Teaching these days drives one to read and research whenever possible about what has been going on. I read an old article with a title that grabbed my attentionMy search was driven by curiosity regarding the roles of teacher unions moving forward, as well as what they have been doing (or not doing) for the past couple years.

NYSUT: State must restore trust in education reform process (Bethany Bump, 10/2015)

What prompted this piece, though, was actually one of the comments:

“I can’t speak for why teachers feel as they do, but can guarantee one large reason for parents’ discomforts is the endless litany of complaints and attacks by NYSUT.”

This seemed like a shot against my union, and believe me-while I have a few shots of my own to take at union failures and complacency-I can speak to why teachers feel as they do, why I feel the way I do as a parent. And I can comment on the political three-ring circus called “The governor, the legislature, and NYSED.”  I’ll go reverse-order.

1) The governor, legislature, and NYSED:

Pushing for tests and consequences over supporting the conditions for better results and opportunities is a symptom of leadership’s willingness to distract the masses in a political game. This happens because supporting the public becomes expensive when income below the luxury boxes is eroding and the luxury boxes are continually getting remodeled and upgraded. Policy is written in the luxury boxes, and when the public actually becomes concerned and starts to resist (the active and aware public), you start to see minor backpedaling and damage control (independent commissions, campaign season promo’s, “we really care about you parents” stuff), as well as attempts to find someone to blame and a cheap pharmaceutical solution vs lifestyle change (less work and pharma-lobby wins) . Even better if you can squeeze money away or avoid a court-acknowledged funding debt to public schools as our government has.

2) On being a parent:

“Sadly, that’s the state of funding in our state” was the response from a NYSED associate telling me why kids not rich enough or lucky enough to go to the right school might not get the provisions described in regulations as available in “All public schools” and to “all students”. “I was steamrolled in that meeting” was what I was told by another associate who had been helping advocate for my daughter’s access to one of the alternative pathways (in the Arts) to a regents diploma described in regulations. Interesting that the first associate’s description was “I have spoken to ***, and we both now agree…” (I spoke to ***, and they did not agree) . Even more interesting was NYSED’s proclamation about a year later announcing their “groundbreaking” new alternative pathways (and a video showing twirling dance kids, airplane repair kids…)! The “pathways” had existed for years…can you guess what was new?

“Sadly, that’s the state of funding in our state” Click To Tweet

Test language had been inserted for them into the regs. NYSED is an advocate for itself and the executor of the will of private interests called “research fellows”. Many of our regents are unhappy with the new regulation(s), but concerned about school funding for their area if they dissent. On teachers: overwhelmingly on the side of students, parents, schools, communities. Rarely involved in the waves of bad education policy (that seem to coincide with political and economic failures) but then left trying to make bad policy into good practice in the classroom. Fighting against that circus that wants to de-personalize the process and the children below the luxury box into an easy to pay for, shuffle and juggle numbers game.

3) On teaching:

Raising children is complicated, expensive, and never standard…imagine teaching a roomful.

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