Archives for category: Colorado

Colorado State Commissioner of Education Robert Hammond sent a letter to all districts warning them not to opt out of state or federal testing. The gist of his letter was: it may be harmful; it may be child abuse; it may violate your professional ethics; Italy be a waste of time and money; but it is the law and in our state, we follow orders.

Superintendent Nicholas Gledich said District 11 did not intend to break the law. “”We’ve never had a desire to not be in compliance with the laws; we’ve had a desire to create change and coordination by which the conversation could be held,” he said.

“But D-11 isn’t conceding defeat.

“We’re not ready to just drop everything,” said Elaine Naleski, vice president of the district’s board. “We’re still having the conversations. At this point, I don’t want to say OK, they said we can’t do it so let’s go back to doing what we have been doing. We believe in local control and will do what we can locally because we believe it’s good for the kids.”

“Gledich said Hammond didn’t shut the door on D-11’s request. In his letter to Gledich, Hammond said he will have CDE staff reach out to D-11 to “explore ways in which the department can continue to collaborate and incubate innovative approaches to these issues.”

“What I see in his response is he’d like to work with us to explore innovative approaches,” Gledich said.

“However, he and I both understand that we have to work within the federal requirements.”

“The mounting resistance to standardized testing is coming at a time when Colorado education officials are reviewing a frustrating picture of a lack of academic improvement over the past 10 years of testing.

According to an annual report the CDE submitted to the State Board on Wednesday, while the percentage of students scoring proficient and advanced on math tests has increased by 12 percent since 2004, it’s only advanced by 
3 percent in reading and 
writing.

“School readiness of 4-year-olds has declined in literacy and math in the past three years and the percentage of third-graders reading at or above grade level has stagnated at about 72 percent.”

Remember how Arne Duncan says he wants less testing? Don’t believe him. In Colorado, such requests are routinely rejected by Duncan’s DOE. Do you think he doesn’t know?

“The U.S. Department of Education “has made it clear to us” that if a state or district fails to comply with the assessment requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, or a state-approved flexibility waiver, its federal funding for low-income students could be in jeopardy, Hammond’s letter to superintendents states.”

Thanks, Arne, for reminding us to watch what you do and ignore what you say or write.

The Colorado Springs school board, District 11, voted to opt out of state and federal Common Core testing.

The vote was unanimous.

“Unprecedented action Wednesday night by Colorado Springs School District 11, as the Board of Education voted unanimously to try and opt out of standardized testing mandated by the State and the federal Common Core Curriculum.

“The District’s resolution regarding state mandated testing would mean students and teachers can focus more on education and life skills in the classroom and spend less time preparing for standardized tests. It’s designed to give the district flexibility in the classroom.

“I’m so excited that D-11 has taken a stand,” said Sarah Sampayo, who’s children attend Lewis-Palmer District 38 schools.

“Parents from across the state, including Denver, Pueblo and Monument, attended the board’s meeting to voice their support for D-11’s bold plan.

“I want my young kids to enjoy education and learning, I don’t want them staring at a test for hours day, after day, after day,” explained Denver mom, Kellie Conn.

“These parents hope that if D-11 can do it, the rest of the state will follow suit.

“Hopefully it will creep into Jefferson County, it will creep into Denver, it will creep into Littleton,” said Conn.

“D-11 Superintendent, Dr. Nicolas Gledich, explained that he isn’t against assessing students’ progress, but wants to do it in a more individualized way. That’s the goal of the district’s plan to modify standardized testing over a three year period.”

Dr. Gledich was previously named to the blog’s honor roll as a hero for proposing a three-year moratorium on standardized testing.

Jeannie Kaplan reports here on Jonathan Kozol’s recent visit to Denver. Denver is a city that has become totally devoted to corporate style “reform” for a decade. Now the corporate reformers own the entire school board plus they have a U.S. Senator Michael Bennett.

Kaplan shows how Kozol’s message explains corporate reform, now deeply embedded in Denver:

“THE SHAME OF THE NATION shows how the business model has become the blueprint for education “reform.” Education “reformers” use business jargon to describe their activities: “rewards and sanctions,” “return on investment,” “time management,” “college and career ready,” “maximizing proficiency,” “outcomes,” “rigorous,” “managers and officers,” “evaluation,” “accountability,” “portfolios of schools” (like a portfolio of stocks – get rid of the losers, keep the winners).

“Mr. Kozol describes the infiltration of business into education this way:

“Business leaders tell urban school officials…that what they need the schools to give them are “team players.”…Team players may well be of great importance to the operation of a business corporation and are obviously essential in the military services; but a healthy nation needs it future poets, prophets, ribald satirists, and maddening iconoclasts at least as much as it needs people who will file in a perfect line to an objective they are told they cannot question.” (p. 106)

“Here is how Denver Public Schools has adopted this business tenet. Every email sent by a DPS employee is signed and sent with the statement at the bottom, My name is Jeannie Kaplan, I’m from Youngstown, Ohio… and I play for DPS!

“Further business verbiage: In DPS principals are no longer principals but building CEOs or building managers. At the district level there is a chief executive officer, a chief financial officer, a chief operating officer, a chief academic officer, a chief strategic officer, and within the school buildings themselves there are managers for everything under the sun. You get the picture. And with all of these managers and officers DPS has witnessed increases in facility and resource imbalances and increases in segregation while academics have remained stagnant. Corporate reform is a failure in the United States. But politics, money and lies will not allow it to go quietly into the night, and Denver’s students and communities are paying the price.”

Kozol’s message is the opposite if corporate reform:

“We now have an apartheid curriculum . Because teachers and principals in the inner city are so test driven, inner city children who are mostly students of color are not allowed to have their voices heard through stories and questions, while white students are given that flexibility, opportunity and creativity.

“Test preparation is driving out child centered learning. Testing mania has become a national psychosis, driven by business.

“Racial isolation/segregation which does terrible damage to young people, is on the rise. In SHAME, education analyst Richard Rothstein points out how important it is for children of color to become comfortable in the majority culture and how devastating this new segregation is in the long term: “It is foolhardy to think black children can be taught no matter how well, in isolation and then have the skills and confidence as adults to succeed in a white world where they have no experience.” (p. 229). That Tuesday night Mr. Kozol referred to the new segregation as a “theological abomination.”

“And finally, of course, Mr. Kozol believes small class size, enriched curricula, and equitable resources and facilities would offer an equitable education for all children. This recent article in the Huffington Post clearly and disturbingly describes the safety and health hazards brought into Chicago public schools because business has invaded public schools. Bugs, moldy bread, trash left for days, leaks left unfixed. You can bet the East coast decision makers who are driving this “reform” did not attend schools under these conditions.”

By a vote of 3-2, the school board of Jefferson County, Colorado, passed its controversial proposal to adopt an American history curriculum that removes references to dissent and social disorder and anything else that diminishes a sense of patriotism. This idea was cooked up by a radical rightwing majority that took control of the board at the last election.

The meeting was noisy and fractious. Students turned out in large numbers to oppose the sanitized curriculum, and by their actions, showed that dissent is alive and well.

Luckily, there is a website devoted to watching the JeffCo school board. The Jeffcoschoolboardwatch says the word of the day now is: Recall!

The students have gained national and international attention. The school board majority and its allies say they are “pawns” of the teachers’ union. Fox News called them “punks.”

Peter Dreier, a professor at Occidental College in California, proposes that the major historical associations honor these students for demanding a history curriculum that is not saddled with ideological bias. They have stood up for academic freedom.

I call them heroes. Students cannot be fired. They can stand up for their right to learn and for their teachers’ right to teach. Teachers and principals can’t do that. Student protests can awaken the public. They can alert the people of JeffCo and Colorado about radical efforts to remove controversy from the teaching of U.S. history. They can save our schools from the reactionaries who want to hand them over to Walton-funded, Broad-funded, Gates-funded, NewSchools Venture-funded profiteers. They can stop data-mining.

Their voices cannot be stilled by threats and intimidation. They have the idealism of youth and the freedom to act and speak without fear. Go, students of JeffCo!

This is an appeal from a group of concerned educators and parents in Colorado who want to let parents know that they have a right to opt their children out of high-stakes state testing. They want to rent two big highway billboards. Can you help them? (Sorry I don’t have the graphic for the billboard. I bet if you email them, they will send you the graphic of the billboard.) I sent them a check. I hope you will too.

Dear Colleagues:

The good news is that our billboard campaign is off the ground. We have had a few early donations to the cause and our account at the Weld Schools Credit Union is just over $1,000. The donations have come from Boulder and Greeley, Colorado. Each year we have seen more parents exempt their children from this boondoggle of testing. The 2014 figures show that 1,412 parents exempted their children, up from 946 in 2013. I am attaching a photograph of last year’s billboard. This year’s boards will have a similar look, of course with the change of acronym to PARCC.

We have contracted with Mile Hi Outdoor Advertising for two billboards. One on Route 85 south of Greeley, and the other in a high visibility area in South Denver at Hampden and Santa Fe Avenues. The two billboards will cost $3,700 and will go up in mid-January, symbolically around the celebration of the works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We will have the billboards for at least one month and likely for longer if all is well.

All donations are greatly appreciated, no matter the amount. “Revolutionary headquarters” is at the following address:

The Coalition for Better Education, Inc.
2424 22nd Avenue
Greeley, Colorado 80631

In appreciation and solidarity,

Don Perl
The Coalition for Better Education, Inc.
http://www.thecbe.org

Department of Hispanic Studies
University of Northern Colorado
Greeley, Colorado 80639
don.perl@unco.edu
970-351-2746

The school board of Colorado Springs District 11 has voted to opt most students out of Common Core state testing and to seek permission from the state to administer sample tests.

“The Board of Education in Colorado Spring District 11 is taking a different approach than Lee. It voted to opt most students out of Common Core testing and then ask the state government for permission to assess a randomly selected group of students — enough to meet federal requirements. The tests involved the Common Core test created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Colorado Measures of Academic Success.

“The resolution that passed unanimously this week also gives permission to parents to opt their own children out of these tests. KOAA-TV quoted Superintendent Nicolas Gledich as saying the district hopes to devise its own assessment system within the next three years.”

Read the full link for the resolution.

A new group called Voices for Public Education has organized in Douglas County, Colorado. This is a district whose elected board favors market reforms and hired Bill Bennett to speak before the last election ($50,000), as well as paying Rick Hess to write a laudatory paper about its policies.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Innovation Schools Do Not Mean Less Testing

Highlands Ranch, Colorado -September 15, 2014 – Voices For Public Education (Voices) opposes the Douglas County Board of Education (BoE) resolution authorizing the submission of innovation waivers to the Colorado Board of Education and the BoE’s use of the Innovation Schools Act of 2008 to waive state assessments. The resolution passed at the September 2nd board meeting.

This resolution authorizes schools to submit waivers from testing required by the READ act to the Colorado Board of Education. These waivers will be submitted under provisions from the Innovation Schools Act. Voices for Public Education supports fewer high-stakes, state and district-mandated tests, but they do not support this resolution.

Amy DeValk, co-founder of Voices for Public Education, believes this resolution will not result in less testing. State-mandated tests will be replaced by district-mandated tests.

“Passing this resolution has nothing to do with standardized testing. The board is using testing as a distraction to the real intent of submitting Innovation Waivers. These waivers will allow the BoE to get out of state requirements they do not agree with, ultimately giving them the ability to implement their own agenda and testing with little to no oversight from the state. Teachers and parents need to learn what this really means for their school.”

Voices urges parents to demand community meetings regarding this resolution and to oppose its implementation. Voices also encourages parents to oppose all standardized testing, whether it is mandated by the state or the district. Parents should demand testing that supports learning and helps teachers to guide instruction.

About Voices for Public Education:

Voices for Public Education is dedicated to educating the community to empower individuals to act and take back our public schools.

We educate by:

• Bringing in national education experts to discuss education reform and offer alternatives

• Building personal relationships to tell our story

• Supporting other community groups fighting education reform

We empower by:

• Working with our school communities to develop actions to take back our schools

• Giving teachers, parents, students and community members a voice in decision-making

We act by:

• Creating actions for both quick “wins” and long term goals

• Providing the resources and information for people to take individual actions

• Partnering with and supporting other grassroots organizations

https://www.facebook.com/VoicesForPublicEducation

Contact:

Amy DeValk, Voices for Public Education co-founder
wasnoyes@comcast.net
303-350-7206
Stefanie Fuhr, Voices for Public Education co-founder
tutucker@comcast.net
303-483-1196

Another Douglas County group–the Douglas County Parents– objects to the local school board’s proposals.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

++++++++++++++++

September 15, 2014

Today, Douglas County Parents (DCP) announced their concerns regarding the resolution passed by the Board of Education (BOE) on September 2, 2014, authorizing the submission of Innovation Waiver requests to the State Board of Education (SBE).

Grounded in the Innovation Schools Act of 2008, which gives local schools the ability to apply for a waiver from the SBE to opt out of state mandated standardized tests, this resolution could also transform the Douglas County School District into a “District of Innovation.”

Harmful consequences of becoming a “District of Innovation” include:

The Douglas County BOE would have the power to terminate non-core teachers and staff at will, and to waive teacher licensing requirements.

The Douglas County BOE would have the ability to dictate curriculum.

Innovation schools would have the same autonomies as charter schools, without the full responsibilities for operations and human resources that charter schools have. This would drive the demand for charter school enrollment down, potentially hurting the charter school communities in Douglas County.

DCSD would join “turnaround” districts such as Denver, Pueblo and Kit Carson, whose innovation schools have failed to achieve the intended goals of the program. DCSD would no longer be compared with districts such as Cherry Creek, Boulder, Littleton and JeffCo.

High schools would no longer be eligible to compete for “top lists” which are measured by state standardized tests.

Millions of public tax dollars would be spent to create yet another new system to comply with state and federal accountability measures.

As mandated by the Innovation Schools Act, “it is required that the prospective innovation school receives majority support from teachers, administrators and School Accountability Committee (SAC) members; as well as a statement of the level of support from classified school staff, parents, students and the surrounding community.” Because this resolution was passed without public community input, DCP believes that this majority of support was not sought, received, or proven.

“We firmly believe that the parents, teachers, staff and community of Douglas County have the right to choose whether or not they want this designation for our district,” said Cristin Patterson, spokesperson for DCP. “There are grave, irreversible consequences for choosing this path, and we implore the district to hold a public discussion on what this would mean for our schools and community. Upcoming state legislation may provide changes in state testing procedures, so we do not understand why district leaders would risk so much when the state is already pursuing a viable solution.”

About Douglas County Parents:

DCP is a growing local advocacy group made up of over 1,350 parent, teacher, student, and community member volunteers of all political affiliations, ages and professions who are concerned about the policies that the Douglas County Board of Education and district administration have forced upon our community. DCP’s community outreach efforts include sharing facts backed by documentation garnered through the school district and Colorado Department of Education websites and publications, Colorado Open Record Requests, and attending a variety of meetings. Please contact spokesperson, Cristin Patterson, at cristin@douglascountyparents.com for updates and statements relating to DCSD issues. You may also find more information at DouglasCountyParents.com.

Thank you for your time,

~ Cristin Patterson ~
Douglas County Parents
Spokesperson/Media Contact
cristin@douglascountyparents.com
http://www.DouglasCountyParents.com

Dr. Nicholas Gledich, Superintendent of Colorado Springs School District 11 has proposed a three year moratorium on high stakes standardized testing. This takes courage in test-happy Colorado.

Dr. Gledich understands that high-stakes testing cheapens education, demoralizes teachers, and makes testing far more important than it should be. Tests should be used periodically to see how students are doing and if they need extra help. But today they have become the be-all and end-all of schooling. That’s not what the best private schools do. That’s not what public schools should do.

Thank you and congratulations, Dr. Gledich! Welcome to the honor roll!

Jeannie Kaplan, a former member of the Denver Board of Education, has written about the poor results of a decade of corporate reform. Here she explains the word “chutzpah” to define the desperate efforts of school officials and “reformers” to convert poor results into good news.

She writes:

“At noon Thursday, August 14, 2014 the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) released Colorado’s 2014 standardized tests results, TCAPs, (Transitional Colorado Assessment Program) at its monthly meeting. Shortly after the release, “reform” State Board Member Elaine Gantz Berman spoke and said what has turned out to be one of the most honest assessments of the latest results. “Not acceptable….To see this kind of flat result is more than troubling. It’s like, ‘Where do we go from here?’

“Since the release of the results, the spin from Denver Public Schools and its friends has been dizzying. Their defense of the failing status quo has given new meaning to the Yiddish word “chutzpah.” A few examples: recognition that new strategies are needed to change the trajectory of the District but offering no concrete details of what that would look like; slight recognition that professional educators do make a difference when it comes to teaching children but continuing to hire short term teachers at the expense of teaching professionals; no recognition or admittance that a business model is not transferable to education. No attempts have been made to answer Ms. Berman’s question. Instead the status quo has chosen to defend the ten year performance with confusing, misleading and manipulated data.

“THE SPIN

“Six emails from the Superintendent, 2 articles and one editorial in the Denver Post, a Board of Education work session featuring a 67 page PowerPoint presentation with more charts, graphs, acronyms, and meaningless analysis than one thought possible. And Thursday, August 21 at noon an email from the favorite national organization of “reformers.” DFER (Democrats for Education Reform), makes its way into computer inboxes. The email’s subject, “Denver Plan 2020 Fights for Great Schools in Every Neighborhood,”praises the new Denver Plan and closely mimicks two of the six emails the superintendent has sent this week. The email’s author: Jennifer Walmer, former chief of staff for the Denver Public Schools, current state director of Colorado DFER. Could it be that the Denver Public Schools District is so worried about its lack of progress and its failing education “reform” that it has to inundate the public with reams of insignificant and deceptive information? Unfortunately, I was correct when I wrote in my post of last week, growth is pretty much all the District will talk about. The state losses of 1% in each of the three subjects have translated into disingenuous DPS growth scores.”

She then summarizes “the flood of writing that has occurred after the release of the pathetic data…”

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