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?

#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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Why Is You Always Got To Be Trippin’

This is an amazing read. I have it on my Kindle. You can download it, buy it for your Kindle, or buy it as a book on Amazon.

Must Read – for all of the teachers out there who have been through reform hell and back.
Must Read – for all the parents out there to get a glimpse of what it is like being a teacher fighting against reform.
Must Read – for all students who know there’s something wrong and are searching for the truth.

#ResistRefuseRevolt

Thank you Ciedie Aech! ONWARD!

STOP SCHOOL REFORM: THOUGHTS FROM the LIFE OF A"BAD" TEACHER

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Tribute to the Warriors

This is a tribute poem for a great warrior in the fight to save our children – Dr. James Avington Miller Jr. – and to all his radio show listeners and Facebook followers. Today is the second anniversary of his show entitled The War Report on Public Education.

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Dark, deceitful, dreadful
The war continues.

Hidden from the public
Children succumb to oblivion.

Masses are found naked
In the valley of corporate reform.

Masses of children
Stripped of their humanity.

Masses of teachers
Rendered voiceless and faceless.

Masses of parents
Left with no option but to escape the dark night
And cover their children with a blanket of compassion
That heals hearts, minds, and little bodies.

And in all the darkness
In the dreadful abandon of humane concern
In the deceit and lies that spew from media and our elected officials

There is a light

There is a voice

There is hope.

Only love can chase away the hate.
Only the light of truth can fight off the darkness.

That little voice is in each one of us
That little voice and that tiny ray of light
Can fight off the usurpers of our future hope.

So today – on the second anniversary of
The War Report on Public Education –
I encourage all of us to keep on fighting the war
To keep on telling the truth
To keep on exposing the lies that warp our understanding

Because

We will find each other one day
And we will unite together
And parents, teachers, professors, politicians, community leaders, pastors, shop owners, even the media will unite

And together we shall bring down
The evil Machiavellian Agenda
And we will win
The war against public education.

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.

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“Be Careful Brethren” – A Message About Education from Martin Luther King Jr.

The Purpose of Education,” written by Martin Luther King, Jr., was first published in the February 1947 edition of the Morehouse College Student Newspaper. King was 18 Years Old.

The Purpose of Education

Morehouse College, 1948


As I engage in the so-called “bull sessions” around and about the school, I too often find that most college men have a misconception of the purpose of education. Most of the “brethren” think that education should equip them with the proper instruments of exploitation so that they can forever trample over the masses. Still others think that education should furnish them with noble ends rather than means to an end.

It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: the one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to become more efficient, to achieve with increasing facility the ligitimate goals of his life.

Education must also train one for quick, resolute and effective thinking. To think incisively and to think for one’s self is very difficult. We are prone to let our mental life become invaded by legions of half truths, prejudices, and propaganda. At this point, I often wonder whether or not education is fulfilling its purpose. A great majority of the so-called educated people do not think logically and scientifically. Even the press, the classroom, the platform, and the pulpit in many instances do not give us objective and unbiased truths. To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.

The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.

The late Eugene Talmadge, in my opinion, possessed one of the better minds of Georgia, or even America. Moreover, he wore the Phi Beta Kappa key. By all measuring rods, Mr. Talmadge could think critically and intensively; yet he contends that I am an inferior being. Are those the types of men we call educated?

We must remember that intelligence is not enough. Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education. The complete education gives one not only power of concentration, but worthy objectives upon which to concentrate. The broad education will, therefore, transmit to one not only the accumulated knowledge of the race but also the accumulated experience of social living.

If we are not careful, our colleges will produce a group of close-minded, unscientific, illogical propagandists, consumed with immoral acts. Be careful, “brethren!” Be careful, teachers!

Be Careful Brethren – these words are truer today than they were in 1948.

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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.

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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?

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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

“It’s All About the INHUMANITY” – an Anonymous Teacher’s Tale

Summer School- Turning the Heat Up On Achievement
by – One Fired Up Teacher

NOTE: This was written by a teacher in a high poverty district somewhere in the US. Child and Teacher Abuse in full effect

A time to maintain achievement, right? To prevent the “summer slide” and keep students engaged and excited about learning. After all, it’s building relationships with our students that can extend far beyond the confines of classroom walls.

But what happens when the school offering summer school has no air conditioning? Does that sound beneficial? Healthy? Safe? Temperatures inside the classroom reading 98 degrees on the thermostat. How about that for the student with Epilepsy who’s seizures are triggered by heat exhaustion and dehydration. Sound safe? Healthy? Beneficial?

If that doesn’t have your attention, let’s turn up the heat a little more. Requiring teachers to supervise lunch for the students but not allowing them to eat. Not allowing them to sit down. Oh no, teachers must waste instructional time. While students eat inside the fiery furnace called the cafeteria, their teachers are commanded to stand and do flash cards or another educational task. Teachers are expected to not only suffer these conditions themselves, but to sit by and watch their students suffer, too. Every minute counts, right? Don’t waste precious time walking kids to the drinking fountain, either. The water is not only warm, it’s “against district policy” to use instructional time in too many transitions.

Yes, the fire has been lit, folks. Our kids, who deserve better, are being burned. They deserve the best and brightest education. Your highly qualified, certified teachers and their students are suffering in silence while those at the top are sitting inside their air conditioned offices on the phone with the next best corporation who’s in the running for the silver bullet. The next “new program” they will demand the teachers use in the classroom to bring up those test scores. Here’s an idea for administration and school boards.

If you want to bring up the scores and raise the achievement gap, turn down the heat on your teachers. Take some of the pressure off your teachers. If you can’t do it for them, do it for our students. Provide them with safe and healthy learning conditions. Foster an environment built on the foundation that our teachers and students deserve nothing short of the best. Stop burning the candle on both ends with the corporate world. They don’t know our students. You don’t know our students.

We, the teachers know our students. You want to know why your good, hardworking teachers are leaving the profession? They’re sick, physically and emotionally. They’re tired. They can’t stand being on the front line every single day sacrificing blood, sweat and tears, all to no avail. They, along with their students, are dying inside while fires set by you rage beneath them, threatening to extinguish all they’ve ever known and loved. Each other. Hang up the phone, step away from the computer in your chilled office and save our teachers and students from the blazing inferno you’ve put them in.

Signed,
One Fired Up Teacher

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Defending Gus Morales – Please Stand with a Great Teacher and Leader

Poetic Justice is standing strong in support of MA teacher Gus Morales who has, once again, not had his contract renewed.

I am re-blogging a message in support of Gus from Dr. Mark Naison. Please share far and wide.

Gus Morales Firing Epitomizes Everything Wrong With School Reform
by Dr. Mark Naison

You are leading a high poverty school district in Massachusetts with a majority Latino population. You have a teacher who grew up in the district. He is male, Latino, brilliant, and charismatic. He always dreamed of teaching in the community he grew up in. But he is also a veteran who is proud and outspoken. When he sees something wrong, he says so. Evern though he is a new teacher, his colleagues, who are mostly white, look to him for leadership, especially when he speaks out against excessive testing and the way tests and data walls are used to humiliate students. They elect him, as an untenured teacher, president of the local teachers unions.

So what do you do? Do you focus on what this teacher- Gus Morales- brings to his students, to the families in the district, to the entire community. Or do you decide to get rid of him to crush the opposition to the new testing policies and have a teaching staff that accepts the new “reforms” passively?

You decide to do the latter. You fire him once, and then in the face of national protest, hire him back. And then, after a year, you decide to fire him again.

This shows something we see happening all over the country. For all the comments that Arne Duncan makes about diversifying the nation’s teaching force, there is nothing more threatening to the current generation of school reformers- Duncan included- than people with real roots in the communities they teach in who can connect with the students and parents in those districts. That is why they fire people like Gus Morales and try to bring in Teach for American temps who will be in those classrooms for only a few years and then leave.

And that is why we- the people who really care about children and schools and teaching- have to fight to get Gus Morales back in the classroom.
He represents exactly what we need in our high poverty schools and indeed all our public schools- teachers for life who live in the communities they teach in and love the children they work with.

Note: The School District is Holyoke, Massachusetts.

Gus represents the Good Teacher – the teacher who will lay down his life for his students – the teacher who will devote his whole life to helping just one student. We need to do everything we can to keep him where he belongs – in the classroom.

 11006374_10206173776249583_813847477456396822_nTo see Gus Morales in action, see this video of his testimony in support of Opting Out before the Education Committee of the Philadelphia City Council on November 19, 2014.

#‎GusIsUs‬