Archives for category: Closing schools

Those hoping that a Senate rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (now known as No Child Left Behind) would recognize the damage of the past 12 years of federally-mandated high-stakes testing will be disappointed by the Senate Democrats’ proposal, says FAIRTEST. The new proposal completely ignores the grassroots rebellion by parents, geachers, students, and local school boards against the punitive misuse of testing.

Here is the FAIRTEST statement:

FairTest
National Center for Fair & Open Testing
for further information:
Dr. Monty Neill (617) 477-9792
or Bob Schaeffer (239) 395-6773

for immediate release, Tuesday, June 4, 2013

U.S. SENATE EDUCATION BILL FAILS TO REVERSE “NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND” DAMAGE;
IGNORES MESSAGE FROM CONSTITUENTS’ RESISTANCE TO HIGH-STAKES TESTING;
GRASSROOTS BOYCOTTS, OPT-OUTS AND RESOLUTIONS SAY, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH”

Education legislation unveiled in the U.S. Senate today is “grossly inadequate to undo the damage of the ‘No Child Left Behind’ (NCLB) test-and-punish era,” according to the country’s leading assessment reform organization. “Rather than embracing policies that would improve learning and teaching, the bill drafted by Senate Education Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D – Iowa) follows the counterproductive path of the Obama-Duncan administration,” explained Dr. Monty Neill, Executive Director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest). “It also ignores the growing grassroots movement against high-stakes standardized exams.”

Among the weaknesses in the Senate proposal cited by FairTest:

– This bill maintains NCLB’s testing requirements, which have failed to fulfill the law’s fundamental promises of higher overall achievement and smaller gaps between racial groups.
– Even more testing will be required because states seeking Title II funds will have to include student test scores in teacher evaluation.
– Focusing sanctions on the lowest-scoring schools will lift the worst punishments from most suburban communities while leaving low-income, minority neighborhoods at continued risk.

“The bill House Republicans are developing is no better,” Neill continued. “They may turn sanctions over to the states. But they have no plan for the federal government to provide the support necessary to build stronger schools in low-income communities. They, too, seek to coerce states into judging teachers based on student test scores.”

Neill concluded, “Instead of pursuing ‘more of the same’ failed policies, policy-makers need to listen to their constituents. It is time to replace high-stakes testing schemes with assessment systems that help improve educational quality and equity.”

Anthony Cody gets stronger and sharper with every column he writes.

In this post, he explains how the best defense is a good offense.

He shows how critics of NCLB were tricked in 2008, then tricked again by Race to the Top.

It’s time to stop collaborating with those who want to destroy public education, he says.

It’s time to recognize, he writes, that Common Core is old wine in new bottles. Instead of getting rid of the testing and accountability dragnet, we will be ensnared in it even more deeply.

He writes,

“The Common Core could be called a “High Tech Rehabilitation of High Stakes Tests.” The major goal of the project has been to overcome objections to data-driven school reform, by offering standards and tests that are so new and different that we will not mind having our schools driven by them. They are heavily supported by a coalition of corporate entities that stand to make billions from the privatization of education. If we cannot mount a coherent counterproposal, we will be stuck objecting piecemeal to the worst elements of this regime, just as we did with NCLB. This may give us some small victories, but the entire project will remain intact.”

What would a good offense look like? The first step, as he puts it, is to “discredit bogus claims and false solutions,” as we do here regularly, like the stories about the miracle schools where 100% of the students graduate and go to college (except for those that don’t), or the miracle claims for mayoral control (but forget about D.C. and Cleveland), or the phony claims about privatization and inexperienced teachers.

What else? Read his post.

TIME magazine put Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on its cover and praised him as a new kind of “pragmatic” Democrat, the kind that busts unions, ignores parents, and cultivates the approval of the business community. That is certainly a ne kind of Democrat.

For a critique of TIME’s fawning coverage, read the article by Peter Hart of FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting).

This is my favorite part of Hart’s critique, which shows the blatant bias in the magazine’s coverage:

“Time doesn’t dwell on criticisms of Emanuel’s policies; readers are told that “the Chicago Teachers Union, a power unto itself, loosed its heavy artillery”–which sounds menacing–and that some people “charged that the closures targeted majority-black schools with majority-black faculties.”
Could it be that people “charged” that because it was true? As the Chicago Sun-Times reported (3/6/13), “Nine out of 10 of the Chicago Public School students potentially affected by school closings this year are black.”

Two mothers meet at a rally to protest the school closings in Chicago. One mother shows the other her cell phone. It has pictures of children on it. It is a Facebook page.

The second mother explains, these children will be killed if they cross the line into another neighborhood. That’s my son’s picture. He has been marked to die.

She went to the police. They turned her away. She went to school authorities. No one could help her.

It is clear by now that there is a very small number of very wealthy people who just don’t like public education. They don’t like teachers who work in public schools and want to strip them of any and every right, privilege, and status. They want to treat them like fast-food workers or salesmen who work on commission.

Given the chance, they would take the public’s money and give it to voucher schools, religious schools, entrepreneurs, to anyone who wants to start a school or an online business, regardless of their experience or qualifications. No one can take seriously their claim that they want to improve education or that they are “doing it for the kids” or they “put kids first” or they want to make kids “globally competitive.”

None of this is true.

Here Mike Deshotels explains who the haters are. They need do do some rethinking about the damage they are doing to our students, our teachers, and our nation.

The Chicago Public School board has made its decision, but the struggle is not over.

Parents are suing the school district.

The media sees the injustice of the massive shutdown of public schools and the shifting rationales for the draconian decision.

Articles in the Chicago press lambaste the Mayor’s indifference to the well-being of children.

Here is a video that summarizes the showdown. Parents and teachers will have their day in court, and eventually, at the ballot box.

From a reader:

“I live in Chicago, and one of the 50 neighborhood schools slated to close is an excellent school named Miriam Canter Middle School. I like to think I came into the process with an open mind– I’m not averse to school closing, if necessary–but I was so disgusted with the town hall meeting that I made a very short video concerning the process. I would appreciate it if you reposted the video on your blog.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Irami Osei-Frimpong”

This journalist found himself in the men’s room with Mayor Emanuel, then listened to him give a speech about how his policies are improving the lives of Chicago’s poorest children.

This is what he thinks he is doing by closing dozens of neighborhood schools. Against the will of their parents, he is tearing apart their lives and communities.

Just doing what Duncan did, and it catapulted him to national office.

Will Rahm’s reforms work for him too?

Norm Scott, retired NYC teacher posted this on his website, Ed Notes Online:

We have Al Qaeda on the run but right now the biggest threat to our agenda is Karen Lewis and the Chicago Teachers Union,” said an Obama spokesperson.

“Our pal Rahm Emanuel has been forced to close 50 schools in retaliation for the strike led by Lewis and now suffers poll numbers so low they are getting close to the interest rate. He is actually being criticized for using money he saves by closing schools to put $100 million into building a new basketball arena where our president and Arne Duncan will be able to shoot hoops once their term in office is over. For that Rahm is being called the most loathsome politician in America? How dare they?”

“And some in the media have started ganging up on some of our allies like Michelle Rhee. And Arne Duncan’s poor record in running the Chicago schools for so many years has been re-examined due to the work of Karen Lewis’ union.

“And then to top it all our hand-picked crew to beat her in the election got only 20% of the vote despite being supported by our press pals at the Chicago Tribune, thus showing Chicago teachers will not go to the woodshed like the lambs being led by Randi Weingarten, our most important asset, who by the way we have supplied a military escort to protect, but let me point out that we are not using public money for Randi’s escort since Bill Gates is paying.”

“Getting Bin Laden was so much easier.”

Chicago Public Schools voted to close down dozens of public schools. As many as 40,000 children are losing their schools, many of who are children with disabilities. The vast majority of the children are African American.

Will the President and Secretary of Education speak out against this willful destruction of public schools and communities?

This is a dire situation. It is time for our leaders to defend children, communities, and schools.

There are questions of equity here that should be investigated by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.

There is no bright side to this ugly decision.

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