Sunday, July 31, 2016

Pensions, Politics and Those Pesky Public Employees Part 1

Gov. Christie gets 4 Pinocchios

Yesterday dozens of NJEA members took to the streets in various communities to engage in and inform our members about the fight to save our pensions. My partner and I canvassed these Trenton neighborhoods:

To be clear, these are not our members' homes, but our members live on these streets...





Yes, these are the Trenton neighborhoods where all those "greedy" and "selfish" public employees with their "Cadillac" benefits and "jobs for life" live—just like another public employee, Gov. Christie: 


And now that he's been reduced to fetching coffee for Donald Trump, his ego bruised, he's back at what he really loves to do. No, not governing NJ. I'm talking about teacher—bashing.

Here's Christie last week stumping for his "Fairness Funding" Apartheid School Funding Formula:



I give this video 4 Pinocchios for the 4 basic lies he tells: 

1. "I love public school teachers." Call me crazy, but I have never seen nor heard any evidence to back up this statement. If you have, please by all means, post a link in the comments.  



2. "There's no way in any profession other than that one you get a job for life after 3 years, 'cause you get tenure after 3 years."
I guess all that time out of state gave Christie a severe case of amnesia because he has completely forgotten that he pushed for and signed the TeachNJ law that extended the time it takes to earn tenure to four years! And as for the "job for life" comment, anybody with half a brain knows that is simply not true. But Christie has never let the facts get in the way of a good talking point. Which leads me to #3... 


3. "And after 20 years, you get pension and health benefits for life." Well... I do pay into my pension every two weeks, just like anyone else pays into their retirement plans (which is way more than the state has done in the last 20 years), so why shouldn't I expect to receive my deferred compensation for the rest of my life when I retire? And he fails to mention that, under Chapter 78, the law he pushed for and signed, public employees now contribute more into our pensions, work more than 20 years before we can retire, and get less when we do. And as for those "health benefits for life"? Wrong again! State employees who were not grandfathered into the Ch. 78 reforms must pay a percentage of their health benefits when they retire.


4. The 4th lie he tells isn't on this video, but it has to do with his proposed $6600 per pupil school funding formula and how it will solve the problems of all high-poverty/high-needs school districts and magically reduce property taxes. Read Jersey Jazzman here and here for all the facts and figures 'cause you won't find them anywhere in Christie's messaging. And PS: before the 2% property tax cap went into effect, property taxes went up an average of 20% in NJ, so don't hold your breath waiting for any big tax breaks to materialize.

No, Christie doesn't want the average taxpayer who doesn't follow politics every waking minute to know that the state unions were forced to accept many concessions in Ch. 78 with the expectation that he would uphold his end of the bargain by making the required pension payments—but didn't. It's so much easier to make stuff up and sell it to unsuspecting taxpayers under the premise of #TellingItLikeItIs (and you know how well that hashtag worked out once we hijacked it).

On Monday, August 1st, the state senate may possibly vote on SCR-2 which, if approved, would put a question on the November ballot to engrave state pension payments into our constitution, and that is driving Christie nuts. Not only does he want to defund public education further, he wants to crush the unions—period. The only thing stopping him from becoming another right-to-work-(for less) governor like Scott Walker or Rick Snyder is the Democratically-controlled state legislature. 

So, the next time someone tries to tell you that state workers have it great, that we have cushy jobs and great benefits, show them this post. Show them the pictures of the neighborhoods in which some of our members live. Tell them that many of our members who are working full time also collect food stamps. Share the stories of your co-workers who have been living on the edge of financial disaster since Ch. 78 was signed into law, whose take home pay has decreased every year since, who have lost (or almost lost) their homes as a result, who were forced to leave the profession to find a higher-paying job in the private sector. Remind them of all the give-backs and concessions we've made and the promises that Gov. Christie has broken. Educate them on how important unions are to a thriving middle class and the New Jersey economy.

Then tell them to vote Yes on the Constitutional Amendment ballot question in November because if it fails, and the pension system goes bust, the sky really will be falling on Chicken Little Gov. Christie.

Part 2: How GOP politicians spin the tale of 'greedy unions' for their political gain.






Friday, July 22, 2016

Dear @NJEA Members, This is Urgent!

Hey you. Yea, you, NJEA member. The one working those part time jobs to make it through the summer. The one who is fortunate enough to not have to work in the summer to make ends meet. The one dipping into your retirement funds to make it through the summer. The one who has no time to advocate because you're just trying to keep your head above water. I'm talking to you

You need to stop what you're doing right now and read this.

See that counter on the right side of this screen? That's counting down to D-Day: the day the NJ pension system runs dry. That's right, I said, 'dry' as in running out of money. That's 10.45 years. For everyone. E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E. Doesn't matter if you're a first year teacher or a 20 year retiree. There is no grandfather clause, no sliding scale. Nothing. Nada. Zippo. Say buh-bye to your future and hello to working til you drop.

If you don't know by now, the pension system has been grossly underfunded by the state for the past 20 years, even though we have been making our regularly scheduled payments (and then-some, thanks to Gov. Christie and Ch.78), and are now forced to work more years and get less in return. Our retired members are feeling the hit too because their cost of living adjustments have been frozen.

This situation is dire and it's not going to get any better if we sit back and do nothing.

It's that bad.

But that's not going to happen because we are a union, and unions work together. We stick together. We fight together. And we win together... and we are going to win this battle.

Right now approximately 300 specifically-designated NJEA Pension Fellows (myself included) are working hard to engage all 200,000 of us in the fight to save our pensions. 

Notice I didn't say, "engage the state legislature". I said, "engage all 200,000 of us". That's right, 300 of your fellow members cannot fix this problem alone, but 200,000 of us sure can.

We are working 5 days a week making member outreach phone calls and knocking on members' doors to inform and engage every single one of us to take action. In the first two days alone we made over 3800 phone calls and wrote countless postcards!

Right now the Assembly has approved the November ballot question to engrave funding the pension system into our state constitution. The Senate must also do so, but Senate President Steve Sweeney has yet to post the bill for a vote. If the vote doesn't happen by August 8, or if the vote fails in the Senate, there will be no ballot question, and we go back to square one... with that clock still ticking down to zero.

So, here are six easy things you can do right now:
  1. Go do VoteNJPension and sign up to become a Pension Activist. This is different from the Pension 'Fellows'. An activist is a voluntary position. You will receive text messages with updates and actions such as contacting legislators, and engaging friends and family to vote.
  2. Contact your State Senator—preferably today—and urge him or her to push Sen. Sweeney to post SCR-2 for a vote, and tell them you want them to vote Yes on it.
  3. Contact Sen. Sweeney directly and tell him to post SCR-2. His contact info: (856) 251-9801 or (856) 339-0808; SenSweeney@njleg.org. Don't worry, you won't get him on the phone. You will either get an answering machine or an aide who will take your information.
  4. Get informed. Read through What You Need To Know so that you can give factual information to those who may have questions or who think the pension system isn't worth saving.
  5. Contact one of the field offices we have set up for the summer and volunteer. Even if none of these are near you, there are many opportunities to volunteer your time in your community:

    NJEA Trenton Headquarters
    180 W. State St.
    Trenton
    609-599-4561

    NJEA Higher Education Office
    Golden Crest Corporate Center
    2279 State Highway 33, Suite 508
    Hamilton Square
    609-689-9580

    NJEA Region 11/12 Office
    Raritan Plaza II
    91 Fieldcrest Ave, Suite A3
    Edison
    732-287-4700

    Gloucester Co. Education Association
    190 N. Evergreen Ave, Suite 108
    Woodbury
    856-853-6673

    NJEA Stanhope Office
    23 Route 206
    Stanhope
    973-347-5717

    NJEA Region 3 Office
    1020 Laurel Oak Rd.
    Voorhees
    856-782-1225
  6. Make sure every member of your family who is able to do so is registered to vote. This website lets you do it online.
Friends, there really is no other way to say this. We can't sugar coat it or push it off on someone else. We need every single one of us taking action. Can you imagine Sen. Sweeney's office receiving 200,000 phone calls? He can't say No to that.

So please, make a commitment today to do your part. We all have worked too hard to simply let our pensions dissolve into thin air. And I think it's pretty safe to say that there aren't too many of us who can survive retirement without them. I know I can't.

Let's do this!

#TeamTrenton rocking the vote!

Friday, July 15, 2016

My thank you letter to @BernieSanders

Mother's Day 2016, Rutgers University Rally

Dear Senator Sanders,

I am so sorry that you will not be the Democratic candidate for President, but I wanted to personally thank you for all you did. Your efforts were not in vain. Sadly, our nation is not yet ready for a leader who doesn't just talk the talk, but also walks the walk. Your profound and honest commitment to speaking out against the grave social injustices heaped on far too many Americans got many in Washington and on Wall St. squirming—and that's a good thing. 

Someone once said that candidates campaign with poetry and lead with prose, but you did just the opposite. Your direct, no-nonsense approach left no doubt where your priorities would be as president.

Thank you for raising the consciousness of the American people and engaging millions of our youth in the political process. You spoke to them and for them. It will be interesting to see if they remain engaged enough to actually vote in November. We need them now more than ever. 

Thank you for speaking directly to me. In the almost 40 years that I have been voting, no other candidate's words resonated like yours. Every time I turned on the news you were speaking about issues that are directly affecting my quality of life every single day. You didn't give lip service. Instead you offered real, reasonable solutions.  

Thank you for forcing this nation to look at its shame of poverty and income inequality, and for airing the dirty laundry of those who want to keep it that way.

Thank you for being the voice of the poor, the working poor and the middle class—all of whom have, over the past 40 years, been forced several more rungs down the already rickety ladder of success at the hands of the super wealthy and the politicians whom they have purchased. 

Thank you for staying in the race when many talking heads said you should get out. By staying in as long as you did you forced the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton to adopt parts of your platform they shied away from. Universal healthcare, free college tuition, everyone paying their fare share in taxes, and a real living wage are not fantasies. They are a reality in many industrialized countries, and they should be so in the wealthiest nation on earth. They help give everyone a a chance to achieve their dreams.

Thank you for shining a light on the rusted, antiquated two-party system that simply does not give independent thinkers a legitimate shot at state and local races. As President Obama's achievements have shattered the glass ceiling for minority leaders, so too has your campaign for those who think outside the box.

It's deeply saddening that for millions of Americans, this race is not about voting for the best candidate, but voting for the least objectionable. But I am an eternal optimist. The revolution you champion cannot and will not be forced back into a bottle. Our next president will be forced to listen to our demands because they are our needs

America cannot continue on its collision course with inequity, but I know that, no matter who our next president is, you will continue to fight for those who have been unfairly blamed for our country's malaise. 

Like you, I will be supporting Hillary Clinton. Not to do so would be handing a vote to Donald Trump, and I simply will not do that. I am deeply disappointed at how the national Democratic Party handled this primary, but as you are doing, I have to put aside my personal feelings and work to make sure Trump is defeated. 

It was an honor and a pleasure to meet you in person at the Rutgers University rally on Mothers Day. I brought my 16 year old daughter with me because she will be voting in two years, and I wanted her to experience a piece of the political revolution that has started in this country and to hear from someone on its forefront. I want her to know that there really are elected officials who follow words with deeds; that there really are some who are fighting for us.

Even though your campaign is over, I know that you will continue to fight for the majority of Americans as you have done throughout your entire career.

I wish you good health, happiness and some much-needed rest. And I look forward to your continued efforts on behalf of all Americans.



Tuesday, June 21, 2016

7 Things Wrong with Gov. Christie's School Funding Proposal

There's an old joke that goes like this: 
Q: How do you know when a politician is lying? 
A: When their lips are moving.

I guess now that Christie's poll numbers are in the tank, his ego is pushing him to appear relevant. So what does he do when his back is against the wall? Attack public education of course. 

In true Christie style, he gave a speech yesterday that even Pinocchio would cringe at, ripping into the state's school funding formula—one of the most progressive in the nation—and vowing to change it to flat funding.

There are so many things wrong with it that it's hard to know where to begin. But let's start with this: Gov. Christie used the word 'unfair' seven times in his speech. So here are seven things that are unfair not only with his proposals, but with how he has treated public education over the past 6 years:

1. Gov. Christie has cut almost $7 billion in education funding statewide, and given away just about that much in corporate tax breaks, yet he has the nerve to claim that urban education is 'failing'.

2. Under Gov. Christie, urban charter schools have bled their host public school districts of hundreds of millions of dollars, which has forced massive layoffs and cuts to programs and vital services. 

3. Under Gov. Christie, segregation has skyrocketed in urban school districts as charters habitually skim the best and brightest (and least expensive to educate) students, and toss those most in need of additional resources back to cash-starved public schools. 

4. Under Gov. Christie's new funding formula urban districts would be drastically underfunded, thus devastating the very schools and students he claims to want to help most.

5. Under Gov. Christie, aid to those most in need in this state has been slashed. Funding for women's health centers, housing assistance for low income and chronically ill citizens, food stamps, and earned income tax credits have all been red-lined. He even fought the raise in the state minimum wage. These cuts directly affect parents in our large, urban centers, many of whom were already struggling to make ends meet before he became governor. And when their children do not have a good head start in life (like the majority in our wealthier, whiter suburbs), they have greater learning hurdles to overcome.

6. He simply will not, as he claims, "make sure that we have the aid for special needs students so that they may reach their potential too." Why? Because he is going to slash funding to our poorest, neediest districts where there generally tends to be a larger population of special needs children. He has not once kept his word to public school districts. Why should we believe him now?

7. This plan simply will not reduce property taxes. The year after Gov. Christie imposed the 2% tax cap, property taxes across the state skyrocketed an average of 20%. I don't know about you, but my property taxes have only gone up since then. But if by chance property taxes do decrease, it will be a massive tax break for wealthy, white, suburban NJ, and a massive tax hike for poor, brown and black urban areas. 

So, what will work? 

  • Fair school funding, not equal funding. The two are very different.
  • Full funding of our public schools as required by the law
  • A moratorium on the expansion of segregationist charter schools
  • Access to quality, affordable prenatal health care for every expectant mother in NJ
  • Access to quality, affordable health care for every man, woman and child in this state
  • Access to fresh, quality food in our urban centers
  • Safe urban neighborhoods with true community schools as their anchors
  • A living wage—not a minimum wage—so that parents don't have to work two or three jobs to make ends meet
  • An end to unfunded mandates
This is just a start. There is much more that can and should be done, but unless and until profits are removed from the public education equation, things will never change.

Before I go...

Hat tip to my bloggy buddies, Jersey Jazzman and Dr. Bruce Baker for always having facts and figures at the ready...



... and Darcie Cimarusti (aka Mother Crusader) for reminding us what 'fair' really means:



 

Monday, June 20, 2016

IMMEDIATE Action Needed to Reduce Gun Violence!

"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil but by those who watch them without doing anything." 

~ Albert Einstein. 


Since the massacre in Orlando just 8 days ago there have been 9 more mass shootings in the US, most of which have not been reported by the mainstream media. Since the beginning of this year, 6,239 people have been killed, and almost 13,000 have been injured—over 1500 of them were children and teenagers. And it's only June. But thanks to the Gun Violence Archive, this information is now readily available and regularly updated.

Next to public education, ending gun violence is a cause that is near and dear to my heart, partly because far too often, gun violence happens in schools.

The only way we as a nation can stop the bloodshed is to demand our legislators take action. On this issue we all should be shouting from the rooftops and marching in the streets.


This morning I received this email from Carol Stiller of the Mercer Co. (NJ) chapter of the Million Moms March/Brady Campaign to Reduce Gun Violence. I urge every person reading this to take action today by making calls and forwarding this to your contacts. Please do not delay. This vote is happening TODAY at 5:30 pm.

If you cannot make calls, there is a quick and easy way to contact these Senators through your cell phone. I highlighted it in yellow. 

There are also two rallies in NJ today: one with Senators Booker and Menendez at 11:30 in Newark; the other with Reps. Pallone and Watson-Coleman at 2:00 in Trenton. Details are below. I plan to be at the Trenton rally.

Please take action today. Please help stop the bloodshed. Please help reduce gun violence. Please make your voice heard.

...

As most of you already know, the U.S. Senate will be holding a vote today, MONDAY, JUNE 20, at 5:30 P.M. on closing the Terror Gap that allows suspected terrorists to buy guns, and on Universal Background Checks. WE ALL need to make calls to the offices of those Senators who we feel could make the difference in a win or loss.

Here are 20 targets for calls. Some are Republicans, some are Democrats. We cannot take these votes for granted, one way or the other. We REALLY NEED ALL of these to get to 60 votes and win! It will only take a couple minutes for each call. These kinds of opportunities don’t come often — WE MUST ACT NOW. Their phone numbers are listed below… 

HOWEVER,
if you have a cell phone, the EASIEST and QUICKEST way to contact every one is to text DISARM HATE to 877-877 and you will be automatically connected to one of the targets. WHEN you call again, you will be connected to a different one, and so on. PLEASE MAKE THESE CALLS. We must hold them accountable!

Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) - 202-224-2854

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) - 202-224-2235

Sen. RIchard Burr (R-NC) - 202-224-3154

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) - 202-224-2043

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) - 202-224-3324

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)  - 202-224-6244

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) - 202-224-3353

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN) - 202-224-4814

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) - 202-224-2523

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) - 202-224-2644

Sen. Robert  Casey (D-PA) - 202-224-6324

Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-PA) - 202-224-4254

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) - 202-224-2023

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) - 202-224-3954

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) - 202-224-4521

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) - 202-224-3643

Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) - 202-224-5623

Sen. Tim Sott (R-SC) - 202-224-6121

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) - 202-224-4944

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) 202-224-5323

Ask them to vote YES on Senator Feinstein's amendment to prevent those on the Terror Watch List from buying firearms and NO on the weak substitute amendment being introduced by NRA-supported Senator Cornyn of Texas. 

Ask them to vote YES on Senator Murphy’s universal background check amendment and NO on the weak substitute amendment being introduced by NRA-supported Senator Grassley of Iowa. 

Tell the staffer that answers:  
“Hi, my name is _____________.  Please tell Senator ______ to vote YES on Senator Feinstein’s Terror Gap Amendment and Senator Murphy’s Background Check Amendment, and NO on the Cornyn/Grassley substitute amendments. Thank you.”

Please leave a message for the Senator if you can’t reach a staffer.

We are so fortunate that both Senators Booker and Menendez will be voting the right way. If you haven’t already, please call to thank them:
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) - 202-224-3224
Sen. Robert Menende (D-NJ) - 202-224-4744

Remember that you can watch LIVE Senate floor proceedings on MONDAY5:30 p.m. (other archived proceedings are also available):  http://www.senate.gov/floor/index.htm 

If you know anyone in the DC area who would like to join a group who will sit in the Senate Gallery during the proceedings, have them contact their senator’s office for tickets.

THEN after you make your calls or while calling on the way, come out to attend a rally and/or press conference — one in NEWARK with Senators Booker and Menendez at 11:30 a.m. and one in TRENTON with Representatives Pallone and Watson Colman at 2:00 p.m.  See the attached media releases for details. We need to keep up the momentum on these important common sense gun violence solutions!

I know this seems like a lot, but so worth the effort.  And if you need some incentive, listen to my Oakland CA MMM friend Lorrain Taylor’s “It’s Time to Take a Stand”. Devastatingly, Lorrain lost her twin 22-year-old sons to gun violence while they were working on a car. 

“…But now its time for us to stand together as one voice…Its time to let the world know that gun violence is not our choice.” 

THANK YOU EVERYONE. Together we CAN make a difference.

Carole

    REMEMBERING JIM and SARAH BRADY!No Background Check - No Gun - No Excuses 
UNIVERSAL Background Checks!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Is @Pearson the new KGB?

Pearson: Rolling over teachers who dare to speak out

It began with discreet data collection. For a while now Pearson has been quietly collecting information about our children, students and schools, and sharing it with third party vendors—many of which are funded with 'reformy' money—for a whole host of reasons. 

Then last year, Bob Braun's blog site was mysteriously shut down for a brief period coincidentally right after he posted this piece about Pearson spying on students who were tweeting about the PARCC test. Valerie Strauss picked up the story in her column at the Washington Post.

But wait, there's more...

Leonie Haimson and the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy have been monitoring student data mining for quite some time. Just two months ago they reported that Lacey Twp parent, Heather Hicks, complained to her local board of ed about a blended learning software used in her son's biology class, the contract for which was later not renewed. 
Heather was surprised to discover later that she was repeatedly criticized by Bruce Friend, the chief operating officer of iNACOL (the International Association of K-12 Online Learning) in a February 10, 2016 workshop he gave at  Pearson’s CITE 2016 conference – in a presentation called “Gaining Stakeholder Buy-in for your Online/Blended Learning Program.”  He later gave the same presentation at the Mid-Atlantic Conference on Personalized Learning, where the session was described this way:
Gaining Stakeholder Buy-in for Blended Learning This session will address the importance of gaining stakeholder support as you seek to build a blended (or online) learning program. Stakeholders include students, parents, teachers, school leaders. We will share effective strategies in gaining the support of these key contacts; discuss barriers to gaining support; and share examples of the consequences when stakeholder support is not achieved.

Heather made this video to tell the real story of what happened. It highlights the lengths to which ed 'reformers' will go to spin their rhetoric, deny the facts and crush the opposition. This is the only way they can keep their house of cards from falling. Obviously what Heather did struck a nerve. Please watch this video before you read the rest of this post.




And then yesterday, Diane Ravitch posted this:
Celia Oyler, professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, posted a biting commentary by an anonymous teacher about the flaws of PARCC. She received a letter from PARCC threatening legal action unless she removed the post because it contained copyrighted material —and divulged the name of the author. 
Oyler left the post on her blog but removed anything that might be copyrighted. She has not given up the name of the author. Many people who posted a link to Oyler’s original post or tweeted it received an email warning that they should remove the link or expect legal action. 
Peter Greene posted about the test, based on Oyler’s blog, and flew under the radar. He didn’t receive a threat from PARCC, and I feel badly for him. 
He wrote, in his inimitable fashion (emphasis mine): 
“You know what kind of test needs this sort of heavy security? A crappy test.” 
As Leonie Haimson said in a tweet, it is crazy to give a test to millions of students and expect that no one would write about it or talk about it. 
There is something worse than disclosure of “secure” test items. There is loss of reputation. And that is what PARCC is putting at risk with its heavy-handed tactics.
This teacher is no Edward Snowden. He/she is not giving up state secrets. There is no imminent threat of invasion or terrorist attack. As Diane said, the only 'threat' here is the loss of a reputation built on... well... CCRAP.

Taxpayers have the right to know how their money is being wasted. Parents and students have the right to know how completely inappropriate this test is. And educators have the right to blow the whistle. 

Although I don't want to see this teacher punished in any way, I do look forward to the day that Pearson does take someone to court, and they have to defend this worthless piece of CCRAP.



Monday, April 25, 2016

.@PearsonPARCC Testing Postpones LGBTQ Event




A couple of weeks ago, friend of mine shared this Facebook post from her son, Derek, a sophomore at Hunterdon Central Regional High School here in NJ:

Hey everyone. I’m Derek Borowsky, a sophomore at Central. This Friday, April 15 is the international Day is Silence, a day in April every year where students come together and take a vow of silence in support of LGBTQ+ teens. If you want more information, check out http://www.dayofsilence.org/. For the past many years, our school has wholeheartedly allowed and supported a club-organized (usually organized by PULSE) participation in the day of silence. I am proud to say we have teachers, administration, staff, and student supporters that help to make this event successful. 
This year, however, the Day of Silence is not allowed. That is because of the PARCC tests, which will be taking place this Friday, April 15 as well. Despite the understanding that participation in the Day of Silence does not exclude students from speaking in class to answer questions, the presence of the PARCC tests are disallowing us from participating in the Day of Silence regardless. 
However, the Day of Silence is a nationally recognized event, and includes participation from other countries as well. I am refusing to bow down to the evils of this test and will stand in solidarity with my peers and allies as we silently combat violence and bullying against LGBTQ+. 
Our school wide Day of Silence will be rescheduled, with the full support of the school, to a day in May, but those of us who want to go beyond the school and unite with the more than ten thousand students that will participate THIS FRIDAY, APRIL 15, are encouraged to. I am making the name tags that say, “Hello, my name is: Silence”. I will gladly distribute them to anyone and everyone and would love a school wide, peaceful and silent protest to take place this Friday, April 15. If you would instead like to simply remain quiet without wearing a name tag, that is awesome as well. 
Thank you for your understanding, support, and participation. This is just one way we can make a legitimate difference in our world. I look forward to seeing us, the students and friends of Hunterdon Central, standing together as one! Have an awesome day!
 
It seems that the PARCC test is magically going to do so much more to prepare him and his peers for life beyond high school than an event that was started 20 years ago and has only grown; an event that raises awareness of the struggles of LGBTQ teens; an event that teaches young adults not just acceptance of LGBTQ people, but acceptance of anyone who is different from them. Forget about 'college and career ready', this is a life skill and a level of consciousness that everyone needs in order to live in a peaceful and supportive society in which everyone has the opportunity to be the best version of themselves. And in my humble opinion, that is way more important than a score on a bogus standardized test. 

According to the Day of Silence website:

The GLSEN Day of Silence is a student-led national event that brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Students from middle school to college take a vow of silence in an effort to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior by illustrating the silencing effect of bullying and harassment on LGBT students and those perceived to be LGBT. 
In 1996, students at the University of Virginia organized the first Day of Silence in response to a class assignment on non-violent protests with over 150 students participating. In 1997, organizers took their effort national and nearly 100 colleges and universities participated. In 2001, GLSEN became the official organizational sponsor for the event.
The Day of Silence has reached students in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, as well as those as far away as New Zealand, Singapore and Russia. More than 10,000 students register their Day of Silence participation with GLSEN every year. And public figures such as Laverne Cox, Jim Parsons, RuPaul, Tyler Oakley, Kirsten Vangsness, Kristin Chenoweth, Billy Bean, Vicky Beeching, Steve Grand, Chely Wright, and many others have publicly supported students participating in the GLSEN Day of Silence.

And what exactly is the PARCC test supposed to do?