Meanwhile, In Amenia, NY… Jumping Into Local Politics

So the big news in my area is an upcoming Town Hall meeting on November 4th. Since the State of New York passed several marijuana laws, towns in the state have a choice to “opt-in” to having retail marijuana stores or dispensaries. The Town Board of Amenia, New York doesn’t seem to want this and voted against it on October 7th. This is causing a bit of a ruckus in this small town in Dutchess County, NY.

The TriCorner News wrote about the meeting a week later. Local supporters of the cannabis outlets want citizens to show up to the next Town Hall meeting on November 4th to urge the Board to reverse their decision.

During public comment, Town Clerk Dawn Marie Klingner read aloud a comment submitted via email by resident Daniel Donnelly, who opposed the law and encouraged the board to reconsider permitting selling marijuana in town, as well as legalizing smoking lounges.

Though he said he does not personally consume cannabis, Donnelly told board members without realizing it, they’re already surrounded by people who do. This includes, he stated, among others, educators, artists, farmers, athletes, clergy, attorneys and even law enforcement.

To me it’s the classic tale of the old vs. the new. The old-timers don’t want anything to change and want everything to stay the same. But they will be the first to complain when there isn’t enough money. Sometimes change results in getting more money. And with the way New Yorkers smoke weed there is a ton of money to be seen here. A ton.

I plan on attending the meeting on November 4th and giving my full support behind reversing the Board’s opt-out decision. I may be a newbie around here but that doesn’t mean I won’t speak my voice. And I encourage all my fellow Amenians who support this to show up as well!

Sometimes the numbers speak for themselves:

Gutierrez said he was told Theory Wellness, a dispensary in Great Barrington, earned $30 million in revenue in its first year of operation — but stressed he has not verified the numbers. At $30 million, he said that would mean $1.2 million in revenue split between Dutchess County and the town — roughly what Amenia would typically collect in a typical year from property taxes.

Delaware Department of Education Fumbles In The Dark And Tries To Make Sense Of Declining Smarter Balanced Scores

By wasting taxpayer money on yet another “study” with the University of Delaware, the Delaware Department of Education has come up with a presentation to explain how Covid is affecting students. The “findings” will be presented later today to the Delaware State Board of Education. This is the earth-shattering universe shaking report:

I have to ask. What is the purpose of this? There are no solutions, just data. There is nothing to address the mental needs of both teachers and students during these times. It is, once again, a reliance on the tired old horse called the state assessment. It seems like, no matter how many leadership changes and different staff members they hire, the Delaware Department of Education only cares about one thing: data.

If the Delaware DOE had a brain cell they would quickly realize that education got really jacked up since the shutdown in March of 2021. Of course there was going to be a tough time. We were in uncharted territory with a global pandemic. I’m pretty sure there weren’t that many people still alive from the Spanish Flu who could give guidance on what to do with this, especially in modern times. Students were going to lose time.

I’ve heard from many that the Delaware DOE is pushing “accelerated learning” to make up for the “learning loss” and lost time that came from Covid. Yes, let’s push students and teachers to the breaking point. Let’s see how your precious Smarter Balanced scores do then! When are they going to learn that data is not the same as education? You can fiddle around with numbers until the cows come home but it won’t change a damn fucking thing and we both know it. You are just trying to look good to… someone. None of it means a thing if students suffer in your vain attempt to beef up numbers. Shit happens. Covid happened. Get over your SBAC obsessed selves and let’s get back to work on the important things.

Let leaders lead and let teachers teach. Don’t tell the teachers how to teach. They already know how to do that. But more importantly, stop fucking around with numbers and graphs and let the leaders truly lead. And the ONLY way they can do that is by using their experience as teachers first and foremost. It isn’t a numbers game. It is about hearts and minds.

The Plight Of The American Teacher In Covid Times

Last night, a teacher named Steve Fackenthall gave public comment to the Red Clay Consolidated School District’s Board of Education. It echoed what most American teachers are going through these days. Teachers are mentally drained and have been since Covid turned the world upside down in the early months of 2020. It is having a tremendous effect on the American teachers. Many teachers have left the profession due to severe burnout and not enough support from their district offices.

This can only trickle down to the American students. Some want to say teachers are lazy, overpaid, get summers off, and only care about their union. Based on my experience with teachers this couldn’t be further from the truth. Most teachers deeply care about their students and want them to be successful. The sad truth is that a lot of pressure has been put on teachers to provide not only education to children, but also social-emotional supports.

My name is Steven Fackenthall, music teacher at Richey Elementary and Vice-President of the Red Clay Education Association. Tonight I speak to you about the extraordinary high levels of teacher fatigue and stress that is being experienced by our educators.

It’s only October 20th, yet it feels like it should be June any time now. We. Are. Tired. Our educators are drowning. To give more insight, I’d like to share with you thoughts from our educators. I’m extremely disappointed that TEACHER MENTAL HEALTH HAS NOT BEEN MENTIONED BY DISTRICT LEADERS ONCE, other than a link to the Employee Assistance Program. There have been no check-ins to see how we are managing as we are also returning following and continue during a pandemic… along with the absence of support or concern for our well being, we are being told to accelerate learning while we know many students are way behind where even the lowest students are in a typical year.

From an elementary school teacher. There is, even more than normal, a lack of understanding of what it’s like in the classroom right now. It’s one thing to read and talk about how COVID has affected our kids, but those working office jobs within the district need to take our word on more things or come visit classrooms more often to really understand what is happening.

I have been a Red Clay employee for 15 years and I feel hopeless. I’m sad for our students and am completely discouraged as a teacher. The general consensus is that NOBODY cares.

I need pacing guidelines relaxed as I have kids coming back from mandatory quarantines and need to catch up. ELA expects us to get through all 4 units this year, which we never have.

I need the micromanaging from the district to stop and just have the ability to teach and give my kids what they need. I used to love teaching but after this past year, I am seriously considering leaving. Although I love my kids, everything else about teaching is driving me over the edge, why isn’t the district listening to us? We need more support, we need more time to plan, grade and help our students, I cannot keep up these 60-70 hours a week.

I was in tears by 11 am and apparently I was the 3rd teacher of the day to do so. I was in the bathroom sobbing saying I can’t do this. I need a different job. This isn’t’ sustainable. These words are saddening.

These words are heartbreaking. And only a fraction of the responses I received. Red Clay board, if we are truly to respect the tireless work educators put forward for their students, then we must think about the conditions we place on them and how to improve that experience. We. Must. Do. Better. Our working conditions are our students’ learning conditions.

District administrators need to stop worrying about “learning loss” and concentrate on the well-being of teachers and students. Teachers need to teach and students need to learn. Let them do it. Let them do the job you hired them to do. Stop with the Department of Education mandates and pressure and let your school be a school, not a bureaucracy.

At the end of the day, if you burn out your teachers, who will teach the children? Computers? We all know how that works. We learned that lesson last year. Nothing against teachers but we learned that teaching on a screen does not work for the majority of American students.

God bless Steve Fackenthall and all the teachers in America. They are the guardians of our kids for a significant period of time before they plunge into adulthood. They deserve our respect and our admiration.