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Standoff with union stems from state policies

Maybe it's the teacher in me, or the fact that I am disappointed in the behaviors of other people who have the attention of the public, but I am weary from the constant teacher bashing. Phrases such as "Teachers union creates wreckage" and "That's the predictable strategy of the Buffalo Teachers Federation" only create another forum for contention among community members. The recent editorial, "Blame Rumore," proposes a scenario based upon false presumptions.

First, the State Education Department hands down mandates that are counterproductive to teaching. Then the state denies the money resources much needed for the students and underscores the inabilities of teachers to agree to another document that is filled with inadequate representation to ensure equity in our schools.

Numerous meetings are held to decipher complex and wordy pages of stipulations that overlap and intertwine and totally confuse. Time constraints imposed by the state do not allow sufficient dialogue for clarification and correction. The state rejects the homework and thoughtful reflection of people who hold a close interest for the students, much closer than Education Commissioner John B. King Jr.

What does the state expect from its guidelines? It hammers our students with pretests, practice tests, more practice tests and final tests that have nothing to do with real learning. Teachers battle this "teach to the test" rigor, as well as struggle to actually teach something. They want teachers evaluated by using tests scores, absent students and other mandates that follow intricate agendas from various "observers." I call this: Non-essential instruction = Disruption in learning.

Finally, if that reasoning doesn't work, let's bring in the big guns -- money! Is it enough money to satisfy the horrible inequity that exists for our public school children? Of course not, the state has to allow for its "other" investors who want privatization. Other wording such as "manufactures and stokes resentment" provides enough steam to alienate, diffuse and distract. The only truth to this editorial was the last paragraph, "Ah, but that's King's fault "

When everyone agrees to start from the top, where all these mandates began, only then can truth become known. The union's job is to protect the teachers. When teachers are protected, they can teach. When they are allowed to teach, students have the best opportunities to learn. When students learn, they succeed in determining what is best for growing a better future.

Why does the state want to rearrange this process? Its claim of "what is best for the students" has not and is not working, so who is really accountable? Finally, if the state sees the need for student resources, then give it without unfair strings attached.


Kathleen A. Skarupinski-Anthon is a semi-retired special education teacher, most recently in the Buffalo schools.