Fight for low wage workers with education policy that gets their kids prepared for better lives
December 21, 2015
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by Raymond Ankrum, Sr.

You are in unchartered waters when you place criticism on political figureheads in NY State, especially if you live and work in the state.  It could cause you to not advance at the pace you should, or face unforeseen road blocks to be placed before you, causing career aspirations to come to a screeching stop.  I’ve always been of the mindset that as a public servant life is larger than me, so I will continue on my path of enlightening readers.

Moreover, many people, (regardless of race) that are in the lower class have to work two to three jobs just to stay afloat.  Minus some government subsidies, there really isn’t much hope for these folks.  I imagine this is why fast food employees and NY State pushed for a $15.00 an hour wage, pretty advantageous given how hard folks work, and how much profit is made in these kinds of businesses.

Cuomo, who I commend for taking this stand to raise minimum wages for workers, has shown that he has propensity and the courage to do amazing things for the poor, but only when its popular or self-serving for his political agenda.

The NY State Board of Regents, at the strong urging and (flip-flopping) of Gov. Cuomo and his education committee have decided that it would not be in the best interest of NY state to tie standardized testing to teacher ratings.  It has been decided that testing will not be linked to teacher evaluation for at least another four years.  The parent opt-out movement (parents not allowing kids to take standardized tests) has caught fire in recent years which was a major catalyst behind the decision making.

Let’s delve into where, and why the opt out movement took off.  The movement was huge in suburban districts, most notably Long Island school districts.  Parents from these districts simply did not want their child’s teachers to be judged on a test score.  The movement wasn’t such a hit in urban districts, mainly populated by the nation’s underserved.  These underserved families did not opt their kids out of testing, because many of these families believe that high levels of accountability lie on the schools and the teachers.  If no one wants to be accountable for student learning, how can we ensure that teachers are doing their best?

My theory is quite simple, this is just another systematic way to ensure that the “haves” continue to have, and the “have nots” continue on the fast road to Poverty, USA.

Protecting the “Middle Class” …  You hear this statement a lot from political pundits trying to restore the faith of citizens in the US political system.  Who exactly makes up the middle class in the United States?  Is it as diverse a class as the lack of diversity that exists in the lower class of the US?  When I say lower class, I mean the people that have to make ends meet based on/or below the monetary threshold set forth by the US government on poverty guidelines.

I say all of this to say, who is looking out for the lower class?  Who is looking out for the families that have faced generational poverty and education inequality?  Do these families not deserve the right to a fair, and equal education under state and federal law?  Have you heard very many people (besides Joe Biden) say, we have to protect the poor and underserved?  Don’t these people matter?  Or will they be the next targets that we isolate, and ship to who knows where?

You hear all of this immigration talk about building fences and walls to keep folks out of the US, but not many people are talking about the poverty walls/fences that are keeping people in a poverty stricken “state of being” in the US.

NY State has gotten this one wrong.  Being popular amongst suburban families shouldn’t be the measuring rod for how we view and assert accountability measures.  Commissioner King set the bar high when he adopted common core standards for NY State.  In a survey recently conducted by NY State, the survey confirmed that most people were in accordance with raising the standards.

Raise standards, enforce accountability, and create incentives that would entice great teachers to want to teach in the toughest schools.  Give principals the autonomy to pick their teams when they takeover school turnaround projects.  These are just some examples of how holding people accountable can work if we want it to work.

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