I wish I had time for a more detailed analysis of Assemblyman Crouch’s education summit last night, but I’m trying to get ready for a road trip to Pittsburgh to visit my sister.
Here’s the lowdown. Assemblyman Crouch is very receptive to hearing from us. Let me start by thanking the many teachers who were brave enough to speak last night and set the record straight about what education reforms and testing are doing to our schools. There were a few parents that spoke as well, and it is clear that we, the public, are very concerned about where education is headed and that we want change. If you were there last night, please be sure to email Cliff and thank him for his efforts last night. If you spoke last night, send him a message reiterating your points. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some points that struck me. First attendance was low. I expected the Chenango Valley High School auditorium to be packed, but we didn’t even fill a third of it. This tells me that either a lot of people out there are unaware of what’s going on, or they don’t think it affects them. We need to keep speaking out, letting people know what’s going on in education and how it does indeed affect everyone.
The panel that Assemblyman Crouch organized was weak and provided insufficient insight as to what’s going on. It was the crowd that held the true power and told it like it is.
New York State Regent James Tallon was defensive from the get-go and borderline antagonistic, and his rebuttal to most comments made by the public seemed greatly in defense of testing. In response to most of us that spoke first, he kept mentioning the Regents exams and how testing has always been there. And the tired old comparison of accountability in school to professional accountability was made several times. Luckily, the audience was smart enough to set the record straight and towards the end Regent Tallon almost admitted that the Regents exams as a comparison to the many other tests that are consuming education were not the same thing. He did not however seem to come to “our” side of the issue. It was disappointing.
Other members of the panel included David Gill, Chenango Valley Central School District, Interim Superintendent; Dona Murray, teacher, and Suzanne Sova, parent. Although they acknowledged many of our concerns, their criticism was watered down in my opinion, and again it was the crowd that brought the passion and true arguments to the table. Assemblyman Crouch and Regent Tallon spoke the most, and the other three balanced out the perspectives but had little ‘bite’ when it comes to discussing the devastating effects of education reforms today.
The audience covered just about everything in their comments and questions. They were brilliant! I spoke also. I introduced myself as a member of Opt-out New York & Oneonta Area for Public Education. I was the second in line and focused my attention to parental rights to direct the upbringing of our children and refuse to participate in these tests. I asked for legislation that would allow this to occur easily without fighting with our schools, to remove the wedge that has been driven between parents and administrations by threats and fear tactics issued from above. Assemblyman Crouch said they were “discussing ideas.”
Again, Assemblyman Crouch is receptive. Please contact him. I was able to shake his hand at the end after most had left. I mentioned my desire for opt-out legislation and his response was positive. Another member of our local group, Oneonta Area For Public Education asked for another summit in Oneonta. Although this is not Crouch’s district, he was very open to the idea of working with Assemblyman Magee and other neighboring representatives to organize another event. PLEASE contact your representative and ask for something similar! The ball will start rolling slowly. Do NOT be discouraged. It is rolling, and it will build momentum. But it starts with you!
Ok, out the door… 6 1/2 hour drive you know… make that 8 with two young children and lots of stopping. Forgive my lack of proof-reading and if I neglected to mention anything important!!!