Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Teacher's Courageous Speech

No Way, ESEA!
An Example of True Grassroots Teacher Activism! 

A 3D Research Report by teacher Dawn Hoagland

I gave half of the speech (before I was cut off for time allotment) in a public forum which was the Greenburgh Town Hall. A panel of 7 Democrat and Republican legislators convened to listen to public comments on New York Governor Cuomo's budget and education proposal's. They collected written comments at the end from anyone who didn't get to speak or didn't get to read their full speech.

Below is an excerpt from the speech which I gave to the Westchester lawmakers on Monday.

Westchester lawmakers listened attentively to public comments on Cuomo's budget and education reform proposals for four hours. In attendance and speaking was a packed crowd of parents, superintendents, board of education members, NYSUT reps, teachers and political activists at the Greenburgh Town Hall. This was one of the most useful actions I have ever been part of. It felt good to participate in a well articulated response to Cuomo's budget and ridiculous education proposals. At the end, each of the legislators thanked us for giving them specific information (ammunition) to take to the fight in Albany. 

Excerpt from my speech:
Lawmakers should not support Governor Cuomo’s bullying tactics. He’s holding the budget hostage. He is usurping legislative power and infringing on the authority of locally elected school boards. His budget should contain enough money to educate all of our students in New York State. Period. And the school aid runs should be published in a timely fashion to make them useful for superintendents to be able to plan for the following year.

In New York, education policy belongs to the Board of Regents. Cuomo is using his budget to manipulate policy changes. He is only offering a 4.8 percent increase in education aid if you concede to his teacher bashing and privatization plans which call for more charter schools. Congress is discussing the re-authorization of ESEA right now. There are over 60 pages in the bill proposed by Lamar Alexander that provide incentives and directives for new charter schools. There must be some powerful hedge fund managers investing in charter schools that D.C. and Albany are catering to.

How can Cuomo get parents to put their kids in charter schools? He needs to convince them that their children are failing and their teachers are ineffective in their neighborhood public schools. If he can accomplish that, parents will be anxious to pull students out to try a charter, even though charter schools have not delivered the improved outcomes they love to promise. Convincing parents that the teachers are to blame is a matter of propaganda—not reality.

If Cuomo can get enough teachers labeled “ineffective,” and the media spreads enough lies, parents may begin to question the quality of their public schools. Merryl Tisch will approve more charter schools and the charter investors will flourish. Tisch’s brother in law, Andrew sits on the Board of K12, Inc., the biggest online learning company in the U.S. Andrew sells educational products to charter schools. Merryl approves a new charter; Andrew gets a new account.

So if Cuomo needs students to fail to prove that charter schools are the answer, then the tests need to be very inappropriate so that even top students will have a hard time passing them. I would like to invite Governor Cuomo, and every NYS legislator, to take a sample PARCC test, any grade level, and publish the results. My point is that these tests are invalid. Therefore raising the student test score percentage of every teacher’s evaluation to 50% turns these tests into weapons of mass destruction aimed at our public schools.

Read more:
Charters Kill True Choice
CHARTERS in the ESEA Re-authorization Bill!!!
The Roots & Fruits of Ed Reform