really want to share all at once? You know, from a kid’s play, trip to Walt Disney World, or just capturing special moments with your family. Sure, you could toss them all onto Instagram or your Facebook page for everyone to see one at a time. Doing this would take a lot of time, annoy some people, and be kind of boring. Video slides are a fun and different way to share a lot of items in a shorter amount of time.

Creating Video Slides on the Go

A lot of my friends use Flipagram and I have tried it. The reason I did not like that app is simple. I don’t want the name of the app watermarked on my slide show. I went searching and found something that I had used in the past that had a lot of new and interesting features. PhotoGrid has grown up and changed a lot since I had used it. You can now make collages (grid), scrapbook style images, edit photos, create video slides, tell stories with the filmstrip option, and more.

PhotoGrid App Options

While I still want to try more of the new options, I have been enjoying the ease of using the PhotoGrid app for Video Slides. When you select Video Slides, you will automatically be taken to the camera photos on your smartphone. You may select up to 50 items from that folder and others on your device using the drop down in the top left corner. Once you have selected the photos that you want to include, click the Next button in the lower right corner. You will be able to shuffle photos that were selected into the order you prefer. In addition to this, if you tap on an individual image you will be able to edit or delete them. The editing will allow you to crop, use filters, retouch, add background/text/stickers/borders, and draw on the images. This means that you may not need to use multiple apps to finish one project thanks to PhotoGrid.

Creating video slides in PhotoGrid app

When finished arranging and editing slide photos, click on the Preview button at the top right. From this area, you will be able to edit the video itself. You can add music, adjust the legth of the video, change the way the slides transition, put a background or border in, and have your signature at the end of your creation. You can spend as much or little time as you want to make it just the way you want. I love that even leaving it the way it comes, the piece looks nice and perfect for sharing on Instagram and other places.

Editing VideoSlide on PhotoGrid App

When you are satisfied with the way the video preview looks, you may save the completed Video Slide to your phone and/or share it with the push of a button. Here is an example of one that I made from our visit to Puzzles Bakery & Café and the Autism Society of the Greater Capital Region. As you may have guessed, I am getting ready to spread and share information for autism awareness and acceptance.

Working on two posts at one time. Love that my phone helps me. #VZWBuzz

A video posted by @theangelforever on

How would you use an app like PhotoGrid in your life? I would love to know what you could use a Photo Slide for right now or in the near future. Please share any creations that you make so I can check them out!

It's Me

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I receive devices like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Droid Turbo to test out and share ways that I use it in my life. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

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Testing Season is Here in New York State

Waving hello from here to there. My blog often takes a back seat this time of year. You see, this is when my educational advocacy mode seems to kick into high gear. After going to a wonderful Reclaiming Public Education forum on March 12, I decided to do something I had been thinking about for a while. I bought a domain name to start a Capital District website about educational advocacy. Within a short time, OptOutAlbany.com was born!

OptOutAlbany is born

It took some time for TechyDad to get the backend parts of the website ready. Then, it was ready to roll and get the first post up. Community members from around the eleven counties making up the Capital District will be working together to make this a reality. This is not simply about refusing the NYS 3-8 testing, it is about so much more.

Refuse the NYS Tests

To learn more about our mission, please head over to see our welcome post about Reclaiming Public Education in the Capital District.

It's Me

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Reclaiming Public Education in New York

Public School Parent Advocacy

Testing season has already arrived in many parts of the United States. Whether you are talking about the PARCC exams in a variety of locations or FSA in Florida, parents, teachers, and students are getting upset and are more vocal about what is happening in their schools. The reality of high-stakes testing in public schools is frightening, especially when you connect the dots and follow the money. The testing is not about helping students, it is about privatizing our public schools, getting rid of teachers, and making companies rich. This video about PARCC has been an eye-opener for many.

The Other PARCC – Parents Advocating Refusal on High-Stakes Testing from nLightn Media on Vimeo.

In New York State the grade 3-8 exams do not begin until April. Thanks to this there are a lot of events throughout the state letting parents know about choices that exist and how they can help us to reclaim our schools. The first Capital Region event will take place on Thursday, March 12 in Delmar, NY. The speakers will be from New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE). Bianca Tannis and Jessica McNair will share a wealth of information with those that join them at 6:30.

Reclaiming Public Education event in Delmar

On Monday, March 16 there will be another event at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Public Library. Speakers for this event include Gail Richmond, Michael Lambert, and Assemblyman Jim Tedisco.

Reclaiming Public Education event in Clifton Park

Additional events in other regions are listed on the NYSAPE website. I urge you to take time and join others at one of these events to learn more about what has been happening to schools in recent years. Now is the time to stand up and save our public schools. Our children are more than a score. No politicians will be using my child as a guinea pig and pawn in a game against the teachers. I am done with people that are not educators coming into our schools to make changes that make no sense and only hurt the kids. Charter schools are not the answer and they are only making more of a mess in New York State. Connect the dots and understand that schools are not failing our kids. The reality is that poverty and other factors that are out of the control of schools are being ignored by individuals like Governor Cuomo.

I support teachers and public schools

I am a teacher, I am a parent, and I am a public school advocate that will continue to fight for my children and others to have the education that I was blessed to have while attending public schools.

It's Me

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