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WORRY A DAY: DAYLIGHT SAVINGS November 6, 2009

Posted by lizrosenberg in Uncategorized.
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One of my favorite poems is by Steven Bauer, called Daylight Savings, where he talks about having the illusion of time in his pocket as a kid, thinking, “I’ll save it.” But there is no saving it. Instead what we do is twist it like a pretzel.

 

I vaguely remember when Nixon came up with a plan that would make sure little farm kids didn’t stand around at bus stops at five in the morning, in the pitch dark. No one wanted that to happen. Wasn’t that the beginning of this daylight savings plan? Well, first of all, let me admit it’s hard for me to trust anything Nixon did. Second, maybe we shouldn’t be sending our kids to school so early that they are standing in the  dark. Every study shows that children need more sleep than we give them. Teenagers especially, but all kids. Remember when school ran from nine to three? That seemed sort of reasonable. Now I really do know kids who have to be in school by seven, seven thirty. It’s not human. It’s not good for them. And they don’t like it. So if you want to stop kids from standing around in the dark, stop sending them to school before dawn.

Meanwhile, no one I know gets this mythical extra hour of sleep. We go to bed the same time as usual, which means an hour later according to the clock. Then the next day of course we wake up at the usual time, an hour early according to the clock. It takes a week or two to get used to the clock. Meanwhile, darkness drops down like an old crow, earlier and faster than before, like darkness on speed. Who is this good for? It’s bad enough that winter brings shorter days and longer nights. At least let us adjust to it gradually. There’s something vaguely natural in that. I don’t want to fall back. I don’t want to spring forward. I just want to let things alone for awhile. Maybe daylight savings can be one less thing we all need to worry about.

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1. Liz Rosenberg - March 20, 2011

AN OPEN LETTER TO GOVERNOR CUOMO: (since I can’t find a way to post it on his Facebook page!) I’ll be honest. I think you are, so far, an incredibly disappointing governor. Your cuts to education, and your blaming of teachers for deep-seated societal problems are horrifyingly short sighted.

I agree that superintendent salaries should be less than yours.

I do not agree that you should get rid if the last-hired first-fired system. It is not infallible, of course, but nothing is. The alternative– which is to measure teacher’s BY THE SUCCESS OF STUDENTS ON FUNDAMENTALLY FLAWED TESTS– is idiotic. Come spend a week in a classroom here in Binghamton. My husband is a middle school teacher– a great and inspiring one. Maybe you need to see what’s happening on the ground. He took a cut in pay of 50 % to leave the corporate world and become a teacher. He teaches to the individual, not to the tests. He deals with kids who are 13 and 14 whose textbooks are stolen at home by greedy relatives and friends of relatives. He teaches 13-14 year olds who go home and can;t do their homework because they have to cook, shop, clean and take care of the younger kids. He deals with kids whose parents are too busy or self-absorbed to notice what they are doing. He deals with bright teenagers whose parents feel their kids are being uppity if they get good grades. He has to give tests to kids with IEPs, who gets aids and special accommodations ALL THE REST OF THE YEAR AND THEN HAVE ALL THAT HELP TAKEN AWAY DURING THE TESTS. You are setting those kids up for failure, and setting up the schools that struggle to help them. And then you measure those schools and those teachers by those standards.

It’s not No Child Left Behind. It’s No Child Left Untested. Teacher creativity is stifled by this barrage of tests– even in second grade! I see my own 7 year old suffer from this and it breaks my heart. We know so much about education and how to make it work, and none of that knowledge is ever tapped. Instead you turn– again— to standardized tests. Children are not “standard.” There must be a better way to measure education. There must be better ways to foster genuine education. It takes creativity. It takes individuation. It takes smaller classes. It takes resources, and care and it takes time.

The educational system is broken, not the teachers. Do you want to understand how public education really works and what it needs? Talk to the teachers. Talk to the kids. Educate yourself, for heaven’s sakes!

And by the way I can’t believe a “liberal” democrat supports Fracking. I voted for you because there was no other choice of a candidate who seemed remotely sane. I hoped and still hope you will move away from auto-pilot thinking and evolve as a human being. I hope it happens sooner rather than later because the people of NY are suffering. Public education is one of the most important resources of our state. Take that away and you rob of us of the future. I keep my daughter in public school because I believe in public education. We took our son out of an alternative private school because we believed in the value of public education, and all it entails. I teach at a public university for the same reason, and my husband teaches at a public middle school for the same reason. We’ve BOTH have had offers to teach at private schools, which we have both turned down.

For the same reason you feel yours should be the highest salary in the state, I’d hope that your belief in NY public education would be at least as great as ours.

Very sincerely,

Liz Rosenberg


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