Who Will Carry This Torch?

I wrote this poem eleven years ago. I return to it today and just want to weep. What are we doing to our children? Who will save them? Who will carry the torch of knowledge for the next generation and for the generation behind us?


No one to close the windows
when the rain storm pellets their beds.
No one to lock the doors at night
and keep intruders from walking in.
No one to warm up dinner and
feed their craving little bodies.
No one to scare away the dragons
who star in their dreams at night.


The children are
thrown away –
labeled incorrigible –
impossible –
beyond our abilities to help.

The achievement gap widens.
The terrain becomes more barren.
The house falls into further decay.
The green in the landscape
melds into

When will
no child
be left

Then, I came across this beautiful hand drawing today and it  gave me new hope. This is drawn by a 15 year old girl from the Philippines and brings hope for change. Let it start here in our own country and in our own hearts.


Everything You Need to Know About Opting Out of Harmful Technologies

Let us keep in the forefront of our hearts, minds, and souls that our children have started a new school year full of testing, computer programs, shell-shocked teachers, and ravenous entrepreneurs making billions from the hostile take over of public education. They need us now more than ever. In all that we do let us not do anything that brings harm to our children. ##DoNoHarm

Many thanks to the new blog Wrench in the Gears for alerting many of us to the dangers of the online usurpation of education.

Wrench in the Gears


Schools in every state are buzzing this year with talk of “personalized” learning and 21st century assessments for kids as young as kindergarten. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and its innovative pilot programs are already changing the ways schools instruct and assess, in ways that are clearly harmful to our kids. Ed-tech companies, chambers of commerce, ALEC, neoliberal foundations, telecommunications companies, and the government are working diligently to turn our public schools into lean, efficient laboratories of data-driven, digital learning.

In the near future, learning eco-systems of cyber education mixed with a smattering of community-based learning opportunities (ELOs) will “optimize” a child’s personal learning pathway to college and career readiness.

Opt out families are being set up as pawns in this fake “assessment reform” movement. I began to realize this a year ago when our dysfunctional, Broad Superintendent-led school district was suddenly almost eager to help us inform parents…

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Digital Curriculum: Questions Parents Should be Asking

I am reblogging these important questions to ask. The BIG QUESTION is – are our children being taught by professional human teachers, or are they being taught by inhuman technology? What do you want for your children and grandchildren? I want a human in control of teaching and learning in every classroom in America.

Sarcasm Alert:

Wrench in the Gears

As we enter this new era of blended/hybrid classrooms, the clamor of ed-tech entrepreneurs pitching their digital curricula is getting to be truly overwhelming for parents. Rather than critiquing individual programs, I have laid out a set of ten questions that parents should be asking their child’s teachers and school administrators. Feel free to share and/or print it out and bring it with you to back-to-school night. I’d love to know what the response is.

1. Does the program require aggregating PII (personally identifiable information) from students to function properly? And even if it doesn’t REQUIRE it, does the program collect PII?

2. Does the program supplement face-to-face human instruction, or function as a substitute for it? How many minutes per day of face-to-face human instruction is being sacrificed or substituted?

3. Does the program encourage active student-to-student engagement and face-to-face discussion? How does it accomplish this? Or does it…

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Important Research for our Schools – Study Unlocks Why Decrepit Schools Mean Poor Test Scores

Poetic Justice is reblogging a very important article written by Cornell Chronicle writer Susan Kelley about the research findings of Dr. Lorraine Maxwell. Please read and share with other concerned educators, parents, grand parents, and community members.

If we would put financial resources into our classrooms instead of into faulty tests, oppressive teacher evaluation systems, data collection systems, computer learning schemes,  and the privatization of our schools, we would finally see the results we have been searching for the last two decades. We would see happy, joyful children exploring new learning everyday.

Here is the article:

Social scientists have known for several years that kids enrolled in run-down schools miss more classes and have lower test scores than students at well-maintained schools. But they haven’t been able to pin down why.

A Cornell environmental psychologist has an answer.

Lorraine Maxwell’s study of more than 230 New York City public middle schools found that a school’s social climate – from its academic expectations to the level of communication, respect and engagement among its students, teachers and parents – is a major missing link.

Maxwell, an associate professor of design and environmental analysis in the College of Human Ecology, found a chain reaction at work, stemming from poor building conditions. Leaking toilets, smelly cafeterias, broken furniture, classrooms that were too hot or too cold, moldy walls and plaster falling off ceilings made students feel negatively about the school’s norms and expectations. That negative perception of the school’s social climate contributed to high absenteeism. In turn, that contributed to low test scores and poor academic achievement.

“School buildings that are in good condition and attractive may signal to students that someone cares and there’s a positive social climate, which in turn may encourage better attendance,” Maxwell said. “Students cannot learn if they do not come to school.”

Her study, “School Building Condition, Social Climate, Student Attendance and Academic Achievement: A Mediation Model,” appears in the Journal of Environmental Psychology’s June issue.

In an earlier, related study, Maxwell asked a handful of middle-school students what difference they thought a school building makes.

“I will never forget one boy,” Maxwell said. “He said, ‘Well, maybe if the school looked better, kids would want to come to school.’ And that sparked me to think, ‘OK, they notice.’”

Maxwell’s latest study analyzed 2011 data from 236 New York City middle schools with a combined enrollment of 143,788 students. The data included academic performance measures and assessments of physical environments done by independent professionals in architecture, and mechanical and electrical engineering. Maxwell also analyzed surveys on how parents, teachers and students felt about the school’s social climate; that dataset developed by the New York City Department of Education is the largest of its kind in the United States.

Maxwell found that poor building conditions, and the resulting negative perception of the school’s social climate, accounted for 70 percent of the poor academic performance. She controlled for students’ socioeconomic status and ethnic background, and found that while these student attributes are related to test scores, they do not tell the whole story. School building condition is also a major contributing factor, Maxwell said.

“Those other factors are contributing to poor academic performance, but building condition is significantly contributing also. It’s worth it for society to make sure that school buildings are up to par,” she said.

Buildings also have symbolic value, Maxwell said. For example, government buildings in Washington, D.C., and in state capitals are well maintained, with gold-leaf roofs, Greek columns and polished marble stairs meant to inspire awe, she pointed out.

“Those buildings are kept well. Why? They give us a certain impression about what goes on inside and how much society values those activities,” she said “So you can understand why kids might think a school that doesn’t look good inside or outside is giving them a message that perhaps what happens in their school doesn’t matter.”

The study has serious implications for policymakers, Maxwell said. They must understand that school conditions are especially important for kids in minority and low-income communities.

“Those students are already potentially facing more of an uphill battle, and sending more positive messages about how the larger society values them is critical,” she said.




How the NYC Department of Education Bullied and Drove Away an NBCT Pre-K Teacher

I am reblogging this from Diane Ravitch.

This is how bad our schools have become. They are children-unfriendly and teacher-unfriendly.

“I left not because I was in an under represented community and not because many children had challenging issues but rather because the lack of support and understanding about what it means to be a teacher was draining the life out of me.” ~ a NYC pre-K teacher who chooses to remain unnamed.


Diane Ravitch's blog

This is a letter that I received:

I have been following you for the last 10 years and am in awe of your continued efforts to turn public education in the right direction.

I read your article this morning about a teacher who had had enough.

It could have been my story.

I am a retired NYC Department of Education pre-k teacher in an under represented community. I taught pre-k for 16 consecutive years in the same school. I was fortunate that I was able to introduce many innovative programs to support my students not just in academics but the more important social/emotional piece that schools often neglect.

I brought to my classroom American Sign Language, Yoga, Mindfulness, Cooking and Baking, Caterpillars into Butterflies and as much art and music as I could fit in a day.

My students thrived. Sadly, each year it became more and more difficult to…

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CBE and ALEC Preparing Students for the Gig Economy

This is a must read for all teachers, parents, and students. Do we really want our children reduced to “gigs” and data points?


“Career and College Ready?”

(image link)

CBE 101

First, a brief background: Competency based education (or CBE) has been a rapidly developing alternative to traditional public education. While proponents tout it as “disruptive innovation” critics examine how disruptive translates into “dismantle”, meaning that CBE is a system by which public schools can, and will be, dismantled. This is not ancillary. It was designed to create a new privately-run profiteering model by which education can be delivered to “the masses.” Think: Outsourcing.

CBE delivers curriculum, instruction and assessments through online programming owned by third-party (corporate) organizations that are paid for with your tax dollars. Proponents of CBE use catchy language like “personalized” and “individualized” learning. Translation? Children seated alone interfacing with a computer, which monitors and adjusts the materials according to the inputs keyed in by the child. See Newton’s Datapalooza here.

So gone are the days of “credit…

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Why Do I Teach?

How can I say “no” to them and walk away?

Last week, the dark child brightened up.
Yesterday, the angry child smiled.
Just today, the sad child laughed.
And tomorrow, the child beyond hope, will graduate.

Each child a new challenge.
Each challenge a routine and a painful burden.
Each burden, mine to bear for a brief period of time –
my special chance to help God perform His miracle
in each child.

We teach because we are called to teach.
We teach because the children need us now.
We teach because we need to love them.
We teach because it is life to us.

How can we say “no” to them and walk away?