Category Archives: Education Advocacy

Read, Dylan, Read!


I’m looking for innovative ways to get my preteen son to read.  A friend of mine has repeatedly declared that we are living in a  “post-literate society” which suggests that we’ve decided collectively to read less. There have been few truer statements.  Our children don’t read.  Their parents don’t read.  And there’s no resolve in sight.

Our media has been transformed. Print has become digital.  Even homes that used to have shelves lined with books are now filled with Bluerays.  Flea markets sell used DVDs for less than a dollar and VHS tapes go out with the weekly trash.  Digital content is easily obtained and as easily discarded.

You’d think that we’d be using fewer resources to create our info-tainment, but somewhere in Asia there is a wasteland of  unrecycled circuit boards.  And for every 100k gigs of digital content, there’s piles of non-paper waste.

The digital content that was supposed to enhance our lives is consumed, digested, and disposed far quicker than any books ever were.   We used to keep our books as trophies of collected wisdom.  A lifetime of first editions in the most affluent of homes are now replaced with a wall of bluerays and video games.  Those velvet paintings are no longer the masterpieces on the living room wall.  The couch is now on the other side of the room facing that big wall with the 52″ flatscreen television.


Vinyl albums, cassette tapes, and HiFi stereos that were once the source of our musical content have been replaced long ago with MP3 players and streaming content channeled through Bluetooth in every room.

And not a book to be found.

As early as preschool, we are replacing paper storybooks with tablets and digital learning games.  Toddlers in grocery store check out lines are tapping out color coded beeps and bops on a parent’s smart phone. I recall playing video games close and loud enough to trigger kicks and punches from my unborn child inside my wife’s womb.  Fascinating once. Now normal. Digital all the way!


So it really is no surprise that our young people don’t read.  Reading has gone the way of cursive writing.  Penmanship is no longer taught in many schools.  Spelling tests are a things of the past.  And fantastic tales of fictional characters have been replaced with the mandatory informational texts.  The boards of education insist that all these new standards will bolster standardized test scores.   

We are not reading to our kids. We are not reading!

Books in the pediatrician’s waiting room go untouched as juveniles grasp their parents’ (or their own) mobile devices.  Elementary school students more accustomed to sliding their fingers across a glossy screen have little knowledge of the world of paper books.

Local libraries that once offered their internet access as a viable alternative to print or media content can’t keep their doors from closing.   Their discounted books that used to sell for a couple dollars can’t be sold for cents on the dollar.   

Bookstores close–to be replaced with coffee houses with free wifi.  We read, but our content is filled with vibrant and animated images.  No match for a book.

Every aspect of our world is changing.  The way we interact with each other has evolved with social media, YouTube, and Skype.  Even with on-demand cable, the internet side of Netflix and Hulu stream unlimited content. Our smartphones parallel our televisions.  And again, no need for a book.

Owners manuals are digitized.  Maps are now navigation systems, and calculators can be replaced with scanners, apps, and Siri.

The generations to come won’t need to think as hard as their parents.  And yet they’ll rely on their parents to care for them much longer.  Colleges prepare their students for diminishing careers; student loans will likely not be repaid; and graduates will be more skilled in Xbox games, Instagram posts, and waiting skills at the suburban Appleby’s.


Our impatient young readers will develop a temperament to have the world cater to them.  I’m not as concerned with my son Dylan’s unwillingness to read as much as his reduced  desire to develop his mind in the years to come.

Read, Dylan Read!

Truth In Our History Books

While sitting on a “race matters” panel at a local town meeting, the panelist were asked by a member of the community: what can WE do to change the curriculum? As a parent (and a non-educator) her voice resounded the frustration of so many of us. There is a resistance to “rewrite” our American history. But the TRUTH has not be told in its entirety.     
Aside from the racist tendencies to omit the truth from our most recently published textbooks, we urge our school board members across the nation to mandate a change in the way we teach social studies. During this election season, we encourage voters to demand that board candidates take this matter seriously! And we pray that the district curriculum writers be mindful of our united responsibility to our children.
  

Changing the way we perceive social studies instruction: https://medium.com/@Ocelot74/truth-in-our-history-books-264ab90d1eb6 

UnCommon Core

What if… 
The deliberate degradation of the education system was a ploy to tear away the American fabric, to diminish democracy, and to establish a hierarchy of political control.
What if… 
Those who are implementing this strategy already recognize that to withhold education is equivalent to destroying opportunities. 
Without opportunities, our nation will be further impoverished! Without opportunities our children will seek alternative means to establish themselves and grow. Without opportunities, we will resort to violence!
This type of manipulation is incongruous to the constitution under which our current form of government is established. In itself it is tyrannous and will inevitably spawn a revolution of epic proportions.   

-m. Morton

Michael Morton is your Delegate to the 2015 National Education Association Representative Assembly

Hello to all of my friends, colleagues, and fellow educators.

As you may be aware, you have selected me for the sixth time to attend the National Education Association Representative Assembly.  The first time that I attended, the venue was in Washington D.C. back in 2008.  As you may recall,  I was selected to attend after I was RIFed from my teaching position in Millville for the second time.   When I was hired as an 8th Grade Civics & Inclusion Teacher in Bridgeton the following September, I’d been awakened professionally and politically.  I was ready to take on new endeavors.  Since then, I have attended the NEA RA in Chicago (2011) and the NEA RA in Washington D.C. again (2012).  Two years ago, I was fortunately enough to attend the NEA RA in Atlanta (2013). And last year I was your delegate to the Denver NEA RA. With each opportunity, I advocate for you and our colleagues.

Besides representing the professional issues that we as educators face, I’ve been networking with educators across the nation.  I’ve developed a sufficient knowledge of the issues that our fellow educators are dealing with in various regions.  I’ve also become proficient at conveying our needs and concerns through social media.  I’ll be tweeting live from Orlando this year. Connected to many of you through Facebook and Twitter already, I’d like to take my interactions with you to another level. Hashtagging is where it’s at this year.  It has proven very effective in rallying educators and confronting our legislators in Trenton with the impending pension crisis.

elmo

A little humor helps sometimes…

Each time that I am asked to represent New Jersey, Cumberland County, Millville, or Bridgeton at the Representative Assembly I am required to make a mandatory $180 political action committee (PAC) contribution.  I am encouraged, of course, to raise more.  This year, I was challenged to raise $200 or more.  The PAC gives the organization lobbying power which is necessary to ensure our voices are heard.

NEA_fund

In years past, I’ve asked you to help me raise these funds.  Not this year! Although I still have to meet my $200 goal, many of you have offered without the request.  Thank you!  A generous offer from Rossi Honda of Vineland will allow me to defray some of my cost too.

hondaNea ra

This year I ask for your prayers.  My colleague Larry Blake and I will be driving the entire trip to Orlando.  Rather than flying, driving will offer us time for fellowship as we transcend the east coast.  We will be meeting plenty of interesting folks along the way, and we will be sharing our concerns as we look for answers.   It’s a long trip!  But we’ve been called to make it.  Prayers for a swift and safe journey is all that we ask.  Can you help us?

Committeeman Morton           Blake

I will be posting to Twitter (@ocelot74) and Facebook (New Jersey Teachers Unite) every step of the way to Orlando.  I’ll be using #neara15 and#RossiHonda2NEAra to keep you informed.  As we arrive in the “Happiest City on Earth” we’d like your support and most importantly your prayers…as we remain focused on the fundamentals of quality education.

Thanks for your support,

Mike Morton

Delegate,

NEA Representative Assembly 2015

P.S.   If you haven’t already checked out our “teacher idea exchanges” pages, click on the links below:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/260709270637998/

https://twitter.com/Ocelot74/status/613483274665484288