We know what they are. So do your children. So do your children’s teachers.

The highly touted Finns do as well, after all, they developed their high quality system in the early 1990s’ taking the best of what we introduced in the US in the 60’s and 70’s:

We know it takes a dedicated community, involved parents, and quality teaching staff and programs that foster student engagement and involvement in learning.

We all have had teachers who have changed our lives for the better; who have inspired, who have challenged, mentored and in some saved our lives.

Miss Stafford was my 2nd grade teacher in 1956-7. When she passed away in 2009, a third of my second-grade class was at her memorial service.

Little did we know as seven-year-olds entering her class in the Bronx, that we were to become the happy guinea pigs for a life dedicated to helping children with all kinds of ‘personalities,’ as we called it then.

People marvel at what Rita did for us. They marvel at our reunions every Christmas time for ten years, and at our last reunion, forty-four years after our second-grade class.

They marvel about how we learned about civil rights by writing letters to president Eisenhower offering him suggestions about what to do about integrating the Little Rock, Arkansas schools. (We even received a reply and were quoted in the New York Times.)

A professor at St. John’s university for nearly forty years, she had become a world renown professor and authority on learning styles, a prolific author, and the recipient of thirty-one professional research awards.

She is but one of millions.

Taylor Mali is also a teacher. He wrote this famous poem now ripped off by a ubiquitous ad for (an organization like TFA selling a shortcut to teaching.

What teachers make (abridged)

You want to know what i make?

I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.

I make parents see their children for who they are
and what they can be.

I make kids wonder. 
I make them question. 
I make them criticize. 
I make them apologize and mean it. 
I make them write. 
I make them read, read, read. I make them show all their work in math
and hide it on their final drafts in English.

Both my Ms. Stafford and Mr. Mali were doing these things long before NCLB, RTTT, High Stakes Standardized Testing and CCSS were sperm swimming in some ones brain.

Let me add the last line in Mr. Mali’s poem:

Teachers make a goddamn difference! Now what about you?

What can you do to take back our schools and save your children’s education?

All Politics is Local!

Your kids need your help.

  • They need you to support teachers like those to create quality schools.
  • They need you to understand why having due process rules to terminate teachers is good, not bad, for your kids and you.
  • They need you to push the administrators and union leaders to be collaborative not adversarial. Collaboration is key. You must make it your districts policy. Parents + community + teachers + union + administrators + students working together = a great school or district!

School districts are the last vestiges of town hall democracy. Board of Education members are elected. You decide who sits on them and what kind of policy makers you want on your board.

If you want cold cash cutting, tax lowering, short sided, mandate following Board of Education members who hire cut and slash superintendents and vote to destroy all the good in your schools….   You get what you ask for.

Your kids need your help.

  • They need you to work to get your budgets passed.
  • They need you to explain to those without children in your community why good schools are a benefit to them and well worth the cost of a yes vote on a budget.
  • They need you to vote for Board of Education members who want collaboration between their professional staff and the community, who will work with your local union and administrators to hire the best teachers and allow them to collaborate with each other, create curricula, have access to quality peer coaching and ongoing staff development.
  • They need you to vote for Board of Education members who will support the policies we advocate and against those that hurt our kids…

Or better yet, they need you to run for your district’s Board of Education and make sure it gets done right.