Control And Chaos

Control: to direct the behavior of (a person or animal); to cause (a person or animal) to do what you want; to have power over (something); to direct the actions or function of (something); to cause (something) to act or function in a certain way.

Chaos: Complete confusion and disorder : a state in which behavior and events are not controlled by anything.

Only fifteen days into the school year and elementary and secondary schools throughout the Rochester City School District are suffering from widespread violence.

Parents, teachers, and families of both had “Coffee with the Superintendent” last night to discuss the violence and bullying their loved ones are experiencing in schools.

At the same time members of the Policy Committee were meeting in the next room to discuss issues of violence, the number of incidents of arrests last year and the demographics of those arrests.

The reality is, when an undue amount of external control is placed on individuals those individuals will respond negatively and chaos will ensue.

This is what is happening in the district.

As district controls encroach upon the freedoms that should exist within the learning environment, children are beginning to revolt.

One parent reported that the structured schedule every school must follow does not allow time for students to come together and have their morning discussion, trading interpersonal communication with district control.

Another parent reported that their child’s school suspended their field trip to a farm because it was not directly related to the Common Core curriculum.

Here, district control takes the place of experiential learning.

We are seeing the negative effects of district efforts to control and standardize our children.

Understanding the developmental learning process of children to discover, develop, and direct their gifts and talents will drastically decrease the need for the external controls the district has adopted.

A child centered education teaches the child to respect themselves and others by controlling their own behavior.

Providing an engaging, developmentally appropriate learning environment for children all but eliminates the violence and chaos an externally controlled environment insures.

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Don’t Standardize Me

Recently Jaden Smith, son of actor Will Smith received negative comments from mainstream media for his comments about the system of education in America.

His comments:

“If Everybody In The World Dropped Out Of School We Would Have A Much More Intelligent Society;” and

“School Is The Tool To Brainwash The Youth;” and

“If Newborn Babies Could Speak They Would Be The Most Intelligent Beings On Planet Earth.”

The young actor is not wrong.

Our current system of education is wrought with failure, mis-educating even the most well educated in America.

The fact that homeschooling is rapidly increasing across the United States, lends credence to Smith’s first statement since parents are a child’s first and generally best teacher.

The acceptance of a Common Core Curriculum and Standardized testing actually prove Smith’s second statement that “School is the tool to brainwash the youth”.

To teach all children the same thing in the same way and then test their acquisition of that teaching in the same format for ten years is tantamount to brainwashing.

Smith’s last statement could not be more correct since newborn babies are free of the fears and hatred they acquire as they get older.

The reaction to Smith’s comments actually prove rather than disprove his points.

Our current system of education does not concentrate on educating the child but on producing a 21st Century workforce that is intelligent enough to do the work and complacent enough not to question the relevance of the work being done.

Free thinking children grow up to become free thinking adults and free thinking adults cannot be told how to live, what to wear, what to think, and most importantly, how to vote.

It is interesting that the mainstream media noted the negative comments Smith received without reporting any positive comments received. This is all part of the “brainwashing” Smith attributes to schooling.

Smith never said that education was not important, his comments were about school.

It is time we stop “schooling” our children and begin to provide them with an excellent, child-centered, developmentally appropriate education.

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More Cuts = More Corps

Once again the American people are faced with across the board cuts to federal spending that will undoubtedly trickle down to negatively affect the growing “middle class” by increasing taxes and lowering services.

The elected leaders of our country, after years of uncontrolled spending and corporate pandering, now expect the American public to place their children’s education and the nation’s health on the line to help pay for their inability to effectively and efficiently manage our resources.

“The current salary (2013) for rank-and-file members of the House and Senate is $174,000 per year.

The median personal wealth for members of Congress grew to $911,510 in 2009, up from $785,515 in 2008, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Nearly half of the members of Congress are millionaires.”

With 535 Representatives earning $174,000 the American people are paying our elected officials more than $93,090,000 in salary which does not include benefits. This is in addition to the money they receive from retirement payments.

The first sequester brought about a Congressional pay “freeze” which amounted to a savings of $856,000.

However, since Congress got us into our debt problems it is only reasonable to expect them to get us out by refusing their entire $174,000 salary until the federal budget becomes more manageable.

Instead, the American people will be convinced that legislators are doing everything they can to stop the uncontrolled spending which mean, educators, who make an average of $53,000 a year, must take a pay cut or loose their jobs in order to help bolster the economy.

In the meantime, corporate takeover of health, education, and incarceration are forcing our nation’s children into a lifetime of slavish servitude to a 21st Century workforce, running after the “middle class” carrot that is getting smaller and smaller as the “middle class” grows.

Until we understand that an excellent, child centered, experiential, developmentally appropriate education is the only answer to the myriad of social and economic problems we face in America, we will remain enslaved to the system of capitalism that has devoured the democratic system of government upon which our country was founded.

One man, one vote is the only hope our children have.

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Capitalizing On Socialism

Democracy: A form of government in which people choose leaders by voting; an organization in which everyone is treated equally and has equal rights; government by the people.

Socialism: A way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies; a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

Capitalism: A way of organizing an economy so that the things that are used to make and transport products are owned by individual people and companies rather than by the government; an economic system characterized by private or corporate ownership of capital goods.

Estimated FY 2013 Spending for Governments in the United States: Governments spend about $0.8 trillion a year on education. . . principally at the local government level. The federal government spends about $0.9 trillion a year on defense. . . Governments spend $0.6 trillion on welfare programs.

When local, state, and federal government agencies contract with private corporations for their goods and services, it behooves private corporations to create a market for those goods and services to insure their profits.

Capitalizing on the mis-education of America’s citizens becomes profitable when the lack of education disenfranchises citizens and removes them from the voting pool. As well, when disenfranchised individuals become part of the welfare system, they are less likely to vote or become ineligible to vote due to their criminal history.

Privatizing education allows corporations to manage the flow of voter turnout and choice by standardizing the information our children receive and for which they are accountable.

When the government, our elected leaders, is owned and controlled by corporations we no longer have a democracy but a socialistic society with Marxist overtones that combines capitalism and communism to promote and maintain a class system in America in which the “middle class” support both the upper and lower class through the collection of taxes.

This is not what democracy looks like.

Our children deserve to live in a democracy.

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Truth? Justice? What Is The American Way?

New York State Senator John Flanagan wanted to hear what the community had to say about the Regents Reform Agenda so he personally chose a group of twelve to offer public testimony on their feelings and beliefs concerning the legislation.

Those chosen:
Jeanette Deutermann, Parent from Bellmore, New York,
Marianne Adrian, Parent from Levittown, New York,
New York State United Teachers – Nadia Resnikoff,
Robert Vecchio, Board of Education President,
William Floyd Union Free School District,
James Gounaris, Board of Education President, Herricks Union Free School District,
Dr. Donald James, Commack Union Free School District Superintendent,
Dr. Tom Rogers, Nassau BOCES,
John Hogan, West Hempstead Union Free School District Superintendent,
Claudine DiMuzio, Elem Principal/Facilitator of Hauppauge Parent Advocacy Group,
Michelle Marino, Principal, Southdown Primary, Huntington Union Free School District,
John Nocero, Council of Administrators & Supervisors,
Arnold Dodge, Professor, CW Post, LIU, Chairperson of the Department of Educational Leadership and Administration, and
Lisa Rudley, Autism Action Network.

Is there a hidden agenda?

The schedule for attending the hearings being held across the State can be found on the Senator’s website.

On September 12, 2013 this release was posted on the Maffei website; “US Representative Dan Maffei (D-Syracuse) today announced an initiative to solicit input from hundreds of educators across Central New York about ways to improve and enhance local K-12 education. The initiative, which encourages local educators to participate in a survey and provide feedback about the challenges they face, builds on Representative Maffei’s work to strengthen the middle class.”

America is not supposed to have a class system.

It seems that our elected officials are aware that the current system of education in America is not working.

Unfortunately, they are not willing to come to terms with the fact that education is failing our children across the country, not just in New York State.

Neither Congress nor the Senate is willing to propose legislation that provides for the Constitutionally guaranteed right of ALL children to receive an excellent, child centered, developmentally appropriate, education.

All of America’s children deserve an excellent education, no discussion necessary.

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DCIP The Beginning Of The End

Engage: To hire (someone) to perform a particular service; to pay for (help, services, etc.); to get and keep (someone’s attention, interest, etc.); to start fighting against.

Involve: To have or include (someone or something) as a part of something; to cause (someone) to be included in some activity, situation, etc.; to cause (someone) to take part in something; to cause (someone) to be associated with someone or something.

The last Tenet of the DCIP document is Tenet VI: Family and Community Engagement.

The Major Recommendation: “The district needs to create policy, systems and structures that promote a climate of belonging for families and communities as well as emphasizes a purposeful communication strategy that includes how information is disseminated to all families inclusive of all languages represented.”

There is a difference between family and community engagement and family and community involvement.

The State wants the district to promote a “climate of belonging for families and communities” not understanding that families and community members are the district, they do not belong to the district.

It is the recommendation of the State to provide information to the families in the district but not community members who pay the taxes that support the district.

The district has a history of excluding family and community concerns with individual school and district management while engaging them in “feel good” media opportunities.

Parents and community members have been and are still placated with educational rhetoric whose purpose is to silence the voice of dissent and still the waters of contention against a system of education that has, for decades, consistently failed to comply with New York State Constitution Article XI which states, “The legislature shall provide for the maintenance and support of a system of free common schools, wherein all the children of this state may be educated.”

Who, at the State level is accountable for accepting this incomplete, irrational, and incoherent document as a relevant plan of action for this district?

If the State is not holding districts accountable for Constitutional compliance, who is holding the State accountable?

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Back To The DCIP

The Major Recommendation of Tenet V: Student Social and Emotional Developmental Health states: “The district needs a comprehensive plan in the area of student social and emotional developmental health that focuses on follow-up support and resources that are in alignment with individual school communities.”

It is interesting that the State should make this recommendation in light of the fact that the district chose to reduce the number of counselors due to budget constraints.

It is also interesting that counseling services for our children is almost non-existent at the early childhood and elementary level of education where it is most needed, recommended, and most effective.

The district’s Goal for this recommendation, “The district will create policy that focuses on proactively working with schools and community organizations in a collaborative approach that ensures professional development topics, opportunities and resources are available to all staff so that an array of social and emotional developmental health needs are met. The district will provide follow-up support (coaching, modeling, subject matter expertise, etc.) that is dynamic and customized to the skill and capacity of the school level staff.”

The concentration of this goal is aimed at educating school staff. There is no mention of providing counseling and support services to students.

The district’s Target:
* “The district will align school, district and community resources to increase utilization efficiencies and target needs through data based problem solving on an annual basis.
* The district will develop interconnected systems framework for social emotional learning with a single point of coordination that involves a cross collaborative approach and student supports (including School Mental health).”

WHAT!

The Activity:
* Align and coordinate ALL interventions so that they become well-matched interventions and monitor/adjust for implementation fidelity
* Establish program evaluation measures that are matched to intended outcomes of the designed interventions to monitor their effectiveness and contextual fit.”

The district’s “Goal”, “Target” and “Activity” of this Tenet do not mention or address “student social and emotional developmental health” but provides for more educational dollars to be spent on professional development for adults.

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Knick-knack Paddywhack

Superintendent Vargas sent a letter out to parents, via email, that begins with this statement:

“If you agree with me that our children are required to take too many assessment exams, I am writing with excellent news. The District plans to reduce the number of required assessment exams this year by as much as two-thirds. This will lower stress for students and teachers while increasing time for classroom instruction.”

This letter, meant to ease the fears of many parents, students, and teachers, is in response to the recent uprising of the citizen voice across the nation against excessive testing and the use of those tests to determine Annual Professional Performance Review scores.

Dr. Vargas continues, “I should be clear that many schools will continue to give assessment exams this fall, to help teachers provide instruction by identifying the educational needs of your children. But we are eliminating most of the tests that were being used to meet APPR requirements.”

How many schools will continue to give assessment exams?

Which exams will be eliminated, the pre-tests, benchmark tests, practice tests, State tests, or post-tests? Which tests are being used to meet APPR?

Finally, parents are told, “Although this agreement requires State approval, it is similar to APPR approaches being used or proposed by other districts. That makes us very hopeful of receiving quick approval. We have notified school Principals that the APPR pre-assessments planned for later this month have been canceled.”

Since Common Core and APPR are, in essence, State law, not State Education law, the State does not have to and probably will not relax testing or APPR requirements.

While District leaders are “hopeful” our children, at least for this year, will still be subjected to the same amount of testing as before, with the exception of the September pre-assessments which will most likely be given in October instead.

Parents and community members must not be fooled by this imaginary “bone” they are being thrown in order to still their voice.

They are listening but they are not changing.

We must stay strong.

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Taking A Break From DCIP

Whistle-blower: A person who tells police, reporters, etc., about something (such as a crime) that has been kept secret; one who reveals something covert or who informs against another.

Inform: To give information to (someone); to be or provide the essential quality of (something); to be very noticeable in (something).

Since total transparency of government is required by the Constitution, how is telling the truth and keeping nothing secret considered a vice instead of a virtue?

When did it become “politically correct” to lie and accept being lied to?

When did it become “socially acceptable” to lie to our children and accept their lies?

When did “good” become good enough, reducing an individual’s best to a level of mediocrity of which no one can be proud?

The word integrity, its meaning, its importance has all but disappeared from our language and our society.

The same ignorance that occurs at the upper income level of society, occurs at the middle income level and at the poverty level of society. Between and among all socioeconomic levels of American society, adults are ignoring their children’s education.

Our current system of education no longer concentrates on producing an intelligent, critically thinking, problem solving, knowledgeable, involved citizen who has respect for self and others and is proud of being an honest, trustworthy individual with integrity.

Our political and educational leaders have proven time and again through their policies, plans, and procedures, that they have little integrity in their process and that money is the driving force behind their decision making, not the educational success of our children.

How then, as an intelligent society, do we continue to support educational leaders who have a proven record of failure in the efficient and effective management of our school district?

Why do we continue to support educational leaders who have no confidence in how they manage district affairs?

It is by accepting this level of incompetence in our leaders that we accept the incompetent level of educational services they provide our children.

Our children deserve leaders with integrity.

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Educating Adults To School Children

With no mission or guiding principles, it is easy for the district to justify any action taken in its proposed DCIP.

The next Major Recommendation from the State, “The District leadership needs to commit to high expectations that connect professional practices to student outcomes by establishing a routine for communicating its theory of action to all of its constituents.”

The District’s response, “District leaders will work collaboratively with SUPES Academy to create a theory of action and communicate it to all stakeholders. District leaders will participate in eight Professional Development training sessions followed by executive coaching opportunities focused on T of A.”

This means that the District will spend money teaching our leaders how to lead with high expectations. This also means that they currently are not committed to having high expectations of success for our children. It also means that they have no idea how to create an attitude of high expectations within their leadership or how to communicate their expectations to its constituents.

The fact that SUPES Academy is indirectly connected to the Broad Foundation, SUPES founder is a Broad graduate, and Broad is on the advisory board of SUPES Academy, is not made known to Rochester citizens.

The District applied for and received $2 million dollars from the New York State Department of Education to support their training making it easy to say that “our” money was not utilized. However, the New York State Department of Education is funded with tax dollars and those tax dollars are expected to provide our children with an excellent education.

As well, District leaders recently approved a contract with the McKenzie Foundation, a Gates Foundation connect, to spend $360,000 education dollars to consult with them on how to effectively and efficiently manage the district.

Our Board has admitted they do not know how to manage the district and that the leaders they approved have low expectations for student success.

Where is the transparency when we are spending education dollars to support corporate profits by educating our leaders instead of our children?

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