Fight Back Friday: Where do we go from here?

Emerson’s definition of success is taped on my wall. You know, the one that starts with

To laugh often and much;
to win the respect of intelligent
people and the affection of

and then ends with

to know even one life has
breathed easier
because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

Thanks to Brendan Lynch and Amy Tierney, the “One Voice United” rally last weekend was a huge success. Here’s the note Brendan wrote about why he came.
When I called his mother, I assumed Brendan was in elementary school. She told me he’s in 7th grade and reads far below his grade level because of dyslexia.

Carol Zogby is Brendan’s teacher at Calkins Road Middle School in Pittsford. This week, she received an email from Amy Tierney, Brendan’s mom. Decide for yourself whether or not Carol Zogby is a successful teacher.

Brendan and I went to Albany for the Rally. My goal was for him to learn how to advocate appropriately when you think something is unfair and/or you don’t like it. He asked me if testing or the Common Core will change. I told him I didn’t know but that we know our voices were heard so we have done our part and for now I will have to continue testing, because it is part of my job and there are times when everyone has to do things we don’t like or want to do.

Brendan saw many kids holding different signs and we talked about what they meant (“I am not a number,” “I want to be taught not tested,” “I am more than a 1, 2, 3, or 4,” “let me learn”). I had him take some pictures and we discussed what the speakers were talking about. He thought a lot about his sign — he wanted to make a certain point. I think he did; he received many compliments and encouraging comments from kids, parents and teachers. He frequently said, “I have a great teacher” and that he has learned so much because a few teachers understood him. He is very bothered that his scores could impact you he even told one reporter “that isn’t fair, it isn’t her fault that I can’t read on grade level, she has helped me improve my reading”.

Here’s Brendan holding the sign he created at the rally.

Here’s the link to the Rochester Your News Now report. To watch the video, you have to have a Time Warner account.

Another indication of the tremendous success of the rally is the sense that the Regents will not act to move to any kind of a Value Added Model for this year’s teacher evaluations or potentially next year.  If you don’t know who your Regent is, find him/her through this link.

As we head toward the final days of both this school year and this legislative session, please realize now is not the time to let up. Please go to NYSUT’s Member Action Center to send messages to your lawmakers. There are a number of bills being considered now and lawmakers will vote next week.

Also, consider sending another Tell It Like It Is letter about the impact of testing on your students, your classroom or your district. The end of the school year is a natural time for reflection, so take the time to make your voice heard now.

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