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.
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.
Some previous posts about the educational world: