A Parent-Teacher in Lee County to the Board: “Seize the Day”…Don’t Back Down!


Thank you Diane Ravitch for publishing my letter to Lee County School Board Florida #OptOutLee

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

The Lee County school board will meet tomorrow at 8:30 am, a time that will exclude many parents, students, and educators. Public meetings should be scheduled when the public is not at work or in class.

This letter was written by a parent and teacher who can’t attend the meeting because she will be working. It is a plea to the board not to back down.

Regarding Lee County School Board decision to opt out of high stakes, state tests:

I am the parent of a fifth grader in Lee County. I am also an 8th grade Language Arts teacher for the district.

During public comments at the Wednesday night’s Lee County School Board Meeting, a speaker said, “Seize the day.” I agree.

We have waited long for this day. We have fought long and hard to end the over testing of our kids. This was not a rushed decision…

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Cheers and Checked Again

You know you are a nerd when you are watching a local school board meeting, with your cell phone taping,  as you cheer at the screen.

Imagine the excitement to hear your own school board members agree,  unanimously,  to find a way to opt your entire county out of high stakes testing.

That was me last night.

Except, I wasn’t cheering as a nerd.  No, I was cheering as a mom …

Because, really, when it comes down to it, I’m doing all this for my kid.

My child. Not my contract, not my opinion on issues, not to sell a book, or to win a position or a promotion … not for profit.

Not for nothing, as my jersey folk say.

I’m doing it for my kid. For my fifth grade daughter who is missing much of the opportunities of her education due to the ridiculous amounts of testing.

Then,  I realize… Check.

I think of other parents out there who want much more for their kids than ‘less testing’ . I realize they want life for their kids.

They want to know that their kids can walk down the street and not be shot.

They want to talk about race not tests.

While I’m cheering as I watch the news, they are screaming.

Scream with them.

Today is ten years since Hurricane Charley destroyed my town. I remember looking at the news and thinking no one cares. Life went on while our world was destroyed. I don’t wish that feeling on  anyone.

So, I’m going to try to amplify the voices of Ferguson,  to keep reminding people to pay attention.

Empathize and amplify. I’ll start there.

Prayers for the family and friends of Michael Brown … and the entire Ferguson community.

Breaking News: Florida School Board Wants Entire District to Opt Out!


Yes, this is my county!!! Keep going to your school boards and speaking up!! It’s working!!!

Originally posted on Diane Ravitch's blog:

The Lee School Board in Florida wants to opt out of all standardized testing. They have listened to parents. They are tired of enriching Pearson.

“FCAT. Florida Standards. Common core.

“No matter what you call it, the school board wants it gone.

“Board members unanimously expressed their disdain for standardized testing at the school board meeting Tuesday, pledging to research the possibility of “opting out” the entire district from standardized testing.

“There needs to be a come-to-Jesus meeting … to talk about these issues point blank,” Chairman Tom Scott said.

Board member Don Armstrong said the district cannot afford to continue testing at the current rate.

“A lot of our money is being poured out of this county to go to one company, I won’t say names,” he said. “But on this board or not on this board, I won’t stand for it anymore.”

Dozier asked the board to…

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Mind on Michael Brown

Today is the first day back for teachers here in Florida. I imagine most of today will be spent in meetings in our school library. Yes,  that is where I will be sitting…

But my mind will be on Michael Brown.

Google him, search Facebook,  search Twitter. Repost,  Retweet,  speak  his name.

Speak his name.

Michael Brown






“A riot is the language of the unheard.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Pissing Off Mulgrew #DoTheRightThing

So, let me go ahead and admit,  I’ve never met this Mulgrew fellow. Chances are, I’m going to piss him off with this blog. That is ok, though, because pissing people off has always been my middle name. It certainly is this summer…

Just know,  Mulgrew,  nothing personal. You are probably a great fellow and amazing unionist. I don’t know you,  so I don’t know? But, I’m guessing from the cheers you received at the microphone during AFT’ Delegate Assembly,  you are highly accepted within our union. I’ll give you that. Kudos.

But, here is the thing… The whole ‘I will punch you in the face’ comment that you made to the delegates opposing Common Core … Yea, that was too much. Way too much.

This teacher is calling you out for it.

How can I say this nicely? Hmm. Let me make a comparison. In class, when two students disagree and one says to the other,  “I’ll punch you in the face”… well,  come on. You know … You are a teacher,  right,  Mr. Mulgrew?

Yes. You are. So are most of the people in the room that day. People who teach school even though they are blamed for society’s woes and chastised repeatedly for everything and anything seen wrong in schools. People who teach school amid threats to their contract, certification, and career. People who teach school despite the countless violent acts committed upon school personnel, and often their students.

You want to punch them in the face? Or me? Just because I oppose Common Core?

You must be kidding? Right? You were kidding, right? You were exaggerating to make a point, weren’t you?

Well, as my students would say, “Unacceptable, dude. You went overboard. Take it back.”

Take it back. It was wrong. Some people in that room have been victims of violent acts. Some of those teachers have been victims of domestic violence themselves. Someone in that room has probably been threatened before. Someone has probably been punched in the face for no reason,  or for standing up for what they believe.

If not someone in that room … Maybe someone watching, someone home in her pajamas, watching on a laptop via live feed. Someone so invested in their union and the fight about Common Core that they are watching. Someone who became upset by the comment,  by it bringing back all the horrible memories of the time when they were threatened like that, the time they were bullied …

Someone who may have become so disillusioned by hearing a high ranking member of her union making physical threats,  that she considered tossing her union card in the trash…

Yea, that’s not good for membership. That’s not good for solidarity. And, that’s certainly not good for democracy.

Take it back, Mulgrew.


Ps. I paraphrased the comment. I couldn’t stomach watching the video again to get a quote. For more info,  check out Fred Klonsky’s blog here :



The fight for union democracy you won’t read about in the Post.


Because Fred always says it better than I ever could. No doubt. My favorite union coffee, still.

Originally posted on Fred Klonsky:


A month after, finally and suddenly – the Mulgrew “punch you in the face” story has made the national news.

The Daily News.The New York Post. The right-wing Daily Caller and Breibart.


Because Mulgrew’s bellicose threats to the rank-and-file fit right into their anti-union narratives of union bosses and union thugs.

In fact, the performance by the New York UFT President, laughingly egged on by AFT President Randi Weingarten, was a gift to the anti-union forces. Wrapped in pretty paper with a big bow on top.


Make no mistake about whether this was actually thuggish behavior by Mulgrew.

Or whether he made this speech because he suddenly lost all control.

Based on my experience of the way leadership does things, this was premeditated thuggery.

Mulgrew showed nothing but disdain for union members who oppose corporate reform.

He clenched his fist.  He screamed and mocked those who argue that Common…

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Packing Up & Headed Back to Shore – This Union Gal Bids Farewell

I’ve left my union.

Well,  let me clarify, I’ve resigned from positions of leadership within my teachers’ union. I’m still a card bearing union member, but I no longer sit on my executive board. I’ve resigned, officially,  with a letter and all.

I did all this pretty quietly this summer. Although many in my life know the story, it being splashed all over social media, I’m reluctant to tell it. I’m too proud. I’m also, in a sense, still in shock. Believe it or not, as loud as I am, I never wanted to be the one to make waves within my own organization. I mean, really, if you know me, you know I’m one of the loudest cheerleaders for my union out there. Rah Rah… Go union, that’s been my cheer.

It still is my cheer, I’m just cheering much more quietly these days. In many ways, I’m cheering to myself, silently,  hoping to hold on, hoping to find that spark again.

I realize that sometimes in life, you have to step back to jump forward. I’m in my stepping back now. I’m in the watching and learning stage now. I’m learning that to make it in a large organization, you have to know how to play the game. And,  believe it or not, I’m not good at playing. I’m far too emotional.

To me, none of this is a game. It’s serious stuff. To me, this is more than a career, more than a paycheck,  more than a contract … To me, this is my children. This is my country. This is my life.

I am sure that I am not the only one in my union that feels this way.

I know my union is made up of passionate, caring individuals who commit their life to being a steward. Like me, they spent much of their summer at trainings, or traveling to assemblies, or rallies. Like me, they know solidarity is needed to fight
the corporate reformers intent on making a buck off our schools.

My union brother and sisters make the sacrifice every day. They speak up knowing there is little a contract can do to protect their jobs these days. They travel to union events knowing they can’t afford it. They spend their nights posting and sharing to the world hoping someone, somewhere, with power, will care. My union brother and sisters make the sacrifices every day, and I thank them.

But, I’m stepping back. Sure, I’m a little bitter, I won’t lie. Yes, I’m more than a little disappointed. I’m sure you can tell. Those who know me, well, they know me well.

But, in the words of my dad, ‘When you start to stink like fish, it is time to go’.

So, I’m gone. I’m pulling my line and headed back to shore for a while. I’ve decided to focus my activism on the BATs and the parent groups that I’m connected with. I’ve also decide to focus on my writing. I have a voice and a huge megaphone,  not as big as Whoopi’s, but pretty big. I hope to use it.

Before I go, I want to send a thank you to all in my union. Thank you for making the sacrifice. Thank you for sticking it out. I will continue to stand up for you and support you from the sidelines. That I promise.

We are one.