My mom tells me, “You can’t beat city hall.” I heard this saying pronounced throiughout my life whenever I witnessed bureaucratic rules being enforced without the consideration of common sense. Lately I’ve been feeling like the character Howard Beale portrayed by Peter Finch in the film “Network.” I want to scream out,”I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” By the number of test refusals being collated in New York, predicted to be in the hundreds of thousands, thankfully, I am not alone. Parents of school age children in New York are fed up.
I am overwhelmed by the hundreds of thousands of families in every corner of New York State practicing civil disobedience. As the number of test refusals continue to grow I am shocked and delighted at the same time. Parents and teachers are standing together in protest. They are demanding that our state leaders listen to our concerns. We want the best education possible for our children. That education will come when teachers are allowed to practice their profession. A high quality education will not materialize out of political policy. Politicians are not, and never were, educational experts. That’s why we have teachers. Governor Cuomo received thousands of invitations from teachers to visit their classrooms. He didn’t accept a single one of them. Educators know the power of collaboration. Did the Governor fail to learn this concept when he went to school?
I am also offended when I hear threatening responses coming from Ken Wagner, the Senior Deputy Commissioner for NYSED. Like his predecessor John King, he is rigid and incapable of altering his course. “Failure to comply with the assessment requirement would also be detrimental to the taxpayers and the students of the school district,” stated Wagner in the letter dated March 26, 2015.”
What IS detrimental, in my opinion as a taxpayer and a parent, are these inappropriate tests that are narrowing and weakening the curriculum.
“But let’s be clear: Annual statewide assessment of all students in grades 3-8 is in the interests of policymakers much more so than it is in the interests of individual parents.”
Teachers grasp the power of a teachable moment. Most educators can appreciate when a student takes a risk in class. Can’t the people that create the policies in New York learn from their mistakes? What is this inconceivable force that prohibits NYSED from bending, adapting, or revising?
Meryl Tisch, the chancellor of the NYS Board of Regents is just as inefficacious as Ken Wagner and the NYSED. She proclaims, ” school districts have told the Board of Regents that they want to design curriculum around the results of the tests.” That’s absurd! A test that 70% of students in grades 3-8 failed two years in a row! Common Core tests are developmentally inappropriate, some say abusive. The NYS exams include reading passages that are two and three grade levels above a student’s current grade. They are extremely flawed. You can’t create a curriculum based on a broken measure.
She is out of touch. I read a response on social media this week where the writer said that Chancellor Tisch considers us peasants. Another said that she sees us as ants. Is she the Marie Antoinette of our time? She debated Dianne Ravitch this past week on MSNBC.
Meryl Tisch never taught in a public school. She taught seven years in a private school. Perhaps we are all just peasants in her eyes, however I question the qualifications that enable her to make legitimate decisions on public schools being she never actually worked in one. I assume she holds this powerful position due to nepotism. After all, she is a very wealthy woman. She is tasked with fixing the APPR teacher evaluation system and to reduce testing. I don’t have very much faith in her abilities or intentions.
If the endgame is to destroy public education, then yes, the bureaucrats in charge are doing a good job. Teachers are demoralized. Many are leaving the profession they love early. New teachers are facing an extreme challenge at the start of their careers. Teaching was hard enough before all these insidious policies. Many simply will not pass the requirements. Other viable candidates are choosing other career paths. Why go through such a tedious process just to be disrespected? The question to ask is: Will the damage be so great as to be irreparable for years to come? Like ripples in a pond.
You can’t beat city hall. There are powerful forces that are dismantling public education. Their misdeeds will affect our children for years to come. Our children are the innocent victims suffering through the abuses of common core, the power brokers in New York State and beyond. Billions of dollars are invested in this social experiment on our children. The fact remains, there is no science or research that backs up this educational “reform.” The achievement gap is not being reduced. I’m appalled by the threats and lies about public education by our leaders. It’s time for this experiment to end. Let teachers teach.