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January 24, 2013

A Chance for the Senate to Fix the Filibuster - NYTimes.com

By Susan Lee Schwartz

"For six years, Democrats in the Senate have chafed at an unprecedented abuse of the filibuster by Republicans, who have used the practice to hold up nominees high and low and require a supermajority for virtually every bill. But now that they finally have an opportunity to end much of this delay and abuse, Democrats are instead considering only a few half-measures.When the Senate returns on Tuesday, it will still technically be in the first legi ...

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"For six years, Democrats in the Senate have chafed at an unprecedented abuse of the filibuster by Republicans, who have used the practice to hold up nominees high and low and require a supermajority for virtually every bill. But now that they finally have an opportunity to end much of this delay and abuse, Democrats are instead considering only a few half-measures.When the Senate returns on Tuesday, it will still technically be in the first legislative day of the session, which means only a simple majority is necessary to change the rules for the rest of the session.With the support of 51 senators, the rules could be changed to require a "talking filibuster," forcing those objecting to a bill to stand and explain their reasons, at length. The current practice of routinely requiring a 60-vote majority for a bill through a silent objection would end, breaking the logjam..."

Submitters Website: www.speakingasateacher.com

Submitters Bio:

I began teaching in 1963,; Ba and BS in Education -Brooklyn College. I have the equivalent of 2 additional Master's, mainly in Literacy Studies and Graphic Design. I was the only seventh grade teacher of English from 1990 -1999 at East Side Middle School, which opened in 1990. My students placed amongst the highest reading and (eventually, when the ELA tests were instituted) writing scores in NYC. This attracted Harvard, looking for teachers who could be matched to "The Eight Principles of Learning", the thesis by Harvard's Lauren Resnick, that powered the Standards project, funded by Pew.

In 1998, based on the assessment of my teacher-practice by the Learning & Research Development Center, at the University of Pittsburgh, which studied my teacher-practice after I was chosen to participate in THE Standards project , I was awarded the NYSEC (New York State English Council)) "Educator of Excellence of Award," a much coveted and PRESTIGIOUS award. I have been included five times, in "Who's Who Among American Educators". Now that I am "googleable" as former students tell me, I get scores of letters from former students describing the enormous impact that I had on their life.

Currently I am a freelance travel writer and photographer, but I also write widely, about real education reform in order to change the national conversation to where it needs to be -- ABOUT LEARNING, and what makes genuine learning possible, or impossible, rather on the bogus subject of poor teachers and teacher standards. Learning how to learn--critical thinking--not rote memorization-- is the object of the PRACTICE OF PEDAGORY for which teacher who wish to PRACTICE THIS PROFESSION get a degree and a license.
I write because people with loud voices and personal agendas have destroyed the practice of pedagogy, and silenced the voice of the only ones who can set the record straight, the grunt on the line -- the teacher-practitioner--a genuine professional trained to know exactly what is needed to facilitate learning in each particular classroom.
I speak as a teacher and write because:

* those who have the national stage, are pushing tests, and pointing to bad teaching, as the reasons schools fail, but that is pointing in the wrong direction and thus a genuine solution and real reform eludes the people of this country..

* the national conversation has been usurped by businessmen and pundits with no understanding of the emergent learner, or the actual classroom practices that enable creative and critical thought. (Everyone who went to school believes they know what is needed "to teach".)

* What is REALLY NECESSARY for children to LEARN in school, is pre-school literacy, parent involvement in shaping attitudes and monitoring home activities, and classrooms where the teacher-practitioner sets the agenda based on curriculum objectives and the knowledge of pedagogy, rather than AN AGENDA SET BY some administrator who never taught, and who promotes the scripts and tests that enrich privateers who thrive on failing schools.

I speak as a teacher and write because:
* corrupt administrators, use a process that targets senior teacher-practitioners, despite exceptional dedication and huge success in their career, for harassment and egregious, criminal deprivation of due process.

* there is a hidden and scandalous deprivation of due process -- allowed and empowered by unions which do not fulfill their obligation and contract for immediate investigation and fair, promt, grievance procedures, thus permitting a "waiting game" which prevents due process.

* the national assumption expressed in the media is that the unions protect teachers BUT the truth is the unions have looked away from the breaking of tenure, and THUS, as they are the legal arm that protects teachers, teachers have lost their civil rights, and have no genuine access to the courts.
I speak as a teacher and write because:

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