7 Questions Poetic Justice Would Like Teachers to Answer

JAqslOJTElueb-3C4yChyvnWGAo1. Why would we test kids instead of teach kids?
2. Why would we allow the freedom to teach to be stripped from the teacher?
3. Why would we allow a system that stifles creativity, humanity, curiosity, and imagination in our charges to continue?
4. Why would we discourage healthy relationships in our schools? Between students and teachers? Between teachers and teachers? Between teachers and administrators?
5. How do we kill the current educational regime and rebuild our teachers, students, and schools?
6. How can teachers, parents, and administrators remain sane if the status quo remains entrenched in our thoughts and in our schools?
7. By not resisting, are we part of the insanity?

These questions continue to plague me.

#DoNoHarm
#ResistanceMatters
#LetLoveLeadtheWAY

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“Today I resigned from the school board.” From Teacher Wendy Bradshaw PhD

Teacher Wendy Bradshaw PhD from Florida handed in her resignation letter today. Her letter speaks the unspoken words of thousands of professional educators across the country. Her letter is the cry of what is in the hearts of teachers who, also, can no longer harm the children.

Please share her words so just maybe, we can once again have schools that love and tenderly care for the well-being of our most precious gifts – our children and grandchildren. #DoNoHarm

“Today I resigned from the school board. I would like to share with you what I gave them. Feel free to share it if it strikes you as important.

To: The School Board of Polk County, Florida

I love teaching. I love seeing my students’ eyes light up when they grasp a new concept and their bodies straighten with pride and satisfaction when they persevere and accomplish a personal goal. I love watching them practice being good citizens by working with their peers to puzzle out problems, negotiate roles, and share their experiences and understandings of the world. I wanted nothing more than to serve the students of this county, my home, by teaching students and preparing new teachers to teach students well. To this end, I obtained my undergraduate, masters, and doctoral degrees in the field of education. I spent countless hours after school and on weekends poring over research so that I would know and be able to implement the most appropriate and effective methods with my students and encourage their learning and positive attitudes towards learning. I spent countless hours in my classroom conferencing with families and other teachers, reviewing data I collected, and reflecting on my practice so that I could design and differentiate instruction that would best meet the needs of my students each year. I not only love teaching, I am excellent at it, even by the flawed metrics used up until this point. Every evaluation I received rated me as highly effective.

Like many other teachers across the nation, I have become more and more disturbed by the misguided reforms taking place which are robbing my students of a developmentally appropriate education. Developmentally appropriate practice is the bedrock upon which early childhood education best practices are based, and has decades of empirical support behind it. However, the new reforms not only disregard this research, they are actively forcing teachers to engage in practices which are not only ineffective but actively harmful to child development and the learning process. I am absolutely willing to back up these statements with literature from the research base, but I doubt it will be asked for. However, I must be honest. This letter is also deeply personal. I just cannot justify making students cry anymore. They cry with frustration as they are asked to attempt tasks well out of their zone of proximal development. They cry as their hands shake trying to use an antiquated computer mouse on a ten year old desktop computer which they have little experience with, as the computer lab is always closed for testing. Their shoulders slump with defeat as they are put in front of poorly written tests that they cannot read, but must attempt. Their eyes fill with tears as they hunt for letters they have only recently learned so that they can type in responses with little hands which are too small to span the keyboard.

The children don’t only cry. Some misbehave so that they will be the ‘bad kid’ not the ‘stupid kid’, or because their little bodies just can’t sit quietly anymore, or because they don’t know the social rules of school and there is no time to teach them. My master’s degree work focused on behavior disorders, so I can say with confidence that it is not the children who are disordered. The disorder is in the system which requires them to attempt curriculum and demonstrate behaviors far beyond what is appropriate for their age. The disorder is in the system which bars teachers from differentiating instruction meaningfully, which threatens disciplinary action if they decide their students need a five minute break from a difficult concept, or to extend a lesson which is exceptionally engaging. The disorder is in a system which has decided that students and teachers must be regimented to the minute and punished if they deviate. The disorder is in the system which values the scores on wildly inappropriate assessments more than teaching students in a meaningful and research based manner.

On June 8, 2015 my life changed when I gave birth to my daughter. I remember cradling her in the hospital bed on our first night together and thinking, “In five years you will be in kindergarten and will go to school with me.” That thought should have brought me joy, but instead it brought dread. I will not subject my child to this disordered system, and I can no longer in good conscience be a part of it myself. Please accept my resignation from Polk County Public Schools.

Best,
Wendy Bradshaw, Ph.D.”

do no harm
Letter printed with permission from the author.

Let Love Lead the Way – An Important Message from Principal Jamaal Bowman

From Principal Jamaal Bowman opening The Call to Educational Justice Conference in NYC, October 17th, 2015:

“Our Work is About Two Things – Children and Love –  and not just love of children, obviously, but the love of the world, a love of the work, a love of our future, and most importantly, a love for ourselves.”

Click here to comment on the video.

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/142844242″>Let Love Lead the Way</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/michaelelliot”>Michael Elliot</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Film-maker Michael Elliot has once again captured a defining moment in the battle to save our children and restore humanity to our educational systems.

Please share this video and comment on the FaceBook page. If  you like the message and want to spread the word you have to SHARE IT! Tag it in your comments with names of friends you want to see it. That will get the message to reach MUCH FURTHER!

Poetic Justice would like to see this video touch 100,000 viewers.

Let love lead the way – it is and always was ALL ABOUT THE CHILDREN!

jamaal-bowman

Who Are “The Disposables”? – from Dr. Mark Naison

Here is a “must-read” blog post from my friend Dr. Mark Naison. We are losing millions of lives. They are just disappearing. They are “The Disposables”.

Who Are “The Disposables”?

My friend Jo Lieb just called for a “Revolution of the Disposables”.

Who are the Disposables?

– They are the more than 90 million Americans of working age who are not in the labor force and do not have regular jobs.
– They are the millions of teenagers who dropped out or were pushed out of school in cities like Detroit and Memphis and New Orleans and Los Angeles and Chicago and have disappeared from view because the divisions between charter schools and public schools have made it impossible to develop a coherent strategy to make sure no child is lost.
– They are all the people who graduated from college with huge debt and can’t find a job with benefits so they package together three or four jobs to make ends meet whether they are living with their parents or living with groups of friends
– They are the rural heroin addicts that no one knows how to explain and no one knows what to do with because they don’t neatly fit in anybody’s idea of what kind of country this is.
Will all these folks ever find common cause with one another and demand that some form of economic security and decent schooling be available to all?

Or will we continue to sink deeper into poverty and stagnation?

at_risk

And here is Poetic Justice’s response:

Recipe for Educational Malpractice and National Catastrophe:

BEGIN WITH:

Forcing children to read texts that are 6 grade levels and more above their instructional reading level.

THEN ADD:

Forcing children to write in a formulaic and robotic manner disallowing any personal connections or life application.

STIR IN:

Pressure to achieve high scores on invalid and unreliable assessments.

COVER WITH:

Stressed out, paranoid, and targeted teachers only thinking about their own evaluations.

This is the perfect recipe to create a nation of disposable children who will just disappear from the data by the time they are 21.

Choose to #DoNoHarm

Time to Unite to Face Addiction by Michael Elliot

This piece and video are reblogged from a Huffington Post piece by film maker Michael Elliot. This is a cause near and dear to my heart. Recovering from addiction is like being born anew. It is a miracle and a thing to celebrate, not a thing to avoid and shun. Let us all UNITE TO FACE ADDICTION! Let us all END THE SILENCE!

Please watch the live event tomorrow from 4 to 8 PM EST.

Today, the health crisis of addiction cuts across so many other issues we face. It’s a social justice issue with mass incarcerations overflowing our expanding prison industrial complex. It’s an education issue because it affects children in such incredible numbers, and is one of the most profound killers of young people in this country. It’s a political crisis because politicians lack the knowledge and courage to take action. Addiction takes a terrible toll on families, on our health care system, on the economy and on the vitality of our youth. Currently we treat addiction like a moral failing, like an issue of personal responsibility rather than treating it like the disease it is.

Addiction to alcohol and other drugs is a public health crisis impacting more than 85 million Americans. Today is the day we begin facing addiction. We stand with thousands of others on the National Mall to #UNITEtoFaceAddiction and end the silence on addiction, along with Joe Walsh, Steven Tyler, Sheryl Crow, The Fray, Jason Isbell, John Rzeznik and more special guests. Watch history unfold live: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/2yJ3N2cjfjp