Why Poetry? Why Now? – a poem from Linda Christensen and an invitation

My dear friend Dr. James Avington Miller Jr. sent me a phenomenal book on poetry called Rhythm and Resistance – Teaching Poetry for Social Justice.

Here is a poem from the forward of the book.  I just had to share it.


You ask, “Why a book on poetry? Why now?”

Because we stand at the brink of public
education’s demise;
because funds from billionaires
control the mouths of bureaucrats,
who have sold students, teachers,
and their families for a pittance;

because curriculum slanted to serve the “job market”
carves away history and humanity,
poetry and narrative,
student lives and teacher art;

because teaching students to write an essay
without teaching them to write
narratives and poetry is like
teaching someone to swim
using only one arm;

because poets are truth tellers and lie breakers
wordsmiths and visionaries
who sling metaphors in classrooms,
in the narrow slices of school hallways,
on the bricks of public courtyards,
and cafés with blinking neon signs
without laying out a dime to corporations;

because new poets are rising up,
pressing poems against windows on Wall Street,
spilling odes down the spines of textbooks,
posting protest hymns on telephone poles,
bubbling lyrics on the pages of tests
designed to confine their imaginations;

because poems hover under the breath
of the boy in a baseball cap,
the girl with a ring in her nose,
the boy with his mom’s name inked on his neck,
and the silent ones in the back:
she’s the next Lucille Clifton
and he sounds like Roque Dalton, saying:

“poetry, like bread,
is for everyone.”

Please check out the book. Please check out this blog post from Linda Christensen. Please make poetry live in your lives.



Co-Opted Language: Decoding Ed Reform’s New Sales Pitch from Wrench in the Gears

The biggest battle we have in preserving our public schools is to recapture our profession lexicon. When you hear and read these terms, closely examine the source. This list defines the terms the way they are defined by the corporate reformers profiting from the destruction of true education. But the real meanings behind most of these terms are still good and valid.

Together let us determine to take back these terms and show the world that educators love, cherish, and truly care about the well being of the nation’s children.

Thank you.

Wrench in the Gears

The words used to promote “future ready” public education do not mean to reformers what they mean to you. This post is intended to pull back the curtain and expose the truth behind venture capital’s shiny promises of “personalized” tech-centered, data-driven learning. The list below features vocabulary that should be on everyone’s radar. Short definitions link to more detailed descriptions written from the point of view of the reformers-if they had to tell the truth about their plans to swap neighborhood schools for learning ecosystems. Complete list of long form definitions available here. One-page PDF handout for sharing available here.

1:1 Devices: A program where each child has their own data-gathering device for “anywhere learning.” More

Anytime, Anywhere Learning: A push to disconnect education from “constraints” of buildings and teachers. More

Assessment Reform / Computer Adaptive Testing: Punitive end of year tests exchanged for perpetual monitoring of online…

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Educate Before You Medicate – Please Read and Share



I haven’t been around much lately and I have a pretty good excuse. On Thursday, September 21st, I woke up not feeling well. I thought I might be coming down with a sore throat or a sinus infection. I had a sore throat and a fever. Surprisingly the fever was 102 but I didn’t feel like I had that high of a fever. That should have been my first warning something was not right. When I woke up the next morning, my eyes were all red, my fever still 102, my throat and mouth really sore, and I had a rash all over my chest, arm, neck and face. It took until the following Monday for me to insist on going to the ER. By then my fever was 103, the rash was all over my body, my eyes were inflamed and I could hardly see, I couldn’t walk because of the burns on my feet, and my mouth was full of sores and bleeding.

When I got to the ER, the ICU doctor was ready to admit me but the ER doctor did not want me to stay in the hospital. He insisted I be ambulanced to the only Burn Unit in CT. My husband and I were shocked. I thought I had an infectious disease.

What I had were chemical burns all over my body. I was in mortal danger. I had SJS – Stevens Johnson Syndrome – precipitated from being on the gout medicine Allopurinal for only 14 days before first symptoms.

It’s been a long six weeks. I spent nine days in the burn unit and had the best of care. The awful burn symptoms finally stopped trying to kill me on the following Friday, September 29th. Up until that point, my life was in the hands of the doctors and nurses as my body was doing all it could to literally burn me to death from the inside out. Once my body started fighting, I started to get better. The burns started to scab over instead of fester and ooze. That was when I knew I was going to survive.

I had surgery on my eyes to try to restore and regrow my tear ducts and membranes. That was on October 1. They discharged me on the following day and I have been home healing ever since.  I can see but have severe photosensitivity. My mouth is healing. The burns all over my body are fading. My recovery is slow but steady.

One of my new purposes in writing is going to be to make my readers aware of the dangers inherent in the drugs we put into our bodies. Please ask why you are being given a medicine and if there are other alternatives. Please research the drugs you are prescribed before you ingest them. Please search the Internet for stories. I know you cannot believe all you read on the Internet, but many, like me, are posting our stories to try to help people and prevent pain and suffering.

The really terrifying thing about SJS, besides the fact few doctors and fewer laypeople even know of the syndrome, is that it can be initiated by many different drugs.

My message to my readers is to be careful and thoughtful and intelligent about what drugs you are taking. Ask questions and do not always believe what you are told.

I should have taken tart cherry juice for the pain in my toe. Or at least tried it before taking the Allopurinal. I should have insisted on an X-ray. I should have prayed.

I am one of the lucky ones. I am one of the blessed. Many die from this syndrome, Many more go blind. I know that the prayers of those who knew what I was going through were heard and helped usher me from death to healing. I thank all of you who knew and cared and prayed and sent messages. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

I am a SJS survivor and I want the world to know about this syndrome.

Here is a link to the Stevens Johnson Syndrome Foundation for more information.




The Real Reason Your Child is Being Psychologically Profiled at School

It is all happening so fast – how do we keep up with this “high stakes character assessment” scheme to take our children away from us and hand them over to the gods of the holy dollar?

Many thanks to Emily for keeping up with this madness.

A Poem for Joan Kramer

In memory of our friend and dearest warrior Joan Kramer – may we all fight the good fight till the very end.

Tribute to the Warriors

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 – …
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


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.


Please Join Us – Connecticut United for Strong Public Schools


Connecticut United for Strong Public Schools is a new state-wide group of students, parents, educators and public education advocates working across Connecticut to ensure a quality public education for all children

Find us on Facebook at – Connecticut United for Strong Public Schools

Join us at the Connecticut United for Strong Public Schools Organizing Meeting

January 15, 2018
1pm – 3pm
Atwater Memorial Library
North Branford, CT.

Sign up at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/connecticut-united-for-strong-public-schools-organizing-meeting-tickets-30356269419

Despite Opposition, Board of Education Approves Controversial Teacher Prep Program

We must stop this travesty in CT. Please read and share.

Please watch the testimony given today and ignored.


CEA Educational Issues Specialist Michele O'Neill was of many who raised concerns about Relay at today's State Board of Education meeting. CEA Educational Issues Specialist Michele O’Neill was one of many who raised concerns about Relay at today’s State Board of Education meeting.

In spite of serious concerns raised by teachers, CEA leaders and staff, state university deans of education, and community members, the State Board of Education today voted to allow the controversial Relay Graduate School of Education to begin operating in Connecticut. Relay provides a shortcut to teacher certification whose methods and outcomes have repeatedly been called into question.

“Relay teachers do not receive the same training other teachers do,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “Instead, they are given a crash course in teaching that focuses on increasing student test scores, not student skills. There are no do-overs for the students whose classrooms are managed by unprepared, inexperienced teachers who weave their way into the profession through these dubious, subpar teacher training programs.”

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Who Will Carry This Torch?

I wrote this poem eleven years ago. I return to it today and just want to weep. What are we doing to our children? Who will save them? Who will carry the torch of knowledge for the next generation and for the generation behind us?


No one to close the windows
when the rain storm pellets their beds.
No one to lock the doors at night
and keep intruders from walking in.
No one to warm up dinner and
feed their craving little bodies.
No one to scare away the dragons
who star in their dreams at night.


The children are
thrown away –
labeled incorrigible –
impossible –
beyond our abilities to help.

The achievement gap widens.
The terrain becomes more barren.
The house falls into further decay.
The green in the landscape
melds into

When will
no child
be left

Then, I came across this beautiful hand drawing today and it  gave me new hope. This is drawn by a 15 year old girl from the Philippines and brings hope for change. Let it start here in our own country and in our own hearts.


Digital Curriculum: Questions Parents Should be Asking

I am reblogging these important questions to ask. The BIG QUESTION is – are our children being taught by professional human teachers, or are they being taught by inhuman technology? What do you want for your children and grandchildren? I want a human in control of teaching and learning in every classroom in America.

Sarcasm Alert:

Wrench in the Gears

As we enter this new era of blended/hybrid classrooms, the clamor of ed-tech entrepreneurs pitching their digital curricula is getting to be truly overwhelming for parents. Rather than critiquing individual programs, I have laid out a set of ten questions that parents should be asking their child’s teachers and school administrators. Feel free to share and/or print it out and bring it with you to back-to-school night. I’d love to know what the response is.

1. Does the program require aggregating PII (personally identifiable information) from students to function properly? And even if it doesn’t REQUIRE it, does the program collect PII?

2. Does the program supplement face-to-face human instruction, or function as a substitute for it? How many minutes per day of face-to-face human instruction is being sacrificed or substituted?

3. Does the program encourage active student-to-student engagement and face-to-face discussion? How does it accomplish this? Or does it…

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How the NYC Department of Education Bullied and Drove Away an NBCT Pre-K Teacher

I am reblogging this from Diane Ravitch.

This is how bad our schools have become. They are children-unfriendly and teacher-unfriendly.

“I left not because I was in an under represented community and not because many children had challenging issues but rather because the lack of support and understanding about what it means to be a teacher was draining the life out of me.” ~ a NYC pre-K teacher who chooses to remain unnamed.


Diane Ravitch's blog

This is a letter that I received:

I have been following you for the last 10 years and am in awe of your continued efforts to turn public education in the right direction.

I read your article this morning about a teacher who had had enough.

It could have been my story.

I am a retired NYC Department of Education pre-k teacher in an under represented community. I taught pre-k for 16 consecutive years in the same school. I was fortunate that I was able to introduce many innovative programs to support my students not just in academics but the more important social/emotional piece that schools often neglect.

I brought to my classroom American Sign Language, Yoga, Mindfulness, Cooking and Baking, Caterpillars into Butterflies and as much art and music as I could fit in a day.

My students thrived. Sadly, each year it became more and more difficult to…

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