News and Links: March 5, 2015

Some of the following links are, once again, pretty depressing, so we’ve made sure this post closes with some positive news.

  • You may have seen Dr. Cohen’s email which highlighted a job posting for “assessment evaluators” to grade state tests at $11.50 an hour. (If you didn’t read it, see this similar post from Diane Ravitch).  To get a sense of just how insane this is, read this first-hand account written by one of those temps. Key quote from the piece:

“If you’re a parent, just think about the fact your child’s test is being graded by some 23-year-old apathetic slacker who was hired without an interview, who has zero teaching experience, and whose main goal is to score as quickly as possible without getting fired. To the bigwigs at Pearson, your child is just a number, a statistic.”

  •  Fortunately Dr. Cohen is not the only local superintendent railing against the reform agenda. Along with Dr. Rella of Comsewogue and Michael Hynes of Pat-Med, David Gamberg of Southold has been very vocal. Here’s an excellent, short, piece from School Leadership in which he articulates how foolish it is to evaluate teachers by test scores (esp. art, music, PE. etc). 

  • Here’s another petition that’s just been started up calling out the Governor for attempting to destroy our schools.  Thanks to Greg Schmit who teaches Social Studies at the Middle School.
  • The question came up in one of the meetings about why NYSUT doesn’t advertise more, and the basic answer was money. To address this, NYSUT is looking for contributions to fund their “Call Out Cuomo” campaign. Click here to contribute.

  • Also in last week’s meetings, we made reference to the money the state took away from schools through the GEA. The state has also failed to deliver funds that were owed through the Campaign for Fiscal Equity Lawsuit. SWR is currently owed $5.1 million by New York State. Click here to see how much other districts have been shorted. 
  • In late 2013 we conducted a member survey on the Common Core and 90% of SWRTA members expressed dissatisfaction with them (about half of those members felt they should be revised, 1/4 thought they should be scrapped, and 1/4 thought we should just work through the problems). The NEA posted a piece calling for keeping the CCSS, but with a “course correction.”  We aren’t going to do another survey, but we’re curious how many teachers have had a shift in their opinions in the last 18 months. Please feel free to email us your feelings on the topic. (Thank you to Linda Blasko for the link).

A little good news:
Over the past few weeks, there have been rallies and forums all over the state, including not just teachers, but lots of parents as well. Attendance has been impressive, and many more are planned. Early this week over a thousand educators filled the steps of the Capital.

Locally, we have been getting incredibly positive feedback from members, many of whom wrote letters or made phone calls for the very first time (and found, as promised, that it was really not at all painful).  We’re getting more questions like “what else can I do?” than every before.

The result so far?  More legislators are speaking out against the Governor’s proposals, including Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (who replaced the ousted Sheldon Silver). Heastie promises he will will join [teachers] in calling for the support and investment that our students need to succeed,” and says”there are other factors that should be considered when you look at why schools don’t perform… To me, it is unfair to blame teachers.”

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