A Poem in Favor of Humanity

2017 – it’s 2017
Who would think that in 2017
I would feel the need to have you read
a poem in favor of humanity?

I look out at my students
what do I see?

I see wires from teenage ears
red, yellow, black pods in and around their ears
talking to them
mesmerizing them
hypnotizing them

I see the omnipresent ChromeBook
on their desks – their laptop computer instructors
And on tables as stand alones
I see the Boxes standing tall –
They are Black
They are Powerful
They are Teaching my kids

And I am complicit….

Whoooaaa
What did I just say?
The black plastic and metal square heads
Are everywhere… scrambling
the brains of my students
teaching them to be compliant
malleable
common
ordinary
all the same
as
each
other

But my kids are the outliers on the scattergrams –
my rebels
my questioners
my thinkers
my doers
the next generation’s movers and the shakers

At least they used to be

……

They used to be when we treated them as humans
not data
not profitable
not little red, yellow, and green bars on Excel data sheets
not as inhuman commodities
not as a dollar sign
not as a deficit
not as the invisibles
the unwanted
the disposable
the shame of the school
the student who brings down my VAM

So – where is the humanity in 2017?

The little rectangular plastic and glass slab that sits in our pockets
I won’t even begin to go where that slab has pulled our children

a place where our children hide out
a place where our children hide from reality
a place where a child is no longer human

Why do our kids want to get lost in the Screen instead of in the woods?
Why do our kids want to get lost in the Internet instead of in a good book?
Why do our kids want to live inside a box instead of in the real world?

I cry out for a return to humanity
for a return to nature
for a return to that which makes us human
and unique and real and immortal.

I cry out for a 21st Century Transcendental Movement.

Who will join me in the fight to transcend
the data
the algorithms
the pie charts
the Excel Spread sheets that try to
define our students?

Let us together form a new world
for our children and grand children –
a world that celebrates the child in each of us
a world that loves nature
a world that believes we are more than just flesh and blood –
certainly more than a data point –
a world that believes we can transcend the rational
a world that reaches for the stars.

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Alison McDowell – What Silicon Valley Has Planned for Public Education

This is really hard to watch but every teacher, parent, and grandparent needs to watch this through to the end. The truth of what has been going on in public education, what is happening now in public education, and what is planned for the future of public education needs to be understood and shared with the public. If not, our future will be determined by a small group of elitists.

We need a miracle uprising to take down this scheme.

This is  Poetic Justice’s idea of educational transformation:

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Thanks to Christopher Chase and the Art of Learning Facebook page for the above graphic.

Please visit Alison McDowell’s blog Wrench in the Gears. You can download the slide show from the video. Feel free to use and share.

Share the TRUTH – the TRUTH will set us free.

Connecticut legislators don’t want to protect students after all. Attacking Student Data Privacy Law–AGAIN

I am reblogging this from my friend Cheri Kiesecker’s Blog Missouri Education Watchdog:

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Connecticut passed a student data privacy and transparency bill, Public Act 189,  in 2016.

The bill adopted common sense policies associated with contracts between school districts and corporations that collect, maintain, and share student data.  The CT law does NOT limit data collection, does not require parental consent prior to collecting data, it only asks that NEW  or renewed contracts and bids collecting student data must handle data appropriately. The law requires parents to be notified if their child’s data is breached. To their credit, the CT Commission on Educational Technology has done great work and is prepared and ready for this law to be implemented.  You can see their plan here: Operationalizing Public Act 189.

Why then, are some lawmakers in CT  introducing bills to cripple this new law that protects student data privacy? Do they not think that keeping student data safe, notifying parents of a breach is important?

You may remember one Connecticut legislator introduced a bill in January to entirely repeal this new student privacy law.  As CT blogger and parent Jonathon Pelto wrote,

“…in an astonishing, baffling and extremely disturbing move, State Representative Stephen Harding (R-107th District) has introduced legislation (HB 5233) to repeal this important law (Public Act 16-189)

…It is not clear who would ask Representative Harding to propose such a bill or why the representative would seek to do such harm to Connecticut’s students, parents and public schools.”

Fortunately, Representative Harding withdrew the bill after receiving much pushback (understandably) from the parent community.

New bill “Revising” CT Student Privacy to be heard Monday, March 6

This past week a new bill,  7207 to “revise” the student data privacy law,  was introduced, and will be heard by the CT Joint Education Committee this Monday, March 6.  This kind of a rush job could imply that they are hoping to pass this bill without giving parents time to react.  This new bill, 7207, wants to repeal the data privacy law and  delay further  implementation until July 1, 2018.   This would remove existing protection of school children for over a year.  WHY?

The Student Data Privacy Law has been in effect since Oct. 1, 2016; it only applies to NEW contracts, only asks for transparency, the CT  Edtech Commission has already done the work to implement it. WHY, would Connecticut want to now repeal protection and transparency?

Please email your comment or testimony in Word or PDF format to EDtestimony@cga.ct.gov . Testimony should clearly state your name and the bill you are commenting on: Bill 7207- AN ACT MAKING REVISIONS TO THE STUDENT DATA PRIVACY ACT OF 2016.

Connecticut citizens  please contact your legislators directly. If you are not sure who they are or how to contact them you can look that up here: https://www.cga.ct.gov/asp/menu/cgafindleg.asp

Is it asking too much that when a company contracts with a school and collects and uses and shares children’s data, that the data be kept safe and parents be able to see how that data is used, breached,  and not sold?

By repealing or delaying this law, who are they protecting?

Written by Cheri Kiesecker and posted her her blog – Missouri Education Watchdog

 

http://missourieducationwatchdog.com/connecticut-legislators-dont-want-to-protect-students-after-all-trying-to-repeal-student-data-privacy-law-again/

 

#OptOut4Justice from Mark Naison

The Opt Out movement needs to become more than just a rebellion against high stakes testing. The Opt Out movement needs to fight the injustices of so-called education reforms that strip our children and our teachers of their humanity.

Please watch and share this video created by Michael Elliot and Shoot4Education if you are in agreement.

 

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My Criteria for a Model School by Mark Naison

1. Children are loved and walk around the school with smiles on their faces.
2. Teachers are respected and stay in their jobs for a long time.
3. Parents are welcome in the school and are made to feel an integral part of the culture of the school.
4. The culture and history of the community the school is located is honored in displays and in what is taught in classes.
5. Arts, physical education, recess and sports are NEVER sacrificed for higher test scores.
6. ELL and Special Needs students are treated with respect and are given the counseling and special attention they need to thrive.
7. Students have such a positive experience at the school that they return on a regular basis after they have graduated.

If you think that these features are only found in private schools or schools in affluent middle schools, you need to visit the CASA Middle School in the Bronx where Jamaal Bowman is the principal.

This is not only something that CAN be done in all communities, it is something that MUST be done so that ALL our children can grow up with confidence in their abilities.

And Poetic Justice would add to the list the following:
8. All children will be encouraged to find and use their voices in academic subjects and particularly in creative writing and POETRY classes.

reach.final_

The Fear Factor – & its antidote

The Fear Factor
is so real —-

it is like teachers are suffering from anxiety, PTSD, Battered Wife Syndrome, and Stockholm Syndrome all at the same time.

 

And … we can trust no one … not our unions, not our bosses, not our district, not our politicians, not even our friends – our friends do not get it – our families do not get it.
so …. we take meds …. we drink … we use drugs … we are sick  – and we are dying.

The only antidote is unconditional love for our students.

unconditional-love-oscar-wilde-quote

 

It’s Common Sense not Common Core by Stacy Stelmack Biscorner

It’s Common Sense not Common Core by Stacy Stelmack Biscorner

I’m a good teacher. I know how my students learn best. I know this because I talk to my students like they are human beings. I greet them with hugs and smiles every day. I take time each day to have a morning meeting, where two to three students get to share something. Maybe it’s that their dog was hit by a car and died last night. Or maybe one of them is sad because everyone is talking about making Father’s Day presents and his dad is in prison and he won’t be seeing or spending time with his dad.

What company out there is coming up with ways to add relationship to the CCSS? What will that look like? Will there be a required statement to make at the beginning of each day? “Good morning student A.” Will the kids have barcodes on their foreheads so they can be shoved through the lunch lines faster and get back to class for the next assessment?

Guess what? When I went to college, it didn’t prepare me for what I would face when I stepped into my classroom that very first day 14 years ago! Nothing could have. You see, when working with human beings, young, developing human beings, there is nothing inside a college textbook or any lecture even the greatest professor could give to prepare for that. Why? Because EVERY CHILD IS DIFFERENT.

I don’t buy into the notion that every kid must learn the same exact thing in the same exact order at the very same rate of speed with the very same words. Differentiate, but use a script, they say. Uh, that doesn’t sound idiotic at all. Use various methods of delivering the lesson, too. What would that be? Reading the script to the kids as a listening comprehension activity? Or having all the students read the scripted lesson as a reading comprehension lesson?

Bottom line here is I’m a good teacher. I know what each of my students need because I TALK WITH THEM, not at them. I work WITH them. I read WITH them. Every single child is unique and learns differently. So how much sense does it make to teach them in a common way? Teaching kids to live healthy lives in an unhealthy way is insane. It makes absolutely no sense. I’m very able to assess and evaluate my students without a rubric on a clipboard in my hand.

Believe it or not, I have found that it works to ASK, not tell my students to explain their thinking and show me either verbally or in writing how they know the information. It also works pretty well to give kids CHOICES. Let them show the way they solved a problem ANY WAY THEY CHOOSE. There’s more than one way to show proficiency and understanding.

Again, Who would have known that having a caring relationship with students and creating an environment where it’s okay to step away from the 15 page lesson plan and use the professional judgment you worked so long and hard for is a great way to foster a love for learning. That it would encourage students to feel safe and willing to take risks. Most importantly, it would actually raise achievement scores because teachers would be allowed to use their intuition, their gut feeling, their professionally trained brains instead of a script.

The lesson plans that are being required are not only ridiculous, cumbersome, and insulting, they are robbing children of what every competent teacher knows their students need most.

Students in poverty? Newsflash, they don’t care about doing well on a test. They can’t. Their little minds are consumed with worry that they won’t get to eat dinner. Their worry isn’t that they won’t get a good score. Their worry is they won’t get to see their parents because they both work two jobs and their older siblings, if they have any, will be caring for them.

Kids don’t need CCSS and all the testing that comes with it. Kids need teachers and all the love, care, compassion and security that comes with having him/her. My students don’t need me writing 15 pages of lesson plans each week. They need my stress free mind, my present, face to face interaction. They need me to be aware of what makes them happy or sad.

My students care about what I know because they know I care. I find time to ask about my students’ interests outside of school that could be embedded into a lesson. How many good teachers go strictly by the written plan? I don’t. Why? Because I’m constantly taking the pulse of my students and if what I have written in the plan is too easy or too difficult or not going well, I ditch it. I teach by reading my students’ cues, facial expressions, body language, etc. If I had to keep reading off a written piece of paper, I would miss all of the things that matter most. Here’s the lesson that this country needs to start implementing all across the country:

It’s common sense, not common core our teachers need the higher ups to implement.

Oh, and another thing. I’ve seen some pretty bad teachers with some beautifully written plans. Which teacher would you rather your child have? One who writes lengthy, detailed, meticulous lesson plans including each CCSS the lesson addresses, but has really no rapport or relationship with your child, or the one who spends extra time thinking of ways to help your child feel confident and excited about going to school?

There’s no time for recess, gym, art or music anymore, either. But that’s an entirely different subject I’ll address some other time. If I didn’t have to spend two hours every night documenting proof to show I know how to be a good teacher, I’d write it tonight.

And does that flawless lesson plan guarantee that the teacher will actually use it? Engage students? Assess by observation and discussion? No, because there’s a script for that.

Wouldn’t you rather your child be with a teacher who can multi task like no tomorrow, move around the room talking to and observing students working, and assessing with their brain instead of a rubric?

This isn’t to say there’s not an outline of the daily/weekly plans. There is an outline, but the teacher is forced to spend the hours writing long, drawn out lesson plans trying to prove she’s worthy of her job. This insults her deeply, by the way, because of all the voluntary training and PSD she attends trying to improve her craft. Which teacher would you want? I want the teacher who acts as if my child has a living soul, a beating heart, and who wants to build a relationship with my child built on trust and understanding. One who knows that my child isn’t like all the other children.

My child, and all the children in the class are special, unique and shouldn’t be spoken to by a robotic adult who treats him as if he’s the next part on the conveyor belt of the public education system.

My child is not a machine. My child needs a relationship, not rigor. Do away with CC standards and codes. Do you really think the teachers have time to memorize them? Do administrators have them memorized?

Will anyone even do anything with the lesson plans, other than glance down at it just to make sure all the teachers obeyed the demand?

Wouldn’t it make more sense if teachers put those hours into making fun activities that will make a lasting impact and excite the students to start exploring and creating and finding real world purposes for their new knowledge?

It’s common sense, not common core our teachers need the higher ups to implement.

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