Front Line Teachers Struggling

There are many educational CRISIS, but my topic today is about the collaboration of front line teachers’ views and wisdom to the R.E.S.P.E.C.T Project (Recognizing Educational Success, Professional Excellence and Collaborative Teaching).

I entered York College without choosing a major, after a few semesters I knew I wanted to make a difference and chose to become a biology teacher.  Mostly because I have children of my own, but also because of a speech given by Dr. Margaret Hamburg M.D.,  Commissioner of Food and Drug Administration here at York.

Why a biology teacher you might ask yourself?

When I first told my father that I wanted to become a teacher he rejected my decision, but I stood proud and tall and told him that my decision was made and I would just hope that he supported me.  I am not going to lie and say that I didn’t think about the low salary nor the small margin for growth, but I thought mostly about the children and how I could broaden their minds to the field of science and pass on the knowledge so that they too could have an interest in this field and later become doctors, medical engineers, surgeons, or even biology teachers too, etc,

Dr. Margaret Hamburg M.D. states,

” truthfully we’re failing to affectively translate breakthoughs through discoveries and innovations into benefits for people enabling us to better diagnose treat and hopefully prevent and cure disease. . . when we first began as the F.D.A back in 1906 imports were just a tiny part of products used in our country, but in 2010 its a different story all together. . . about 80 percent of active pharmaceutical ingredient used in drugs come from outside our borders and as much as 80 percent of all aspirin taken in the United States comes from China alone”

You can too hear this speech below [youtube][/youtube]

Not only are children are being let down by the new policies, like the No Child Left Behind Act, but educators are too. As I began to read this article,  I thought to myself would I be in the same situation in a couple of years. I would hope not because my interest in education is enormous.  Molding children to become future leaders is what I was born to do.

“After earning her law degree while teaching full time, Lori Wheal thought she might leave the field of education. She had spent 10 years as a middle school teacher in the Bronx and was tired. Thanks to low pay, little respect, and limited opportunities for growth, she was at a crossroads.”

Thankfully she was promoted at the same school where she taught.

Although I am not a certified teacher yet I respectfully give thanks to the initiative of this cross-country conversation that is going on to aid in policy making for teachers today and future teachers.

 This video below explains R.E.S.P.E.C.T in further detail by U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. [youtube][/youtube]

Commentary: We Must Quickly Address the Educational Crisis Facing Young Men of Color

We all took the SAT’s or possibly the ACT exam as a possible entrance exam to get accepted into high school right? The College Board was the main site to access information on test scores, helpful resources, etc. Well College  Board has pinpointed a few issues that are facing today’s society.

To me, America seems like the land of the home and the brave an more importantly, the free. Education is such a huge fundamental and necessity in today’s economy. Today’s economy is filled with a cornucopia of different types of people completely trying to finish their education. One of hose types of people searching for the light are colored (primarily African- American male students)

Today, young men of color face a challenge that lends itself much more towards apathy than activism. Many young men of color are not pushed to their limits by rigorous coursework in high school. Many find themselves adrift at large universities without organized support systems. And some are forced to choose between personal obligations and academic responsibilities.ere is an education crisis facing young men of color. It’s not on the front page of the newspaper. People aren’t organizing on Facebook or Twitter. But it’s out there, and if we fail to address this crisis together, the education level of the entire American workforce will decline for the first time in our history.







Budget cuts on NYC after school programs

Budget cuts on NYC after school program’s is a growing concern for many parents, which in some cases provide an affordable child care that enables them to hold on a job knowing their kids are safe and learning. According to the article in the New York Times Curtailing a service that parents depend on, mayor Michael Bloomberg is proposing to cut back on New York’s 454 sites which provide students with enrichment programs from 3 to 6pm. the proposal would reduce the 454 sites to 261 sites, which would save $19 million in a budget of $67 billion .

This proposal would affect students who are benefiting from after school programs that are ranked as one of the best in the city , for example a site due for closing is Intermediate school 318 in wiilliamsberg, which produced the best middle school chess team in America and recently won the national high school championship. All the team members learned how to play chess at this schools after school program, and were featured on the front page of the New York Times last month . If the proposal is accepted, the end of these schools top rated after school programs have come to an end and for some it will  be seen as an educational apocalypse.

100% Graduation Rates

A “dropout factory” is a nickname given to schools with a student dropout rate of 40%. With 1,700 high schools (including vocational) classified as “dropout factories,” American’s are in crisis mode.Yearly, approximately half of the students that do not graduate high school come from about 12% of high schools.These “dropout factories” largely come from poor rural and urban areas.

According to Dr. Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, in her article: No Excuses: We Need 100 Percent High School Graduation, graduation rates in America are “crumbling at a disturbing rate.” She notes that 25% of all students not earning a high school diploma, and 60% of minority students do not finish high school. Dr. Bonilla-Santiago warns that if this trend continues that the American workforce will not be able to compete with the global economy. Initivatives that hope to acheive 90% graduation rates may be too low, as it gives students the message that a high school diploma is not a necessity.The article goes on to outline methods to lower, and even elimate student drop out rates, using techniques used at EAP Academy University Charter School in Camden, N.J., a school that had 8 classes with 100% graduation rates. It cites low self-confidence when it comes to learning, and lack of academic resources as some of the main reasons behind students dropping out.

I agree that a higher educated population is positive for society, and that we need to increase graduation rates. However, there complicated reasons behind why a student may drop out. A school may be able to address the majority of these reasons, but students are individual people with their own individual goals and ideas. A school can and should create an environment of learning and provide support, but only the individual student can choose to accept it.

Overall, 100% is a great goal for a school to have. That means that every student is engaged and able to succeed. However, not reaching an 100% mark should not imply that a school has failed.



Budget Cuts to critical after-school programs in NYC! WHO’S IDEA? BLOOMBERGS OF COURSE!

The proposed budget cuts by mayor Bloomberg to after-school programs across NYC is one that will become an educational and economical crisis to say the least.  More than 56,000 children will be left without a spot in an educationally enriched after-school program that they were once a part of.  Many low and middle income working parents rely on these after-school programs, and will have to quit their job in order to take care of their children.  How can this be any good for future of the children and the economy of the city?  In the article “Curtailing a Service That Parents Depend On”, it is stated that from 454 educational after-program sites currently open, that will be reduced to 261 sites across the city.  Now really, how is that benefiting the city? Perhaps I will be quite critical of the proposed ideas (usually I don’t pay much attention to politics and the economy but as a future educator and parent, I feel this is totally wrong), but for politicians and society constantly saying that the economy is in a downward spiral, well, this certainly adds to to that downward spiral.  Think about it for a minute, tons of children across the City losing  access to after-school programs which help them with their homework and keeps them of the dangerous city streets while their parents are at work; will result in parents having to lose their job, then being supported by government assistance, and in the end, they will not be able to contribute as a taxpayer which in turn will lead to other cuts in the budget.  Okay, this by now, should sound like a crisis.  It most certainly is, however, it may not be as  bad as it has been made out to be.  Hopefully the proposed cuts are just one of those in which “the city council comes to the rescue by restoring at least some of the money”.

Students practicing yoga postures during an after-school program at Public School 24 in Brooklyn.

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Are School Closings The Answer? Or Is It a Way to Sugar Coat Other Underlying Issues?

Earlier this year New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg along with his administration announced 26 schools closings throughout the city. Some of these schools are among the oldest institutions in the city.

Part of the plans call for these schools to re-open next fall with the same students, but will host new names and will have some new teachers and administrators.

In an effort to qualify for federal grants under President Obama’s “Turnaround” model, the city has plans to keep at least 50% of the staff for each of these schools. The question is, are these school closings the answer for these communities? Or is a way to make our politicians look like they are working in the best interest of the students and their communities.

I can agree that there are some bad apples in terms of staff and administrators throughout the entire NYC school system, but does this justify a school closing? Or is this a short term solution for the city to qualify for federal grants? There so many issues and debates over current issues with the NYC Department of Education and how Mayor Bloomberg has handled the department during his tenure. The questions still remains, what will the school system accomplish from this move?

The NY Times article published on April 26, 2012 by Anna M. Phillips describes some of the details of what will transpire this coming school year in September 2012.





Resisting the Heroic Role when the Government Declares a Crisis


After watching the Jim Groom video and hearing him talk about how the term Educational Crisis and how it’s being blown out of proportion, I did my research about other issues of educational crisis. I came across a article in “The New Yorker”  called “The Overblown Crisis in American Education” by Nicholas Lemann, in the article it brings up many valid points of why the term is being overly used when it comes to the American Educational System. The article discusses the education crisis is mainly always focused on the low quality of education that poor urban children is receiving, the author mentions this is not a new problem but a problem that been around since the beginning of time.  He pointed out that despite how much the system is talked down upon it is still succeeding. During the time of the recession more students are opting to go to colleges & universities for higher education despite the rapid tuition increase and the many For-profit online institutes popping up. The author then went on to discuss the emerging of Charter Schools versus Public Schools and how they are the problem because he stated that there were no known facts that they are better than Public schools. He stated that Charter Schools are fitted together to neatly and come off as sort of being “perfect”. Charter schools are known as being apart of school-reform efforts where they are suppose to have some of the better performing students. Charter schools is not the only school-reform efforts but its the most recognized, many others go unnoticed or unmentioned. The author stresses that instead of the government “Noah’s Arking” the system by trying to wash away the entire system and starting over they should try to fix what’s undeniably wrong without declaring the entire system broken. This alone will eliminate all the heroic effects that tend to take place when it comes to the many  school-reforms thats taking place, he compares the efforts to deregulating the banking system.
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The Terrible Tales of Tenure

Teacher tenure, usually used as employment protection for teachers. Tenure is a contract which provides teachers with safety from getting fired due to reasons associating with their abilities to teach. Earning the teacher tenure can take as little as three years. Professors are reviewed only about 5 years later for tenure. “A study by The New Teacher Project (TNTP) stated that 81 percent of administrators say there is a tenured teacher in their school who is performing poorly.

What is education edging on? Is it really oblivion?

Possibly so… Are teachers properly evaluated before and even during their tenure years? According to the TNTP study, less than 1% of teachers were considered unsatisfactory. But president of The Center for Education Reform, Jeanne Allen considers, that many states may have been setting the bar too low. Tenure unfortunately isn’t about the value of teaching but has been diluted to the amount of years a teacher spends teaching.

Is tenure fair to students?

Have you ever had a nightmare professor? 

One that couldn’t relate to his or her students or even more sadly, his or her own subject? Both answers are abruptly yes, don’t lie.

Well, chances are these professors are either just horrid teachers or plainly under tenure protection.

Did you know:

  • Three years is enough time to show your worth?… Me neither.
  • Tenure from K-12 is not earned, but given as long as they “stand by” they receive it in short periods of time.
  •   That sadly, tenure is scarce in the “land of teaching the public.”

Its rough at least I think, when public school teachers are often shunned and             university professors are put on pedestals especially when teaching students of younger ages is a tad tougher then throwing a syllabus at your students and calling it a form of teaching.

  • When tenured teachers commit criminal acts against students that they are often only suspended and with PAY, or PAID to quit.

Yes! It is exactly what it seems…


You tell me, but choose one of the above. 😉

Tenure makes it increasingly difficult to fire them. They’re practically like ticks. If a teacher is underperforming, its too bad you’d have to deal since the legal process is stretched out to months and can involve court ruling. Sometimes I wonder why principals have such difficult time firing a tenured teacher. But now I know- On average $250,000 would be jeopardized just to fire a teacher in new York City.


OHHH the Irony!

Teacher’s are positioned to nurture and care for their students but with the tenure grants permission them to care solely for themselves. While few teachers receive benefits think about what it does for students.





Money well spent?

It seems that we have been at war since the beginning of time. Actually, this is most likely the case. However, our educational system has subsequently floundered due to our preoccupation with war, fear mongering, and propaganda that is fed to us on a daily basis by the media. It is evident that most people today get all their information from the television. Peter Finch’s character in “Network” (1976) examines the media in a time before it became the monstrosity that it is today.


If one was to look at the federal budget for 2013 on our national defense and compare to the the budget  department of education of that same year one would see the vast disparity in where federal dollars are being sent. The government spends approximately seven times more on our national defense than on education. Also, government spending on education has decreased dramatically since No Child Left Behind’s enactment. One can conclude that government is getting what it has payed for. Is the game rigged? There seems to be no straight answer for the problems facing education. However, I think the majority would agree that funding is a major issue. If the schools do not have the resources needed then how can teachers provide an environment where learning is at its full capacity? It simply cannot be done. However, will that ever change? Or is it just a constant struggle that will continue forever in education. Are we doomed? The video below gives some insight into what education was and what it has become.


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Battle the Apocalypse with aPOPcalypse!

In Jim Groom’s Educational aPOPcalypse video, he’s concerned that problems in education are dramatized to create hysteria and despair (there’s no way out!) But he doesn’t believe in this alarmist approach, rather he looks to the creativity found in participatory web culture and calls on us to respond to problems by harnessing this energy, excitement, and even sense of humor (yes maybe we need to laugh our way out of the problem). Jim uses 25 animated GIFs to emphasize his point.

I want you to find your own example of an educational ‘crisis’ real or not. And tell us how you might look at it differently, not as you would rubber-neck at a multiple car pile-up on the highway, but how you might envision the problem as something solvable. Also find and embed an image or video which you believe emphasizes your new perspective. Please be sure to link back to the original story as well.