May 2015 Issue
April 28, 2015

First Person

Source: NYSUT United

By Kelly S. Dickson

dear TEACHER,

TEACH ME
I am a fast learner

TEACH ME
I am autistic

TEACH ME
I forgot to take my medication this morning

TEACH ME
I have never met my parents

TEACH ME
I have a learning disability

TEACH ME
I don't like going home at the end of the day

TEACH ME
I am homeless

TEACH ME
I have an undiagnosed disability

TEACH ME
My mom has Cancer

TEACH ME
I live with both my parents

TEACH ME
I have been absent for three days

TEACH ME
I am abused at home

TEACH ME
I am a fast learner

TEACH ME
I have anger issues and cut myself

TEACH ME
My dad is in jail

TEACH ME
I have anorexia and bulimia

TEACH ME
I have a fever

TEACH ME
I have not eaten

TEACH ME
I speak English as my second language

TEACH ME
I am emotionally disturbed

I WILL
Teach You
responsibility, math, physical activity, respect, reading, perseverance, writing, kindness, history, hygiene, science, friendship, technology, dedication, cooking, citizenship, health, Spanish, French, drama, art and
SO
MUCH
MORE
I WILL TEACH YOU
THROUGH THE COMMON CORE
WITH
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND AND INCLUSION ALWAYS KNOCKING ON THE DOOR
I WILL
TEACH YOU
BECAUSE

You and I are MORE than a test SCORE!

Kelly S. Dickson is a Haverling TA member.


By Melissa J. Spierling

Dear Gov. Cuomo,

You don't know me, but let me introduce myself. I've been an educator in New York public schools for 23 years. I taught special education for nine of those years prior to becoming a sixth grade ELA teacher. I am a highly effective teacher. I can honestly say I loved my job. I use the past tense loved, because, since your ridiculous “reforms” and proposals, it is no longer something I love. Why am I still there? For my students, of course.

When you spout off these ill-conceived plans and ideas, it infuriates me, not only for my students but for my own children, and for the profession I once loved. You have no basis or authority in this area. You see, one of the things you cannot understand is what it is like to spend a day in the life of a public school teacher. You wouldn't understand this because:

a. You spent your life in an ivory tower.
b. You continue to live in one.
c. You refuse to visit public schools in the state in which you govern.

Are you afraid?

Well, let me tell you a little about my 23 years in this profession. Perhaps, it will enlighten you. I have seen countless education fads come and go. What is a buzz one year, goes out with the tide the next. None of which will make me better at what I do.

Tests are not the enemy, but too much high-stakes testing is the downfall of education. You should know what it's like to feel like a failure, having had to take a difficult test repeatedly without being prepared for it. I will tell you some of our best and brightest students are feeling like failures because of the administration of these tests without the proper Common Core rollout. And, what about the students living in such dire conditions that a test is the last thing on their mind?

Let me tell you about them ...

If you don't think poverty and home life play an integral role in our student's lives, you are living under a rock. Have you ever comforted and attended the funeral of a student's mother who was killed by her significant other? Have you ever fed breakfast and clothed a 12-year-old student who didn't have enough food at home because he lived in a dysfunctional family with 10 other siblings?

Have you ever had a student miss school for two weeks because the conditions in the home were so poor she had to live with head lice and could not return? Have you ever held a child to love him because you were the only steady force or caring person in his life? Have you ever read the newspaper in horror when a former student was arrested and convicted of running a meth lab?

I think not.

Clearly, it's very difficult to see past the glare of your ivory tower into the real world. This is what public educators see on the front lines on a daily basis. And yet, you wonder why we have such an issue when you base our entire career and our schools on a three-day assessment ... When you choose to vilify the one constant these kids have in their lives — their teachers.

The fact is, Mr. Cuomo, you really don't have a clue and you never will. Step outside your ivory tower and socialize with others, instead of with your hedge fund billionaire buddies. See the real world, with real New Yorkers, for once. Maybe then, you will see the light.

Melissa J. Spierling is Maine-Endwell TA president.

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