Another Brick in the Wall – a 21st Century Howl

We don’t need no ed reformers
We don’t need no tests no more
The lack of knowledge in the classroom
We don’t need no data wall

Hey Reformers
Just go and leave our school

All in all we’re just another
soul searching light

We don’t need no politicians
We don’t need no laws at all
The noose of power is so ugly
We don’t need your voice no more

Hey Politicians
Just get out of our classroom

All in all we’re just another
soul searching light

We don’t need no corporate types
We don’t need their callous cash
Their money buys our very thoughts
Go take your big bucks out the door

Hey Big Business
Just leave our schools alone

All in all we’re just another
soul searching light

All in all we’re just another
soul left in fright

All in all we’re just another
brick in the wall

Based on the classic Pink Floyd –

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A Follow-Up on Maggie’s and Josh’s Letters to Governor Cuomo

A few weeks back I published this amazing letter written by Josh – a fourth grader – to Governor Cuomo about the injustices he personally sees in his own education.
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This letter has over 26,000 views as of today.

The second letter I published was from Maggie – an extremely articulate and feisty fifth grader also from New York, also addressed to Governor Cuomo, complaining about her public school education.

Maggies letter 2 2 2015In both of these letters, the children are complaining about how the testing is hurting them and their teachers and how their education is lacking music, the arts, and recess because of the flawed reform agenda.

So the saga of Josh and Maggie continues. Last week, Maggie’s mother posted two more letters – one that Governor Cuomo sent as a reply to Maggie’s letter and a second that Maggie wrote in response to his letter.

Here is Governor Cuomo’s response to Maggie:

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And here is our Maggie’s response to his letter:

10974664_920143638010780_2400886420286556389_oFrom the mouths of our children come the real questions here. Why is the Governor not responding to the cries of thousands of children and their parents? Maggie and Josh represent Every Boy and Every Girl in New York State. They want to know why their teachers are spending so much time testing them. They want to know why their teachers are being graded based on these tests. They want to know why they are being reduced to a test score. In addition, they want to know why they are being deprived of an education that educates their minds, souls, bodies, and spirits. They want Governor Cuomo to write back and assure them that they are much much more than a test score. Instead Maggie has gotten a form letter talking about the importance of public service? This is not right or just.

So, I publish this follow-up hoping that the cries of the students and their parents will be heard. I truly believe they deserve an authentic reply to their cries for help.

As of this posting, Josh has not received a letter back from the Governor but I do wonder if it would be the exact same letter that Maggie received.

Fourteen Words that are Cursing America’s Children

Words do matter. They do have life. They do have power. They can hurt our souls and bring us down or they can heal our hearts and raise us up. They can cause us to love and they can cause us to hate. We can take words and use them to spur us to actions or we can take words and use them to spur others to act in ways we desire. Words are power and words give and take life.

With that said, I want us to examine these 14 words that are shaping the future of American education. These words were spoken by Common Core wizard David Coleman at a NY State Department of Education presentation, in April of 2011:

“…people really don’t give a s*** about what you feel or what you think.”

If you replace the “you” with “students” and the “people” with “teachers” we now have a pedagogical statement that truly shatters my heart. Now it reads:

 …teachers really don’t give a s*** about what students feel or what students think.

 Let’s paraphrase this educational dogma less explicitly and reveal a sense of Coleman’s message to America’s educators:

 Teachers should not care about what students feel or think.

Is it just me, or is this the antithesis to what a good teacher should be doing? A mere decade ago, the mantra “It’s All About the Kids” pervaded everything that was being done in my CT district. Almost before my eyes, we are now teaching in a time where the mantra has changed to “It’s All About the Data.”

Now I do not have anything against data teams and data sheets and data collection. But data is just that – DATA, NUMBERS, lifeless characters on a page. Good data can inform our instruction. It can reveal deficiencies and strengths in our teaching. It can help kids improve. But it’s just an inanimate tool. Each one of my students is much more than a placeholder on a spreadsheet.

If we accept Coleman’s directive and not care about what our students are actually thinking and feeling, then, I guess, it is easier for some teachers and administrators to view their students as just data. It’s like being a piece of merchandise in a retail store. The student is just inventory and the worth of the student is determined by the value in the spreadsheet. If the student isn’t making a profit, then the student should be reduced in value and eventually written off the books. This is a chilling way of looking at our young people.

My hope on this Sunday morning is that each and every educator, administrator, and parent would come to their senses and see just what is happening to our children in our schools. With one voice, we must all speak out and say that our kids have hearts, minds, bodies, emotions, talents, questions, and needs that must be valued. Our kids deserve to be seen and they need to be heard. With one voice, let us all proclaim these fourteen words and turn a curse into a blessing over America’s children:

 Teachers, parents and administrators must deeply care about what our students feel and think.

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