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Thursday, April 11, 2013

TEACHERS VOTE NO ON APPR- STAND UP FOR YOUR PROFESSION. BE INSPIRED BY THE WORDS OF THIS ENLIGHTENED MAN, AND FELLOW TEACHER. DO NOT BE DRIVEN FROM TEACHING.


Hamburg teachers- read this man's words.  Stand strong against the traitors at NYSUT- they are only taking your dues and not watching out for your best interest.  But more importantly teachers, safeguard your students from the trappings of APPR and State testing.  Teachers, say NO to APPR, and say NO to the theft of your profession. 

Below in purple is a resignation letter from a teacher in the Syracuse NY area.  The letter is making its way around the internet. Read it and think. 
"Words matter, and ideas matter".
Mr. Casey Barduhn, Superintendent
Westhill Central School District
400 Walberta Park Road
Syracuse, New York 13219
Dear Mr. Barduhn and Board of Education Members:
It is with the deepest regret that I must retire at the close of this school year, ending my more than twenty-seven years of service at Westhill on June 30, under the provisions of the 2012-15 contract. I assume that I will be eligible for any local or state incentives that may be offered prior to my date of actual retirement and I trust that I may return to the high school at some point as a substitute teacher.
As with Lincoln and Springfield, I have grown from a young to an old man here; my brother died while we were both employed here; my daughter was educated here, and I have been touched by and hope that I have touched hundreds of lives in my time here. I know that I have been fortunate to work with a small core of some of the finest students and educators on the planet.
I came to teaching forty years ago this month and have been lucky enough to work at a small liberal arts college, a major university and this superior secondary school. To me, history has been so very much more than a mere job, it has truly been my life, always driving my travel, guiding all of my reading and even dictating my television and movie viewing. Rarely have I engaged in any of these activities without an eye to my classroom and what I might employ in a lesson, a lecture or a presentation. With regard to my profession, I have truly attempted to live John Dewey’s famous quotation (now likely clich√© with me, I’ve used it so very often) that  “Education is not preparation for life, education is life itself.” This type of total immersion is what I have always referred to as teaching “heavy,” working hard, spending time, researching, attending to details and never feeling satisfied that I knew enough on any topic. I now find that this approach to my profession is not only devalued, but denigrated and perhaps, in some quarters despised. STEM rules the day and “data driven” education seeks only conformity, standardization, testing and a zombie-like adherence to the shallow and generic Common Core, along with a lockstep of oversimplified so-called Essential Learnings. Creativity, academic freedom, teacher autonomy, experimentation and innovation are being stifled in a misguided effort to fix what is not broken in our system of public education and particularly not at Westhill.
A long train of failures has brought us to this unfortunate pass. In their pursuit of Federal tax dollars, our legislators have failed us by selling children out to private industries such as Pearson Education. The New York State United Teachers union has let down its membership by failing to mount a much more effective and vigorous campaign against this same costly and dangerous debacle. Finally, it is with sad reluctance that I say our own administration has been both uncommunicative and unresponsive to the concerns and needs of our staff and students by establishing testing and evaluation systems that are Byzantine at best and at worst, draconian. This situation has been exacerbated by other actions of the administration, in either refusing to call open forum meetings to discuss these pressing issues, or by so constraining the time limits of such meetings that little more than a conveying of information could take place. This lack of leadership at every level has only served to produce confusion, a loss of confidence and a dramatic and rapid decaying of morale. The repercussions of these ill-conceived policies will be telling and shall resound to the detriment of education for years to come. The analogy that this process is like building the airplane while we are flying would strike terror in the heart of anyone should it be applied to an actual airplane flight, a medical procedure, or even a home repair. Why should it be acceptable in our careers and in the education of our children?
My profession is being demeaned by a pervasive atmosphere of distrust, dictating that teachers cannot be permitted to develop and administer their own quizzes and tests (now titled as generic “assessments”) or grade their own students’ examinations. The development of plans, choice of lessons and the materials to be employed are increasingly expected to be common to all teachers in a given subject. This approach not only strangles creativity, it smothers the development of critical thinking in our students and assumes a one-size-fits-all mentality more appropriate to the assembly line than to the classroom. Teacher planning time has also now been so greatly eroded by a constant need to “prove up” our worth to the tyranny of APPR (through the submission of plans, materials and “artifacts” from our teaching) that there is little time for us to carefully critique student work, engage in informal intellectual discussions with our students and colleagues, or conduct research and seek personal improvement through independent study. We have become increasingly evaluation and not knowledge driven. Process has become our most important product, to twist a phrase from corporate America, which seems doubly appropriate to this case.
After writing all of this I realize that I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists. I feel as though I have played some game halfway through its fourth quarter, a timeout has been called, my teammates’ hands have all been tied, the goal posts moved, all previously scored points and honors expunged and all of the rules altered.
For the last decade or so, I have had two signs hanging above the blackboard at the front of my classroom, they read, “Words Matter” and “Ideas Matter”. While I still believe these simple statements to be true, I don’t feel that those currently driving public education have any inkling of what they mean.
Sincerely and with regret,
Gerald J. Conti
Social Studies Department Leader


53 comments:

thank you Mr. Conti said...

This expresses my sentiment exactly how our profession is heading in the wrong direction. Mr. Conti's administrators sound like ours. School Board President cuts you off from speaking, sets a short time for discussion. School officials cannot be bothered to take the time to hear our concerns, and worse yet those that do speak out other than feel good things are punished. We are discusted by our leaders.

Anonymous said...

When do we take a stand and say no for the sake of our students. If we give Joan &Steve what they want before the 21st we are fools. We should schedule our vote for the good of teaching not at the demands of the supt. but the day after the sb elections. Plenty of time for submittal. HTA sets the date not the supt or sb pres. We have been bullied enough by the two of them. Please use your head we have plenty of time.

proud said...

Gerard Conti is a true stateman and leader. Mr. Conti makes me proud to be a teacher.

Anonymous said...

Concerned, thank you for Gerald Conti's words of wisdom. I am in awe of his words, a true inspiration.

Anonymous said...

If this school makes an example out of my kids for opting out we will lawyer up

appreciation said...

great letter

Anonymous said...

stepford wives,
all in step with the corporatate world's Pearson testing, buy stock now,they are the only ones making out here. teachers and students not benefiting. expensive failure

Anonymous said...

Whereas I do not agree with state testing, voting no on APPR will not help the matter. I am a teacher and I do not want a state-imposed APPR plan. The plan presented to the teachers is a very fair one. The only way things will change is if parents step up and send a loud and clear message to the state by opting out of testing! VOTE YES ON APPR - don't be stupid and give up any kind of control we do have over APPR by turning it over to a state-imposed plan!

Klozman said...

Yet another attempt to impose Free Market economics on school districts through the privatization of testing. If an instructor's primary function becomes simply teaching students the material necessary to pass a Pearson exam, then how long do you think it will take for a unionized teacher with excellent benefits to become redundant?

Anonymous said...

to anonymous 11:59 - we do not "have plenty of time" - the APPR must be in place by May 8th to avoid a state-imposed plan. Voting must occur before SB elections.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great letter. A group of us teachers are on the appr fence. I now know it was a good thing looking back " I got ya" document. We wonder if achrom and joan have something up their sleeve, because we have a major lack of trust issue with the two of them. I am not speaking against this plan, I am non committal at the time, we are just saying to schedule our vote after the May election perhaps the next day Wed. I will not forget that stunt they tried to pull on us in Jan. We would be in a bad way right now if that garbage passed. Thank you to all for exposing the deception.

Anonymous said...

Testing is bad for children and that means bad for education. It is interesting that Commissioner King's kids are in private school. I guess he doesn't like the way public education is going. He looks really bad.

Klozman said...

Anonymous - 11:59 - POPPYCOCK!! Even were this accurate, a state-imposed plan would be far preferable to any that the revenge seeking Achramo/Calkins coalition attempts to railroad through. You can rest assured that it will contain a major provision, the sole purpose of which is to punish their detractors.

Anonymous said...

We have a very new & fair appr due to all our efforts turning down that pile of dung in January. A big thank you for the no vote and all those that exposed the trickery of the supt & sb pres. We are on solid ground now. I will never vote for joan for allowing that piece of dung and the lack of transparency in keeping the important attachments from us. I to want to wait until after the May election. We need a major change in our leaderhip, we need to heal. We need leaders who repect what we all do in this school district. teacher, parent and taxpayer

Anonymous said...

Would you rather have the state implement a plan for us? I'm sure their plan will include more than 1 formal observation and 1 walk through. Or would you like our HTA Union dues to go up so we can wage a political war against a law we aren't going to change? Seems like we need to accept the plan because it fair. And those of you who have strong political feelings can quit teaching and become educational lobbyists.

Anonymous said...

An informational piece on how the school board is voting on the 16 th to approve a five year contract with Fisher Bus would be appreciated. If we keep Fisher then the proposal to extend the elementary school day goes away.

Anonymous said...

I believe the date to have APPR in place is May 29 as per the information found on line that follows: "The provision in the budget provides for these districts to come to an agreement and achieve an approved APPR plan by May 29, 2013. If a district does not have a plan approved by that date, a one-time binding arbitration proceeding (an arbitration hearing between the parties that cannot exceed two days) will commence and the state will impose a system on the district by June 1, 2013. State Education Commissioner John King will act as the arbitrator in this process and decide what evaluation system will be imposed." So a vote could be held after elections as long as it is approved before May 29 no arbitration.

parent & alum said...

If approving the fisher bus contract means that the extend elementary school day goes away than they better forget about the contract approval. Not one parent that we have spoken to is against equivalent to 1 more month of education a year for our young kids.

Thanks to school board member sally s. for bringing this up for discussion. Shame on those who see no value in giving our kids what other districts have 200 more minutes a week in school. One month a year lost in time compared to Eden, OP, Frontier, East Aurora, etc.

Anonymous said...

op out and save education

ed is going crazy said...

Stop the pressure on our children. School should be a good place for them a place where they enjoy being. We love what was, we are concerned with what is now. Please 3 days in a row testing. If enough of us parents op out this will catch on to other distirts and eventually the state will get the collective power of parents. We matter, our kids matter, our kids teachers matter, and all those that assist in our childrens school day. Aministrators are only coming up with foolish testing and the stress on the kids and teachers is not good for anyone. We need to stand up to this crazy experiment

Anonymous said...

The date for submission and approval of APPR IS MAY 8th.
nS 7-a. Subdivision 2 of section 3012-c of the education law is amended
After May 8th, it goes to binding arbitration, with Commissioner King as the arbiter. Do you really think the union's plan has a prayer of being selected over whatever plan the district and/or state come up with? APPR will be in place in Hamburg June 1, 2013 for the 2013/2014 school year. The choice of which plan is in the hands of the teachers. A yes vote gives the teachers the negotiated plan. A no vote gives the teachers an imposed plan. It's that simple. I fail to see the connection between the school board elections and APPR.

Anonymous said...

We need to stand up for the teachers, let them teach and let my children alone; 210 minutes of testing in 3 days way over the top. My kid will get bored in 30 to 35 minutes with this and he will be a negative mark on his wonderful teacher. I am opting our for her sake and my child's.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like our sb pres and her disconnect with us.

Anonymous said...

No one likes APPR. It is bad for kids, it doesn't help teachers to improve their instruction. The sole intent is to undermine unions and destroy public education. BUT it is the law. Unions must work within the framework of the law. New York is one of the only states that has a teacher voice (collective bargaining) in the APPR process. New York is the only state where teachers have a say in 80% of the process. In most states test scores account for 50% of the scores. Don't give up the right to negotiate how you are evaluated by demanding that the vote be delayed or by voting no. May 8th is the deadline for submission and approval of APPR. After that it goes to binding arbitration with a plan imposed by Commissioner King.

HHS teacher said...

Anon 1:51- read the state budget it is may 29---not may 8. HTA lied to you and you dont even bother to check their facts. Some people at the highschool brought the date up in our meeting in the aud....and the NYSUT knob continued the b.s. Read the budget it is perfectly stated as the wed following the last friday of may, or may 29. I checked it out for myself when i heard it. i am voting no because if they lie about a date, can you imagine what else is being hidden. google search it, if i can i will figure out how to leave a link on this blog.

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful and moving letter.

Anonymous said...

The date is may 8th just vote for heavens sake..what's the big deal, the plan is fair and teacher friendly that's what the last no vote got us. Good for us, now let's not squander this opportunity.

Anonymous said...

No the date is MAY 29th!!!

Anonymous said...

The date is irrelevant, the content of the plan is. How much are you going to complain when the state imposes a much toughervplan on us? You going to be willing to stand up then and say you voted no? Or will you just keep complaining... Which is getting us NOWHERE.

Anonymous said...

Please provide the link for the May 29th date, this is important. We are getting conflicting information, need a confirmation please. Believe this is the end of tenure on the fence.

Anonymous said...

Hey lazy ass, google it yourself...it is May 29th. Are you under the spell of liars running the teachers union? It is NOT may 8 like they said it was at the meeting the other day at Hamburg High School. Many of us have looked into it. I myself called Senator Grizantis office. His assistant said it is May 29. I was lied to by the HTa, so I am voting NO. When a union lies, like ours has, it is a very big problem. Lies have been coming our way for many months over the APPR. I done. I voting NO

Anonymous said...

So Concerned I read the agenda for the school board meeting Looks like they are trying to get a five year contract with Fisher Bus. WTF? Does this mean the schools will have the shortest day for the next 5 years. I heard the teachers say that this is the end of special classes like music and art and even shorter PE classes. Does the Board of Education have a clue, or are they all check out of reality. What is going on with the district. We want to pull our son out and send to Canisius. I learned even some the the Board members do not sent their own kids to Hamburg. WHY? Board members should send their kids to Hamburg. What a mess.

Anonymous said...

Concerned you must be dizzy from all the spinning going on. The may 8th amendment has already been posted. That's the date if you want this plan.

Anonymous said...

For the love of God - are you people morons? APPR needs to be submitted by May 8th so it can be looked over by the state with time for revisions if need be, so it can then be in place by the deadline May 29th. School board elections should have NOTHING to do with this. I CAN NOT BELIEVE TEACHERS WOULD EVEN CONSIDER LETTING THE STATE PUT INTO EFFECT THEIR OWN APPR PLAN!!!! And if you are not a teacher - you have no right to comment on this. We don't comment on how you are evaluated at your job!

Anonymous said...

THe deadline is May 29---the HTA lied to its membership? What do you expect all the leaders of the HTA are running to the woods they cant hack it. Many teachers are pissed off because of the crap the HTA pulled the last time. They had no idea what they are doing and then they tried to get us to vote on APPR and we didnt have the appeals process. John and Peg cant hack the work so they arent running again. What kind of leaders are they? Running off when the kitchen gets hot---why would you believe them. Concerned I sent you an email about all of this--check the facts.

Anonymous said...

May 29-- for those of you too lazy to check the facts-----


IF SUCH A SCHOOL DISTRICT DOES NOT HAVE AN ANNUAL PROFESSIONAL
PERFORMANCE REVIEW PLAN APPROVED BY THE COMMISSIONER OR DETERMINED
PURSUANT TO THIS PARAGRAPH IN PLACE ON OR BEFORE THE WEDNESDAY PRECEDING
THE LAST FRIDAY IN MAY, THE COMMISSIONER SHALL CONDUCT AN ARBITRATION
PROCEEDING AND SHALL HOLD NO MORE THAN TWO DAYS OF HEARINGS ON THE STAN
DARDS AND PROCEDURES NECESSARY TO IMPLEMENT AN ANNUAL PROFESSIONAL
PERFORMANCE REVIEW PLAN PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION. THE PARTIES MAY BE
HEARD EITHER IN PERSON, BY COUNSEL, OR BY SUCH REPRESENTATIVES AS THEY
MAY DESIGNATE. THE PARTIES MAY PRESENT, ORALLY OR IN WRITING, STATEMENTS
OF FACT, SUPPORTING WITNESSES AND OTHER EVIDENCE, AND ARGUMENTS. THE
COMMISSIONER MAY REQUIRE THE PRODUCTION OF SUCH ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE FROM
THE PARTIES AND SHALL PROVIDE, AT THE REQUEST OF EITHER PARTY, THAT A
FULL AND COMPLETE RECORD BE KEPT OF ANY SUCH HEARINGS, THE COST OF SUCH
RECORD TO BE SHARED EQUALLY BY THE PARTIES.

Anonymous said...

The deadline is May 8th, post the ENTIRE Amendment. Are you afraid to post the entire amendment? Afraid to let people read and decide for themselves? Typical of this blog to provide partial information and spin it..typical to resort to name calling and accusations in the face of facts. It seems you are desperate to hold off the vote, at the expense of your colleagues. Why? What's your agenda? It certainly has nothing to do with what's best for teachers or students. Is it personal? PUBLISH THE ENTIRE AMENDMENT, it's been submitted a number of times. Let your readers decide for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Please don't compromise your credibility, The deadline is May 8th, post the ENTIRE law! Are you afraid to post the entire amendment? Afraid to let people read and decide for themselves? Typical of this blog to provide partial information and spin it..typical to resort to name calling and accusations in the face of facts. It seems you are desperate to hold off the vote, at the expense of your colleagues. Why? What's your agenda? It certainly has nothing to do with what's best for teachers or students. is it personal. PUBLISH THE ENTIRE AMENDMENT, it's been submitted a number of times.

Anonymous said...

A lie of omission is an intentional failure to tell the truth in a situation requiring disclosure.

Where's the rest of the information?

Anonymous said...

http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/s2607d-2013

It is very simple to google it yourself, duh. If this blog has bad info, why does it have almost 300K hits, and many many visitors every day? I come here to find out what is going on in schools. Blogs and websties have tried to compete with Concerned Hamburger, and they cant keep it going. Lazy people.

Anonymous said...

Rush says
Go to a board meeting to find out what's going on in schools or volunteer in a classroom. This blog is political entertainment. A voice for the insistent minority, not the reasonable majority.

better than dancing with the stars said...

Rush says Go to a board meeting? Apparently, this idiot has never been to a BORED meeting, if they did they would know why this blog is so important. Has Rush says GO seen the idiots on the Bored? Does Joan have any idea what she is doing there. Does Rush says Go know they all meet before hand to get on the same sheet of music. Sally is the only voice of reason. Flynnie is a hot mess. He regularly admits the knows nothing. Go to a Bored meeting for tuesday night entertainment, if you wanna be informed check out concerned hamburger and hamburg ethics. Wait til the taxpayer sees their taxes are going up over 5%----sparks will fly. Maybe then they might look into Steves spending with Harris Beach and all the other lawfirms. I hear a bug lawsuit is coming their way for because of Joan Calkins behavior.

free speech, thank you concerned said...

My first memory of Steve Achramovitch was his warning to us how things are going to be different here expect lay offs and we are going to be doing more with less crap. Steve didn't even greet us, just stern warnings. Next he ordered us to stay off any blogs especially this one. We all thought well there must be something there, I need to check this out. We have not obeyed and he is exposed at what he does best lie. This blog has exposed ,reminded, informed , educated and warned us of what the supt and sb was up to. Imagine if we passed that last appr plan. We would have been plainly stated SCREWED. I will take a few missteps in order to have uncensored information brought to me. I thank all those who make this blog happen. It takes guts and I respect that. A group of well informed people are contributing here. We may not agree but at least a discussion has begun. Thanks Concerned and all

concerned fan you make a difference said...

Democracy the right to free speech and freedom of expression. Joan & Steve should feel the heat. They hate unions and teachers in general. Just imagine how they tried to screw the sec, and caferteria staff Cafeteria now unionized. Good for them and thanks for blogs, we are informed and they hate that we are connected. Voting for change

Anonymous said...

F anyone who doesn't want free speech, move to an oppressive country and come back and appreciate what we have here.

wake up

a fan said...

Because you oppose this POST doesn't mean you have to insult Concerned. You may be angry at the blog comments, I don't agree with many of them, but I support this group who brings us the info. It would be a sorry day here without it, we would be stuck with a losey appr plan that would break us and our union.

Love Mr. Conti's letter but voting yes. I also support this blog and my right to express myself here from time to time. a FAN

Rush has it wrong, we are ardent supporters said...

To Rush says;

I am in the majority 73% and I strongly defend and support this blog. I would be on firm ground to suspect that 95% or more staff want Dr. Calkins and Supt. Steven Achramovitch out of here. "you cannot work with him and you cannot work for him" stated by a wise man who knows him. Remember this site exposed what almost happened the day school was to reconvene after Christmas break. Vote the first day back on an incomplete "i got ya contract" the slick move of administration was exposed. This has been the biggest help to us and our second chance here. I also am voting for our plan, I am told that Dr. Calkins and Steven Achramovitch had nothing to do with our new appeals process. I feel secure now. We need strong union leaders who will not let Steven A. push us around any more. I am an ardent supporter of this blog and in the majority. Rush has it wrong

love ya said...

Where would all our Unions be withour Concerned Hamburger? In the dark and at Achramo's mercy thus Joan's. Not a safe place to be.

Keep us informed Concerned we love all of you.

Anonymous said...

Annonymous April 14 @ 8:01

The teachers are submitting our APPR plan and we aren't interested in making many revisions. I think we will be able to vote to ratify this plan that has been created by our colleagues but we will not let the SED morph it into the plan that we rejected previously. That isn't going to happen. APPR is wrong. It is wrong for education, children, taxpayers and teachers. This is our attempt at cooperation. Beyond this you will not find the Hamburg teachers kissing up to the State Education Department. There is nothing in our plan that hasn't already been approved in other plans. I hope they like it :-)

Anonymous said...

Need to get this done voting yes.

voting for change, lets not forget.

Anonymous said...

is rush, m. Rust p220ublisher on the districts web page?

Anonymous said...

Supt. Achramovitch reminds of us Richard Nixon and his dirty tricks. Achramovitch and Joan on the campaign trail. The Achrom/Joan Community rebranding tour. We must stay united we have a lot at stake.

I am voting yes/ but no on Steve Achramovitch and Joan Calkins

Anonymous said...

http://atthechalkface.com/2013/04/14/a-middle-school-students-version-of-a-new-york-state-assessment/