Welcome back. I hope you all had a wonderful summer and that you had time to rest, relax, recharge and prepare for the coming school year.
For me, this was an amazing summer! I took my first European vacation where Fanny and I travelled to Paris and Rome. We walked those two cities from morning to night, taking in as much as we could. It was thrilling and exhausting; full of beautiful sites, amazing art, wonderful food and incredible history. This was an on the move vacation- quite different from our usual beach vacation. After we returned, I found myself longing for the beach. I needed to simply kick back and relax. So we headed to the beach, and I had this great idea that I should join my daughter at surf camp! Yes, me and about 15, 7-14 year olds- learning how to surf. The instructors called me “Mamma”. “Paddle Mamma”, they would yell! Oh my god, what was I thinking? The only thing I can tell you is that it was amazing! Surfing is PURE JOY! It IS the moment. I found an off switch for the endless barrage of thoughts constantly filling my head. It is thrilling. It is exhilarating. It is exhausting. I must confess, surfing beat me up a bit (well maybe a lot). But I have found the gift I was looking for! And the best part is that I now have something amazing to share with my 14 year old daughter. Truly a gift of summer!
As I was preparing my remarks I was thinking about the state of education. I don’t think there was a day this summer that education was not in the news. In fact more often than not, front page news. There is so much to talk about: New York’s new Commissioner, APPR, Opting out, Tenure, Freidrichs and the Supreme Court, Dyett in Chicago, Campbell Brown, Charter Schools, Receivership, School Rankings, teacher burn out, and the education experiment of New Orleans- ten years after Katrina. So much…. How do I keep this positive?
So I found myself tooling around on the internet looking for an inspirational video to share. I came across the music video for Sara Bareilles’ hit song Brave. I was familiar with the song but hadn’t really thought much about the lyrics. Until now. Check it out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUQsqBqxoR4
We are on the front lines. We are the last men and women standing, protecting our students from, what I would describe as the harmful educational policies coming down from the federal government and New York State. And soon, when each of us is reduced to a number, know that the APPR ratings are worthless. They are based on meaningless and invalid assessments that offer no valuable information about the students we serve and even less information about the instruction we deliver. OUR students need US to be brave. They need us to teach. They need us to engage. They need us to support. They need us to innovate. To create. To listen. To think. They need us to mentor. To care. To inspire. They need us to be passionate. To ask questions. To take risks. And they need us to provide the best education possible. They don’t need us to chase test scores. Be brave for each of your students. Show them how big your brave is!
Wishing you a school year full of great success!
Meryl Fordin, writes to keep you informed of the happenings in the EWTA as well as in public education; the mundane to the insane.