Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Who Will Teach the Children?

I'm going to a forum on Thursday night,, 4 PM at PS 159, 205-01 33rd Ave. in Bayside to discuss Cuomo's proposals. Please feel free to join me, or to attend one in your district. Here's what I'm thinking about saying, if I actually get to speak.

When test grades are 50% of a teacher's rating, who will teach the children I teach, the English Language Learners?

Who will teach the children who come from Egypt, El Salvador, China, Korea and every corner of the earth? Who will take the beginners who don't understand English, who therefore fail tests? Who will take the time to help them? Who will teach these kids not to pass tests, but to navigate their way in an English speaking world? Who will offer them materials that will prepare them not to pass a test, but to face not only the reading demanded of them in a college setting, but also the lives that await them?

When test grades are 50% of a teacher's rating, who will teach the children my colleagues teach, the special education students?

Who will teach the children with disabilities? Who will teach the kids who struggle to read and write? Who will teach the alternate assessment students who are never going to get Regents diplomas? Who will teach these kids not to pass tests, but rather how to function at a job? Who will teach them to make contributions, to support themselves, to be productive and happy? Who will show the kids who deliver newspapers with their families at 4 AM that their lives need not be like this?

When test grades are 50% of a teacher's rating, who will teach the children my other colleagues teach, the gifted and talented?

Who will take on the kids who already ace the tests? Who will support them to go beyond the A, B, C, and D? Who will spend time helping them learn things beyond what they already know with the almost certain knowledge that already excellent test scores are impossible to raise? Who will take the risk of being unemployed because students have gone from 99% to an unacceptable 97%?

Who will teach all children that life is more than a multiple choice test? Who will teach children that getting along with people is a valuable skill? Who will teach them the value of negotiation? Who will teach them to think outside the box rather than simply fill it in? Who will show them that a job can be a thing of joy, a thing of pride, rather than some inconvenient drudgery that forces you to reluctantly get out of bed every morning?

Who will risk their entire career to do what's right?

It certainly won't be Andrew Cuomo, self-styled student lobbyist. Governor Cuomo owes the children 5.6 billion dollars from the CFE lawsuit. He says he'll grudgingly part with a fraction of it if we enact the very reforms that will discourage teachers from serving, among others, the very neediest students of NY State. He says if we don't do that, he'll part with even less.

It's Andrew Cuomo's job to help the children, but instead he takes 1.6 million from public school opponents and does any damn thing they ask. He has done no research on what works, and there is no evidence whatsoever he cares one way or the other.

While Andrew Cuomo may be for sale to the highest bidder, we, the teachers, the parents, the voters of New York State, are not. We will not accept an agenda that enriches testing companies and charter school moguls. We will not accept an agenda that imposes endless and  developmentally inappropriate tasks on our children.

We will not accept an agenda that makes it impossible for those who wish to make a career out of helping our children. We demand an agenda that supports our children, that supports our teachers, that supports our parents, and that supports those of us who pay your salary, Andrew Cuomo.

You, Governor Cuomo, were elected by 53% of the population, yet you demand that those who'd raise money for the education of children do so by a 60% majority. You call yourself the student lobbyist, but give more of a vote to those who say no to children.

We say no to you, Andrew Cuomo. We say it here in Queens, we will come to your office in Manhattan and tell you again, and we will come to your office in Albany and tell you there. We are New York State and we are not your loyal subjects.

Andrew Cuomo, we love our children and will not have them pawns to your ridiculous quest to sell yourself to the highest bidder. Give Eva Moskowitz and her friends back their 1.6 million dollars. Give us back our public schools. Give us back our state. We will take it if need be.

Who will teach the children, Governor Cuomo? We will. Get out of our way and let us do our jobs.
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