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Thousands turn out for Our Schools National Day of Action

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by Colleen Flaherty

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Thousands of educators, parents, students and community activists rallied in support of public education Monday for the Our Schools Day of Action. In more than 60 cities, from California to Maine, supporters came out in droves to support issues like school funding, student poverty, school safety and community-led ideas for great public schools.

Here are some events that happened around the country:

  • In Maine, there was a food drive for students and families in need this holiday season.
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Maine students showing off the donations they collected for the statewide food drive.

  • In Des Moines, Iowa, where more than 70 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch, organizers drew attention to the importance of school funding and equity in education. The event included a press conference and a collection for hats, scarves, mittens, gloves and boots for families in need in the Des Moines Public Schools.
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Cat in the Hat speaks with a student at Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School in Fort Lauderdale.

Every day in our classrooms, we see the multiple, damaging effects that poverty has on our kids’ ability to focus on learning,” said Andrew Rasmussen, president of the Des Moines Education Association. “We are going to need to find better supports for families that are in poverty to help them become supportive families at home. A lot of what happens in school is affected by what happens at home.

  • In Fort Lauderdale, Fla., community leaders, elected officials, Broadway actors and “Cat in the Hat” visited Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School where they have hundreds of books to promote literacy.
  • In Lake Charles, La., despite steady rains and frigid temperatures, approximately three dozen stakeholders braved the elements to speak their minds on the Common Core State Standards at Lake Charles-Boston Academy’s Auditorium.
  • In Traverse City, Mich., educators donated hundreds of food and care items for students and families in need to the student-run food bank at the local high school. “For too many children in our community, learning is a challenge when they don’t have enough to eat in the morning or lack basic personal and school supplies,” said Mary McGee-Cullen, MEA UniServ Director. “Local teachers and education support professionals are stepping up to help those most in need this holiday season, because we all have deep roots in our community and we strongly believe in doing our part to make sure everyone in this community can succeed.”

Check out what people are saying on Twitter about the Day of Action:

 

 

Reader Comments

  1. Christopher Cade

    While support public education and the fundamentals of public education, yesterday the decision was made for family members to leave the public school system and attend private school for the remainder of their years in school. Due to the current state of public schools, this decision I support 100%. Does that mean that my role in reforming public education changes? Yes I am even more committed to invest the rest of my working years to make sure that the changes are made to bring about the highest quality education system for public schools.

    Reply
  2. Tom Staszewski

    I admire how you go to bat for today’s public school teachers. I admire your
    advocacy role and your publication with helping teachers. Keep up the excellent
    work that you are doing.

    FYI below and I believe you and I are “on the same page.”

    Tom Staszewski

    Teacher Advocate

    tomstasz@neo.rr.com

    Subject: Teacher Advocate Defends Today’s School Teachers

    I am writing to offer a PRO stand and opinion about today’s public school
    teachers and to offset the negative publicity the from the media. The critics
    have it all wrong and they could not last one day in the classroom, they don’t
    have a clue on just how demanding and difficult the teaching profession really
    is.

    SUBJECT: Teacher Advocate Authors Book Dedicated to the Teaching
    Profession.

    I am writing to let you know of a book which should be of interest to your
    readers and bloggers.

    Enclosed is a book review and information about Total Teaching: Your Passion

    Makes it Happen.

    As the author of the book, I wanted you to know about this publication is
    experiencing a renewed interest because of the recent criticism the teaching
    profession has experienced. To counter the negative publicity, this book is a
    celebration of the teaching profession and recognizes the hard work and
    dedication evident in today’s teachers. I taught thousands of teachers all
    across the country in graduate credit level professional development courses and
    found them to be highly professional, passionate about their teaching and
    dedicated to student success.

    This book is a tribute to the teaching profession as it honors and celebrates
    the efforts and accomplishments of today’s teachers. All too often in this era
    of educational reform, the good work and success that occurs in our classrooms
    and school buildings is overlooked. This book examines what’s right with our
    schools rather than what’s wrong with our schools and recognizes the importance
    of the teaching profession…it provides a pro-teacher stand on today’s teachers
    and in defense of our public schools.

    If you have any questions or are in need of further information, I can be
    contacted at the above numbers/addresses. I believe your readers would be
    interested in the theme of the book. It would be greatly appreciated if you
    would consider the inclusion of this book review and book information in your
    publications and as a resource for your online web-based readers.

    Thank you.

    Positively,

    Tom Staszewski

    tomstasz@neo.rr.com

    Book Review for PUBLICATION:

    Realize Your Teaching Potential

    A Book Review of Total Teaching: Your Passion Makes It Happen

    By Ann Marie Lathan

    It is five minutes until the long anticipated bell. You’re wrapping
    up a very important lesson that is supposed to help your twenty-nine “angels”
    pass the state proficiency test for their grade level. Tommy is getting up
    again for the fourth time to sharpen his pencil. Jack raises his hand to ask
    another question about extra credit from yesterday while you see out of the
    corner of your eye, Suzie pass a note to Lisa. And low and behold, the intercom
    blares a inaudible message about Parent/Teacher Conferences scheduled for
    tonight, which reminds you to figure out a way to get that morning coffee stain
    out of your shirt by the time parents arrive.

    How familiar is this scenario? You may not have experienced the
    exact situation of events, but the constant bombardment of stressful occurrences
    is much a part of your own daily routine. Dr. Tom Staszewski understands the
    many pressures of the teacher and has come up with practical every day
    approaches to combating these stressful situations in his book, Total Teaching:
    Your Passion Makes It Happen. These approaches will help to rekindle the
    passion you had in becoming and remaining an inspirational teacher for life.

    Whether you are the new first year teacher or the most experienced
    veteran, Dr. Tom Staszewski’s book will help you recognize your potential. Dr.
    Staszewski brings light to your inner voice that says, “I really want to make a
    difference.” But before you can make a difference in the lives of your
    students, he points out that you must make a difference in your own life by
    taking care of yourself in order to fulfill your calling as a teacher.

    The title of the book, Total Teaching, is a very appropriately
    chosen title since it encompasses the message of totality that Dr. Staszewski
    sends about teaching. He recognizes the teacher as a whole person with real
    physical and emotional needs. Your needs as a total human being must be met in
    order to meet the educational needs of your students. Much research has been
    done about what stress can do to a person. So it wouldn’t be much of a surprise
    to learn that when the body is stressed, your physical and psychological health
    suffers and can affect your performance as a teacher.

    Dr. Staszewski addresses many different types of stresses of the
    everyday teacher along with criticisms many teachers and schools have received
    in recent years. He has also considered what many authors have not in the way
    of addressing outside pressures of our society and it’s added stress to an
    already stressful classroom. In addition, district pressures also exist for
    teachers who are expected to answer for the performance on state and national
    standardized tests. In his book, Staszewski brings light to this dilemma and
    states that “the unfair, unjust, and unfounded criticism have severely harmed
    the reputation of our schools and cast doubt on the teacher’s ability to
    teach”(11). He offers support and encouragement to teachers who have
    experienced this type of disparaging criticism. It is refreshing for an author
    to take a stand for the devoted teacher and acknowledge their amazing potential
    as teachers to persevere and overcome these types of obstacles.

    But, overcoming these obstacles relies on the teacher being in good
    health. The overall health of the teacher is paramount to the effectiveness of
    the teacher in the classroom. Dr. Staszewski suggests implementing practical,
    time saving daily routines that can greatly promote the teacher’s health. His
    suggestions which include deep breathing exercises and scheduling time for
    yourself to do something you enjoy are essential to your mental health. He
    advises that the teacher find ways to create humor in the classroom in order to
    engage the students more fully and also relieve tension. But while you might
    think teaching is strictly a mental profession, you must recognize the physical
    restraints as well. Staszewski believes that being physically fit and eating
    right can not only build a stronger self image but also a stronger person to
    withstand all the physical demands of each school day. Maintaining good “total”
    health can help make you feel truly whole as a “total” person, and consequently,
    can help you to practice “Total Teaching”.

    A positive frame of mind leads to positive ways of thinking and can
    do wonders for the human spirit. Dr. Staszewski offers motivational techniques
    that will keep the teacher’s spirit elevated in such a way as to create an
    environment conducive to successfully teaching an often times unmotivated class.
    All teachers get the classroom blues from time to time. But as he states in his
    book, “Adjust your attitude to anticipate a successful day of teaching…This
    optimistic expectation is far better than beginning the day with a defeatist’s
    attitude” (76). The power of positive thought can create the desired positive
    outcome. He reminds teachers to keep this positive outlook as an essential part
    of keeping things in perspective and balance.

    Dr. Staszewski’s writing style in Total Teaching parallels his
    message for the everyday teacher. He continually gives positive motivating
    examples from his own life and others to reaffirm how important it is for the
    teacher to implement positive forces in their life and thereby in the classroom.
    His book is also very teacher friendly. The relaxing ease of his tone
    accommodates the busy everyday teacher who may not have any time to spare for
    reading anything beyond their preparation for a lesson.

    This book is full of refreshing and inspiring metaphors, quotes, and
    other types of references that can help change your perspective and make a
    positive difference in your classroom. Comparisons of teachers to athletes are
    found throughout the book signifying the shared determination and dedication to
    persevere and succeed. Powerful and insightful quotes by influential
    individuals pepper the pages as they carry his point further. He also offers a
    section of famous quotes at the end of the book for reference and inspiration.
    One of these quotes is by William Butler Yeats, “’Education is not the filling
    of a pail, but the lighting of a fire‘” (134). And as Dr. Staszewski
    metaphorically points out in his book, teachers are the “torch bearers”. But my
    favorite quote of the book strikes at the core of what it means to be a teacher
    and the opportunities you have to change lives. When referring to his own
    teachers in life, Dr. Staszewski states, “Teachers have the unique opportunities
    to be at the right place at the right time, when we were susceptible to learning
    a profound truth or developing a new way of doing something”(81). Teachers take
    on such a fortunate and privileged role to be real witnesses to a child’s
    learning and even greater yet, to be the catalyst to that learning. He reminds
    teachers that they change lives just by caring enough to be a teacher. When you
    read Total Teaching: Your Passion Makes It Happen, remember that you have the
    opportunity to not only change your life, but ultimately the lives of the
    twenty-nine “angels” who face and look to you every day.

    Staszewski, Tom. Total Teaching: Your Passion Makes It Happen. Lanham,
    Maryland:

    Rowman & Littlefield, 2008.

    ~Ann Marie Lathan has been teaching as an adjunct professor at Mercyhurst
    College for many years. She also holds an active certificate for teaching high
    school English and has taught in the Cleveland area for several years.

    Frequently asked questions about Total Teaching…Your Passion Makes it Happen,
    written by Dr. Tom Staszewski

    What prompted you to write the book?

    In this era of policy change and educational reform at the K-12 level, suddenly
    everybody has become an expert on our school systems. In my opinion, there is a
    great amount of criticism that is unfairly being leveled against our schools and
    our teachers. Much of the criticism is unfounded, unjustified and distorted.
    Many critics of our school systems have never set foot in a classroom—other than
    their own experience as a former student—and their criticism is
    counterproductive. If they (critics) would take the time to better understand
    just how hard the teaching profession really is, they would change their
    criticism to face the reality of today’s schools and society at large. I believe
    that most critics would find it difficult to even make it through even one day
    in the life of a typical teacher. The essence behind the book is that today’s
    teachers are under a lot of pressure and scrutiny and there is a need for more
    support, recognition and appreciation for the good that they are providing for
    society. So the point of my book is to inform the uninformed about how
    difficult it is to teach in many of today’s schools. And to provide recognition
    to educators and to thank teachers for the positive difference they are making
    in society. I’ve always said that our schools are a reflection of society and
    society at large has changed and undergone a dramatic shift from previous
    generations. The book also focuses on the success stories and “what’s right”
    with our schools rather than “what’s wrong” with our schools.

    In my previous work as a motivational speaker and professional development
    trainer, I have personally worked with thousands and thousands of teachers
    statewide and nationwide and I have found them to be hard working, dedicated,
    industrious and committed to the success of their students. It’s about time that
    someone has taken a stand to recognize and acknowledge the value to society that
    teachers are providing and to thank them for their dedication.

    What is the theme of the book?

    In addition to thanking and recognizing the good that teachers provide to
    society, the book is also a handbook that can be used by the teacher as a means
    of providing coping skills and methods to succeed in the classroom with the
    trials and tribulations of teaching. It provides a means of offering tips,
    strategies and techniques to make it through the day and to have a successful
    school year. In many respects it is a personal growth and development type
    handbook.

    From the first-year teacher to the most experienced veteran, this book provides
    an inspiring message that yes, indeed…teaching is the most noble profession.
    It serves as an acknowledgement of the importance of teachers and recognizes
    that “teaching is the profession that has created all other professions.” This
    book provides real-life tools, tips and strategies to have a successful school
    year and to persevere beyond all of the challenges associated with the
    profession. Filled with insightful and meaningful stories and examples, it will
    provide a pep talk to help teachers stay focused. Readers are able to maintain
    the passion that brought them into the profession and to develop a plan to be
    the best that they can be.

    What is the author’s background and experience?

    Born and raised in Erie, PA, Dr. Tom Staszewski (pronounced Sta SHEF ski) is a
    proud product of the City of Erie School District School District and graduated
    from Erie Academy High School in 1970. He is married to Linda Laird Staszewski.

    As a career educator, my background has spanned a variety of educational levels,
    from teaching elementary and middle school grades to teaching at the graduate
    and undergraduate levels. In addition, I’ve held various administrative
    positions at the higher ed. level. Currently, I serve as academic dean at the
    campus of Mercyhurst North East.

    Academic credentials include:

    -BS, Penn State University, Elementary Education

    -MA, Indiana University of PA, Adult and Community Education

    -Ed.D, University of Pittsburgh, Administrative and Policy Studies, Higher Ed.
    Administration

    -PA Teaching Certificate K-8 Grade Levels

    How can I obtain a copy of the book?

    Copies are available through the publisher Rowman and Littlefield and also at
    amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com

    Rowman & Littlefield Education

    Phone: (301) 459-3366
    http://www.rowmaneducation.com
    Customer Service
    Toll free: (800) 462-6420
    custserv@rowman.com

    Author’s contact information:

    Dr. Tom Staszewski can be contacted at tomstasz@neo.rr.com

    or 814-452-0020

    Reply

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