As a public education activist, who focuses most of my efforts on local school-based, student-centered reform, I have literally been sick to my stomach since the New York State Legislature approved a budget, complete with education "reforms" proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on April 1. It wasn't a joke -- and I am angry, upset, and devastated, to say the least.
If you read my blog posts, either on my own blog, or here at The Huffington Post, you know a few things generally ring true:
- I don't tackle politics often.There are people who are far better versed in this type of education reform writing than I am.
- I seem to write posts generally weighing in over 1200 words. I want to provide value and insight into a new way of thinking about education reform -- through the lens of compassion, love, and gratitude.
- I rally teachers, students, and parents to take action.
Well, today, I am tackling a political issue, rallying teachers, parents, and students, and going to try and keep this rather short.
As if the NY State Teacher Evaluation System wasn't already a huge burden on teachers and their students, Cuomo has just made it worse. I'm not even sure how this was a possibility -- I worked under his brutal evaluation system just two years ago.
Once again, this bill was bundled into the budget, signed off by our lovely legislators, and no one asked educators to weigh in on the issues.
Cuomo demanded that student test scores comprise 50 percent of a teacher and principal's evaluation. It passed.
But worse yet? Neither did the legislature, nor governor, stop here. They also included into the law that lesson plans, student feedback, and parent feedback can not be included in teacher evaluations.
This means that no longer will teachers be evaluated on the relationships they are building with their students, the families they serve, and the communities they are enriching.
This is ludicrous and it's time to mobilize and take action.
- What if... we all decided that we had had enough of the bullying and pushing around, and that we are going to get creative in how we respond to government officials who continue to demoralize our profession, our students, and our schools?
- What if... every teacher in this state said "NO" and called out sick on all testing days? It would be quite hard to evaluate teachers based on test scores, wouldn't it?
- What if.. .every parent in this state got behind the teachers, and said "NO" and didn't send their children to school on testing days? It would be quite hard to continue the false narrative that our students are failing the tests -- because they wouldn't be taking them.
- What if... every administrator in our public schools said "NO" and began opting their school out of state testing? It would be quite hard to rate a school as "failing" if there wasn't any data to prove it.
It's quite clear to me that we must start thinking out-of-the-box. As educators, we've stayed in this box for too long. We are boxed in by scripted curriculum, tests that are not measuring student growth and progress, and top-down education reform where we continue to be called "the problem", rather than the solution.
So, let's come up with solutions. Radical solutions that get attention, like those proposed above. Solutions where we take a firm stand, as a nation of educators. It is certainly hard to reprimand an entire state of educators who band together and begin saying "NO."
No more bullying.
No more hurting our students with useless tests.
No more calling us the problem.
No more ludicrous bills signed by legislators who don't know what has been bundled into them.
The time to start protesting, objecting, and becoming vocal is now.
The Governor started this war, and it's time we band together and fight for our profession and our students.