Posted in Mission

Here We Go… Choosing a Strong President for our Children…2020 up


Not since the defeat of Hillary Clinton, the candidate who would have prioritized our children, and their right to a strong public education….

And Donald Trump becoming President…a staunch supporter of the privatization of schools, and his choice of Betsy Devos…an unqualified supporter of privatization…as his secretary of education…

 

Because of their intent….Our schools are in crisis…Our children and public schools are systematically being dismantled… We have a critical teacher shortage due to unrealistic demands like arming teachers….and poor pay….And our public schools lack resources for necessary programs because their funds being diverted to…

 

Charter Schools…Profit and Non Profit…
schools that do not have the oversight and same regulations and standards that public schools must adhere to…And our tax dollars fund…

With the upcoming presidential election in 2020, we certainly  have a crucial opportunity to change all this for our children!!!

We have a strong chance to save our public schools if we elect a democratic candidate… one who supports our children who count on a public school education…There are now about 24 candidates who are in this race…

It is important to listen to the candidates, and how they plan to prioritize our children…with policies that will strengthen our public schools…And I do have my eye on a few…

One candidate that had impressive educational credentials…yet virtually unknown is Michael Bennet…a former school superintendent and senator from Colorado…

 

He was superintendent of Denver Public Schools from 2005 to 2009…Bennet was closely tied to the education reform movement;

Closing low-performing Denver schools ; changing the district’s merit pay system in a way that favors newer teachers. Both were decisions unfavorable to veteran teachers and some students….but he has since realized these mistakes …

During the Obama administration, as a senator, Bennet did help author the Every Student Succeeds Act, the overhaul of No Child Left Behind….

Bennet is a vocal opponent of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos!!!

Where he now calls for preschool for all…

Another strong candidate choice is Joe Biden…former vice president…As Barack Obama’s vice president, Biden is tied to the many education policies that Obama encouraged…

 

Although many of which were detrimental including: evaluating teachers in part through their students’ test scores, the expansion of charter schools, and common standards for what students should learn… President Obama has since regretted these policies, and did enact the Every Student Succeeds Act in December of 2015…

Biden’s plan is to implement more funding into public school education; tripling Title I funding, implementing universal pre-kindergarten, and doubling the number of health professionals in schools…

Biden also said he doesn’t support any federal funding going to for-profit charter schools…However his education platform doesn’t mention charters…

Another concern I had, although happened so long ago, was revealed during the first debate by California Senator Kamala Harris, asking Biden if he was wrong to oppose busing back in the sixties and seventies…

Biden’s answer…“I did not oppose busing in America,”… “I opposed busing ordered by the Department of Education. That’s what I opposed.”

Relating to my own personal experience, as a young teacher during those critical years…I knew busing was the only solution to integrate our schools and federal intervention was most definitely needed!!!

His stance has evolved, and recently expressed in reinstating Obama-era  desegregation guidelines that were repealed by the Trump administration in July 2018…

Biden has stated, the first thing he would do as president is to appoint a teacher as education secretary!!!

I have always thought highly of Cory Booker, the senator from New Jersey…. However he not always advocated for public schools…

 

Booker too has been a leader in the school choice movement.. promoting charter schools, test-based accountability for low-performing schools, and ratings for teachers linked to student performance…He also has supported private school vouchers, a policy few Democrats favor. He is currently a cosponsor of a bill to reauthorize the federally funded D.C voucher program…

However… Booker has evolved too as many of the candidates…. even plans to run “the boldest pro-public school teacher campaign there is,” noting that his state’s teachers unions had previously endorsed him…

Booker now states… “I’m a guy who believes in public education and, in fact, I look at some of the charter laws that are written about this country and states like this and I find them really offensive,” !!!

Booker has also stated he wants to provide better health care access to low-income communities in order to give those children better health care, so they would be more successful in school…

Pete Buttigieg, is the young mayor of South Bend, Indiana and an up and coming… candidate…Who may be lacking in years of experience however an ageless wisdom that accentuates his intelligence

 

He too, as many of the candidates indicate wants higher teacher pay… More Federal funds allocated to Title I schools… Wants debt free college…Does not believe for profit-charter schools as part of his vision…And he strongly opposes Florida’s guardian program, which gives districts the option to arm their staff.….“It’d be such an enormous, condemnation of our country if we were to to become the only developed nation where this is necessary.”

 

Julian Castro former secretary of housing and urban development…is another candidate with strong ideas for children and public schools…and whose wife was a former public school math teacher for many years….

 

As mayor of San Antonio, Castro expanded Pre-K acess, having more children in high-quality early childhood programs…If elected president, Castro wants to create a grant-funded, universal “Pre-K for USA” program…

He’s even created a ” People First Education” platform which will fund $150 billion to grow technology in schools…. ending tuition in public colleges….Raising teacher pay by $10,000…and ideas for safety and policing in schools…

He would promote school integration through efforts to integrate housing and “voluntary busing.” … recalling from his own personal experiences…“Today we’re still grappling with so many of the same issues that we were grappling with 30, 40, 50 years ago.”

One candidate who is one of my favorites...Kamala Harris, a former prosecutor, now a senator from Californiawho strongly advocates for our children and public schools

 

One of her education ideas is to propose federal funding to boost teacher salaries by an average of $13,000…and supports an increase school funding…Stood up for better working conditions in her state when California’s teachers went on strike…She has criticized Betsy Devos and has rejected the education secretary’s suggestion for arming teachers…

She is also proposing more federal funding to boost scholarships, research, and grants to historically black colleges and universities…And as a prosecutor, has prosecuted cases involving charter schools and truancy…

Amy Klobochar, senator from Minnesota…is one to watch…She was a front runner, but has fallen behind…

She too is a strong advocate for public schools….She wants in increase infrastructure by a trillion dollars to repair schools, increase teacher pay, make community colleges free, reduce rates on student loans, and expand Pell grants…

She is against private school vouchers and hold higher standards to charter schools…

Beto O’Rourke has become quite popular…He is a former representative from El Paso, Texas…He ran against Ted Cruz in 2018 for his senate seat…And now a vocal advocate gun reform…

He does support non-profit charter schools; believing they enhance innovation…Vocally opposes vouchers and taking funding away from public schools…

Beto’s children attend public schools and his wife was a former public school teacher…Now recruiter for new charter schools and launched a dual-language charter in El-Paso…

He is against high- stakes testing…Funding our schools with $500 billion that will help close the racial barrier inequities, and increase teacher pay … And for those teachers having at least taught for five years… debt forgiveness on their college loans…

Bernie Sanders, senator from Vermont…is one of the most popular candidates espousing many of the progressive policies for the democratic platform…And was very powerful running in 2016 against Hillary…

 

Sanders has developed a 10-point platform called A Thurgood Marshall Plan for Education… outlining his program will include tripling Title I funding, and spending $5 billion on summer and after-school programs. He also proposes using federal funding to promote school integration…He has proposed making community college free for all…

He too has supported the teacher strikes…by paying them a starting teacher salary of at least $60,000… Restraining charter school growth by eliminating federal monies…and ban profit charter schools (which presidents do not have the authority)…

As a senator he voted against the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001. In June, he introduced student loan forgiveness, expand what Pell grants can pay for, and eliminate tuition at public four-year colleges and universities.

Last is Elizabeth Warren another of my favorites…She is a senator Massachusetts…An advocate for progressive policies… although supports non profit charter schools…

Warren’s platform is progressive…She wants
free community college…and student loan forgiveness…Her Pre-K plan will have a sliding scale for tuition, and those in poverty, tuition will be free… As of yet Warren has not shared her K-12 policy plan… In the past….She formally supported accountability testing…Which Warren now believes an education is not about testing…

She has shared she will appoint a public school teacher as her secretary of education…and has definitely stated her disapproval for the current secretary of education… Betsy Devos…

I have included Marianne Williamson, author and activist to be extremely interesting because of her philosophical ideas and approach to a political run for president

Williamson believes that undereducation is a form of oppression…And wants a change…A whole-person educational system…and less testing…

These eleven candidates may be strong possibilities, and have some beneficial ideas for our children and public education… However there are thirteen more…We have our next debates on September 12 and 13… And there may be changes until those dates…and some may not qualify for the debates…

But the one critical factor I am counting on is …

Our children and their right to a strong public school education…must be that priority… 💙🇺🇸🍎

It will be up to all of us…united to support a candidate that will make that happen…

Be an education voter…

 

Posted in Thoughts About Children

2019…When will our Children be that Priority?

When will educating all our children be a priority?

At the beginning of my teaching career in the early seventies… schools were finally integrated and and the funding of federal programs such as Head Start…were in place to provide the necessary resources to help with educating all children that were in need ….

I was so inspired and hopeful to be a part of this moment…We were giving our children opportunities they never had before….

However, progress slowed down in the nineties due to the enactment of “No Child Left Behind”… by then Florida Governor Jeb Bush…

This policy would continue through the millennium and into the present….

Even with the Obama administration, who too, was a proponent of privatization and the charter school movement…Monies that had once been allocated to our public schools were now being funneled back into private schools with our tax dollars;
Affecting many of the necessary resources and programs that had been in place, providing our children… a chance for that strong, public education….

We in turn began utilizing into the curriculum, thanks to Bill Gates and his Foundation… Core Curriculum, a developmentally inappropriate curriculum; which included the use of a sophisticated battery of standard testing…

Trying to bridge this learning gap associated to those children who struggle …

Now resulting in an inappropriate program with more objectives and standards for children to master…With fewer resources to meet those standards!

Then, just before President Obama left office, finally realizing our children in public schools deserved more opportunities to achieve success, he signed:

The Every Student Succeeds Act in December 2015 that governs the United States K–12 public education policy. This new law was to replace , the No Child Left Behind Act, …This was to be that wonderful opportunity for all children…

Continue reading “2019…When will our Children be that Priority?”

Posted in Reflections

My Dearest…Mary

Mary and Me… Celebrating Mary’s 100th birthday!!!

Mary Towers has been an inspiration to both; my professional and personal life…

Our story begins when I was hired by Mr. Bill Irby, principal of Alachua Elementary School, in Alachua, Florida; in the fall of nineteen seventy-three… I was hired for a paraprofessional position…

Before then, I had been a beginning teacher at Browning Pearce Elementary, in Palatka, Florida… traveling ninety miles daily… Alachua Elementary was fifteen miles from my home; so I accepted this position… I was assigned to tutor first grade students who needed extra support…Hoping that if a teaching position would become available…I would be hired…

Mary was one of the five teachers I was to assist in an open classroom; Learning Community A… LCA, as it was called; housed five classrooms, four of which were first grade and one was kindergarten; with over one hundred students separated only by partitions…I was to be placed with my small group, in the middle of this very large room divided by furniture and mobile chalkboards… Believe it or not, it it was not all that noisy…

On my very first day, I will never forget how I met Mary… I was walking through the unit, being introduced by the team leader, Chris Hirsch, to the teachers of the team in LCA… Mary being one of them, was very busy with a particular student…A little girl in her class was in the bathroom dealing with intestinal worms, and Mary was taking care of this most challenging situation…How impressed I was by how Mary was managing such a situation …

It was then, after a year, my wish came true…I did get reassigned to teach a first grade class!

And then, opening up the very next year in nineteen and seventy-five; one of the most special of my teaching opportunities opened up!

I was to team with Mary Towers, a professional relationship lasting nine years…. ending in 1984…when Mary retired…

This special opportunity arose in the summer of seventy-five, when Mr.Irby, offered me a co-teaching position with Mary, in a newly federally funded, early childhood education program called ECPC… The Early Childhood Preventative Curriculum Program...

This innovative program was designed as an intervention for diverse, young children who were screened in kindergarten, exhibiting difficulties with their learning…

This center based program was designed with no more than sixteen students, assisted by a full-time aide who would be responsible for the reinforcement associated with specific activities; that would build upon the deficits, diagnostically determined through pre and post tests through the child’s auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and tactile learning styles…

Mary and I each had our own group of children assisted by our full time aide.. Our class was housed within the large classroom in LCA…which now had mobilized walls separating each of the five classrooms; providing the children less distractions…

Our morning time was devoted to four specific centers that incorporated the curriculum:

Reading; Follow Up Reading, and Language Arts activities: Listening; and last “Willy Worm” an aide directed center with specific activities prescribed by the pre and post testing…

The reading curriculum utilized, the Sullivan Programmed Readers…a successful program of the time…. teaching children decoding skills in reading context within a linguistic progression of sound-symbol relationships...

Teaching those nine years with Mary really flew by!!…Sadly both our Team and ECPC Program ended with Mary’s retirement... Mary and I can look back and be quite proud of what our children accomplished from the Early Childhood Preventative Curriculum Program…

Many of our children went on to have successful lives; some going into local politics and a few playing collegiate and professional football…

Mary made this for me…when she retired…1984….

June 5, 1984…..Mary’s Retirement…

As I have reflect on our years together, this special relationship provided me the knowledge and experiences I learned from teaching with Mary…enabling me to evolve into a strong teacher…

Not only has Mary been such an influence on me professionally…Personally, Mary has been a guiding support even more so…

Having lost my mother when I was a senior in high school…I always felt a little lost…Mary was close in age to what my mother’s age would have been…And having such a warm connection with Mary…I always believed my mother, placed Mary in my life for a special reason…I have felt blessed to have Mary in my corner for these forty plus years…

Through the many years I have learned so much about Mary’s beautiful family; especially now that her husband’s recent passing,..Her four children never leave her side…

Mary will be one hundred this year, and she still lives in the same house that she and her husband built after World War II; on land that has been in her family for generations … There are always family gatherings with her children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, other family members and close friends …

What I dearly appreciate truly about Mary is about service and sacrifice, pertaining to her husband Frank Towers ….their story; how they met and married during World War II…Frank was a true hero of the War…He was a commissioned officer in the 30th Infantry Division during the Invasion at Normandy and helped in the liberation of the Jewish Holocaust survivors on a train from the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp….

Mary was still actively involved in my life even in her early nineties…The years passing we have kept our special lunches just to keep in touch…

Then when I began teaching at Idylwild in 20O7…She and her husband offered to assist me in my move to be closer to Idylwild…Utilizing their large van and Frank’s technological skills….with my computer…

Mary would even volunteer in my classroom…I so loved and appreciated her help…

She did so much: she would help any child that needed assistance with their math or reading; at home she would make all the children flash cards for reading practice; bring in much needed school supplies; make our individual math packets…
Our children and Idywild loved her…And in 2011 Idywild nominated Mary for “Volunteer of the Year…

With my retirement in 2015…I have moved to Palm Coast, to be closer to the ocean…

I am still loving and appreciating Mary…

And… so looking forward to coming back to Gainesville; spring and fall…celebrating our friendship with our special lunch dates…

Thank you Dearest…Mary♥️

I am now in the final weeks of my career as a public school teacher…🍎

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Reflecting on my thirty-eight years; I have taught so many children from grades ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade; dating back from 1972, up to the present.. I even had a wonderful opportunity teaching a college seminar for beginning teachers at the University of Florida, while on a sabbatical working on an advanced course work in counseling education…

I feel so blessed…touching the lives of so many children….

I did have to retire briefly for five years due to my health…However, I still was able to advocate for children in the court system during that time as a Guardian ad Litem…

Teaching, being an advocate for children has been my lifetime passion…

I have such mixed feelings about my retirement…

It is my strong belief that I am leaving at a time our bright intelligent children, especially those from poverty, who souly rely on our public education system are not being adequately represented…Our priorities for children are hindered by an emphasis on testing and collection of data…Our schools that teach children from challenging homes have fewer resources making teachers such as myself overwhelmed and devalued by being micromanaged…And making all this even more difficult;
fewer strong, young, professional teachers will no longer commit to such a rewarding career...

For this I have such regret…

As for myself…I will always feel the need to advocate for our children, and their right to a strong free public education…
And know that I really did make a difference!

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“Letting Go”…

Posted in Mission, Reflections

“New Direction”…

Google Email:

New Direction

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From: Janis S Sexton
To: Christopher Lake… teacher representative, Karen L. McCann… President of Alachua County Education Association

Details:

Dear ACEA:
I have appreciated being a teacher in Alachua County since 1972…On a personal level, for me, our district gave me that wonderful opportunity…
I am retiring this year and for these last 10 years, I  have been quite concerned with the direction our public education of children from poverty have experienced…

It is my belief and experience, these precious children have been so neglected…We have crowded classrooms with fewer resources…Yet demands are extremely unrealistic..
I feel our school district does not address the real issues…We are now going to close schools, shuffling our children, taking  more resources away…And I question how will that help these children?…
Young, strong teachers are so micromanaged…Will they make teaching a lifetime career?…And will those in charge want to acknowledge their dedication…with such unrelenting demands?…

Sadly I have kept quiet…however,once I do retire, I want to actively get involved…I can and do share my concerns on social media…
Thank you for representing us,
Janis Sexton🍎

From: Karen L McCann…President ACEA..                                                        To: Janis S. Sexton

Details:

Thank you for your words of wisdom. I am happy to hear that as a retiree you want to make your voice louder and will now have more time to become more active. I will see you at the ACEA retirement dinner in May, at least I hope.
You can join our union retiree group TRACE and start coming here for events .

Thank you for your love and caring of our most precious lives, our children.

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