New members - introduce yourself here!
  • garyvgaryv
    Posts: 30
    We're starting to get some members. That's GREAT! The hope is that this forum can be used as a supplement to the Dump Duncan Facebook group. Everybody loves Facebook, but it's sometimes hard to follow FB conversations that go on for a while - things can kinda get lost.

    To get started, why don't you introduce yourself? I'll go first:

    I'm R. Gary Valiant, not to be confused with Robert Valiant, who is my pop.
    I live in Kennewick, WA.
    I had about a 20 year career in public education. My final job was as a bureaucrat at the Intermountain ESD in Oregon. At the end, my job was to waste money and make teachers' jobs harder! I had to quit. I decided that the only job for me in pub was as a teacher, but I found that I am so old (and high on the salary schedule) that nobody wanted me!
  • My name is Donnan. I am the Lead Learner in my school. I have been in education for 36 years and am appalled at this frontal assault on public schools! I have been at my current school for 23 years!
  • I have been a teacher & administrator for 20 years.  Our urban school district in Indiana has taken a real beating from NCLB, inadequate state funding, & school choice/charter programs. Declining enrollment cost me my admin job, but I'm lucky to be hanging onto a teaching position.  Like GaryV said, it's about impossible to find another job with that type of experience. 

    This petition is a great idea to hopefully get the administration to consider changing its course from RTTP & charters to supporting public schools & teachers.  I am a little concerned that the name "DumpDuncan" may be off-putting to some.  Thus far, only one of my FB friends signed on after me.  I want your mission to be successful, and I want people to take it seriously.  Glad to be on board.
  • I returned to school at age 42 to earn my teaching certification at age 45 after raising my own three children. I went on to earn my Masters Degree and National Board Certification. I recently retired after 17 years in the classroom and have been advocating and lobbying full time on behalf of public education. 

    Our Governor Bobby Jindal has embraced the "reform" movement in order to enhance his political career and to pander to the ultra conservative contributors to his campaign for higher office.   He has sliced the budgets of K-12 and higher education in this state and is determined to fully comply with all the legislative recommendations of ALEC.  Shortly after I retired, our legislature passed a bill that prevents retired teachers from even substituting for one day, returning to the classroom to fill temporary needs or to serve as adjunct instructors at public institutions of higher learning without forfeiting their entire retirement benefit while employed.   Our Governor recently announced his aggressive agenda for the legislature this spring which includes full vouchers, "transforming" all failing schools throughout the state (based on seriously flawed high stakes standardized tests), a teacher evaluation system using 50% quantative measure using student test scores, removing the right of local school districts to deny charters. . . the full gamut of destructive measures.

    Governor Jindal sold his reform initially as a necessity to achieve Race to the Top Federal Funding.  After three failed applications, he has finally succeeded with a meager award of funds that now justifies his requirement for these measures.   The carrot and stick mentality of our U.S. Dept. of Education is now reaching out to destroy our public institutions of higher learning which have also had their budgets squeezed.  I do not understand how the public cannot see how ludicrous this methodology is to "improve" education outcomes.  "I'll stop twisting your arm when you agree to do my will."  

    As hopeless as it seems in this fight against corporate takeover of our schools, we have to keep our voices in the forefront. 



  • I have taught off and on since 1992 - Spanish, English and Social Studies, urban and rural schools, and worked as an Instructional Coach.  While I have always recognized the need for improvement in the public schools, I am appalled by the politician/corporation-run demonization of teachers and the effects on students.  I am also the mother of two school-aged children, so this fight is not just philosophical for me - it's personal. 

     I also wanted to comment on Mondoshark's observation that the name DumpDuncan may be off-putting.  I agree, but I think that is a strength.  People who don't know why Duncan needs to go would be the only ones put off by it, so maybe they might be intrigued enough to find out why there's a group bent on dumping him.  Just my two cents.
  • Hello!  My name is Paula and 25 year veteran teacher.  I earned National Board certification in 2007, which allowed me to finally pursue my dream of returning to school for a Masters degree w/ a specialization in Elementary Reading and Literacy.  

    I am very unhappy with the state of public education today, not only in my own state, but in my country, as well. In Florida, the legislature has passed many unfunded mandates, leaving it up to the individual school districts to find ways to pay for it all, while cutting education spending in the state drastically.  In addition, the governor passed a law requiring that 3% of my salary be put into a "general" pension fund, which will not necessarily even go toward my own retirement down the road. The district has not given cost of living raises in over 4 years, and is looking to cut my salary by another 2.75%, as well as raise my health insurance rates by over 100%.  All of this is happening, while my poor students are being subjected to test after test after test. I test so much that I feel like I have very little time to teach what they are supposed to know for the test and these are FIRST GRADERS.  Now, my salary is going to be partially tied to how our students in our school, overall, perform on the state mandated FCAT test, which, by the way, the Florida legislature upped the passing requirements tremendously (even though it's known to be one of the most difficult of the state tests in our nation), setting our students up for failure. 

    I love to teach and love the students/families, as well as the teachers, I work with.  I am fortunate to have a wonderful principal who knows what's best for students and is incredibly supportive.  I am, however, very angry about what the political powers-that-be, including Mr. Duncan, are doing to our children.  We can't just sit back and let this happen.  We must stand together, as educators, and fight this nonsense!
  • As a first year mathematics teacher, who spent 25 years in high-tech after earning a BS in electrical engineering, and later an MBA in finance and marketing, while working for small startups and larger firms like GTE (now Verizon), Motorola, and Qualcomm, to name a few companies, I am appalled at the condition of public education in our country.

    Also, as someone new to the field, I must admit that before I switched careers, I had no idea that our education system was in such disarray, even though my wife started teaching eight years ago.  It truly is a "walk a mile in my shoes" job that must be experienced firsthand before one truly appreciates the multidimensional aspect of the myriad challenges facing public education today.

    Why Arne Duncan cannot see these issues as he advocates for RTTT, "The Blueprint'" and his other "innovative" programs is beyond understanding, unless he is not an advocate for students, which comes across loud and clear in spite of his rhetoric.  So, as far as I am concerned, he should be replaced as SecEd post haste, with someone like Linda Darling-Hammond, Deborah Ball, Diane Ravitch, or any other renowned advocate for student learning who is not simply a front person for those wishing to pillage our nation's education funds.
  • Hi,
    I am midtwenties woman trying to figure out the best course of action in this mess of market-based strategies attempting to reform education. I have worked in a charterMontessori for three years, and experienced first hand the inconsistency, lack of professionalism, and disaster which can occur when the mentality is to have high achievers and high rollers in attendance at school.  I am currently applying for an MSW program, as I am very interested in the intersection of poverty and achievement, and I would love any and all resources/newpaper articles/etc.  I just finished Diane Ravitch's book "The Death and Life of American Education" and am eager to learn more, hear contrasting views, and support teachers and their school communities in this current mess.
  • KathyKathy
    Posts: 2

    I am Kathy (Kathleen A. Skarupinski-Anthon) on facebook; 61 moving too quickly to 62 and most of my colleagues have been retiring within the past 4 years with 30 years of service.  During the Vietnam Era, I got lost in the system while at Buff State and found myself caught in the middle of the race riots in Buffalo while participating in Community Participation.  I couldn't take the total contrast of "school" VS "real" world, so it was another 20 years before I re-entered the teaching program..again Buff State.

    I knew the system had not changed; I worked in it in the business sector since 16 and then still later to support my two children and their schools that were closing (Catholic) on the East Side of Buffalo.  After 5 years of grueling days and nights with often 3-4 hours of sleep, if I was lucky, I got my BS, only to find that "age discrimination" was rampant in my area.  I was 46.  I traipsed to South Buffalo from the Town of Tonawanda to my precious second grade class at St. Teresa's.  Then I had the brilliant idea to sit for the Buffalo City teacher's test in order to provide a better income for my family.  I got in, but then had to leave within 6 months because he (at the time Superintendent Harris) would not honor my waiver to avoid pulling my children out of their school and move to Buffalo, about 3 blocks from my present home!

    My teaching career then expanded with several agencies and special projects for students who would not be "fitted" into their district schools due to special circumstances.  Oh..I am dually certified Gen Ed and Spec. Ed.  All the while and through my experiences, which I thought could only add to a pool of knowledge to make me a better teacher, I applied all over WNY.  Again, the age thing, which one can never really prove unless one is already working.  I was advised by teachers in my home school district to "persevere" because Ken-Ton always hires their subs...NOT!  I applied to Buffalo 3 times and then finally after finishing my Masters in Reading in 2006, I thought that I had gone the gambit and would show a good portfolio as proof for my learning process and dedication to my goal.  I went to City Hall, ready to do battle with briefcase in hand and the copies of the past 3 applications.

    To my amazement and then later glory, I was hired on the spot...right place, right time.  My first year was a gem...great colleagues, super principal, and a group of high school students that quickly became "my" kids!  Because I was temporary, I got bumped and very quickly found out how Buffalo treats their teachers.  I was at a summer professional development seminar for "Transition" in order to better assist my high school students when I received a call from my supervisor that I no longer had a job, but they were looking for a school for placement...that was August 28.  The next day, I had 2 choices..same school, 2 different grades..SC (self contained).  They also looped at this school.  15:1, multiple classifications, but I swear they were all behavioral...AND...Buffalo decided aides were not needed in a 15:1 any longer because they were all LD (learning disabled).  All I kept praying for was making it through the year and then on to tenure.  The next year will be better.  But that's when all this stuff began...the beginnings of the New School Compact for which Buffalo, I was told, was already behind.  My poor students were constantly set up to fail because there was no way they could sit for the standardized tests and pass.  We had no counseling services until NCLB came into full swing AND we had to fight for that.  Because I was a SC classroom, most of the time I was left alone as long as I could keep order, but the 3rd year was brutal because that's when the administration started posting the teacher's scores on huge poster boards and many of us..mostly special ed teachers were "red circled".  Any day throughout the week (unannounced) we had small groups of Board members entering into our classrooms under the guise of "observations" which only turned into a barrage of negative feedback once we got to "class team" meetings.  (Don't get me started on "team")

    As a special educator I have been wedged between what my professional considerations are for the best interest of the student and what the district is willing to offer.  Often times, I was an advocator for my parents because I brought up questions that I knew they didn't know how or when to ask.  Committee meetings often intimidate parents and move by the clock!  This year I was involved in a total mess because all contract points were violated when our school closed; when we were blatantly lied to about outcomes for teachers AND students by then superintendent Williams (our City since paid him and his cohorts to leave..mucho $$$).  I refused a position because it was in direct violation of our contract, but was forced to take it anyway until the grievances were settled (still not settled) only to find that the principal changed my position so that I was to have our past union rep's class.  We both surmised that this was pay back for both me and her because of our speaking up.  I refused the position.  Most of us landed up in schools where we really weren't wanted, I included.  My school was waiting for the possibility of their temp to resume, so my placement came at the very last day before school started.

    Once I came on board, it was brutal.  The principal had a history for total disrespect for any teacher's professional input.  The assistant principal had not one positive comment toward me or my work.  The position was new to me, as well as a bit out of my certification for gen ed...I was expected to teach 8th grade curriculum as a CIT (Co-Integrated Teacher).  I was handed IEP's to amend because my students were not going to receive any Resource time as the Committee had deemed was a needed service.  My poor students were failing.  Again, every other day, administration came in with laptops, scrutinized for posting of "observable" objectives, data binders opened, lesson plan books opened and would be clicking away during a lesson.  You then got an email of the results.  Meanwhile the kids were totally distracted and unengaged and everyone pretended until they left!  What a total waste of instructional time..and there were many good lessons lost to this.

    During the State's visit in January to determine if we were a low achieving school or not, one of my parents came to me for support because she was greatly concerned that her son was "displaced".  I supported her 100% because he was and I had already voiced my concerns with her and administration early in the year.  The same day my supervisor offered me positive feedback on his observation of my teaching as a CIT was also the same day that the principal and AP cornered me in the office literally; loudly reprimanding me because the State was not too happy with my parent's comments.  They got me in the office under false pretenses otherwise I would have requested the Union Rep.

    That was it!  I took a week to reconsider my health during the past few months, the demise of my students who weren't learning because I couldn't adequately service them in order for them to pass any tests!  Out of my 7, only 3 should have been in inclusion for all 4 core subject areas, and those that were slated for Resource time actually needed it!  The other 10 who were not classified but needed intervention had discipline and absenteeism problems.  After another anxiety episode and more doctor's visits, sleepless nights, and working around the clock to see if I could fit in any teaching, I had to quit.  When I asked for my supervisor's help in October, he stood me up.  When I asked for help in guiding me toward what it was the AP expected and wanted, I was lectured to the point where I told them that I am feeling completely incompetent!  They offered me silence.

    I have only been in the Buffalo District 5 years, so the Union couldn't help, but I made a pact with my Maker in order to get me through all the rigamarole of finishing school.   Once I could no longer help the students, or worse, was enabling them to fail, I would have to leave.  It broke my heart because I am a good teacher and have had many successes with my students who were labeled "at risk".  I may have cheated a bit because I would read to them and offer them projects so that they could experience "real" learning, but I always figured that if they "can" me for teaching, then so be it..I'll go out with dignity.

    I appreciate who ever reads this.  I know it's long, but it's also not unique because I have found so many of my colleagues along the years of experiencing various agencies and districts that the air of total disrespect for the profession and vocation of teaching has helped to undermine the success in learning for our students.  What frosts me the most is the waste and corruption within pockets of upper management who take money that is not their own and frivolously spend it without any regard or public concerns and under the misnomer of "best interests of the students".  And then they have the nerve to humiliate us teachers as those who do not care about the students.  That saying, "Well, we do it for the kids" has been abused and used as ammunition to degrade us, and now, if at all possible to segregate us as well.  Young teachers are pitted against the veterans.  Union contracts are ignored and positions given to those who only support the RTTT and local mandates for high testing stakes.  Data says that more teachers leave within 5 years.  I never thought I would be one of those and I'm still fighting to remain true to teaching.  I've just got to find a place.  At 62, this country does not treat its seniors too kindly.

    I landed upon this organization through my searches for ways to write and get some voice out there.  I am reading your comments and agree whole hardheartedly for radical reforms that complete a mission of public education available for all students.  How the powers that be can justify this extortion of minds for money, I can only shake my head and hope that there are enough people who see through this mask of self-preservation of the rich.  I trust no political venue that does not uphold our constitution, or thwarts it with special interest groups who tie up critical concerns with attachments to bills that by the time they disseminate to the general working person are laden with loop holes to keep us underfoot.  There are so many models for evaluation processes across education as well as teaching and yet local, state and federal governments fail to follow their own mandates they throw at us.  Go back to the drawing board, reflect on what did and is not working, and formulate new lesson plans in order to reach the objective!!  Peer reviews by teachers and professional educators will offer much better evaluation and assessment of proposals.  Every one of the "chiefs" talks about a village, but we are growing more villages with too many chiefs!

    Thank continue looking for that job that's got to last me until I keel over!  I hope to see you on the 30th.  I guess I missed the Megabus..but if there's going to be another one or a vacant seat, someone please let me know.  I might try Greyhound.  I'll be trying to talk this up with my colleagues..we have another reunion this Friday at Buffalo Wings on the Boulevard.  
  • Dictatorships appear to be the new democracy. New York State is now marching towards popular fascism. We, teachers and public sector union employees are being systematically eradicated so big multi-billion dollar corporations can increase their billion dollar profits. Follow the money.
    I am also starting an online petition against NYS governor and commissioner of education. I signed this petition, will you help me and sign mine? It is against the VAM teacher evaluation, one of many "deforms" espoused by Duncan and spread like the plague into NYS. Please sign. Thank you.

  • ValVal
    Posts: 2
    Hello all,

    I am ever grateful to Robert Valiant and all of you others on this page.  This group has given me hope and satisfaction in the knowledge that there are many of us who are like-minded when it comes to the currents issues in education.

    I am in my twenty-second year of employment for the Minneapolis Public Schools.  I currently teach high school social studies, but also have an MSW, and have worked as a school social worker.

    The Minneapolis district is experiencing many of the same issues other large city districts are: funding cuts  and the loss of students to open enrollment and charter schools.  Our district currently has a public relations nightmare on its hands due to an extremely nasty and vocal parent group entitled Put Kids First Minneapolis.  They are currently trying to micro-manage the district administration, the teacher's union and the school board.

    I look forward to meeting you on this site.

    All the best,

    Valerie Rittler
  • bvaliantbvaliant
    Posts: 112
    Welcome, Valerie.  Happy to have you here.
  • bvaliantbvaliant
    Posts: 112
    Kathy, your story is way too common in today's screwed up, topsy, turvy world of public education.  This is one of the many reasons we fight to regain control of our local schools.  Hang in there and know you have people who are trying to set this thing straight.

  • Sandra
    Posts: 23
    Sandra from Florida, here. A non-educator with no kids or grandkids in public schools. I work in the private sector but maintain an interest in education. I tested blogging waters about 3 years ago, first via the local newspaper at the urging of a resident in my community who read comments I was posting to news articles.
    He offered to host Grumpy Educators nearly 2 years ago... and well, the rest is history.  I took the lonely road of private research on current ed reform initiatives and via social media "met" a lot of people across the country, across ideologies, who share common ground on this issue. My knowledge expanded, but I realized that for regular folk, parents, community members, and taxpayers, it was a story that was very hard to put together. The media silence keep folks in the dark. So, I began to blog in digestible chunks in the hope that people could begin to understand.

    Then, last year on a FB Page "Parents and Kids Against Standardized Testing" there was a surge of postings from parents on their concerns over testing. A discussion page was opened for states where there was discussion, which developed into a organic, vibrant place for sharing information and support. When FB announced it was going to close the Discussion Option, I painstakingly moved the threads, taking care to protect privacy, to another location. The wiki space was developed by a 17 year old from Ohio and started by Lisa Nielsen. The OptOutofStandardizedTests wikispace is still active and remains as a resource for parents.

    I have decided to target my energy and time, so I am blogging less; but focusing on bringing parent resistance and opposition to high stakes standardized testing out of the shadows. Whenever and wherever there is a story, I will publish it. The two recent stories, one from NY and the other from Indiana, are doozies, but not surprising. Grumpy Things stands as a repository and resource for a variety of things, but a current focus on resistance.

    The ed reformers are feeling the push back. There's more work to do.
  • Hello, I got here by following links on my daughter-in-law's facebook page. I have two reasons for being interested. First, i'm a retired college professor who taught college for 31 years and public school for three years. Second, my grandson, age 7, attends a wonderful but endangered public school in Boston, Mission Hill School, which is being forced to move and change because of the city's and the country's blinkered educational policies. So I have both a personal and a professional interest in education, and I'm very concerned about the trends away from enriching students' educational experience and toward a regimented and corporatized approach. I look forward very much to the stimulation and pleasure of reading what you all have to say.
  • bvaliantbvaliant
    Posts: 112
    @egoodman: You have come to the right place.  Please join in.

  • I teach middle-school English/Language Arts in Pittsburgh Public Schools. I am committed to the struggle to take back teaching from the deformers, and to remake our classrooms into places where children can thrive, grow, build community, and become self-confident life-long learners and builders of a just world. I believe in the power of teachers working together to build schools into communities of learning -- as opposed to the climate the billionaire boys club et al work to instill in our schools now of fear, distrust, competition, and robot-managed-curriculum test-based destructiveness. I know we can do this as we build alliances with parents and community organizations and with the students themselves. We can because we must. Enough of the horrors we've been living with for the past several years -- forward to rebuilding exciting, robust, child-centered public schools for ALL of our children.
  • My name is Kelly Flynn.  After teaching high school journalism in Flint, Michigan for 20 years, I left the classroom in 2002 to pursue a career in writing.  For seven years I wrote a weekly newspaper column about education, from an insider's point of view.  The column ran on the Sunday op-ed page of The Flint Journal, and in the Jackson Citizen Patriot. 

    I am the author of The Teachers' Lounge (Uncensored): A Funny, Edgy, Poignant Look at Life in the Classroom.  The book includes a Foreword by Nancy Carlsson-Piage.  

    I am also the author of Kids, Classrooms, and Capitol Hill: A Peek Inside the Walls of America's Public Schools.
  • I am attempting to be a member, not sure if I've done this right :) At any rate, I am Gail Richmond. I am a recently retired music teacher of 34 years. I taught for my entire career in the Greenville Central School District, a small rural district in upstate New York. Of those 34 years, I was active in my union for 30. During the last 12 years of my career I served as Union President.
    I have concentrated my efforts over the last 3 years in fighting for public education, educationg the membership and greater Facebook world on the dangers of corporate takeover and ALEC. Most recently I have connected with other activists and have been planning meetings to start the Opt-Out discussios in the surrounding areas. Tomorrow I am driving to Oneonta, NY, about an hour and a half from me. I will be meeting with 2 other Facebook friends, a parent and a teacher, both education activists. I will be attending the Occupy DOE in Washington in April. I can't wait to meet many of you!
  • Hello.  I am a single mom of a wonderfully creative and vibrant 5th grader in Phoenix, AZ.  My daughter attends a public school which is apparently "under achieving" yet not "failing."  Because of this, my daughter takes TWO math classes and TWO reading classes everyday...her regular class and then an "intervention" class as well. My daughter tells me they only have Science about once a month and the same with any sort of History or Social Studies class.  Initially I thought that it was due to my child's test scores being low but I now realize that it really makes no difference what my child's test scores are...the ENTIRE school must take these intervention classes!  Please bear with me as I am just gaining insight and learning more about what is happening in public education and I am both saddened and outraged by it.  I would love any and all support from anyone in my state who is a parent, educator, administrator or public official who is against the detrimental overuse of standardized testing and/or anyone who may be seeking support from another parent who wishes to opt out from testing.  I have not found much in the way of resources in my state.  The school my daughter attends is mostly a hispanic population and most of the parents do not speak english.  I would love to advocate for this, help to educate and alert parents to what is happening in our schools but am feeling a bit overwhelmed with the challenge and work that will entail.  HELP!  I need some support here!  Any and all information, advice, literature is greatly appreciated!  Knowledge is power!  If I feel I have some support and can make a difference in my state, or even just in my district I will gladly lead this effort to advocate and change the direction our current public education system is going.  Thank you!
  • bvaliantbvaliant
    Posts: 112
    Izadorasmom:  For opt out info contact Peggy Robertson at; I have asked Facebook friends in AZ to let me know if they can help.  You can always go to Dump Duncan on Facebook for daily action.

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