When School Officials Bully Students

When School Officials Bully Students.

My son has also been bullied. This is the e-mail I sent this morning to the superintendent & his principal this morning.

It is a a very sad day when the almighty test is more important than the well-being of kids.

This is the e-mail I sent to the Fairfield-Suisun Superintendent and his principal this morning as well. This emphasis on testing started in 3rd grade & because of his teacher then, he experienced extreme anxiety. I can’t believe we are facing almost the same experience now that he is in 11th grade.

Hello Ms. Cottingim-Dias,

Approximately three weeks ago, I notified Mr. Principal that our son would be opting out of the CST’s. This decision was not made lightly and came about after many lengthy discussions between our son, my husband and myself. We believe that the CSTs are not valid indicators of what our son has learned. We also believe and trust our son’s teachers to be able to best assess him and tell us where he is at academically as it is part of their job to do ongoing assessments throughout the school year. We further believe that the emphasis on testing and the pressure that is placed on teachers is taking away valuable learning time, something that has brought frustration to our son who has told me that he sees firsthand the pressure and stress his teachers experience during testing time.

Last week, it was brought to my attention that one of his teachers chose to target him in class. I am still trying to contact this teacher so that I can hear her version of the events. Unfortunately, she has still failed to contact me. Today, in yet another example of targeting our son, my husband received a phone call from Cindy in the Attendance Office at the high school. She told my husband that our son could not be on school grounds during the testing time. When I tried to talk to Cindy, she referred me to Ms. VP who would not address my concern, but instead referred me to the testing coordinator, Ms. TC. This person was not available to talk to me, so I have yet to speak to anyone about why our son could not be there today. He was there yesterday and nothing was said. So, I’m not sure what changed from yesterday, when apparently it was okay for him to be on school grounds for testing to today when all of a sudden it is not okay.

When our son was in 3rd grade, he went to our neighborhood school. We ended up having to pull him out of school there because of the bullying behavior we witnessed by some of his teachers and the administrative staff. This bullying caused him to suffer extreme anxiety for which cost him a good half a year of learning. This school district is very lucky that my husband and I merely chose to withdraw him and find a school that was willing to work with him – a school in Vallejo with teachers who cared more about his emotional well-being in conjunction with his learning, something he clearly did not experience at our neighborhood school. It now seems like he is being bullied again by those he should be able to trust, his teachers and administrators.

I am hopeful that someone will assure me that any bullying and intimidation that is taking place in regards to the CST’s will cease immediately and that our concerns will be addressed.

Thank you for your consideration.

California Dem’s Resolving not to be suckered by corporate “reformers”

I came back today after spending the week-end in Sacramento at the 2013 California Democratic Convention. A contingent of labor groups, including the California Teachers Association and the California Federation of Teachers, submitted a resolution titled, “Supporting Public Education and Dispelling the Corporate Reform Agenda”. It not only calls out the corporate reformers, but so-called democratic organization (in name only) such as Democrats for Education Reform and Students First.  This resolution was heard on the floor of the convention today. I’m very proud of the fact that this resolution was passed by a majority of California Democrats. The text of the resolution is below.

Supporting California’s Public Schools and Dispelling the Corporate “Reform” Agenda
Whereas, the reform initiatives of Students First, rely on destructive anti-educator policies that do nothing for students but blame educators and their unions for the ills of society, make testing the goal of education, shatter communities by closing their public schools, and see public schools as potential profit centers and children as measureable commodities; and

Whereas, the political action committee, entitled Democrats for Education Reform is funded by corporations, Republican operatives and wealthy individuals dedicated to privatization and anti-educator initiatives, and not grassroots democrats or classroom educators; and

Whereas, the billionaires funding Students First and Democrats for Education Reform are supporting candidates and local programs that would dismantle a free public education for every student in California and replace it with company run charter schools, non-credentialed teachers and unproven untested so-called “reforms”;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party reaffirms its commitment to free accessible public schools for all which offer a fair, substantive opportunity to learn with educators who have the right to be represented by their union, bargain collectively and have a voice in the policies which affect their schools, classrooms and their students;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the California Democratic Party send this resolution to all elected Democratic leaders in California, publicize the corporate and Republican funding of these groups and work with the authors of this resolution to dispel the false reforms and support the real needs of the classroom: trained teachers, adequate funding, safe and clean facilities, diverse and stimulating curriculum and access to pre-school and higher education.

Where would I fit in?

I was a Navy brat. My dad served this country for over two decades, finally retiring when I was in my junior year of high school. During my school career, I attended over a dozen schools. Elementary school was relatively easy because during this time in childhood, kids are fairly accepting and the cliques (if there are any) are relatively fluid. It was only during the transition to junior high and high school that being the new kid became more painful.

The one thing I had as the new kid was a deep love of singing. From the time I entered West Junior High School in Butte, Montana (yes, my dad was stationed in Butte – a story for another day) to when I left Benicia High School as a 9th grader, I was involved in school choir programs. It was the one clique that I fit into relatively easily and quickly because I found other kids who shared this same love of singing.

In fact, when I look at the partial year at Marshfield High in Coos Bay, OR and the end of my high school career  at Alameda High, I remember not feeling well-connected to any group. It took me some type to develop friendships, which I know probably had a lot to do with being the new kid as an eleventh grader. However, I have to wonder if this feeling of disconnect that I experienced later on was because of how much longer it took me to find a group of kids that shared similar interests – something that could be found easier when I could be part of a school choir.

This leads me to where we are now in education. The focus is clearly on getting all of our kids college ready. This is whether or not the kids themselves want to be college ready. As a high schooler, I said I wanted to go to college, mostly because I knew it is what the adults around me wanted to hear. However, I did not go to college straight out of high school. I chose to get married and start a family. I found I had to live life in order to truly appreciate my college experience.

With all of this emphasis in California on pushing our kids to meeting A-G requirements and the cuts to music and art programs, it makes me wonder. Where would I have fit in as a high school student? The one class that kept my interest has ceased to exist in many middle schools and high schools.

Our schools need to reflect all of our kids. Sadly, we are only engaging and providing relevancy to a small group of kids who truly have the burning desire to go straight to college out of high school. Those who do not wish this for themselves at this time are being told that what they want is not important and those around them (the adults) surely know better. When will we move past the idea that all of our kids are the same and start providing comprehensive programs that reach & teach all types of kids, including those who are every bit as smart as college bound kids, but simply do not want it for themselves as soon as they graduate?

So why get a doctorate?

Some have asked me why I want to pursue this madness of getting a doctorate degree in educational leadership. I’ve had some surmise that maybe I’ll go into administration. Others want to know what my plans will be once I’m done with this last part of my educational career.

I’ll say from the outset, I have absolutely NO desire to go into district level administration. I’ve seen too many good people eaten up by that particular system. As an outsider looking in, district administration appears to make those in it throw their own beliefs out the window and agree with whatever the superintendent wants to do. Integrity and doing what’s best for kids seems to be a very small part of being able to keep your job once you cross-over to the “dark” side.

When asked the question of what I want to do upon earning my doctorate by the two women who interviewed me, I replied simply, “I want to be on the same playing field as those making decisions for those who choose to stay in the classroom.” I sincerely  believe that more of “us” need to pursue getting our doctorates or getting nationally board certified so that when those with admin credentials and/or doctorates will see us as equals and will maybe actually listen when we say that research doesn’t support their latest bad idea.

I also want to get involved at the state level and help craft educational policy. When I went into teaching just a little over a decade ago, I remember being in my first staff meeting, surrounded by fellow teaching colleagues and being in awe of them. It took me some time to actually feel like I was one of them – the ones who I still believe have one of the most important jobs in the world – teaching our kids.

I’ve just never understood why we place more value on those so far removed from the classroom than those who do the actual daily work of teaching kids. I hope to be their voice in the way that Diane Ravitch and Linda Darling-Hammond have been their voice and the voice for sane education policies. These two women exemplify what I hope to accomplish when I finally can add “Dr.” to my name. (Although, like Diane Ravitch, I won’t insist that people call me that!)

Accepted!

On Monday, March 4th, I interviewed for the doctoral program at UC Davis.

I’ve waited an agonizing four weeks to find out if I had been accepted into the program.

I sent an e-mail this past Thursday and was told that it might be another week or two before final determinations had been made.

OMFG!!

I thought this is insane.

I also had convinced myself that surely had totally screwed up the interview.

I apparently did not.

I was accepted.

Email received today.

Happy!

OMFG!!

Making 2013 Better

So Mrs. G over at Derfwad Manor posted a resolution list of sorts. Here’s mine that I started over there.

1. I will stop obsessing over trying to change people who are negative. I only have control over me.

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2. I will continue to do nice things for myself, such as going to yoga & getting my nails done.

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3. I will force myself to leave the house more often on the week-ends – for some reason this is becoming a real issue for me!

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4. I will apply to the doctoral program this year and not convince myself I can’t do it.

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on waiting

I completely & utterly detest waiting for people especially when I know others’ are waiting for me. It’s like those contraptions where you drop the ball and one trigger leads to the next. You know that if one trigger doesn’t happen correctly, the whole contraption is doomed to fail.

Right now, I’m waiting. 

I have someone waiting for me.

The person I’m waiting for hasn’t shown up yet & I’m two hours completely off schedule.

Uggedy, ugh, ugh!