Article Overview:   What is a Citizen of Educational Vigilance?   How can you battle the Beast of Ignorance from infecting your children, your society?   And, in New York City, what can we all do to help protect the 15,000 third graders currently under attack from the Beast of Educational Terror?


Tuesday, March 16, 2004—Ground Zero Plus 916
15,000 NYC Third Graders Under Attack From Beast Of Educational Terror

Cliff McKenzie

     GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--Mar. 16, 2004 -- The battle for democracy in war-torn Iraq isn't much different than the battle in New York City for its counterpart.

Education Policy panel members voted third graders must pass certain tests before elevation to the fourth grade

      Last night, amidst a shouting audience of parents and teachers who opposed the draconian tactics of firing members of the city's Panel for Education Policy and replacing them at the last minute with new appointees who were instructed to vote for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's plan to impose strict promotion requirements for third graders.
       This latest political battle over who controls the educational destiny of more than one million children in New York City Schools put third graders in the crossfire.
        There are 74,000 third graders in the Big Apple.   Prior to the vote last night, the majority of third graders who weren't doing well in their studies were elevated to the next grade under what is termed "social promotion" policy.      

Mayor Bloomberg took control of the school systems last year

       In an attempt to strengthen educational policy, the mayor gained control of the school systems last year.   Under his control, he has effected more demanding policies, one that includes a requirement that third graders must pass standardized English and math tests before being elevated to the fourth grade.   If they don't, they can attend summer school and retake the test, plus their teachers can appeal for them.
         An estimated 15,000 third graders, one out of five, are expected to be held back based on the standardized tests.   Most of the children, according to the New York Times, will be Hispanic and African American.
       In the 21st Century, a form of Terrorism exists when a third grader faces FAILURE to advance with his or her class.
      There is also a more insidious form of Terrorism, the Terrorism of Complacency, to advance a student who has failed to master the basics of English and math, and who may be highly likely to be sucked into a system that promotes the child from grade to grade out of Complacency rather than insuring the child's knowledge.
        The problem isn't the children.   They are the victims.     

The education problem rests with their parents or guardians and not with the kids themselves

      The problem is the parents.   The guardians.  The grandparents.  The loved ones.
       Communication is vital to any child's sense of self worth.  Suffer the children fear of opening their mouths because they feel inept or inadequate to communicate stuff Fear, Intimidation and Complacency inside their heart and soul.
         And who is responsible?
        The duty of a Parent of Vigilance is ultimately not just to his or her own children, but to the Children's Children's Children.   Society as a whole also has an equal duty to help all children, especially the most innocent, the youngest, to combat Terrorism in all its many facets.   Nothing is more Terrorizing to a child than to feel "alienated" by education, to feel "stupid" or "ignorant" or "less than" or "disenfranchised" from the mainstream.
        Anyone who has ever been "left out" of something as a child--not invited to a party, not selected to play on the team, not picked by the teacher, teased because of some disability or handicap--knows the power of the peer to brutalize the self image.
         Holding children back in the third grade has pluses and minuses.   On the one hand, it sends a signal to the Parents of Vigilance that they must account for their children's education--they must help manage the child and not let the child slip through the cracks.
          On the other hand, it smacks the child with a public brand that the child is "not equal to" his or her peers.   It diminishes a child's self-image.
           In New York City's case, 15,000 kids will fall into this arena if the worst case expectations are met.    One out of five children will be labeled "not ready for advancement."
           What will happen?

Who will guide these 15,000 children out of the land mines of ignorance?

         The reality is we are all being told the children of New York City are about to walk into a field filled with land mines.   Twenty percent of them will be stranded.   Who will guide them out?
            In reading the information about the plan to hold back children, I didn't read about a task force designed to help the children.   The news made it sound as though the kids not advanced would be assimilated into the existing classes of third graders.
           Upon whose shoulders does the responsibility for these kids fall?    I feel an obligation to them.    Why shouldn't all citizens be called upon to assist?    The problem with education is usually the support and interest a child receives to "want to learn."  If one urges and encourages knowledge, usually it comes.

Does the responsibility of educating our children rest with the school board or with the parents and caretakers?

           Children are thirsty.  They are sponges.   All they need is encouragement, and people showing interest in them.
           Parents of Ready & Math Vigilance can support them.   These people can be anyone with a sincere interest in helping out.   There are groups within each community that would welcome such help, and, while the school systems themselves may want such help, they may be handicapped to receive it due to strict requirements for "teachers."

Mentoring programs provide avenues of support

        Mentoring programs, however, exist.  These provide avenues of support for Parents, Grandparents and Loved Ones of Educational Vigilance.
             It requires only that we are able to see the Beast of Educational Terror lurking around the children, waiting to take giant bites out of their self worth, eager to rob them of their self-esteem and turn them into slaves of Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.
            More importantly, it requires us all to see that the future of any single child impacts the future of all children as the generations grow.   The stronger all links are today, the stronger will the future be for all.
             But most importantly, the issue isn't really the Third Grade.    The issue is what happened up to that point?    What happened in the First Grade and Second Grade that led to failing the Third Grade?

Vigilant Parents educate their children

             If we are true Parents of Vigilance, we are willing to step back along the path of the child to the source of its lack of knowledge.    It is at this point that we all must do our best to shift the weight toward more knowledge, more wisdom, more guidance.
            Vigilance is always about finding the lairs of the Beast of Terror and exposing them.   If the Beast has no place to hide, no place to duck and disappear, then the odds are that the children will be safe from it's wrath.
             The 15,000 children of New York City may be the future of our Nation of Vigilance.   We all have a chance to do something for them.
             The first thing we can do is become Citizens of Educational Vigilance.

Mar 15--How To Duck And Weave And Hide From Terrorism

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