Archive | November, 2013

Inspiring Common Core Speech by Jennifer Kolesar

26 Nov

photo (2)


This is a speech which was omitted from the Common Core Forum in Binghamton NY on November 25 2013. I think it warrants attention.

Common Core is said to be about “Critical thinking” but I can’t help but wonder where the “critical thinking” was during its creation, acceptance and implementation.

Was it critical thinking when it was decided that Bill Gates and associates would buy out education, including Scholastic Books, Pearson and even the National PTA?

How about when corporate edu-CRATS with little to no teaching experience, instead of REAL educators, were commissioned to develop the Common Core standards? What about when the creation did not involve any child psychologists or early childhood educators and disregarded the work of Piaget, the most respected expert in child psychology?

Was it critical thinking when the Standards remained unchanged and UNTESTED, despite being rejected by validation committee members, Dr. James Milgram (Math) and Dr. Sandra Stotsky (ELA) who said these standards would NOT prepare students for a 4 year college and would leave them with an empty skill set?

How about when FERPA, the Federal student privacy law, was GUTTED without Congressional approval to allow the Orwellian data mining of students, teachers and parents and sharing of that sensitive data with FOR PROFIT third party vendors in hackable data clouds? NY is the WORST state in the US at protecting student privacy. 1984 wasn’t meant to be a handbook!

Was it critical thinking when the state adopted unconstitutional, one-size-fits-all COPYRIGHTED standards that cannot be changed, before they were created? I guess the money was too enticing to say no and now our children and teachers are being used as guinea pigs.

How about when the Core standards were implemented so quickly without realizing that the PARENTS and others who ARE critical thinkers would be examining this under a microscope and dissecting it for what it really is-a corrupt, corporate, crony capitalist, one size-fits-all, cookie cutter, race to the middle that removes all creativity from the classroom. Common Core is the Monsanto of education and it must be stopped immediately.

Parents must stand together and fight this for the well being of our children. REFUSE the state tests that are CLOAKED IN SECRECY and fight the UNFUNDED MANDATES that WILL RAISE TAXES! Go to school board meetings and speak out, and contact your legislators. Tell them we want Common Core OUT of NY state!

Mr. King, if you do not eliminate Common Core in NY state, you will be creating the largest generation of home schoolers that this state has ever seen. It is NOT too late to be on the right side of history with us, because we WILL eventually win this! The choice is yours.”


Interview with Beth Ryder, an attendee at the Common Core Curriculum Public Forum on 11/25/13

26 Nov

The following interview was granted to me by an attendee at Monday night’s meeting. This is how one mom, Beth Ryder of Conklin, NY, saw the meeting, the actions of the attendees and the responses from the panel members.

1. What was the overall feeling at the meeting? (anger, frustration, etc)

The overall feeling was anger. The majority of the people seemed to be teachers…and they were ON FIRE. They brought signs and held them up throughout the majority of the forum.

2. Did you get a chance to ask your question or use your two minutes?

I did get a chance to speak for my 2 minutes. I actually went over…(my friend) said it was closer to 3 min.

3. What was the commissioner’s response to your statements?

The coomissioner didn’t have any response to my comments directly. Speakers went in groups of 15, then the commissioner addressed those concerns for 10 min in between each group. He didn’t have time to address each speaker’s comments directly, he just touched on the huge important points.

4. What was the overall response from the panel or commissioner to others?

The commissioner and Jim Tallon from the Board of Regents were very open and seemed eager to address the issues and help people to understand better. Regent Chancellor Merryl Tish had a sour look on her face and refused to speak. The only time she spoke was to grab the microphone during the commissioner’s speech and interrupt to yell at people for being rude.

5. Did the atmosphere change as the meeting progressed?

The atmosphere did not change as the forum progressed. It remained stable…with a constant air of frustration and mistrust in whatever the panel members had to say.

6. Did people leave with the answers they wanted?

Most people DID NOT leave with answers to their questions. Many asked very direct questions and wanted answers, such as one from a Mom, “I would like to know what will happen if I choose to opt my kids out of the state testing?” This wa never directly answered. Another Dad had a series of about 6 very direct questions…none were answered.

7. How did the meeting end? Did it end on a high note or were people more confused/frustrated than when they walked in?

The meeting ended very rudely, in my opinion. People stood up, started to put on coats and scarves and talked loudly, all during the commissioner’s last words. He may have been attempting to answer some of the questions asked, but rude people wouldn’t allow that and they wanted to send a very strong message of “WE DON’T CARE WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY” The commissioner reacted to the rudeness by saying “well, I guess we’re done”

There were protesters yelling and holding up signs in the back of the room. A Binghamton teacher yelled at the commissioner while he speaking and called him a bold faced liar as he walked up the aisle and left…

The teachers were very angry and the parents were sad and frustrated at the amount of homework coming home, the decreased family time and inability to help kids with homework at home

Thank you Beth for your assessment of the meeting. It seems to me that parents and teachers are letting their anger out while the commissioner is skirting the issue. While other states are bowing to their voters and moving away from the Common Core, our state legislature is holding strong while failing miserably to appease their voters. It’s no wonder some people are calling for Dr. King to leave his position.

Interview with Renee Wendt

20 Nov

I had the good fortune to sit down with Renee Wendt, part of the local paranormal team S.P.E.C.T.E.R.S. After working on the iamhorror‘s House on Ghost Hill movie set, I’ve been deeply interested in the supernatural! Renee and I spent some time talking about the supernatural and what it’s like to be part of Binghamton’s best paranormal investigation team! The acronym stands for Study of Paranormal Events Confirmed Through Evidence, Research & Science, and Renee is the leading case manager.

Ghostly figure of a woman in a bustle at Bolsover Castle

1. How would you summarize your role in S.P.E.C.T.E.R.S.? I am the case manager, myself and group founder Alonnie Milligan handles what cases we investigate. There is a lot of behind the scenes work involved. There is interviewing the client and doing baseline readings of the site as well as researching the history and geological make-up of the property. Also there is paperwork… Lots of it! We believe that documentation and record keeping are very important.

2. What got you interested in the paranormal? I have always been interested. I have had several experiences of my own. I have some sensitive empath abilities so I am drawn to it.

3. How did you get into the field? I happened to stop in to a new shop in the area, turned out to be Alonnie’s shop The Water’s Edge Marketplace. In the course of speaking she had mentioned forming a group to discuss paranormal experiences in our area. I attended the first meet up and never left! We have gradually evolved into an investigative group.

4. Do you prefer the term “paranormal investigator” or “ghost hunter?”  Paranormal investigator definitely. Ghost hunter is ok but it is not all we do.

5. Why? The name of our group says it all S.P.E.C.T.E.R.S. • Study of Paranormal Events Confirmed Through Evidence, Research & Science. We choose to approach an investigation with the intent of explaining what is going on if we can. We also offer help with clearing a site if the client needs it.

6. Are you given any information on the location before approaching it? That depends. While knowing the type of things going on is helpful to most of our investigators, we have a couple talented mediums that prefer to go with as little info as possible. This helps to bring validation to anything they pick up that is correct. For most of the rest of us we need to know things in order to make sure we know where the hot spots are and know what we might expect experience wise. Also we like to know the history of the area and geologic make up of the site.

7. Have you ever investigated a house and simply found…nothing? We are still a fledgling investigative team. So far we have been lucky. I do think we will eventually run into the problem eventually!

8. What happens – what do you tell the client? When this happens we will simply tell them we did not get any evidence to share with them. Just because we did not find anything does not mean there is nothing. Ghosts, like kids do not perform on demand!

9. If you could only take one piece of ghost hunting equipment on an investigation, what would it be and why? I would say a digital voice recorder. We use them to try and catch EVP’s. Electronic voice phenomena. Basically it will pick up any voices we are unable to detect with our ears. We ask questions in hopes of a response. We have had several and they always are spine tingling!

10. Where is the most haunted location you have ever investigated? A private residence in Endicott. The client experiences were all over the map and all of our own investigators had their own experiences. We had phantom smells, footsteps, knocking, apparitions, and even a possession of one of the residents!

the brown lady

11. Where is the one place that you haven’t investigated that you would most like to? Locally I would love to get into the Roberson Museum or an abandon hospital. I have had personal experiences at the museum so I would love to get evidence to back that up.

12. Whose ghost would you most like to have a conversation with and why? Marilyn Monroe. I would love to find out how she really died. Also the Black Dahlia (Elizabeth Short) for the same reason.

13. Have you ever gotten scared during an investigation or have you ever been concerned about your safety because of paranormal activity? I think everyone gets scared! Sometimes you get startled. I am not really afraid of what is happening. We are lucky in that our gifted members have taught us how to shield ourselves from negative energies. The biggest concern on an investigation is being mindful of your surroundings. Sometimes you are in an environment that is hazardous. Tripping and falling is a real possibility. We always work in teams – never alone.

14. Who do you admire and respect in the field of paranormal studies and why? I love the show Ghost Hunters. I think they have really brought the field into the public eye and have opened a few doors. People are much more accepting and open to what we do now. Locally we are lucky to have contact with Horror Punk Paranormal group and BPIRS. Each of them has been very helpful with exchanging ideas and techniques.

15. What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is interested in ghost hunting, or who feels they may be sensitive to spirits? Look for people who share your interests. It is nice to be able to share your interest and experiences with likeminded people. If they feel they may have the ability to see or feel spirits I would encourage them to keep a journal. Writing things down keeps them fresh. Seek out family or friends who believe you and possibly someone like Alonnie who can help you understand the gift.

16. If you have the opportunity to stick around after you die, would you and who would you haunt? I would prefer to not stick around. However if I do I would love to haunt my son. I would love to still be a part of his life.

Carrot Cookies

18 Nov

Inspired by the Lemon Crinkle Cookies, I decided to try the same thing with carrot cake. I gathered all the ingredients:


Carrot cake mix, defrosted Cool Whip and one beaten egg.

I mixed it all together into a bowl. I skipped the powdered sugar because it was late and I had already worked since 7 am.


I dropped the batter onto the ungreased pan and baked the cookies in a 350 degree oven for 12 minutes. I tried 8 then 10 minutes, but the second batch wouldn’t set, so I pushed the time up to 12 minutes.

The first and third batches came out pretty well:


They’re also quite yummy. With only three ingredients, I highly recommend this one! It takes no time at all to make!

Lemon Crinkle Cookies

18 Nov

This is another Facebook recipe. The image looks like this:


The recipe follows:

Low Fat Crinkle Cookies


1 box lemon cake mix (any kind)
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 cups Cool Whip, thawed (8 ounce container)
½ to 1 cup powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350.
In a large bowl, combine cake mix, egg, and Cool Whip. The batter will be sticky!

Form dough into tablespoonfuls and roll in powdered sugar.
Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the edges are golden. Allow to cool 1 minute on baking sheet; then remove.

I tried this recipe with mixed results. I gathered all the ingredients:


I mixed it all up with help from my little friend:


After I realized how sticky the batter was, I got really lazy and treated them like drop cookies. I dropped them onto wax paper and sprinkled the sugar over them. They came out like this:


They’re not that good looking. I followed the directions closer for the next batch, using spoons to roll the cookies in the powdered sugar. I was hoping they would stay round and look like the original picture. I was disappointed when they flattened out like any other drop cookie:


They also lost a good amount of the powdered sugar. This second batch was covered all the way around with the sugar when it went into the oven; it came out with sparse amounts of sugar.

The cookies were very yummy and lemon-y. I highly recommend these cookies if you want a lemon flavored cookie. If you’re hoping for appearance, however, then I don’t recommend these at all. They don’t come out anything like the picture.


Opt Out Letter for New York State Tests

13 Nov

I thought it was a fad, but it turns out you can opt out of having your kids take the New York State tests that place them *incorrectly* into certain classes. Here’s the sample letter you will need to send to the school (thanks to Shelly Stevens for the letter)

HERE’S YOUR OPT OUR LETTER, You’ll need one for each kid!

Dear Board of Education, Superintendent, Principals, and Teachers of __________

We are writing today to formally inform the _________ district of our decision to refuse to allow our child _____________ to participate in any local assessments tied to APPR for the 2013-2014 school year. My child will be scored as a “refusal”, with a final score of “999” and a standard achieved code of 96, on all State testing including ELA, Math and Science as described in the NYS Student Information Repository System (SIRS) Manual on page 63.

Our refusal should in no way reflect on the teachers, administration, or school board. This was not an easy decision for us, but we feel that we have no other choice. We simply see these tests as harmful, expensive, unfair, and a waste of time and valuable resources.

This year we will show effort to eliminate unnecessary and harmful assessments in our public schools. Our child will not participate in any assessments other than those solely for the use of the individual classroom teacher.

We refuse to allow any data to be used for purposes other than the individual teacher’s own formative or cumulative assessment. Any assessment whose data is used to determine school ranking, teacher effectiveness, state or federal longitudinal studies or any other purpose other than for the individual classroom teacher’s own use to improve his or her instruction will not be presented to our child.

To be clear, our children will not participate in the following:

➢ Any so-called “benchmark” exams whether they are teacher-designed or not, since these exams are imposed by entities other than the individual teacher.
➢ Pre–assessments connected to “Student Learning Objectives”.
➢ Any progress-monitoring or RTI assessments such as AIMSweb, MAP, or STAR
➢ Any exam used to formulate an evaluation or score for our children’s teachers or their school.

We believe in and trust our highly qualified and dedicated teachers and administrators. We believe in the high quality of teaching and learning that occurs at Alfred-Almond Central School. We hope our efforts will be understood in the context in which they are intended: to support the quality of instruction promoted by the school, and to advocate for what is best for all children. Our school will not suffer when these tests are finally gone, they will flourish as they have in the years previous. Alfred Almond should have a unified policy in place to address children who are refusing these assessments.

We do apologize in advance for the inconvenience this decision may cause the administration, the school, and staff.


Protests and Meetings

11 Nov

Here are the upcoming protests for Common Core and their details:

National Don’t Send Your Child To School Day Official Facebook Page – Event Held November 18 2013

Open Forum in Vestal, New York:


More info from one of the Facebook pages I follow:

Send Your Emails and Texts

Common Core Forum WSKG November 25th

Interview After the Forum Meeting on November 25th

Common Core Speech Not Delivered at the Forum on November 25th

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