Pictured left to right: ELA teacher Kara Lyons; WPTA internal organizer Carleen Gilot; and WPTA President Kerry Broderick. Photo provided.
Oh, is it ever going to be a Valentine's Day. This one is replete with broken hearts, hearts afire and hearts on a quest.
Cupid is earning overtime pay.
And all arrows are pointing to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his heartless proposals for public education.
His office will be barraged with hearts. The White Plains Teachers Association sent out hundreds and hundreds of red postcards for teachers, school health professionals and School-Related Professionals to sign. The message was to tell the governor and Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the Board of Regents, that the current proposals are bad news for public school students and their teachers.
The WPTA had 1,500 people step up to sign the cards.
"My members are lit up," said White Plains TA President Kerry Broderick. "They are really feeling the seriousness of this. The governor needs to (end the) Gap Elimination Adjustment and stop this standardized testing overkill. It's not getting students ready for the 21st century."
At this weekend's New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislative Conference, parents and kids will be signing a banner for Gov. Cuomo for the Broken Heart campaign. Jacquelyn Paredes, NYSUT legislative representative, said the banner and posters would be delivered to the governor later in the week at a press conference.
Paredes explained that Cuomo has broken hearts with his flat education budget, his favoritism toward charter schools over public schools and his voucher plan to direct even more money to private schools; they are all hurting public education. His proposal to change a teacher's evaluation rating so that 50 percent of the rating is based on students' test scores - instead of the current 20 percent - would be unfair to teachers who have a myriad students coming to school at many different developmental, as well as poverty, levels.
Kids at the conference will be tearing up pink hearts and putting them on top of the large broken heart on the banner, showing just how many broken hearts there are.
And in Niagara Wheatfield...
Meanwhile, Western New York is raising a ruckus as well.
Niagara Wheatfield special education teacher Nick Azzarella is showing the love he has for public education, and the special education students he teaches, to a campaign called "I Love Public Education." Azzarella is using symbols of love, including Valentine's cards and the I Love New York symbol, to send out messages to redirect the governor.
Azzarella is working with his teachers association, the affiliated SRP local and parents groups through word of mouth and social media. Niagara Wheatfield TA member Tracy Bloom created a series of postcards and they printed them through a local union print shop. Already, the first package of cards has been sent to local state Assembly and Senate lawmakers.
Azzarella recalls teaching a first-grade student who was developmentally two- to three-years old. The student was forced to sit through a computerized testing protocol to determine how he measured up with his peers. He did not even have the motor planning skills or language skills to identify his name on the screen, Azzarella said. Without ever looking at the screen, he simply clicked the mouse and giggled.
"If this testing protocol was allowed to determine his future as completely as state representatives would like, I can't imagine what they would have taken away from him," he said.
Azzarella wants to remind people of the joy that public education can bring to children.
"I believe that if we focus on the strengths that have always existed in public education we can stop this madness and move on as a state and a nation," he said.
For materials and support, email Azzarella at ILovePublicEducation716@gmail.com.
Valentine's Day Cards