Letter: Teachers Deserve Better


I believe in freedom of the press; however, the April 8-14 editorial cartoon was a bit over-the-top with its blatant portrayal of union teachers as a vindictive, self-centered businessman. The businessman image is more a reflection of the hedge fund managers, who are pumping money into charter schools in order to line their own pockets.

Most teachers are not self-centered. They care about the children in their classrooms. They devote long hours at night and on weekends grading papers, planning grade appropriate lessons, finding ways to stimulate a child’s interest in the world outside the classroom and incorporating character building lessons daily so that the students develop into not only well-educated, but also socially conscious individuals.

Teachers have taken many child development courses, which explain children’s cognitive and social development from preschool through teenage years. So, yes, teachers are against common core tests, which currently are written two grade levels above a child’s developmental age and which have questions with several plausible answers within a hair’s breadth difference. Yes, teachers do not see the value of endless test prep, which does not add to a child’s knowledge base and which takes away from the study of other subjects. And a resounding yes that parents, not just teachers, are also concerned about their children’s welfare, having to sit for long periods of time taking the test and prepping for them.

It’s not just the teachers who oppose this style of testing. So why are teachers being vilified? Why are they being made scapegoats? Why are these reforms and tests being touted? To make children feel inadequate and lose confidence in their grade appropriate capabilities? To eliminate good, hard-working teachers so that some businesses can take over schools and score huge profits? To subsidize a testing machine that produces the tests and provides materials for improvement, but does not release an entire test so that teachers can evaluate and modify instruction? Instead of demonizing teachers, the press needs to research the background information and attempt to find answers to these questions, as well as many others including why Governor Cuomo, who had approved the APPR for teachers just last year did an about face this year because of “low” test scores. Hmmm … (spolier alert), possibly the “low” scores stemmed from tests that were not grade appropriate.                                                                          

Common core standardized tests with their emphasis on “success” are not the true measure of the worth of a child or a teacher. Common core tests detract from true learning since an inordinate amount of time is spent on test prep at the expense of other subjects. People who believe that teachers are the villains in this scenario, either do not have children of their own in grades 3-8 or have not spent significant time in an elementary classroom. They probably have not attempted to answer third grade ELA and Math questions either; if they did, they might be surprised at some of the questions. Those people, who are quick to point the finger of blame, need to see the true picture of what teachers do and how children learn. One way this can occur is through more positive and/or investigative pieces in newspapers. For example, parent/teacher rallies and discussion groups were covered very lightly, yet this topic is a matter of utmost concern to parents and educators alike because of the affect on their children.

Please do more to include positive articles regarding teachers and how teachers, parents and administrators are united in pursuing what’s right for the children, not what’s “right” for politicians.

—L. Reens

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