Category Archives PSA

Advocacy on the Go

Last Thursday, I spent five hours at a local middle school for a Common Core Forum with many government officials and Commissioner John King from the New York State Department of Education. It was nerve wracking leading up to the event because the media had made it seem like it would be horrible with crowds, traffic, and police present. These statements may have kept some of the people away. Of course, many may not have been able to make it simply because NYSED made the forum at 4 in the afternoon when many would still be at work, barely getting kids from school, and beyond.

Thanks to my father getting the boys at school, I was able to go early. I met up with a friend who had made some signs in case we wanted to use them for silent protest in our seats. When heading out to the event, I focused on wearing warm enough items to wait outside and taking a smartphone that would keep up with updating and live Tweeting. I finally decided this even would be a great test for my Motorola Droid Mini that I received as a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers.

Signs for the first Common Core Forum

We were at the school an hour and a half before the event started. When we finally got into the building, we each took a number in case we wanted to talk. In addition to this, we were given the rules for the Common Core Forum. These rules were not out there before the event because so much happened quickly after Commissioner King canceled the Town Hall Meetings with the NYS PTA and scheduled this forum with Assemblyperson Patricia Fahy.

Rules for the NYS Education Forum with Commissioner John King

While waiting for the Forum to begin, I was checking into places on my phone. I was able to share these ruled via Instagram, and also post on Facebook groups to let others see what was coming from NYSED. Then, as the crowds were still filling in, I was able to Tweet out to people to please come if they could because it seems to be very calm outside. Finally, it was time to begin.

Common Core Forum October 24, 2013

While I only took a few pictures, I was Tweeting as much as I could. I also shared photos from time to time in various places. Thank goodness my phone was able to keep up with me. With all of the heavy use, it was just down to 30% battery after almost three hours of non-stop social media use.

Some Tweets from Common Core Forum 1

Some Tweets from Common Core Forum 2

As you can see from my Tweets, it was a powerful experience. It was wonderful to see that I was among countless other parents and educators that were upset and worried about the future of public education for our children. Thanks to my phone and the battery life, I was able to keep in touch with TechyDad, the boys, and post information about the meeting in real time while hardly worrying during the five hours of constant use. I have no doubt that this will only the be the first of many meetings that Minnie will be heading to with me while I fight to be a voice for fixing the educational reform that has damaged so many children already.

It's Me

Some previous posts about the educational world:

Disclosure: As a member of the Verizon Lifestyle Bloggers, I received the Motorola Droid Mini to test out and share ways that I use it in my life. There was no other compensation. I am a long time Verizon customer, and all opinions are my own.

Share:
Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+



I Do Not Love the New York State Department of Education

There are days that I love New York, as the corny old slogan goes. Of course, recently there are a lot of days that I am not a proud citizen. The politics of education have always been there, but the true colors are showing more and more each and every day. As a teacher and parent, I am disgusted to see what is happening in the classrooms throughout the state, including the school that my boys attend. The level of frustration in children, parents, teachers, administrators, and dare I say even districts is becoming more and more clear.

Public School Parent Advocacy

Children are confused with instruction, crying thanks to over testing, and not learning skills that will be essential later on in life. The tears at school frequently continue at home when it is time to tackle homework that often looks like a foreign language and is almost always developmentally inappropriate. Parents are starting to question what is happening and to doubt the propaganda that is handed to us from NYSED (New York State Department of Education). It literally makes me ill because nothing is based on studies and most items were written by people that are not educators.

I feel horrible for the teachers currently in the classrooms of New York State. They see the horrified looks on little faces and must do what they are told or fear losing their jobs. Their new task is being an actor and pretending to be happy while teaching from scripted modules (engageNY). Gone are the days when you are a trusted professional who knows the needs of your students. Now your every move is watched and scored. Teaching to the test is required because the scores count against your new state rating. Forget authentic lessons that actively engage children to think outside of the box. This can not happen when Common Core driven sheets require all kids to follow the same steps for all work.

In recent weeks, I have skipped a few blog posts here and there. A lot of this is because I have been reading up and working on my new mission of Public School Advocacy. This is not a work of fiction, this is the reality that is happening in pretty much all schools in the Empire State. Thanks to Commissioner John King canceling Town Hall meetings after what he perceived as rude special interest groups (you know concerned parents), more parents are seeing the light. They see that it is time to stand up for our children and question what is happening in our schools. Since the local districts are required to follow items from NYSED, families want answers from Commissioner King and the NYS Board of Regents members. OF course, it really goes higher than this. Governor Cuomo is someone that also needs to answer some questions. He is the one that signed the fate that our children are now experiencing. He is the one that has set a state moratorium on schools that fail. Why? Well it is all about the privatization of public schools. There is a lot of money to be made in this business and the educational needs of our children are being sold by our elected officials.

Parents are once again being offered the opportunity to attend forums with Commissioner King. I fear that this is simply going to be a “pony show” where he tries to fix the bad PR from the last few weeks. I cringe that it will be even more scripted than the engageNY modules. NYSED and Governor Cuomo need to realize that we can see what is happening in the schools and we need answers. We need solutions to fix the mess that they have gotten our children into. They need to listen and get that we are not just rude and angry for no reason. Our reasons are the children we see missing out on their public education who are crying that they hate school and want to quit. I cringe and try not to think about what will happen if we do not  change the items that are clearly not working and hurting our next generation of citizens.

Today I will be attending the first of the Common Core forum meetings with Commissioner King in Albany. I look forward to respectfully listening to him and then watching the power of parents. New York State families, we have the ability to make a difference and do something historic right now. Our children deserve this and we must not back down or give into political pressure at the expense of our kids. I know my kids will know that I fought for them and hope that one day they will understand why it was so very important.

It's Me

Some previous posts about the educational world:

Share:
Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+



Public Education Advocacy

For months, I have been biting my tongue about something that has been on my mind practically 24/7. I am a teacher and while I may not be in a classroom, I have been watching the public education system that my children are in fall apart. I am an advocate and I should not be afraid to get the word out. Yet, prior to heading to Atlanta for TypeACon, I was cautious at best. My blog posts about education were vague, guarded, and I thought I was protecting my children. The fact is, I wasn’t. The reality is that it was fear of possibly never getting another teaching job based on my blog. The four inspirational women below made me see the light and for that I am eternally thankful.

Cause Blogging and the New Media Activist

The session on Cause Blogging and the New Media Activist sparked something in me. Moderator Ilina Ewen and speakers: Fadra Nally, Sarah Pinnix, and Chrysula Winnegar explained that we need to find something we are passionate about and use our voice.

I know what I am passionate about. Not only am I invested in public education as an educator, I have two young sons who deserve a proper education and should not be guinea pigs for companies using them to get rich.

I sat there in the room with my mind going a mile a minute. I knew what I needed to do, but did I have the guts to do it? Could I finally say enough is enough, I am not going to hold back and perhaps words that I write can make a difference to another parent that does not know the way the system is working against our children?

Then, on the last night of TypeACon, I walked over to Fadra Nally to thank her. I told her that I knew my cause and I just had to figure out the way I was going to attack it. Then I admitted to her what had been holding me back. Do you know what she told me?

Wise words from Fadra Nally at TypeACon

That is right, Fadra said “So what” and asked if I really wanted to go back into a classroom. I do, but not with the current state of the system and I know it is not going to change without a fight from parents. I have enough on my plate trying to work the system for my children and can not fathom APPR, Common Core, constant testing, and not being able to do what is best for the KIDS.

Now I am going to be more vocal on my blog and beyond. Parents in New York State and other locations need to know the truth about out children being used as data points to make companies rich. They have the right to know that their kids are being over tested and not taught in a developmentally appropriate way. Parents need to know that the blame game does NOT start with the teachers, they are innocent victims in this. The teachers are forced to do what they are told or they will not have a job. The blame game in New York State goes to the Board of Regents that hired Commissioner John King to head NYSED. The finger pointing belongs to districts that have refused to stand up and say enough is enough with the high stakes testing, teaching to the tests, and claim of more rigor in the classroom. Our children need to learn the basics, they need to trust educators.

Public School Parent Advocacy

We as a group must stand up and fight back. Rather than sit back and accept what the schools are doing we much be vocal and let them know that they are failing our children. Educators need to be in the drivers seat, not politicians and companies only looking for money at the next generation’s expense. We were always taught to listen to the schools and follow them. Well I am here to tell you to stop. Get the facts, see past the propaganda (especially in NYS with engageNY and Common Core) and get out there to other parents and help them to fight for our children.

It's Me

Some previous posts about the educational world:

Share:
Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+



Security Changes and the NFL All Clear Bag Policy

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I have been asked to share information about the new All Clear policy at NFL Stadiums. As a long time sports fan, I have seen changes and wanted to share the NFL’s concern and how they are addressing it with new clear bag options. All opinions are my own.

Sports were a big part of my life growing up. Traveling to different parts of the country would typically include going to a major sporting event. Then, when I was in college, I bought season tickets of my own for several years to our minor league hockey team. I still have the backpack that I used to tote everything that I needed to these games. Inside my bag, I had my purse, camera, autographed game-worn jersey, cow bell, and depending on the weather some gloves. This was back in the day when security was never a thought in the world, you just entered places. The world changed drastically on September 11, 2001. From that day on, bags would be searched, TSA would require clear bags with liquids in them, and many venues would alter their rules. Did I have a problem letting them search my bags? NO! In fact, I would often laugh in my head when a poor gentleman at security would look inside and hit feminine hygiene products and squirm. Hey, it’s a fact of life….move on.

Buffalo Bills Fan Attire

It was after this time that my brother and his friends bought season tickets to the Buffalo Bills. Insert your jokes here, they have probably heard all of them in the Buffalo area. Yes, they were diehards and would tailgate before the games and sit there cheering on the team that never seems to catch a break. Watching my brother prepare for a game in Buffalo was fascinating. He had to layer clothing just right, often prepare for snow, and make sure everything was set for the pre-game festivities. These men cooked amazing items to share with each other. There were rules they followed about items that could and could not be brought into the stadium. The NFL had already banned coolers and backpacks into stadiums in 2001 for all fans.

Then, in an instant, more changes happened on April 15, 2012. The horrific events at the Boston Marathon meant that people questioned permitting bags/purses and how to safely allow people to carry items into events. The NFL decided that they were not going to take any chances after the tragic events that happened in Boston. They got to work on the #NFLAllClear policy. Like other pro leagues and college stadiums had already done, they would not be allowing purses, diaper bags, and other large totes into their facilities. Season ticket holders were notified before the pre-season, and to assist fans, they have a video explaining the changes along with more details on their NFL All Clear page. Here, you will be able to locate the sizes of bags allowed. In addition to this, the NFL released the video below over a month ago to explain more about the new security policy.

While the NFL hopes that fans will leave their bags at home, they have outlined what is permissible to carry if they need to head into a game. Also note that medically necessary items are permitted they explain in the FAQs more about that.  In addition to this, the Buffalo Bills have their own website with information about their stadium at the bottom of their website. This also includes a page on permitted/prohibited items and lists more information about the bag policy.

NHL All Clear bags

While I admit that, when I first heard this on the news, I wondered how it would work for families and women that need to bring more than the items into their pockets to a game. After reading the information on the website, I realized it was less that you can not bring things just a change in how it will be done.  As you can see from three of the example NFL bags above, the sizes are not bad and would work for fans to tote in any necessities that would go inside a purse, diaper bag, or beyond. So try not to worry about the changes, it is for your safety. It will take time to adjust, but go with the flow and focus on the important part…cheering on your team. Let’s Go Buffalo!

What do you think about the new NFL security measures? How will this alter the way you pack items to head to cheer on your favorite team?

Please join @TheOnlineMom and other #NFLAllClear ambassadors to share your thoughts on the new policy this Wednesday evening on Twitter. Join in on the conversation from 9-10 PM ET.

It's Me

Disclosure: As stated above I am working with the NFL to spread the word about the new policy. This relationship and compensation does not influence my thoughts and opinions as a long time sports fan.

Share:
Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+



NetSmartz Teens – Resource for Kids on Internet Safety and Bullying

It is no secret that I have blogged about being a teacher. Over the years, I have shared my educational background in different ways around The Angel Forever. When Sara, from Saving for Someday, reached out to see if I would be interested in sharing information about a cause that is near and dear to her I asked for more information. I later found out that she does a lot of volunteer work for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). This week, NCMEC launched an updates website that is geared for tweens (8-12) to high school students. NSTeens is a re-launch of their NetSmartz Teen page.

NSTeensOrg Website

Why Share the NSTeens Website?

My first reason is because I am still a teacher to my core. While I may not be in a classroom, I like to share resources that will be helpful to children, parents, and teachers. The topic of online safety for tweens and teens is an area that I spent a lot of time on while teaching. While teaching in a middle school, I taught several different subjects. In addition to Science and Language Arts, I also taught Health to students. Not only did I have to talk about topics like eating disorders, sex education, and drugs, I also made sure to open up the gates to online safety. It always scared me when I would see what kids were sharing on Facebook that strangers could see.

The other reason I am interested, I am a parent of an almost ten year old son. In just over a year, NHL will be going to middle school and that is a very different world from elementary school. Though he is very young, he has already been the victim of bullies. I need to teach him how to talk to me about cyber-bullying and helping friends that are in trouble. We also need to have more in depth talks with him about online safety. This is a big item that TechyDad and I have to really think about. We want NHL to use technology, but do so safely and not get tricked by his peers or others that may take advantage of kids. We also need to teach NHL how to be responsible when posting information online. He has to think about his digital footprint and how it will be tracked in the future by colleges and future employers.

Back to School with NetSmartz_small

What Resources are Available on NSTeens?

NSTeens is a free online resource for tweens and teens to learn about making better choices online. There are online games, comics, and videos to actively engage this age group while they are learning. The new content includes (information from the NSTeens Press Release):

    • 6 Degrees of Information, a video that asks teens to think about the information they share online and how comfortable they are with people finding it. In the video, Matt, an Internet researcher, asks five teens to participate in an experiment where he will try to find out as much as he can about them online in just six clicks.
    • Rescue Run, a new game where players must avoid obstacles while racing to stop their friends from meeting face-to-face with people they first met online. During the game, players receive tips about how to handle requests to meet offline. Tweens can play at NSTeens.org or download the mobile version from the Apple iTunes stores or the Google Play Android store.
    • Stand By or Stand Up?, the first interactive, role-playing comic on NSTeens.org. The comic addresses cyberbullying and engages tweens through a “choose-your-own-adventure” style of story in which their decisions help shape the comic’s outcome.

In addition to the new content, there are older Internet-safety games and videos available on NSTeens. Parents and educators can also print activity cards and discussion guides to help them when talking about these crucial subjects.

I know that we will be spending more time this summer looking over the NetSmartz website before we share it with NHL and then we will explore it more together. To learn more, please check out NetSmartz Teens updated website and Twitter account. In addition to this, learn more about the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on their Facebook page.

Have you talked to your children about internet safety and cyber-bullying? If you have, please share your experiences in the comments below. It is always helpful to hear how others have communicated with their kids about this more difficult subjects.

It's Me

Disclosure: None! I posted the information as a PSA to other parents and educators looking for a resource to help kids to learn more about internet safety and cyber-bullying.

Share:
Share on Facebok
Share on Twitter
Share on Pinterest
Share on Google+