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End complacency over state school policies

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I am proud to teach in the north country, because our students are like no others. When I attend conferences, I realize what gems we have in our morally developed, intrinsically motivated kids. North country parents were raised to respect schools and teachers, but you were also taught to be complacent. As a north country, we are a respectful group.

The state is counting on that. They are waging a campaign to destroy schools. Every day, more districts are reaching critical mass due to the lack of funding. If you believe in a future for your kids, then you must stop being “good little north country people.” We scoff when downstate can’t handle a little snow because we are resilient and tough. We are in a blizzard now. You must call legislators and the governor and tell them to repeal the tax cap and end this insane testing craze. The legislators are tired of hearing from “whiny teachers.” They must hear from their constituents. Parents, be educated about what is happening.

Students are the only things that matter, but in the state’s quest to “fix” teachers, kids have been tossed down the rabbit hole into a world that doesn’t make sense. Much like “Alice in Wonderland,” they are shrunk and pulled so that nothing but frustration is left.

When my students ask for an explanation, I try to tell them that it doesn’t have anything to do with them because they are being used as guinea pigs to evaluate teachers. A state test is a snapshot and is never a true indication of a year. Education or weak teachers can’t be fixed with a test. American teachers are being demonized, but we are the ones who see the impact on the students, and it isn’t good.

To continue my “Alice in Wonderland” analogy: “‘I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked. ‘Oh you can’t help that,’ said the Cheshire Cat, ‘We’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’”

Isn’t it time we start using common sense instead of creating madness? To quote a friend, Adam Staab, “we are the last line of defense for our kids.”

Dig deep for that north country spirit and show the legislators that we want funding for our kids, we want the obsession with testing to end, and we want our kids to have the same opportunities that richer districts give their kids.

Lori Atkinson-Griffin

Lowville

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