Progressivism is not dead at Harvard University.

A group of students called on the University’s President Drew Faust to cut ties with Teach for America unless the organization made major changes.

“The group’s demonstration comes as part of a larger movement initiated by United Students Against Sweatshops, which holds that holds that Teach For America is working to privatize education through its relationships with big-name corporations that are threatening the sanctity of public education. The group had a TFA Truth Tour during March and April earlier this year, wherein protests were scheduled and executed on college campuses, including Harvard University.

“In their letter to President Faust, the student group outlined the reforms they would like to see within the organization:

“Send Teach for America participants only to areas where there is a teaching shortage

“Work to provide these participants with more training and education

“Eliminate the ties the organization has with such corporations as Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil, and JPMorgan Chase.”

In other words, SLAM recognizes that TFA is an enabler of privatization and acts like scabs, taking the jobs of experienced teachers and busting unions.

Tomorrow Eva Moskowitz will close her chain of Success Academy charter schools in New York City and convene her students, parents, and teachers in a rally that is intended to support her demand for more charter schools. If a public school principal did this, he or she would be in deep trouble. Public schools don’t close for political rallies. Private schools can.

The charter chain has dubbed the rally #don’tstealpossible. They are tweeting to remind the world that if Eva doesn’t get more charters, 143,000 students will be “trapped in failing schools.”

Professor Daniel S. Katz of Seton Hall University here describes Eva’s “incredible hypocrisy,” inasmuch as she has no intention of enrolling 143,000 students, nor enrolling the neediest students. If your child has special needs or doesn’t speak or read English, look elsewhere.

Here is what we should demand: Anyone who mandates a high-stakes test should take the test and publish their scores.

Bob Schaeffer writes:

In this week’s stories, all key public education stakeholder constituencies — parents, teachers, administrators, school board members, community activists, and the general public — add their voices to the ever louder call for assessment reform. Too many politicians, however, give little but lip service to the movement’s demands while continuing to double down on failed test-and-punish policies. The Atlanta and Philadelphia standardized exam cheating scandals are reminders of one kind of ugly fallout from this obsession

Be sure to check out FairTest’s new fact sheet, “Teacher Evaluation Should Not Rest on Student Test Scores”

http://fairtest.org/teacher-evaluation-fact-sheet-2014

Arizona Legislators Should Take the Tests They Promote

http://www.azcentral.com/story/brahm-resnik/2014/09/24/12news-arizona-citizenship-test-state-legislators-pass/16139755/

Largest Southern Colorado School District Proposes to Opt-Out of State Testing

http://gazette.com/d-11-board-votes-unanimously-to-request-change-in-testing-rules/article/1538211

Colorado Teacher Refuses to Administer Common Core Exams

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/09/23/colorado-teacher-i-refuse-to-administer-the-parcc-common-core-test-to-my-students/

Connecticut Governor’s Record on Testing Contradicts His Record

http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/default/article/Lecker-Malloy-s-empty-words-about-testing-5768147.php

Did Rhee-formers Close any Washington, DC Public School Achievement Gaps?

http://gfbrandenburg.wordpress.com/2014/09/28/did-rheeformers-rhee-and-henderson-actually-close-any-of-those-achievement-gaps-in-dc-public-schools/

Calls to Suspend Florida State Testing Intensify as More Districts Weigh In

http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/testing/calls-to-suspend-state-mandated-testing-intensify-as-more-school-districts/2199071

Lee County School Board Strikes Down All Grade K-5 District-Mandated Tests

http://www.abc-7.com/story/26620085/district-mandated-k-5-test-elimination-makes-florida-history#.VCNcscmwRrs

Florida Parents Push Back on Standardized Testing

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article2261678.html

Florida Education Association Position on Testing and Opt Out

http://feaweb.org/fea-resolution-on-accountability-and-testing-opt-out

Florida School Superintendents Ask For Testing Relief

http://tbo.com/news/politics/schools-superintendents-ask-for-relief-in-transition-year-to-new-test-standards-20140929/

Atlanta Test Cheating Scandal is “Tip of an Iceberg”

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/30/us/racketeering-trial-opens-in-altanta-schools-cheating-scandal.html

http://www.fairtest.org/%E2%80%9Catlanta-tip-iceberg%E2%80%9D-new-count-shows-widespread-t

Georgia Seeks One-Year Delay in Test-Based Teacher Evaluation

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/state-regional/georgia-seeks-one-year-delay-in-high-stakes-teache/nhTB7/

Illinois Districts May Seek Legislative Relief From Testing Mandates

http://evanstonnow.com/story/education/charles-bartling/2014-09-23/66202/d202-board-may-seek-relief-from-springfield-on

New Massachusetts Board of Ed Chair Says Schools Too Focused on Test Prep

http://www.patriotledger.com/article/20140923/NEWS/140928749/12344/NEWS

Boston Teachers’ Petition: Say “No” to PARCC and High-Stake Exams

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/boston-say-no-to-parcc

Minnesota Educators Concerned With New High School ACT Test Requirement

http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_26624750/minnesotas-new-act-requirement-has-some-educators-worried

Testing in New Mexico Has Gone Too Far

http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-opinion/ci_26605498/elaine-hampton-new-mexico-has-gone-too-far

Teachers Sue to Block New Mexico Teacher Evaluation System

http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-news/ci_26628104/union-sues-over-new-mexico-teacher-evaluation-system

Moratorium Urged on Using Student Test Scores to Assess Teachers

http://www.abqjournal.com/470012/news/moratorium-urged-on-using-test-scores-in-teacher-evals.html

New York Congressman Promotes Bill to Reduce Federal Testing Mandates

http://www.theislandnow.com/opinions/readers-write-legislation-would-end-excessive-testing/article_4b158d08-44d0-11e4-bbe1-ef9f4e73f305.html

Thousands of Long Islanders Opt Out of Common Core Tests

http://www.antonnews.com/farmingdaleobserver/news/39726-common-core-tests-parents-choice.html

Mapping Poverty and Test Scores in New York State

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2014/09/8551205/mapping-poverty-and-test-scores-new-york-state

Federal Mandates Set Some New York Kids Up For Failure

http://www.newsday.com/opinion/oped/some-students-being-set-up-to-fail-roger-tilles-1.9414375

Ohio Triples Number of Exams Required for Graduation

http://www.bucyrustelegraphforum.com/story/news/local/2014/09/26/testing-overload-grad-tests-triple-high-schoolers/16261961/

Ohio Parents Debate Effects of Increased Standardized Testing

http://ysnews.com/news/2014/09/parents-consider-effects-of-increased-standardized-testing

No “Accountability” for Oklahoma Testing Contractor

http://www.newschannel6now.com/story/26624035/oklahoma-board-to-consider-testing-contract

Two Former Philadelphia Principals Arrested for Alleged Test Cheating to Meet NCLB Mandates

http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20140926_2_more_Philly_principals_charged_in_cheating_probe.html

Penn. School Leaders Say Intense Pressure to Increase Test Scores Created Climate for Cheating

http://www.newsworks.org/index.php/local/item/73265-fallout-of-pa-cheating-scandal-continues-with-charges-against-two-philly-principals?

Tennessee Teachers Want Testing Transparency, Accountability From State

http://www.knoxnews.com/opinion/columnists/citizens-voice-beth-brown-teachers-want-accountability-from-state-testing-transparency_98316156

Texas Seeks $30 Million to Develop, Pilot Alternative Assessments

http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2014/09/texas-education-agency-wants-30-mil-to-pilot-alternative-to-staar.html/

West Virginia Teacher Evaluations Must Be Fair

http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20140927/ARTICLE/140929417/1103

“No Pineapple Left Behind” — New Video Game Skewers Testing and Corporate Ed. “Reform”

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2014/09/satirical_video_game_skewers_n.html

Standardized Tests Don’t Accurately Reflect Anything Meaningful

http://conversationed.com/2014/09/22/why-standardized-tests-dont-accurately-reflect-anything

Why “Ed Reformers” Are Having Second Thoughts About Test-Driven Schooling

http://www.salon.com/2014/09/24/arne_duncans_staggering_statement_why_ed_reformers_are_having_second_thoughts/

Common Core Testing Will Take More Time Than Initially Estimated

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2014/09/common-core_assessment_group_revises_testing_time.html

Will Common Core Testing Technology Undermine New Math Performance Tasks?

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/09/24/05math.h34.html

The Scarring Effects of Primary Grade Retention

http://sf.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/09/03/sf.sou074.full

Mercyhurst University Adopts Test-Optional Policy

http://www.yourerie.com/news/news-article/d/story/mercyhurst-u-adopts-satact-optional-policy/17370/lBxxnviAm0uCw3l65v56Mg

Test-Optional Colleges vs. Test-Fixated K-12 Education

http://lancasteronline.com/opinion/editorials/standardized-tests-are-a-more-helpful-to-college-bound-kids/article_26901790-45d0-11e4-9e2d-0017a43b2370.html

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office- (239) 395-6773 fax- (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468
web- http://www.fairtest.org

David B. Cohen is a National Board Certified Teacher at Palo Alto High School, respected by his peers and students. He is spending this year traveling California, meeting teachers, learning about their practices, and writing about the great teachers he finds.

He has started a Kickstarter campaign and needs your help.

Unlike the “reformers,” David is not looking for failure. He is looking for success and knows he will find it and document it. He is a gifted writer.

Mike Klonsky said some harsh things about SEIU Local 73 President Christine Boardman. She didn’t like what he wrote. She sent him a letter demanding a retraction or expect to get sued. So he reviewed what he wrote and retracted some things. If you are a blogger, and your blog is not supported by Walton or Broad or Gates, you don’t really want to fight a lawsuit, especially when the other side has an in-house lawyer.

But Mike did not retract everything he wrote. Want to know where he drew the line? Read his blog.

Peg Robertson is a teacher and a founder of United Opt Out, a national group that encourages parents, students, and other educators not to take or give the state tests. She writes here that though she has refused to administer the PARCC assessments, someone else will do it. Try as she might, she admits, she cannot protect the children from endless test prep and the age-inappropriate practices introduced into the early grades by Common Core.

She writes:

“Across the nation teachers are fighting back hard. Across the nation – actually across the world – teachers will shut their doors and do their best to protect children from high stakes testing, test prep, nonstop district and state mandated testing and more. But – the truth is this, our best is not good enough, because in order to attempt to do our best we are jumping through hoops, shutting our door to secretly do what is right for children, spending our own money on resources for our classrooms and on supplies for children who have none, and we are spending hours and hours gaming our way through “teach to the test” curriculum and massive amounts of mandated corporate formative and summative assessment – in order to attempt to “do our best.”

“So, I’m going to be blunt here. I cannot do my best under these conditions. I can attempt to do my best, but my best under these conditions is not good enough. And my attempts to play the game and resist where I can will not be enough to protect your children from what is happening….

“And I cannot protect children from certain non-negotiables within common core curriculum and on-going assessment. We cannot protect the children from the common core professional development which takes us away from our buildings and leaves children with substitute teachers. As a literacy coach, I do what I can to rephrase and rid my school of corporate reform language such as rigor, grit, calibrate, accountability, no excuses and college and career ready. I can even replace these words with language that represents inquiry, heart, relationships, community, equity, creativity and more. But ultimately, all of my attempts are simply band aids.

“Even though I have done my best to make writing “on-demand” prompts developmentally appropriate for kindergarten (let’s face facts -there is NO such thing), it is still an “on-demand” writing prompt for kindergarten. Even though I will do everything in my power to support children in their inquiries about bugs, outer space, poetry, sports, cooking, their favorite authors, music, art, history and more; I cannot stop the testing train which makes stops in every classroom every week in some shape or form. The classroom is no longer driven by the rhythm of learning, it is driven by the testing schedule which continually interrupts our children’s talk and exploration of their interests – the testing schedule extinguishes the passion for learning. It makes all of us tired with the constant stop. start. stop start. as we try to regroup and get back on track with the real learning that is occurring in the classrooms. I can’t tell you how many “ah ha” moments have been lost for children as they had to break away from their projects, their thinking, their conversation, in order to hunker down over an assessment as they labor for the corporations…..

“Some days I feel like a nurse inside a war tent with wounded soldiers. And no matter how brave I am, no matter how much I stand up to these reforms, it is not enough – they have taken away so much of my power, and my ability to make professional decisions in order to protect children and do what is right for all children.

“I teach at a school with 73% free/reduced lunch. Over 40 languages are spoken within my school. I know what our children need – they need wrap around services for poverty, books, librarians, small class size, health care, nurses, counselors, recess, quality food, and the opportunity to express their interests as they talk, read, write, play, sing, dance, create and smile. But you see, that doesn’t create corporate profit. Poverty must be ignored in order to keep corporate profit churning.

“Parents, I cannot protect your children. I must be honest in telling you that the war is alive and well in our classrooms, and children are being harmed every day. What is happening is evil, cruel and abusive. Refuse the tests and deny the corporations the profit, deny the district, state and federal government your child’s data (which they can share with corporations), deny the publishing companies the opportunity to create more common core products. Without the data, the profit ends and we have an opportunity to reclaim our public schools, our profession. We have an opportunity to do what is right for all children. I am done smiling and saying, I am doing my best. I’m not.”

Joseph Ricciotti, a former professor at Fairfield University in Connecticut, wrote a powerful article in which he describes the sinking morale of teachers, weighed down by the dehumanizing and demoralizing policies of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind and Barack Obama’s Race to the Top.

He writes:

“The war on teachers began with the “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) program when George W. Bush was president and has continued with “Race to the Top” (RTTT) with President Obama and his non-educator, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Basically both programs are what is commonly referred to by public school educators as “test and punish” testing programs that are used primarily for closing schools, ranking students, demonizing teachers and for assessing teacher effectiveness. These programs have now morphed into the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in which the federal government has, in essence, usurped local control of education in the United States.

“Hence, the purpose of these so-called education reform movement with its high-stakes tests has been to rank students, not to educate them. The ranking consists of “winners”and “losers” which extends beyond the students to also include schools that are “successes” and “failures.”

Why the teacher-bashing?

“Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama as well as the political establishment in Washington, D.C. realized that the true culprit in the achievement gap of many urban schools and their suburban counterparts was poverty. Moreover, both presidents decided that a war on teachers would be cheaper than a war on poverty. At a time when poverty of children in the country has reached epic proportions and has become a national crisis, politicians from both parties have refused to deal with poverty in a meaningful manner and have, instead, decided to scapegoat teachers.”

The attacks on teachers by the corporate reformers is a smokescreen for their unwillingness to do anything meaningful about poverty. Under steady attack from the reformers, the professionalism of teachers was steadily eroded. Reformers, they of high status in the world of politics and philanthropy, never really understood why anyone became teachers and often suggested that teachers were drawn from the lowest academic rungs, an outright falsehood:

“Public school teachers today are considered by the corporate education reformers as merely “clerks” whose expertise, craft and artistry are no longer valued. As an outgrowth of Common Core, teachers no longer have any say or voice in the curriculum and can no longer function as reflective practitioners as the corporations and testing companies now determine what is taught and how it is taught. Educators realize that Common Core is a top-down reform movement developed by non-educators and supported by Bill Gates. It is, in essence, sheer politics with no chance of succeeding. Is it any wonder why teaching has been dehumanized when teachers must adhere to the mandates of the corporate reformers even though they know that these mandates run counter to the interests and needs of their students? It is time for teachers and parents to push back against these corporate education reformers and to help restore the dignity of teaching and public education.”

Franziska Raeber describes how parents in Florida are organizing resistance to online testing of children in K-2. Please be aware that the purpose of online testing is to enrich the testing industry and tech corporations. The best tests are written and evaluated by teachers, who know what they taught and can use the tests for instant feedback, not to rank students, but to help them. This is true not just in K-2, but throughout education, whether K-12 or higher education.

Raeber writes:

“We are the parents of Kindergartners and 2nd graders. After Susan Bowles from our school district (Alachua County FL) made national headlines by refusing to administer a computerized test, we felt it was time to get our voices as parents heard.
The whole process has been a truly eye opening experience. We never realized how excessive testing is and how much miscommunication is happening. During a town hall meeting teachers brought examples of tests and result print outs to the meeting. Shocking for us all.

“On September 8 we launched a petition (Say NO to computer testing in K-2nd grades) and we have collected over 390 signatures so far, but we don’t want to stop. We have been actively lobbing newspapers, spoke out at town meetings, talked and contacted legislators, PTAs (district as well as state). We have also launched a FB page and trying to get our message out. We are now reaching out to other similar minded groups here in FL, but also within the United States as we believe this problem is not a local issue, but is and should be a national concern.

“When we asked the school-board representatives and administrators what we should do and how to keep this discussion going the message was clear: Speak up! Write letters, emails, call legislators and sign/launch petitions.

“And that is exactly what we are doing, we parents are tired of sending our kids to schools, where great teachers become test facilitators and computer technicians. We want our kids to have fun learning. We strongly believe that in early years good experiences with school will lay the foundation for a life long interest in education, learning and personal growth.

“We have now launched a petition and invite you to sign it.

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/say-no-to-computer-testing?source=c.em.cp&r_by=11297164

“We have launched a Facebook page and are posting articles/resources to it as we come across.
https://www.facebook.com/Notocomputertesting”

Jack Hassard, a retired professor of science education at Georgia State University, here nails the corporate and political assault on public education. He calls it “the web of influence peddling.” In my recent book, I called a “Reign of Error” and a great “hoax” perpetrated by the privatization movement. We both agree on the ultimate goal: the destruction and privatization of a basic democratic institution.

This post is a must-read.

He writes:

“In this post I argue that politicians, lobbyists and corporate executives have worked together to peddle their influence in the name of educational reform. This triad of influence is dismantling public education one charter school, voucher, tax incentive, and law at a time.

“In today’s culture, politicians and especially business leaders, have perpetuated the myth that academic achievement in a few subjects is the most important outcome of schooling, and that indeed, there is a huge gap between achievement of students in the United States and its counterparts in other industrialized nations. Furthermore, these same politicians and business leaders would have us believe that there is a serious decline in the supply of high-quality students from the beginning (the end of high school) to the end of the Science & Engineering “pipeline.” Both of these cases are myths—that U.S. students do not achieve at high levels, and that there is a serious shortage of high quality persons for science & engineering. They are perpetuated to fulfill the needs and desires of officials whose best interests are served by claiming such weaknesses in the American educational system (see Lowell & Salzman).”

The other day, I wrote a post chastising the League of Women Voters for planning a debate that included only Governor Cuomo and Republican candidate Rob Astorino. I thought it was unfair to exclude Howie Hawkins, who is running on the Green Party ticket.

 

I received the following response from Laura Ladd Bierman of the League of Women Voters of NYS:

 

The League of Women Voters of NYS, with its partners from WABC/TV, Univision and The Daily News, has been negotiating with the gubernatorial candidates to organize a televised debate in NYC. Based on the state League’s policies, the debates would have to include at least Cuomo, Astorino and Hawkins for the state League to be a co-sponsor. While two other debates have been offered to the candidates by other sponsors, our offer still stands.

 

I was misinformed, and I apologize to the League of Women Voters for my error. Thanks to the LWV for offering to sponsor the debate. Governor Cuomo refused to debate Zephyr Teachout, his primary challenger. I hope he accepts this offer to debate Astorino and Hawkins.

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