Posted in Charters, reform

A Tough Month for Charters

Charters are in the news this month, and not in a good way. Eva Moskowitz, the queen of New York City’s Success Academies, was featured in a PBS News Hour Report by John Merrow. The video report, embedded below, discusses Moskowitz’s charter schools and their tendency to freely use student suspensions as a means to discipline students.

Once the report was aired, Moskowitz immediately demanded an apology – apparently for telling the truth about her schools – and in the process, inappropriately revealed confidential information about a student for which a Cease and Desist letter has been sent. PBS then issued a clarification, agreeing that it should have given Moskowitz a chance to respond, but essentially standing by its report as accurate.

In addition to the PBS/Moskowitz flap, the Center for Media and Democracy issued a report titled Charter School Black Hole: Special Investigation Reveals Huge Gaps in Public Info on Taxpayer Money Spent.

The report outlines charter school issues in eleven states and the District of Columbia (including Indiana). The problems range from taxpayer money given to charter startups which never materialized, to poor accountability about where taxpayer money was spent. Unlike true public schools, many states have lax accountability laws for charter schools.

JOHN MERROW vs. EVA MOSKOWITZ

“In the end, how charter schools conduct their business is basically their own business.”

Eva Moskowit​z Demands an apology for the video, above

[Note: No link is provided for the following quote. The letter includes information about a child highlighted in the video and is the subject of a Cease and Desist letter (see below) which requests that the letter and personal information about the child be removed from public access on the internet. The quote, is, however, part of the letter which Moskowitz sent to PBS demanding an apology.]

Mr. Merrow is entitled to his own opinion about whether or not young children should be suspended, but he is not entitled to his own facts about why Success suspends students. Indeed, if he truly believes young children shouldn’t be suspended, he should argue that position in the context of the reality that some young children do engage in dangerous behavior rather than bolster his argument by pretending otherwise. It is that real world in which Success functions. We have a responsibility to ensure that all of our students are safe and learn, and we do this in part by having standards of conduct. Thus, while our educators made great efforts to meet John’s needs, they had responsibilities to the other students in their care whose safety and educational needs also had to be considered.

Peter Greene, author of the Curmudgucation blog, covered the story in (so far) three posts. With his usual wit and insight, Greene draws attention to the fact that Moskowitz is intent on protecting herself and her school rather than her students. This is, of course, what happens when someone with no education credentials, like Eva Moskowitz, thinks they know everything there is to know about schools and teaching; Profit takes precedence over children.

Eva Moskowitz Has Big Brass Balls

Moskowitz has created an unsustainable model that burns through teachers quickly, depends on infusions of donated cash and the co-opting of public resources, defines success as “good test scores,” and serves only about half of the students who enroll, who are in turn a small percentage of city students.

But sure– demand “a correction and an apology” because somebody didn’t follow the Eva Moskowitz PR script. Because while listing the many ways in which Success Academy is nothing like a public school, be sure to include “no transparency.” A true public school takes its lumps because how it operates, how it treats its students, how it achieves its success, or even defines its success– all of that must remain open to the taxpayers who pay the bills.

Eva Gets Spanked

Specifically, she defended herself by breaching the confidentiality of a young student’s records at the school. I’m not a lawyer (nor do I play one on TV), but it sure looks like a FERPA violation to me when you release everything down to excerpts from the teacher narrative about disciplinary incidents for a student who is readily and easily identified.

Well, apparently the child’s mother thinks so, too. Yesterday, Moskowitz was slapped with a cease and desist letter.

Eva and Charter Priorities

Moskowitz publicized the private disciplinary records of a child because the child’s mother was making the school look bad. If I were a parent looking at Success Academy, I would have to ask myself– what information would the school collect about me and my child, and under what circumstances would Moskowitz violate my confidentiality to use the information (and would she go so far as to claim it was her constitutional right to do so). If I enroll my child in Success Academy, do I then have to hold my breath and hope it is never in her best interest to breach my confidentiality? Does the application give me a place to sign where I agree that if I ever cross her, I can expect her to come down on me with whatever information she has collected about my child during that child’s time in the school?

Moskowitz didn’t just fight bad PR by throwing a child under the bus. She showed just how little she understands about what it means to be a public school, just how hollow are her claims of running Success Academy “for the children.” [emphasis added]

PBS NewsHour Clarification

PBS admits that it should have given Moskowitz an opportunity to respond to its report, however it doesn’t back down from the facts presented.

The fundamental point of Mr. Merrow’s report is about the policy of suspensions of young children. It accurately documents that Success Academy suspends students as young as five- and six-year olds at a greater rate than many other schools, which Ms. Moskowitz does not dispute. Mr. Merrow’s report also explains that Success Academy Charter Schools are achieving superior academic results and are popular among New York area families. While the NewsHour regrets the decision to include that particular mother and child without providing Ms. Moskowitz with an opportunity to respond, the NewsHour stands by the report.

Cease and Desist letter sent today to Eva Moskowitz of Success Charters

This disclosure of my son’s disciplinary records without my consent is not only unethical, but also a serious violation of federal law. I hereby demand that you immediately cease and desist from causing further harm to my son’s privacy rights by removing the letter from your website, and ending all unauthorized disclosures. I also demand that you produce an accurate record of all third parties to whom you specifically disclosed my son’s non-directory information without my consent.

Leonie Haimson, the Executive Director of Class Size Matters, reveals myths about charter schools. One of the myths is that charter schools provide a higher quality of education. Some charters, however, achieve higher test scores through methods which don’t include better education or higher levels of learning. Moskowitz uses suspensions as one method of relieving her charter franchises of low achieving students.

Six Charter School Myths; my testimony before the City Council today

4. Charter schools get higher test scores because of the superior quality of education they provide.

Whether or not they achieve superior results, and there is much dispute about this, it may be due to charters’ increased funding, the socio-economic and demographic background of their students, and/or their much higher suspension and attrition rates. Probably all these factors contribute. Of course, the more a school pushes out struggling students, the higher their test scores will likely be.

For example, according to the latest available figures, Success Academy loses half of their students by 6th grade, with an annual student suspension rate of 22 percent, compared to suspension rate of 6 percent at PS 149.[17] The average suspension rate in all the Success Academy schools was 14%, about twice as high as district public schools. See below chart from the NY Daily News:

CHARTER PROFITS vs. TAX DOLLARS

This month the Center for Media and Democracy issued a report titled Charter School Black Hole: Special Investigation Reveals Huge Gaps in Public Info on Taxpayer Money Spent. The report discusses charter growth in several states and the District of Columbia and focuses on the “flexibility” many states award charters when it comes to accountability for tax dollars. It also highlights differences between charters and true public schools – fiscal accountability, open enrollment, and stability.

• The Indiana Cyber Charter School opened in 2012 with a $420,000 CSP implementation grant. Dogged by financial scandals and terrible student results the charter was revoked and it closed in 2015, leaving 1,100 students in the lurch.

• Via Charter School was awarded a $193,000 planning grant, but never opened.

Indiana charter schools are heavily segregated: “7.2 percent of IPS’ Black students attend a school that’s 90 percent or more Black. But over a quarter, 27.8 percent of Black charter school students attend a severely segregated charter school.”

Charters in Indiana are also largely exempt from local democratic control, by school boards. And, they test no better—and often much worse—than traditional schools.

The Institute for Quality Education, a part of Hoosiers for Quality Education, supports the privatization of public education (read more about the groups at More on the money behind the Indiana school-voucher law). Here, a spokesperson claims that the money wasted on charter schools was well spent.

Study: Charter funds wasted

“We are grateful for federal programs like CSP that help so many Indiana charter schools flourish and serve an increasing number of students,” said Erin Sweitzer, spokeswoman for the Institute for Quality Education said. “CSP works to foster charter school startup and innovation, and to see that 90 percent of their Indiana-directed funds went to schools that opened and stayed open is a tremendous success.”

She added that it is always difficult to see a school close because of poor academic performance, but it is the right thing to do and is evidence that the charter accountability system is working.

Swietzer’s standard for the success of a charter school appears to be that it “stayed open.” However, using the metric which education “reformers” love – school grades based on standardized test scores – the success of charter schools in Indiana is questionable.

So where is the money going? Does anyone know…?

Charter Schools Investigation Finds Millions in Tax Dollars Wasted; Inside Influence with Policy Makers

What is even more troubling is how little is known about how charters are spending federal and state tax dollars, even as governments continue to increase funding for them while slashing funds for traditional public schools. Unlike truly public schools, which have to account for prospective and past spending in public budgets provided to democratically elected school boards, charter spending is largely a black hole.

Charter schools aren’t required to accept every child who applies. Charter schools don’t have adequate public oversight. Charter schools aren’t required to have a full staff of qualified educators. Public funding should go to true public schools with open enrollments, a full staff of licensed educators, full accountability to a publicly elected school boards, and the stability that neighborhood schools offer.

~~~

The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

~~~
Stop the Testing Insanity!
~~~
A Manifesto for a Revolution in Public Education
Click here to sign the petition.

For over a decade…“reformers” have proclaimed that the solution to the purported crisis in education lies in more high stakes testing, more surveillance, more number crunching, more school closings, more charter schools, and more cutbacks in school resources and academic and extra-curricular opportunities for students, particularly students of color. As our public schools become skeletons of what they once were, they are forced to spend their last dollars on the data systems, test guides, and tests meant to help implement the “reforms” but that do little more than line the coffers of corporations, like Pearson, Inc. and Microsoft, Inc.

~~~
~~~

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Posted in Article Medleys, kindergarten, reading, reform, Teaching Career, WhyTeachersQuit

2015 Medley #34

Why Teachers Quit, Kindergarten,
Caregiving, Bill Gates

WHY TEACHERS QUIT

Two Indiana legislators, State Senator Dennis Kruse and Representative Bob Behning, chairs of their respective legislative body’s education committee, have led the “reform” of public education in Indiana. Behning is a florist turned charter school consultant. Kruse graduated college in 1970 with a degree in education and then went into his family’s auction business. They jointly called for an investigation into the state’s (and by extension, the nation’s) teacher shortage.

The most logical response to their questioning the reasons for the teacher shortage would be for them to look in a mirror. However, now that the investigation is in full swing, it seems that their plan is to deny that there is a teacher shortage. In a marathon committee session earlier this month, “experts” debated whether the data actually showed a teacher shortage at all, while parents and teachers waited almost nine hours to have a chance to speak.

A nearly nine-hour study committee hearing on the teacher shortage issue was stacked to allow so-called expert testimony at the start, leaving parents, school board members and teachers to wait hours to address the handful of committee members left in the nearly empty House Chamber.

Behning and Kruse should listen to teachers. Fewer young people are entering teacher preparation programs and more and more teachers are leaving the field. Here are some voices clearly stating why. The letters are not from Indiana, but the reasons are the same: misguided, inappropriate, and damaging “reform.”

Special ed teacher quits: ‘I just cannot justify making students cry anymore’

Teachers in our local school system are told not to tell parents that there’s too much testing or that the state and federal governments are requiring inappropriate and often academically damaging practices. Teachers no longer have the freedom to share their expertise with parents. Instead school systems protect themselves from the damage coming from the state and federal governments by pretending it doesn’t exist and not talking about it.

I consider it baffling that telling parents the truth about the harm being done to their children in the public education system is considered an ethical violation of my teaching license, but making their children cry and hate school is not. This affects students and teachers even more so in my field of specialization, Exceptional Student Education (ESE), with our most vulnerable students. Today, I resigned from my school district.

“Today I resigned from the school board.” From Teacher Wendy Bradshaw PhD

Developmentally appropriate practice is the bedrock upon which early childhood education best practices are based, and has decades of empirical support behind it. However, the new reforms not only disregard this research, they are actively forcing teachers to engage in practices which are not only ineffective but actively harmful to child development and the learning process.

‘I don’t want to work in a business, I want to work in a school’: Teacher quits classroom to fight for change

Only someone with no understanding of public education would insist that schools follow a “business” model. Competition, creating winners and losers, doesn’t work in education. There should be no losers in public education. Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer, an Indiana parent and Chairperson of Indiana Coalition for Public Eeducation-Monroe County. spoke at a rally for State Superintendent Glenda Ritz in Indianapolis in February of 2015. She understood that having winners and losers in public education is wrong.

That’s what public education is for: to nurture the citizens of our democracy. These are not businesses, these are schools. Our children should not be in a competition for a quality education because no six year-old should be on the losing end for equal educational opportunity. [emphasis in original]

Business which fail are closed. Their owners move on to other businesses or declare bankruptcy and try something different. Public schools, however, are a public trust and ought to be cared for and improved instead of closed. Race to the Top encourages states to close struggling schools and open more and more charters. Charter operators, meanwhile, are all in favor of closing schools so they can try their hand “in the business.” However, when their schools fail, and close, children’s lives and education is disrupted. “Churn” may be good for business, but it’s not good for children and education.

“I was rushing my beautiful, beautiful kindergarten students through their assessment tasks at the end of the year,” Mrs Stroud said.

“I was not giving them the attention that they deserved. I was trying to jump through hoops that the system has put forward.”

The 38-year-old teacher describes it as a lightning-bolt moment with cold sweat and racing heart.

“I realised I wasn’t serving the needs of my students. I was serving the needs of politicians and bureaucrats, and I then found myself in bed for two weeks,” Mrs Stroud said.

“Education today is run on a business model. Schools aren’t business. I don’t want to work in a business. I want to work in a school.”

The One Reason I Quit Teaching

Children are more than just data points…

The solitary reason that I chose to leave teaching has to do with the politicized environment of education. People may wonder what politics have to do with teaching, and the answer is everything. When policies are made, the impacts come into our lives and change them drastically. Over the past few years, there has been widespread “educational reform.” These reforms have increased the importance of spreadsheets, columns of data, evaluations by inexperienced observers, and the accounting of data in every teacher’s life. The focus has gone away from people; students, parents, teachers, staff, volunteers, and onto data. The most important elements of teaching cannot be quantified onto a spreadsheet and put into a power point. When data is given importance above all else, time and resources are directed as such.

…Helping a child, all children, should be the overriding goal of education. Sadly, that is not what is happening right now. Teachers like me and many others are leaving the profession. I’m not a unique teacher or a special teacher. Every school I have taught in has been filled with teachers taking extra efforts to advocate and support their students. We cannot endorse something we don’t agree with by participating in it. Teachers shouldn’t be leaving the profession because they care too much about children. [emphasis added]

Why Alabama Teacher of the Year is quitting

While some states lower qualifications for teachers (Indiana, for example) other states tell experienced teachers that they’re no longer qualified. The Alabama Teacher of the Year has a K-3 license and is National Board Certified as a “Middle Childhood Generalist, certified nationally to teach ages 7 through 12.” The latter is, according to the Alabama Department of Education, not good enough for her to teach 5th grade.

Ann Marie Corgill, Alabama’s 2014-2015 Teacher of the Year — and a finalist for 2015 Teacher of the Year — is quitting. Why?

According to AL.com, the state Department of Education told her she didn’t have the qualifications to teach the fifth grade. The department said it didn’t ask her to resign. Her resignation letter (see below) said in part:

“After 21 years of teaching in grades 1-6, I have no answers as to why this is a problem now, so instead of paying more fees, taking more tests and proving once again that I am qualified to teach, I am resigning.”

DISRESPECTING TEACHERS, CONTINUED

Controversy on critique of the “specialists.”

I often agree with SPJ, the writer of the @the chalkface blog, when he writes against the privatization of public education. When he posted his article titled Teachers, Beware of the “Specialists,” however, I strongly disagreed. I told him so in several comments…and blogged about it in my last Medley (See the section, Disrespecting Teachers, Part 2).

After receiving quite a few comments letting him know that he had unfairly criticized an entire classification of teachers (while he was, apparently, talking about some specific teachers in his school/system), he doubled down.

There needs to be accountability for educators who refuse to work with children and instead hunker down in offices, spending hours and hours and hours tacking sticky notes to a data wall.

Again he received comments from me and others telling him that he was not necessarily wrong about the specific teachers in his school about whom he was complaining, but he was painting with a broad stroke and insulting thousands of hard working professionals across the country. One response, by a reader named Gwynne, was especially good.

You of course may give criticism, but you yourself noted that it is critique that leads to dialogue. Criticism, especially global criticism with no support other than “Because I say it is so” is likely to lead to some people suggesting that you might be incomplete, if not outright incorrect, in your observations (as occurred, enough so, that you felt a need to address it again in this blog post).

The discussion has ended…yet a lot of resentment could have been saved had he responded to the first few comments with, “Yes, I was generalizing and should have been more specific about who I was talking about. I apologize to ‘specialists’ who don’t fit the description I gave.”

TEACHING READING IN KINDERGARTEN

Should Reading Be Taught in Kindergarten?

Kindergarten has become the new first grade. Is that appropriate? Should we begin formal reading teaching at age 5? With formal teaching comes standardized tests for young children – most of which are less than worthless (Yes, I’m looking at you, DIBELS) – and scripted lessons. Talk about your developmentally inappropriate standards and content.

One of the first things I learned when I was working on my early childhood certification was “Play is children’s work.” We have, I think, forgotten that…

On the other hand, it is part of the work of children in kindergarten and, therefore, part of the responsibility of kindergarten teachers to make sure that every child is ready to become a successful reader. Most of this work can be accomplished through structured play. Here is the literacy knowledge that rising first graders should take with them from kindergarten.

  • A rich oral language both spoken and receptive
  • A love of books
  • An awareness that books can entertain and inform
  • A working knowledge of the alphabet
  • Concepts about print like how to hold a book, how to turn pages and that print carries the meaning
  • The ability to hear and generate rhymes
  • The ability to hear and segment sounds in words (phonemic awareness)
  • The ability to match sounds to letters (phonics)
  • A store of about 25 sight words (the, it, and, I, me)
  • The ability to retell a story that has been read aloud

These literacy abilities can be acquired through the following instructional designs:

  • Structured play activities where students interact orally and in writing
  • Daily read alouds
  • Shared reading
  • Interactive or shared writing
  • Direct teacher instruction (kept brief and focused)
  • Word and language games and activities
  • Targeted small group instruction
  • One-on-one instruction as needed
  • Independent reading
  • Independent writing

THE DEVALUATION OF CAREGIVING

Nurses, fathers, teachers, mothers. Why do we devalue someone the minute they care for others?

Caregiving is not valued in terms of pay and it’s not valued in terms of respect. As examples think of jobs like child care workers and nursery school teachers, nurses, and primary school teachers: lower pay…lower social status.

Author Anne-Marie Slaughter thinks it is time to change that…

I now try very hard when I meet somebody to not say immediately, “What do you do?” That’s such a classic American thing. I try to ask a question that will let me see the whole person. “Have you read a good book lately?” or “What did you do last weekend?” I ask something that says we are more than our work.

How many women were journalists, prosecutors, doctors, then took time out for care and dropped off the screen because all anybody wants to know is what they do? And when they say something like, “I’m caring for my parents,” that doesn’t seem to count.

So it’s really changed how I approach other people. When I meet somebody who is caring for someone else, I think to myself, “That’s fabulous. Let me find out more about this person.” And also, when I meet a teacher or a nurse or a therapist or a coach, I immediately think, “This person is doing the most important work in our society.”

GET RID OF GATES

15 Years of Bill Gates’s Meddling

The Network for Public Education has asked everyone to share their newsletter report on Bill Gates.

Do your part to fight back. Share this newsletter and ​feature report far and wide. Make sure the public understands that the existence of democratically-controlled public schools are at risk. [emphasis original]

It’s worth your time to read. Bill and Melinda Gates ought to get out of the business of promoting the privatization and digitalization of education in the U.S.

…more interesting than [Gates’s] speech, however, was the couples’ conversation with Gwen Ifill, which you can watch here.

From that interview, three things are clear.

  • Bill and Melinda do not understand teaching and learning, yet they comfortably assume an air of expertise.
  • They view victory as the implementation of their reforms, and while they claim to be all about the metrics, they only select examples that suit their purpose.
  • The first couple of reform neither appreciate nor respect the role democracy plays in the governance of public schools.
    ~~~

    The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

    ~~~
    Stop the Testing Insanity!
    ~~~
    A Manifesto for a Revolution in Public Education
    Click here to sign the petition.

    For over a decade…“reformers” have proclaimed that the solution to the purported crisis in education lies in more high stakes testing, more surveillance, more number crunching, more school closings, more charter schools, and more cutbacks in school resources and academic and extra-curricular opportunities for students, particularly students of color. As our public schools become skeletons of what they once were, they are forced to spend their last dollars on the data systems, test guides, and tests meant to help implement the “reforms” but that do little more than line the coffers of corporations, like Pearson, Inc. and Microsoft, Inc.

    ~~~
    ~~~

    ~~~
    Posted in Obama, Race to the Top, Testing

    Obama Administration “New” Testing Plan

    The Obama administration has issued “new” guidelines for standardized tests and the President himself has come out against “too much” testing and in favor of making sure that we’re not “obsessing about testing.” President Obama spoke about good teaching, good education, and said that he didn’t like hearing from parents who said that there was too much testing and from teachers who said that too much testing took the joy out of learning. This is similar to what he said several years ago. Here is a report from 2011.

    “Too often what we have been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools,” the president told students and parents at a town hall hosted by the Univision Spanish-language television network at Bell Multicultural High School in Washington, D.C. Obama, who is pushing a rewrite of the nation’s education law that would ease some of its rigid measurement tools, said policymakers should find a test that “everybody agrees makes sense” and administer it in less pressure-packed atmospheres, potentially every few years instead of annually. At the same time, Obama said, schools should be judged on criteria other than student test performance, including attendance rate. “One thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching the test because then you’re not learning about the world, you’re not learning about different cultures, you’re not learning about science, you’re not learning about math,” the president said. “All you’re learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test and that’s not going to make education interesting.” “And young people do well in stuff that they’re interested in,” Obama said. “They’re not going to do as well if it’s boring.”

    At this point your irony meter ought to be hitting maximum…since “using tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools,” is exactly what the President’s education program, Race to the Top, is all about. “Failing schools” are defined by test scores…and Race to the Top encourages states to punish “failing schools” by closing them and replacing them with charter schools. Furthermore, Race to the Top also encourages states to evaluate teachers by test scores, something which is both unreliable and invalid.

    The new administration testing plan doesn’t really change anything. The impetus for the change was a report from the Council of the Great City Schools which said that there was too much testing. The report called for less than the (average of) 2.3% of student class time spent on testing. In our local school district that’s 180 days X 6 hours a day X 2.3% = about 25 hours of testing a year. That length of time doesn’t include class time for test prep. It doesn’t include time talking to students about testing or teaching young students how to take a standardized test. It doesn’t include the time wasted by school corporation and school personnel sorting, organizing and labeling the tests. It doesn’t include class time used traveling to the computer lab for testing or rearranging classroom furniture so that students would be unable to see each others’ test booklets.

    The administration’s new testing guidelines call for no more than 2% of student class time spent on testing. Using the formula above, we have 180 days X 6 hours a day X 2% = about 22 hours of testing a year.

    So, the administration is calling for a maximum of about 22 hours a year testing instead of a maximum of about 25 hours a year testing. And there’s still all the extra time for test prep, testing talk, and wasted school personnel time. Big deal.

    Where did Obama administration’s 2 percent cap on standardized testing come from? You won’t believe it. (Or maybe you will.) – by Valerie Strauss

    …The 2 percent is not much less than the 2.3 percent that a new two-year study on standardized testing says kids now spend on these mandated exams…

    …It turns out, according to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, it came from New York State. That’s where standardized testing administration and Common Core State Standards implementation have been so mishandled in recent years that 20 percent of students opted out of the tests this past spring, and the governor, Andrew Cuomo, turned on John King, the commissioner of education who resigned late last year and this year turned up as No. 2 to Duncan. Now, King is the designated successor to Duncan when he leaves his post at the end of this year.

    At a gathering at the National Press Club on Monday, a reporter asked where the 2 percent limit came from. Duncan said to ask King because New York had passed a 2 percent standardized testing cap. The New York State legislature last year passed a series of changes involving public education, including on test-taking (1 percent for local standardized tests and 1 percent for state-mandated standardized tests) and test prep (2 percent, though not for charter schools, just traditional public schools)…

    So we have President Obama’s new Faux Secretary of Education to thank for the 2% number. But standardized testing, as it’s practiced in the U.S. in 2015, doesn’t help teachers, doesn’t help students, and doesn’t help parents; In fact, it seems “reformers” are only interested in testing for two reasons. 1) to “prove” that schools and teachers are “failures” and 2) to force the closure of “failing” schools so privatization – and profit – can continue.

    Department of Education SorryNotSorry About High Stakes Testing by Steven Singer

    Can the administration prove any positive value for standardized testing? I’m not asking them to trot out the tired party line about equity. I mean can they prove that testing actually helps children learn in any appreciable way? If the answer is no (and Spoiler Alert: it is!) then we shouldn’t be wasting any more time with it. Not 2%. Not 1%. ZERO PERCENT!

    …You can only lie to our faces for so long. Despite your best attempts to trash public education in the name of saving it, we’re not so dumb as to believe any more of your evasions, deceit and dishonesty.

    In fact, the “new” guidelines are much like the old guidelines when it comes to using standardized tests in inappropriate ways. They will still be given to every student every year. They still have high stakes consequences for schools, teachers, and students. They will be misused, additionally, to label teacher preparation programs. They will still be used to grade and label schools, humiliate students, and evaluate and blame teachers.

    Fact Sheet: Testing Action Plan by USED

    Rulemaking on teacher preparation programs: Last December, the Department of Education released a notice of proposed rulemaking to improve the quality of teacher preparation programs by asking states to perform more rigorous evaluations of the quality of these programs based on more useful measures. In the proposed rule, the Department had suggested moving to a system that would measure the quality of a program by looking at certain discrete categories, including: success in placing teachers within a reasonable period of time after graduation, especially in high-need schools, surveys of teachers about the quality of their preparation, retention rates, employer surveys, and teachers’ impact on student learning. The proposal required that states place a significant weight on growth in student learning, including growth on statewide standardized tests in evaluating these programs. In the coming weeks, we will release a final rule that maintains a focus on student learning, but provides states flexibility on how to weigh the results of statewide standardized tests and measures of student learning more broadly in any teacher preparation accountability system that it develops. As in other areas, we believe that student learning as measured by assessment results should be a part, not the sole determinant, of determining the quality of a particular program. [emphasis added]

    Curmudgucation gives us his excellent insight…

    Obama’s Testing Action Plan Sucks (And Changes Nothing) by Peter Greene

    …there is a difference between “I hear you, and we are going to find a way to fix this” and “I hear you, and we are going to find a way to shut you up.”

    The fact that the administration noticed, again, that there’s an issue here is nice. But all they’re doing is laying down a barrage of protective PR cover. This is, once again, worse than nothing because it not only doesn’t really address the problem, but it encourages everyone to throw a victory party, put down their angry signs, and go home. Don’t go to the party, and don’t put down your signs.

    …and the Network for Public Education…

    Network for Public Education Fund Response to Obama Administration Statement on Testing by Carol Burris

    …Anthony Cody, who serves as the vice-chairperson and treasurer of NPE, responded to the announcement by saying, “Limiting testing to 2% is a symbolic gesture that will have little impact so long as these tests are used for high stakes purposes.”

    While the Department of Education remains wed to annual high-stakes tests, it is time for states and districts to call their bluff regarding flexibility. The research coming forward is clear. The overuse of standardized testing is educational malpractice. States should drop the destructive pseudoscience of VAM, empower educators to create their own meaningful assessments of learning, and get off the testing juggernaut.”

    ~~~

    The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

    ~~~
    Stop the Testing Insanity!
    ~~~
    A Manifesto for a Revolution in Public Education
    Click here to sign the petition.

    For over a decade…“reformers” have proclaimed that the solution to the purported crisis in education lies in more high stakes testing, more surveillance, more number crunching, more school closings, more charter schools, and more cutbacks in school resources and academic and extra-curricular opportunities for students, particularly students of color. As our public schools become skeletons of what they once were, they are forced to spend their last dollars on the data systems, test guides, and tests meant to help implement the “reforms” but that do little more than line the coffers of corporations, like Pearson, Inc. and Microsoft, Inc.

    ~~~
    ~~~

    ~~~
    Posted in Article Medleys, Charters, Chicago, Michigan, Politics, poverty, Public Ed, reform, retention, Teaching Career

    2015 Medley #33

    Punishing Children, Poverty, 
    Disrespecting Teachers, Diversity in Teaching,
    A Courageous Principal, Charters, “Reforms,” Politics, Resources

    Today’s medley is especially long, but, in my opinion, is worth working through. First, and most important to me, is the article about the Michigan House passing a “punish third graders” bill which would retain students in third grade if they can’t read well enough. I also include several articles which speak to the continued disrespect of American teachers, including one from a usual supporter of public education. I include the usual articles about poverty and “reform,” and a shout out to a courageous principal. Finally, I’ve included an outstanding resource for supporters of public education.

    MICHIGAN JOINS PUNISH THIRD GRADERS CLUB

    Yet another state has made it their business to punish third graders, 8 and 9 year olds, because the adults in the state have failed. Both Democrats and Republicans in the Michigan House have joined together to pass a bill requiring children to be retained in third grade if they can’t read.

    One legislator, showing his complete lack of understanding of the problem, railed against “social promotion” which he apparently believes is the only alternative to retention in grade. Decades of research has shown retention in grade to be ineffective as a means to improve achievement and to increase the likelihood of students dropping out.

    The legislation also has a provision to punish teachers for working with high-risk or low achieving students by evaluating them based on student test scores.

    The damage done by legislators making education policy continues.

    (See also For You Michigan!—You Are WRONG about Retention!)

    House OKs bill to hold back struggling third graders

    The Michigan House today approved a controversial bill that would require students to repeat the third-grade if they’re not proficient readers.

    …Meanwhile, the educator evaluation bill passed with no debate. The bill limits the number of consecutive years a student is assigned to an ineffective teacher, requires that 40% of a teacher’s evaluation be based on student test score data and gives schools the ability to choose how they’re going to evaluate staff.

    …The current law says 50% of a teacher’s evaluation must be based on student growth data — data showing how much improvement a student made while with the teacher. State test scores are a key part of that data.

    But that changes under the bill approved today. Beginning this school year, 25% of the evaluation must be based on test data. That rises to 40% beginning with the 2018-19 school year.

    POVERTY

    Peter Greene provides a link to information about students living in poverty. He discusses and provides a link to a map showing the increase in child poverty rates yearly beginning in 2006.

    Student Poverty on the Map

    …consider that the increase [in poverty] is not because more children are being born into poor families, but more families are learning what it means to be poor. Think about how much of that struggle our students are bringing into our classrooms.

    DISRESPECTING TEACHERS, PART 1

    Is there some research that shows that removing office furniture from classrooms increases student achievement? Donna Connelly, a Bronx principal apparently believes there is. She has ordered teachers to remove their desks and filing cabinets from their classrooms. No need to keep supplies in your desk, no need to keep files on students or teaching helps. Teachers shouldn’t sit.

    Would any other professionals ever get treated like this? What an ass!

    Principal forbid teachers to sit — so she threw out their desks

    A Bronx principal ordered her teachers to give up their desks last week, and had the furniture dumped at the curb — telling staff she doesn’t want them sitting in class.

    Donna Connelly, principal of PS 24, the Spuyten Duyvil School in Riverdale, also told teachers to empty their filing cabinets, which she then discarded.With class in session, teachers were told to push their desks and cabinets into the hallway. Custodians then hauled them outside and piled them like trash on the blacktop of a school across the street…

    …“Figure it out,” she snapped when staffers asked where to store their supplies, a source said.

    DISRESPECTING TEACHERS, PART 2

    Herein I am told that the decades I spent as a reading specialist and Reading Recovery teacher were years I spent harming my colleagues. The implication is that my job – which included diagnostically testing students, helping them to improve their reading skills through instruction, working as my building’s co-test coordinator, assisting the principal with professional development, spending an hour a day at bus duty, lunch duty, and recess duty, and working with teachers to improve instruction – had only a vague, poorly defined, purpose. There is also the suggestion that my evaluations were faked…since I didn’t have “as much accountability” as other teachers…and if true, that was somehow my fault. The mountains of paperwork I had with Reading Recovery, the scoring and analysis of diagnostic tests, and the daily preparation needed to work with dozens of students a day seems to this author to have been just what I did to “look busy.” My real goal, according to him, was to “look busy” and increase my influence over the principal.

    The generalizations in this piece are offensive – as generalizations often are. It seems that “specialists” are highly trained teachers educational parasites who suck up to the principal…and the principal is someone who is there only to make life more difficult for teachers.

    Yes…I knew there were teachers who felt this way when I was working. I’m extremely disappointed, however, because this article is by someone who supports public education and who I hitherto respected. I would have expected less generalization about “specialists” and more specifics about how we can improve the teaching profession and get rid of bad teachers no matter what their role.

    Typical “reformist” divide and conquer attitude…

    Teachers, beware of the “specialists.”

    Enter your “specialists.” Unlike classroom teachers, their job duties are more vague, ill-defined. Their time is not micro-managed. In that role, I’ve seen them become experts at looking busy, but accomplishing very little. What is crucial to their work, however, is the proximity in which they are able to work with the principal, thereby participating in decision-making that should be better left to classroom teachers. Contrary to classroom teachers, their jobs don’t require as much accountability, yet the decisions they make with the principal’s ear can impact the accountability to which classroom teachers are held.

    Inasmuch as teaching is different than, say, office work, a school is still a workplace. And just like any other office, there are certain individuals who jockey for positions and favors, trying at all times to make their jobs seem more important, relevant, more interesting, and busier than they actually are, while at the same time increasing the demands on classroom teachers.

    Beware the specialists.

    DISRESPECTING TEACHERS, PART 3

    Read this to see the lack of logic behind treating teachers differently than other professionals.

    Imagine…

    Imagine that these parallel organizations were given prime locations in existing facilities (built and paid for with public monies), displacing the professionals that had served your community for many years.

    ONION SATIRE SOUNDS REAL

    Sometimes satire comes too close to reality.

    Department Of Education Hires Art Teacher To Spread Evenly Across All U.S. Public Schools

    …officials from the Department of Education announced Tuesday they had hired 26-year-old art teacher Kelsey Alexander to be spread evenly across all U.S. public schools. “Ms. Alexander is a well-qualified teacher, and we have the utmost confidence that she will provide quality art instruction to our nation’s students as she rotates through each of the 98,000 public schools in this country,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan…

    …As of press time, Alexander had spent an estimated $3.2 million out of pocket on the art supplies needed for her lessons.

    TEACHERS OF COLOR

    It’s not a fact that only teachers of color can be effective with students of color, however, this article makes some very important points about how black and Latino teachers leave teaching at an even greater rate than white teachers…

    Why Teachers of Color Quit: Low pay and high stress drive black and Latino teachers to leave the profession at higher rates than their white peers.

    Though 40 percent of students in the American public education system are black and Latino, only 13 percent of teachers nationwide are. In Teach for America specifically, 90 percent of the students corps members teach are black and Latino, while 39 percent of corps members are teachers of color. While this lack of proportional diversity exists in several professions, when your job focuses on leading a mostly black and Latino student population to succeed academically and socially in a predominantly white society, race matters so much more.

    CPS PRINCIPAL SPEAKS OUT

    Some principals have the courage to stand up to “reformers.”

    Troy Laraviere: My Statement on CPS’ “Warning Resolution”

    Parents submitted forms directing us not to give the test to their students. CPS responded by telling principals that we must defy parents and sit the student down in front of a test—that only when the student refused it, could we allow him or her not to take it.

    I know of no other field in which the professionals are ordered to disregard parents’ choices and force children to refuse to participate in what their parents have already refused to allow them to participate in. If a parent tells a doctor that she does not want her child to take a particular prescription, the doctor is not ordered to disregard the parent and put the medicine in the child’s hand and make the child refuse it himself.

    CHARTERS

    Leonie Haimson, the Executive Director of Class Size Matters, and a member of the Network for Public Education Executive Board, tries to teach “reformers” about charter schools.

    Six Charter School Myths; my testimony before the City Council today

    Testimony before the NYC Council Education Committee
    Leonie Haimson, Executive Director, Class Size Matters

    4. Charter schools get higher test scores because of the superior quality of education they provide.

    Whether or not they achieve superior results, and there is much dispute about this, it may be due to charters’ increased funding, the socio-economic and demographic background of their students, and/or their much higher suspension and attrition rates. Probably all these factors contribute. Of course, the more a school pushes out struggling students, the higher their test scores will likely be. 

    “REFORMS” FAIL

    John Thompson expresses hope that the era of “education reform” might be coming to an end. If it ceases to be profitable maybe they will leave education to the professionals…

    John Thompson: A Sad, Sad Year for Corporate Reformers

    John Thompson, historian and teacher, explains why corporate reformers are in a bad mood. Nothing seems to be working out as planned. The word is getting out that Néw Orleans was not a miracle. Worse, black communities are angry at the white elites who took control of their schools.

    PUBLIC SCHOOLS ARE NOT A DEBATE ISSUE

    We know where Republicans stand on public education: destroy it, privatize it, bust the unions, and bring an end to professional educators.

    Democrats in general, however, have been friends of public education, at least until President Obama appointed Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education and doubled down on the George W Bush administration’s test and punish philosophy. And, just like in the 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns, very little of substance with regards to K-12 education policy is being discussed by any Democratic presidential hopeful.

    They offer vague assurances that they support universal pre-school, affordable college, and some even claim to want to get rid of “too much testing,” but Barack Obama wanted us to stop “teaching to the test,” too and look where that got us.

    Near Silence on Education at First Democratic Debate

    I wonder if CNN would have felt more pressure to ask even a single token education question if the largest national teachers unions hadn’t already endorsed Clinton. Both the American Federation of Teachers representing 1.5 million members and the National Education Association representing 3 million members have backed Clinton.

    Well, leadership has. Member outreach, polling, even voting by the organizations largest representative boards has been almost entirely absent.

    But now that teachers have been pigeonholed in Clinton’s camp, what’s the point of asking education questions? In the public eye educators have already chosen their candidate. Why would they need to hear Clinton’s thoughts on education policy? Why hear her opponents thoughts? Their minds are made up.

    RESOURCES

    Nancy Bailey’s Education Website

    Nancy Bailey is a retired special education teacher, an author, and a voice for public education. Her website contains her blog, which is well worth following. I’ve linked to her latest blog post in my comments above about retention in grade 3.

    She also maintains a valuable resource – a listing of blogs and groups which support public education. It’s definitely worth checking out.

    [Full disclosure: My blog (the WordPress mirror version) is included under the Activism tab – Anti-Corporatization of Public Schools, and my group, the Northeast Indiana Friends of Public Education (NEIFPE), is included under the Activism tab – State Action Groups – Indiana]

    ~~~

    The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

    ~~~
    Stop the Testing Insanity!
    ~~~
    A Manifesto for a Revolution in Public Education
    Click here to sign the petition.

    For over a decade…“reformers” have proclaimed that the solution to the purported crisis in education lies in more high stakes testing, more surveillance, more number crunching, more school closings, more charter schools, and more cutbacks in school resources and academic and extra-curricular opportunities for students, particularly students of color. As our public schools become skeletons of what they once were, they are forced to spend their last dollars on the data systems, test guides, and tests meant to help implement the “reforms” but that do little more than line the coffers of corporations, like Pearson, Inc. and Microsoft, Inc.

    ~~~
    ~~~

    ~~~
    Posted in Election, EskelsenGarcia, HClinton, NEA, O'Malley, Obama, Sanders

    I Get a Response From NEA

    CANDIDATE INTERVIEWS

    Earlier this month I posted about the NEA’s Primary Election endorsement of Hillary Clinton for U.S. President. I included a comment I had written in response to a special ed teacher’s guest blog on Lily Eskelsen-Garcia’s blog.

    You can read the guest blog, Proud to Be an Educator for Hillary. Scroll down and you can see a comment. As of this writing, my comment has not been included, however the one comment that is there expresses similar objections to the endorsement. Perhaps mine wasn’t written well enough…or I was too emotional…or confrontational…or impolite. It doesn’t matter. I only mention this to indicate that, apparently, the NEA is willing to read opposing views: something positive.

    You can read my comment in my post, Finally, I Rant About NEA’s Endorsement of Hillary.

    I submitted an abridged version of my comment a second time. I thought perhaps that it hadn’t been published because it was too long. After that submission, I received a response from NEA which you can read in its entirety at the end of this post.

    My point in arguing against the endorsement of Secretary Clinton is not because I disagree with many of her positions on public education, it’s because I don’t know many of her positions on public education. I would argue against the endorsement of any of the three candidates who responded to the NEA’s questionnaire for the same reason.

    In her letter to me, Lily provided a link to the interviews she did with the three candidates (all Democrats) who responded to the NEA questionnaire: Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, and Bernie Sanders (you can see all the interviews here. Scroll to the bottom section for the complete interviews).

    Some of my objections have been answered. Lily asked all three candidates about their views on equality of opportunity, testing, college debt, collective bargaining, and their vision for rescuing the middle class. All three candidates gave essentially the same answers with minimal differences.

    • All children need equality of opportunity and we need to fully fund public education.
    • Too much testing is horrible and we need to fix that.
    • College should be available to all. Debt is bad.
    • Collective bargaining is important for all workers. Unions are important.
    • America’s middle class is shrinking. We need to dump Trickle Down economics and provide health care, a higher minimum wage, and better jobs.

    There is nothing about the record of the three candidates on the interview page. There’s a link in the letter from NEA to a summary of Secretary Clinton’s record, but that doesn’t highlight the differences between the candidates. It only tells me, vaguely, what Clinton has done. During the interviews the candidates tooted their own horns freely, so that’s something.

    The problem, as I see it, is not that Secretary Clinton is not deserving of NEA’s endorsement. It’s that there is still too much about the candidates that we don’t know. We did this before, with Barack Obama, and for our no-strings-attached support we got Arne Duncan and Race to the Top.

    The fault is partially with the candidates. Clinton’s campaign site has a section on K-12 education, but it’s vague and unspecific. Sanders’ and O’Malley’s sites don’t say “boo” about K-12 education. All three discuss universal preschool and affordable college. To earn NEA’s support we ought to get some assurances that we won’t get a DFER, someone who wants to privatize public education, or another Arne Duncan in the office of Secretary of Education.

    DETAILS, DETAILS, DETAILS: WHERE ARE THE DETAILS?

    But the lion’s share of the fault is with NEA’s leadership. Where were the questions (or if you asked them, where were the answers) about…

    • Charter schools? I know that Clinton and Sanders are “in favor” of charter schools and that they support charter school accountability, but where are the details?
    • Vouchers? Democrats are generally against vouchers, but in the last few years they have made fewer and fewer comments about vouchers. Where do the candidates stand? Will they work to stop our tax dollars going to religious institutions?
    • No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and the reauthorization of ESEA? Where are the questions about the failure of No Child Left Behind, the cost and damaging competition of Race to the Top, and the fact that there is still no renewal of ESEA? Where do they stand on providing support for schools that need more help or are they willing to close schools with high poverty and blame the victims for “failing?”
    • VAM? How do the candidates feel about teacher evaluations being based on student test scores? How about teachers of non-tested areas, such as music and art teachers, being evaluated using reading and math test scores of their students?
    • School letter grades? Should schools be judged by how well their students do on test scores? Is an A school simply one in which the children score high on the state standardized test?
    • Due process? Where do the candidates stand on due process (aka tenure) for K-12 teachers?
    • National Teacher shortage? How will the candidates relieve the national teacher shortage? How will they encourage more students to go into education?
    • Common Core? We know Lily loves her some Common Core, but not all of us do. I find many of the early childhood standards to be developmentally inappropriate. Where do the candidates stand on this issue?
    • The U.S. Education Department? Do they want to save the USED? Right now it’s filled with privatizers, DFERs, and “reformers.” How will a Clinton (or Sanders, or O’Malley) administration differ?

    Lily, your questions about equality of opportunity, testing, college debt, collective bargaining, and the middle class were good; The candidates’ desire for universal preschool and affordable college is admirable. But it’s not enough. In the last two presidential elections the NEA supported President Obama because he said the right things. That’s not enough any more. I want more details. We still don’t know if any of these candidates support the corporate privatization of public education. I could make an educated guess, but it would have been nice if my professional association asked more detailed questions, or provided us with the answers to more detailed questions.

    The candidates need to earn our endorsement. We need details, not vague references. We need assurances, not campaign sites that don’t even acknowledge the major issues facing today’s public schools, public school teachers, and public school students.

    NEA’S RESPONSE TO MY COMMENT

    Replying to your message about NEA’s presidential primary recommendation
    from 2016presidential@nea.org

    …Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts surrounding NEA’s recent primary recommendation of Hillary Clinton for president. I want to spend a few moments highlighting our process since February and, ultimately, our decision to move forward with the Clinton recommendation.
    NEA members and leaders have engaged in our primary presidential recommendation process since last February, identifying and reaching out to nearly 25 candidates from both major political parties. Throughout this process, we asked for input from candidates and, equally important, did our best to highlight candidates’ positions on education issues for members like you. Throughout the last few months, we distributed a candidate comparison highlighting each candidate’s positions, hosted a tele-town hall with members to discuss the presidential field, and provided updated candidate positions via social media.

    Just three candidates – Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, and Bernie Sanders – met with me to discuss their positions on the issues. Afterward, I made it a priority to ensure all three taped interviews were distributed to NEA members and leaders throughout the country, which you can view right now.

    These interviews remind all of us that each candidate is a dear friend of strong public schools and the students and children we work with, and Hillary Clinton’s proven track record, coupled with her comments throughout the recommendation process, is why I brought a recommendation for Secretary Clinton to the NEA PAC Council and Board of Directors for their consideration. Their discussions were thoughtful and robust, and our Board was able to spend time with Secretary Clinton on Saturday to discuss our issues.

    Throughout this process, I am proud that NEA’s members and its leaders have had the opportunity to speak on this recommendation, and today I believe there is too much at stake to remain on the sidelines. Please continue to share your views, and go to Strong Public Schools for updates.

    Only together can we work to ensure the next president ensures every child has a quality public education regardless of zip code.

    Gracias,
    Lily

    *******************************************************************
    Only the individual sender is responsible for the content of the
    message, and the message does not necessarily reflect the position
    or policy of the National Education Association or its affiliates.

    ~~~

    The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

    ~~~
    Stop the Testing Insanity!
    ~~~
    A Manifesto for a Revolution in Public Education
    Click here to sign the petition.

    For over a decade…“reformers” have proclaimed that the solution to the purported crisis in education lies in more high stakes testing, more surveillance, more number crunching, more school closings, more charter schools, and more cutbacks in school resources and academic and extra-curricular opportunities for students, particularly students of color. As our public schools become skeletons of what they once were, they are forced to spend their last dollars on the data systems, test guides, and tests meant to help implement the “reforms” but that do little more than line the coffers of corporations, like Pearson, Inc. and Microsoft, Inc.

    ~~~
    ~~~

    ~~~
    Posted in Politicians, Politics, Public Ed

    Report From The Democratic Debate – October 2015

    What did the Democrats who took part in the first Democratic Debate last night (October 13, 2015) have to say about important issues in K-12 Education? How did they address…

    • charter school accountability
    • vouchers
    • standardized testing obsession
    • No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top and the reauthorization of ESEA
    • evaluating teachers using student test scores
    • grading schools using student test scores
    • loss of collective bargaining rights for teachers
    • loss of due process (often called tenure) for teachers
    • the national teacher shortage

    CLICK HERE to hear the entire conversation covering everything each candidate said about the issues in K-12 education…

    ###
    Posted in Corp Interest, poverty, Quotes, Teaching Career, Testing

    Random Quotes – October 2015

    FIRST, DO NO HARM

    United Opt Out Admin. Ruth Rodriguez’s Testimony on ESEA Reauthorization

    How legislators and “reformers” are complicit in the abuse of children:

    • the overuse and misuse of test scores
    • test prep replacing actual curriculum
    • forcing eight and nine year olds to repeat third grade because of a score on a test
    • requiring learning disabled students to be responsible for grade level material on a standardized test
    • arbitrary cut score
    • labeling the effects of poverty as “an excuse” and punishing schools with high poverty levels
    • reducing resources for public schools which serve everyone by diverting funds to private corporations and religious institutions
    • incorporating developmentally inappropriate expectations into the curriculum
    • Other (add your own) |________________|

    From Ruth Rodriguez

    Laws mandate that those who work with children report any sign of abuse or neglect because if a child suffers harm, and it goes without reporting, there can be a great liability. Many teachers ask, “To whom do we report the abuse when the abuse is a direct result of legislated policy?”

    Olivia Fantini – “On Standardized Testing” (NPS 2015)

    A teacher reads her poem to explain standardized testing. Lack of resources…lack of support…ready to give up…

    Good morning boys and girls!
    Welcome to the 6th Grade National Assessment of Educational Progress!
    Technological devices, which provide an unfair advantage, are not permitted.
    If you are in possession of such a device, including, but not limited to, cellphones, iPads, tablets, calculators, white privilege, parents with a College education, or a household with an annual income above the poverty line, please power it down now and raise your hand.
    The proctor will return your device at the end of the testing period.

    FAILED RESPONSIBILITIES

    Arne Duncan’s Misguided Policies

    Childhood poverty is the most important factor in student academic achievement. Politicians blame schools, teachers, students and parents for their own failures to properly fund public education…and for their failure to solve America’s poverty problem.

    Why is it that the U.S. has the highest rate of child poverty in the developed world? Why is it that the U.S. has the highest infant mortality rate in the developed world? Why are there still a half a million children under the age of 6 in the U.S. who have dangerously high levels of lead in their blood? Why are there still more than 1.6 million children who are homeless in America?

    These are problems which also need to be addressed in order to improve student achievement levels in the U.S.

    From Jan Resseger, quoting Senator Paul Wellstone

    That all citizens will be given an equal start through a sound education is one of the most basic, promised rights of our democracy. Our chronic refusal as a nation to guarantee that right for all children…. is rooted in a kind of moral blindness, or at least a failure of moral imagination…. It is a failure which threatens our future as a nation of citizens called to a common purpose… tied to one another by a common bond.

    DISPOSABLE CHILDREN

    “Disposable”

    From Mr. Brandon

    Now I know there are all kind of people out there who are in situations that they have not asked for and they were given no other choice. But I see families that have dads, stepdads, moms, step-moms, boyfriends, girlfriends and they come and go through a revolving door. Students who never know where they are going to get off or who will be there when they do. So many have given so little to what should be the most important thing in their life. They believe that their life is their own to do with as they please regardless of those who are around them. The only commitment that they have is to self and everything else has become disposable.

    TESTING

    Duncan Cheers Failing Scores

    When will we ask professionals to help make public education policy…and stop leaving it in the hands of politicians and billionaires who don’t know what the hell they’re doing?

    From Peter Greene

    Setting cut scores by political rather than educational means is a fool’s game– but under Duncan, that’s still how the game is played. Holding schools to stupid goals set by clueless politicians is a bad idea– but we keep doing that, too.

    State board decision Wednesday could mean a big drop in ISTEP passing rates

    Changing cut scores for political reasons…

    From Chalkbeat Indiana

    Setting standardized test passing rates is an inexact science at best.

    DISMANTLING PUBLIC EDUCATION

    Dismantling Public Education From Reagan to Obama Public School Privatization Race to the Top (RTTT) and Common Core

    From BlackCommentator.com Guest Commentator, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr.

    “Public education has been under constant attack for more than three decades as conservative corporate, intellectual, and political reformers have devised policies and practices to dismantle and privatize the profession. These well-funded efforts have increased dramatically as the racial makeup of public school students has become decidedly minority and low-income. At the beginning of the 2015 school year, more than fifty-one percent of all K-12 pupils are African American, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American. . . .

    A perfect storm appears to be emerging that is systematically downsizing public education as we know it. RTTT and Common Core are the main policies that many view as contributing to an evolving crisis in K-12 education. They have been fostered by the five most recent U.S. presidents with the most significant contributor being the Obama Administration. . . .

    President Obama continued in the tradition of his four immediate predecessors—Presidents Ronald W. Reagan, George H. W. Bush, William J. Clinton, and George W. Bush, but he escalated the dismantling of traditional public education by making privatization much easier with his signing of the odious RTTT.

    TEACHING

    From Susan Ohanian

    When a Teacher’s Job Depends on a Child’s Test
    Governor Cuomo, like so many other ignorant politicians and billionaires, blames teachers for poor test scores.

    He wants real, accurate, and fair teacher evaluations. Judging teachers by standardized test scores doesn’t provide that. Maybe the problem isn’t the teachers…maybe the problem is the tests and the way we use them.

    We do need “real, accurate, fair teacher evaluations,” but we won’t get them by using junk science to evaluate teachers using student test scores!

    From Andrew Cuomo

    “Everyone will tell you, nationwide, the key to education reform is a teacher evaluation system,” the governor said. He noted that while only thirty-eight per cent of New York State high-school students are deemed to be “college ready,” according to their scores on standardized tests, 98.7 per cent of teachers in New York’s schools are rated “effective.” “How can that be?” Cuomo asked. “Who are we kidding, my friends? The problem is clear and the solution is clear. We need real, accurate, fair teacher evaluations.”

    ~~~

    The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, health and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood education, class size, and curriculum development. We have witnessed the erosion of teachers’ professional autonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with “test score-raising” instructional practices that betray our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking. And so now we are faced with “a crisis of pedagogy”–teaching in a system that no longer resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the critical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

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    Stop the Testing Insanity!
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    A Manifesto for a Revolution in Public Education
    Click here to sign the petition.

    For over a decade…“reformers” have proclaimed that the solution to the purported crisis in education lies in more high stakes testing, more surveillance, more number crunching, more school closings, more charter schools, and more cutbacks in school resources and academic and extra-curricular opportunities for students, particularly students of color. As our public schools become skeletons of what they once were, they are forced to spend their last dollars on the data systems, test guides, and tests meant to help implement the “reforms” but that do little more than line the coffers of corporations, like Pearson, Inc. and Microsoft, Inc.

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