BREAKING! Newark Student Union Call to Action!

I am so proud of these brave students fighting for their schools. We are all Newark. Please support these young voices by following their live-stream coverage and supporting their gofundme appeal.

#2015YearoftheStudent #studentvoices #DoNoHarm

The War Report on Public Education

Join Tanaisa Brown and the Newark Student Union as they Occupy the Office of Cami Anderson. These students are brave and really know how to take on the elusive Cami.




Watch Live Stream Here:

Read and watch news coverage here:

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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.

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:


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.

An Update on our First Student Hero – Super Ewan!

“I’m making a difference by being a help to Detroit’s needy. How can you make a difference?”

That is the challenge this Michigan eight year old is declaring to the world. If he can help people, why can’t we all help people in need? If we all did what Ewan is doing, much misery would be alleviated.

Here is the wonderful video Ewan is sending to the White House. Please watch it and share it so it can inspire many to do what Ewan is doing – helping people in need.

Super Ewan made this video in consideration for the 2015 White House Student Film Festival. To find out more about this young super hero go to his website and his Facebook page. Here is the first Poetic Justice blog about Ewan.


Student Voices

I am reblogging this great collection of NY State High School Student voices. These were collected by Christine Zirkelbach – an angry mom who just wants the voices of these NY state high school students heard.

One Mom's Journey Through Education Reform

The following are letters written by students from a high school in the Hudson Valley.  This is very good school district, with a strong sense of community.  The graduation rate is 93% (keep in mind graduation rate counts only those who graduate in 4 years).  This year, special education students no longer have the Regents Competency Tests (RCTs) as a safety net if they are unable to pass the Regents.  Instead, they have to pass a math, science, US History, Global History & Geography and English Language Arts Regents exam with a 55 (or borrow points if one grade is high enough to loan to another exam). These tests are meant to be challenging, which makes them unfair for students with many different learning disabilities.  These students have taken some of the these exams 3, 4, 5 or more times and are now seniors.  Some made it and others are ready…

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Dear Governor Andrew Cuomo – A Fifth Grader Speaks Out – Maggie’s Letter

Two days ago, I published a letter from Josh – a fourth grader from NYC. That one letter has gotten over 13,000 views from all over the globe. I truly believe IT IS TIME for STUDENT VOICES to be heard. Today I received this letter from the parent of Maggie – a fifth grader from Central NY State. I am honored to share Maggie’s letter with my readers.

Maggies letter 2 2 2015Maggie is the fourth Student Hero presented on this Poetic Justice blog. She, too, is bold and brave and not afraid to put her opinions in writing. I truly hope that Maggie’s letter will be read by many and will encourage other students to voice their opinions in writing to the governors of their states.

As Maggie writes:

“Please read this letter completely and thoroughly until you (Governor Cuomo) get my gist. I am not the only student who doesn’t appreciate you trying to get our teachers fired.”

I do not think any of us adults could have said this any better. BRAVO MAGGIE!

Dear Mr. Cuomo – A Fourth Grader Speaks Out

This is going to be my third blog about a Student Hero. My newest hero is Josh – a fourth grader from NYC who has a legitimate beef with Governor Cuomo. Here is the very persuasive letter he wrote to the governor: 10407630_10153047556870798_3534263753656568750_n He is my hero because he is bold and brave and not afraid to express himself in writing. He is also my hero because he wants his words shared with the world. Josh happens to be the son of a filmmaker. Josh expressed his desire to impact the world with his own words just as his father impacts the world with his movies. His dad agreed to post his letter on Facebook and included his own fatherly rant with the posting. In the rant, his father stated:

…for full disclosure josh will never take a standardized test not while im around to make sure he doesnt. but we have watched as schools here lose their budgets and the pta turns into a fundraising arm to supply every single bit of funding for art, music and science, and we have watched the class size grow and recess and lunch get shorter and shorter. we love our school in spite of it all, and i will say to gov cuomo, you’ve really pissed the kids off…

It is time for those who hold the power and the purse strings over our schools to start listening to the voices of students and parents. Thank you Josh and thank you Josh’s dad for speaking out truth, and thank you for honoring me by letting me blog your letter. Now let’s just hope and pray that your power-packed words are heard.

Hopefully, this will be the first of many letters written by students to the governors of their states speaking out about the negative impact of school reform.




Out of the Mouths of Babes Comes Truth

Today I read this very moving piece from Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post Answer Sheet – Test-weary second-grader asks school board:’Is that all that matters to grown-ups?” It was the story of a remarkable little 7 year old, Saige Price, who took on the New Jersey Board of Education and formally testified about the lack of play and the excessive testing that she had undergone in her short two and a half years in public school. It really made me sad and it also made me angry. Paige cries out in the middle of her testimony when she is talking about the tests, “I remember being 5 and feeling mad and sad because the questions were always too hard for me.” I cannot fathom being only 7 years old and having such awful memories of being a child and going to school. To me, this is nothing short of abuse. As a teacher and as a grandmother, I join my voice to Saige’s and I also say that “school should be about play time and exploring.”

I am copying Saige’s testimony in this blog post for all to see and to share. Please read it and think about what we adults can do to make the world a kinder and more loving place for our youngest children. I do not want my grand children subjected to a drill and kill continuum of tests, nor do I want them being tested at all. I want them to play and to explore and to create and to be loved and to be cherished.

Here it is:

Dear members of the New Jersey State Board, and fellow stakeholders:

Hi. My name is Saige Price. I go to Briarwood Elementary School in Florham Park where I attend second grade. Thank you for allowing me to speak today. I would like to talk about play in school and the need for more time for free play. Children should have more recess because it allows us to play with our friends. Instead, we spend most of our time just reading, doing math problems, taking math tests and reading tests.

Is that all that matters to grown-ups?

What about more lunch time, more time for violin, doing more creative stuff in art, dance, or musical theater, more gym time, or more time to learn what we want? What about creating our own problems?

I love my teacher but at the beginning of the year I did not want to go to school because I thought school was boring; I still do. Sometimes, when my parents try to wake me up for school, I would cry and say I am too tired or sick so that I would not have to go to school. I don’t think school lets me be myself and be creative.

I remember when I was 5 years old, I told my mom that I did not want to take iReady [a standardized diagnostic test]. Whenever I got a low score I would have to go back to the computer lab until I got a higher score. I hated it. It should be against the law. I think kindergartners should not have to take any standardized test or practice standardized test like iReady. These tests are too hard for kindergartners.

I remember being 5 and feeling mad and sad because the questions were always too hard for me.

Every time I sat at the computer after I was done with the test, I would think to myself, “I stink! I am bad at this.” No kid should feel that way about school. People should not feel, ‘I stink at this,’ at 5, 6, 7, 8  or any other age. School and all of these tests kill our love of learning.

I think school should be about play time and exploring.

Have you ever been in a kids’ lunch room at lunch time? If you go to many of these cafeterias, you will see there is hardly enough time to even eat. Many kids end up throwing their food away. Some of the teachers often ask us if we are sure we want to throw the food away but many do anyway because we want to play for the few minutes we have.

Out of all the hours we spend in school, we have the least amount of time being able to eat and play.

If you want to fix schools you should ask kids, the teacher’s helpers, and teachers.

Thank you for your time.


A Wonderful Story about My New Super hero – Ewan!

” Ewan Drum, 8, of New Haven, is the founder of Super Ewan, a nonprofit to help the homeless, the (Port Huron) Times Herald ( ) reported. “We give goods and clothes to homeless people,” Ewan said. “I thought it would be helpful. People smile when they see my cape show up.” In July, Ewan told his parents when he became a teenager he wanted to dress up like a superhero and give the homeless food and clothes.

Ewan now has his own website and his own FaceBook page – Please check them out and give him some love and encouragement.

Courageous Dependence

A child sits alone
in her bedroom and waits
for someone to come to her.

She is hungry and cold
and her nose is running
and she sniffles.

She hears a key’s metallic
sound as it whispers to
her heart.

And then they come in –
her parents – from a long
day at their offices.

She runs to them for
a hug and is greeted
with a hurried grimace.

She is given a frozen dinner
and told to eat it in the
living room – alone.

She eats.
She shivers.
She sniffles.
She waits.

She hears raised voices
in the other bedroom.
She pounds on the door.
She screams for attention.

She is ignored
because the fighting has

But this fight is different.

The yelling pierces the silence.
The hitting vibrates through the floor.
They are killing themselves this time.
Her heart knows this is the end.

She sits alone in her bedroom
crying for help,
crying to the only One
who can hear her now.

She cries out loud,
“My Father who art in heaven
holy is Your Name.
Your Kingdom come NOW
She needs His Kingdom to come now.

She moves to the kitchen
and asks for the Father’s will to be done.

She sees the cell phone
on the counter and she
prays one more time,

“Deliver me from evil.”

She dials 911
and asks for help
and waits for the police
to come.

She tells them all
and is taken away
from the loneliness,
and the fighting,
and the evil that hurt
her heart every day.

This is courage.

To depend on our Father
and to obey Him when He
directs our path.

©Copyright 2006 Poetic Justice
Arise, cry out in the night: in the beginning of the watches pour out thine heart like water before the face of the LORD: lift up thy hands toward him for the life of thy young children, that faint for hunger in the top of every street. – Lamentations 2:19