Archives for category: Education Industry

George Joseph is rapidly becoming one of our best education writers. In this article in The Nation, he shows how education “reform” is contributing to the “school to prison pipeline.” At best, he says, “no excuses” charter schools are preparing black students for low wage jobs.

He writes:

“As assistant professor of education Beth Sondel and education researcher Joseph L. Boselovic detailed in a Jacobin Magazine investigation, the “No Excuses” disciplinary approach, promoted by KIPP, the largest charter school chain in America, has transformed schools into totalizing carceral environments. Sondel and Boselovic write:

“There were, for example, specific expectations about where students should put their hands, which direction they should turn their heads, how they should stand, and how they should sit.… Silence seemed to be especially important in the hallways. At the sound of each bell at the middle school, students were expected to line up at “level zero” with their faces forward and hands behind their backs and, when given permission, step into the hallway and onto strips of black duct tape. There they waited for the command of an administrator: ‘Duke, you can move to your next class! Tulane, you can walk when you show me that you are ready!’ Students then marched until they reached the STOP sign on the floor, where their teacher checked them for hallway position before giving them permission to continue around the corner. Throughout this process, students moved counter-clockwise around the perimeter of the hallway (even if they were going to a classroom one door to the left).

“This extreme control over the movements of black students teaches them that they neither have, nor deserve control over their own bodies—a disturbing message to send in a country still shaped by the legacy of slavery. Furthermore, it perpetuates the normalization of surveillance and domination that law enforcement authorities inflict on black communities every day. Indeed, as the education writer Owen Davis points out, this “no excuses” disciplinary approach is a direct adaption by schools of the “broken windows” policing theory.”

Joseph relates that black students are beginning to protest the abuses that are inflicted on them by paternalistic authorities. That is an awakening that could change the narrative.

A reader posted this comment about the debate over testing:

 

********************

The narrative of students as “product” does none of us activists any good, because truly it’s a reformer red herring–whether offensive or not–and it seems to me we should ditch it fast. Children are not the “products” in reformers efforts to change education. Children are the consumers. Reformers aren’t working to “improve” children, their brains, or their prospects. They’re working to SELL them stuff. If reformers cared about the quality of learning American children receive, standardized testing would be the last thing they’d subject them to, because it’s the last thing they subject their own children to. They know it’s a colossal waste of their own kids’ valuable learning time and it does nothing to help them or their teachers.

 

Reformers do care about whether–actually how many–children will form their latest target audience in the Race to the Top of the education “market,” and standardization is the key to quantity in that biz. The testing, charter, and tech industries live and die by test scores. Without scores, specifically standardized scores in quantity, they’d have a much harder time justifying their existence or creating a market worth the investment. Every industry has its labor issues–must cut costs!–and how can you fire teachers in bulk if you don’t have a single digit number by which to “evaluate” a year’s worth of work? What if you have to rely on messy realities, such as what goes on in real classrooms, to understand the nuanced relationship between mentor and mentee? Forget the extenuations of family, nutrition, opportunity, oh never mind. What’s more, reformers simply cannot reduce overhead by firing the small percent of teachers who are phoning it in. That’s why 2/3rd of New York children HAD to fail the state’s standardized tests and why Cuomo and Tisch aren’t satisfied with the junk VAM they originally okayed that returned only 1% of teachers as ineffective. How can you take over neighborhood schools with charters, and raise millions from financial services execs, if you can’t brag about “higher” test scores in the Wall Street Journal? How can you replace entire urban school districts with a warren of administratively redundant and cookie-cutter charters, if you can’t scream “failing” while whacking at a colorful bar graph? How can you sell booklets and applications and assessments on a big enough scale if the whole school year isn’t building up to a single test that the entire nation of children takes, preferably on a computer? Worse, what if teachers and kids actually read good books together, took field trips, created performances, conducted hands-on experiments in classrooms–using old stuff like recycled soda bottles, eggs, and baking soda of course? Invest in Arm & Hammer stock now!

 

Reformers will trot out every argument–any argument–to keep standardized testing to vindicate the “business” of education, rooted fundamentally in the need for change on a grand scale. The latest, I see, is the “civil rights issue of our time” argument again–that without annual, universal standardized tests, we wouldn’t “know” that children in high-poverty neighborhood (therefore schools) do not score as well on standardized tests as children in middle and upper class neighborhoods. REALLY? What rock do they live under? Seems to me, folks with a shred of sympathy have understood for decades–centuries?–not only this disparity but the far more serious one that poor children have too slim a chance of moving out of poverty. Anti-poverty organizations have been working to change things all along, but with precious little support from the government OR party-going philanthropists. Sampling and the NAEP would provide, has provided, more than enough data for reformers to glean this nugget. Anyway, NOW THEY KNOW. And what happened? This testing revelation has resulted in the worst atrocities of curriculum-trimming, test-prep, and educational “disruption” being visited upon only the poorest schools and districts. The dawning revelation of social inequity makes a convenient defense when what you’re really trying to do is transforms schools into the next strip malls of America.

 

Standardized testing has nothing to do with improving education–not for wealthy suburbanites in Westchester and not for needy children in the Bronx. It’s all about scale, and propping up a vast and growing “education industry” that’s only worth the trouble (money) of the likes of Gates, Murdoch, the Waltons, and the Bushes, and, sadly, Obama and Duncan, if it’s standardized and millions of customers–I mean children–are buying.

United Opt Out sent a letter to Senator Lamar Alexander, who chairs the HELP (Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions) Committee in the Senate. Senator Alexander intends to rewrite No Child Left Behind (NCLB), which was originally called the Elementary and Secondary Education Act when it was first passed in 1965. At that time, the law was passed to send federal aid to poor districts. It said nothing about testing and accountability. But NCLB turned the federal law into a high-stakes testing mandate. Senator Alexander conducted his first hearing on January 21 and plans another hearing on January 27. Senator Alexander proposed two options in  his draft legislation: option 1 was to replace annual testing with grade span testing; option 2 was to keep annual high-stakes testing (the status quo). UOO is opposed to high-stakes testing in the federal law, period. (So am I.)

 

Here is UOO’s letter:

 

 

United Opt Out Public Letter to Senator Alexander

 

 

 
January 22, 2015

 

Dear Senator Alexander,

 

There is a great deal of discussion about where education leaders and organizations “stand” when it comes to the latest revision for ESEA titled Every Child Ready for College or Career Act of 2015. In response, the organizers of United Opt Out (UOO) find that we stand between Scylla and Charybdis, between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

 

In your bill you pose the question of support for Option 1, a reduction in testing to grade span, or Option 2, which continues the current testing nightmare; we support neither. We find many items in the 400 page document too egregious and insupportable even though we do accept the notion of “grade span testing,” preferably via random sampling, as an alternative to what is in place now.

 

While we understand why many of our respected colleagues have shown support for Option 1 in your bill, we cannot endorse either. This is because both options are tucked neatly inside a larger bill that promotes the expansion of charters and other policies destructive overall to the well-being of students, public schools, and communities. Another reason we are reluctant, no matter what enticing promises are included therein, is due to those who lobbied for this bill in 2013: The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Alliance for Excellent Education and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has immense ties to ALEC.

 

While we are inclined to support H.R. 4172 – Student Testing Improvement and Accountability Act sponsored by Rep. Chris Gibson and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, which also calls for grade span testing, we would like to see additional safeguards included against possible punitive (i.e. high stakes) state policies. Also, as stated above, we prefer random sampling. In our assessment, H.R.4172 does not go far enough to protect children, educators, and communities against state policies that are damaging in nature in spite of good intent. To elaborate, this bill requires those tests be administered at least once during: (1) grades 3 through 5, (2) grades 6 through 9, and (3) grades 10 through 12. However, “under H.R. 4172, the states would retain the ability to exceed federal testing requirements if they seek to do so.” In other words, students could be tested just as much as they are now if states choose to do so. The bill is not a guaranteed protection against over-testing and its punitive consequences; it’s just a hope. We believe that hope alone is not sufficient.

 

Make no mistake, Senator Alexander, we understand fully that you are a supporter of the privatization of public schools. Despite that fact, your bill and Gibson’s may be preferable to some who are against the privatization of public schools because they contain the possibility of being better than the existing federal and state policies. However, they are not appealing to many, in particular states that have suffered the negative impact of high stakes testing. Furthermore, we can’t see how either of the current bills proposed are the “solution” to problems such as equity in funding, re-segregation, compromised pedagogy, data mining, or the intrusion of corporate interests – to cite from a list of many – that continue to fester in public education.

 

We agree that education decisions should be decided in state legislative and local district bodies, but safeguards should be in place to ensure horrific policies such as over testing and attaching results to student, teacher, school, and community worthiness are not pushed through state and district legislative bodies. Your bill and Gibson’s include no such safeguards for polices that have been detrimental to the non-white, special needs, immigrant, and impoverished communities.

 

UOO and most other human rights organizations will vigorously oppose ANY state level measures that sanction the following:

 

Increase standardized testing even if it’s under “state control”

 

Support using high stakes to make decisions about students, educators, school buildings, or communities

 

Use of sanctions such as “shuts downs” or “turn overs” based on test data of any kind

 

Display favoritism toward increased charters and state voucher programs

 

Facilitate data mining and collection of private student information

 

Engage in sweet insider deals between state policy makers and corporations or testing companies using tax-payer dollars and at the expense of safety, quality and equity in public education

 

Therefore, we demand greater safety, equity and quality for ALL schools and that includes the elimination of ALL standardized -paper based or computer adaptive testing – that redirects tax-based funding for public education to corporations and is punitive or damaging to children, teachers, schools, and communities.

 

We will not accept ANY bill until the following criteria are included:

 

Increased resources for the inclusion of local, quality curricular adoptions devoid of “teaching to the test”

 

Quality, creative, authentic, and appropriate assessment measures for general students, special needs, and English language learners that are sustainable and classroom teacher-created

 

Smaller teacher/student ratios

 

Wrap-around social programs, arts, physical education programs, and creative play recess

 

Career-focused magnet programs

 

Additionally, we demand legislation that supports a broad and deep system-wide examination of the power structures that perpetuate poverty-level existence for millions of Americans.

 

To conclude, we find ourselves having to choose between being shot in the head and being shot in the foot. For now, we choose neither. Instead we call for continued revisions of current legislation to include the items and protections outlined in this letter. We thank you for this opportunity to share our sentiments and our voice.

 

Sincerely,

 

United Opt Out Administrators:

 

 

Rosemarie Jensen
Denisha Jones
Morna McDermott
Peggy Robertson
Ruth Rodriquez
Tim Slekar
Ceresta Smith

 

 

In this excerpt from her recent book, The Tyranny of the Meritocracy, Lani Guinier describes the tight linkage between standardized testing and family income. To the extent, then, that colleges rely on the SAT (or ACT) as a filter for college admission, they disproportionately screen out students who have not had the multiple advantages of living in affluence.

 

She cites data demonstrating that the SAT is of little value in predicting college performance, yet it effectively excludes students of color and students who are from low-income families.

 

She writes:

 

Close to eight hundred colleges have decreased or eliminated reliance on high-stakes tests as the way to rank and sort students. In the current environment, however, moving away from merit by the numbers takes guts. The testing and ranking diehards, intent on maintaining their gate-keeping role, hold back and even penalize administrators who take such measures. The presidents of both Reed College and Sarah Lawrence College report experiencing forms of retribution for refusing to cooperate with the “ranking roulette.”

 

At the center of this conflict is the wildly popular US News & World Report’s annual college-rankings issue—the bible of university prestige. In the book Crazy U, Andrew Ferguson describes meeting Bob Morse, the director of data research for US News and the lead figure behind the publication’s college rankings. Morse, a small man who works in an unassuming office, is described by Ferguson as “the most powerful man in America.” And for good reason: students and parents often rely upon the rankings—reportedly produced only by Morse and a handful of other writers and editors—as a proxy for university quality. These rankings rely heavily on SAT scores for their calculations. Without such data available from, for example, Sarah Lawrence, which stopped using SAT scores in its admissions process in 2005, Morse calculated Sarah Lawrence’s ranking by assuming an average SAT score roughly 200 points below the average score of its peer group. How does US News justify simply making up a number? Michele Tolela Myers, the president of Sarah Lawrence at the time the school stopped using the SAT, reported that the reasoning behind the lowered ranking was explained to her this way: “[Director Morse] made it clear to me that he believes that schools that do not use SAT scores in their admission process are admitting less capable students and therefore should lose points on their selectivity index.”

 

This is the testocracy in action, an aristocracy determined by testing that wants to maintain its position even if it has to resort to fabrication. What is it they are so desperate to protect? The answer initially seems to be that the SAT can predict how well students will do in college and thus how well-prepared they are to enter a particular school. There is a relationship between a student’s SAT score and his first-year college grades. The problem is it’s a very modest relationship. It is a positive relationship, meaning it is more than zero. But it is not what most people would assume when they hear the term correlation.

 

In 2004, economist Jesse Rothstein published an independent study that found only a meager 2.7 percent of grade variance in the first year of college can be effectively predicted by the SAT. The LSAT has a similarly weak correlation to actual achievement in law school. Jane Balin, Michelle Fine, and I did a study at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where we looked at the first-year law school grades of 981 students over several years and then looked at their LSAT scores. It turned out that there was a modest relationship between their test scores and their grades. The LSAT predicted 14 percent of the variance between the first-year grades. And it did a little better the second year: 15 percent. Which means that 85 percent of the time it was wrong. I remember being at a meeting with a person who at the time worked for the Law School Admission Council, which constructs the LSAT. When I brought these numbers up to her she actually seemed surprised they were that high. “Well,” she said, “nationwide the test is nine percent better than random.” Nine percent better than random. That’s what we’re talking about….

 

Meaningful participation in a democratic society depends upon citizens who are willing to develop and utilize these three skills: collaborative problem solving, independent thinking, and creative leadership. But these skills bear no relationship to success in the testocracy. Aptitude tests do not predict leadership, emotional intelligence, or the capacity to work with others to contribute to society. All that a test like the SAT promises is a (very, very slight) correlation with first-year college grades.

 

But once you’re past the first year or two of higher education, success isn’t about being the best test taker in the room any longer. It’s about being able to work with other people who have different strengths than you and who are also prepared to back you up when you make a mistake or when you feel vulnerable. Our colleges and universities have to take pride not in compiling an individualistic group of very-high-scoring students but in nurturing a diverse group of thinkers and facilitating how they solve complex problems creatively—because complex problems seem to be all the world has in store for us these days.

Perdido Street School blogger warns that teachers, their union, and public schools have become the biggest targets for Andrew Cuomo in his second term.

In a preview of his State of the State address today, Cuomolashed out at teachers and public education:

““It probably has been the single greatest failure of the state in many ways,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo says reform, including an overhaul of teacher performance reviews and fixing bad schools are at the top of his agenda. And he says simply spending “more money” is not the answer. He says it’s been tried in the past, with little improvement.

“And you know what it’s gotten us?” Cuomo asked. “A larger and larger bureaucracy, and higher salaries for the people who work in the education industry.”

Read the comments on Perdido’s post:

Several comments predict that Cuomo will stumble when he goes after schools and teachers in affluent districts. Parents and community leaders in those districts like their schools and their teachers. They don’t see them as failures.

Tim Slekar, dean of Edgewood College school of education, has a few questions for Senator Vos, speaker of Wisconsin ‘s state senate. He doesn’t ask Senator Vos about his proposal for “the right to work for less.”

No, he asks about the senator’s idea that the state’s students and educators need tough new accountability.

Tim asks:

“WHY, WHY, WHY would you even be thinking about implementing “accountability?” Accountability has a 30-year record of failing children, parents, teachers, and communities. And the disaster of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top over the last 14 years has literally denied a generation of children access to their fundamental right of a powerful and critical education! The only beneficiaries of “accountability” have been you and your friends in the legislature and the companies that have made millions on the sale of tests and data systems to schools. Schools that have simultaneously been drained of money that could have gone towards the only things proven by research to help create an atmosphere in which real learning can occur—health care, basic nutrition, and access to books.

“This leads me to ask again, why? Why engage in behavior that actually damages children, families, and communities? Is the money being offered by lobbyists really worth purposely harming Wisconsin’s kids, families and communities? If you and your colleagues in the legislature really want to help make sure Wisconsin is delivering on its promise to the children of the state, why not simply start by asking for help from people that actually know what they’re talking about. Why not ask a classroom teacher what they need to help educate the children of Wisconsin?”

Senator Vos even wants to crack down on the University of Wisconsin because he is sure its faculty doesn’t work hard enough.

Tim offers his own proposal: why not start with a Legislator Accountability System?

“I have a better idea. Before you start screwing up one of the best systems of higher education in the world all over your perceived issue with faculty workloads, please first implement a transparent system of accountability for you and your legislative colleagues. Provide us with detailed daily workloads—the taxpayers— so we know where and when you are actually working for us. We—the taxpayers— need to be sure that all of you are not “working on administrative and other nonproductive activities.” We—the taxpayers—want efficient legislators. We don’t really have time for you and your colleagues to engage in inefficient legislative practices.

“Also, it would be really helpful if you and your colleagues designed a legislative report card. We—the taxpayers—would like to know if you and your colleagues are actually building Wisconsin’s infrastructure, creating life sustaining jobs, and helping to promote a civil society free of racism, segregation and poverty. Right? I mean we are paying you good money. Shouldn’t we—the taxpayers— know if you and your colleagues really are effective civil servants?”

Dave Zeeicel, the editor emeritus of the Capital Times in Madison loved the idea.

So do I.

Jersey Jazzman posted four articles about charter schools in Hoboken. In this, his final post in the series, he draws together the issues that confront Hoboken and will soon confront urban (and perhaps suburban) districts across the nation as charter schools continue to proliferate with the active encouragement of philanthropies like Walton, Broad, and Gates and the of the Obama administration and Congress.

 

He writes:

 

America is a society that sorts its citizens, and that sorting begins in school. Want your kid to get a high SAT score and consequently go to a competitive college? Your best chance is to enroll him in a school with low numbers of students in poverty. As I’ve said, it’s not wrong to act on this reality in the best interests of your child; I would be a screaming hypocrite if I tried to deny that I had. What’s wrong is to pretend that the reality of schools as engines of social reproduction doesn’t exist. Which brings us back to Hoboken… I have no doubt the supporters of Hoboken’s charter schools want to help children in economic disadvantage and children of color succeed. Nobody thinks it’s acceptable for poor children to be consigned to a life of poverty. I believe the efforts of the people who run Hoboken’s charters to recruit a diverse student body are sincere and well-intentioned. I further believe, as I have said before, that affluent charter school proponents who stay in their cities with their families, rather than decamp for the ‘burbs, can make a good case that they are doing more to help their communities than those that flee. So, to be clear: I am not criticizing anyone who teaches at or sends their child to a Hoboken charter school. God bless and good luck. No, my issue, as always, is with the charter cheerleaders who repeatedly refuse to have an honest conversation about what is really happening.

 

When charters claim they serve the same demographic as public schools, and when they claim that they “do more with less,” the discussion is pure spin, says JJ:

 

There is a serious conversation that needs to be had about segregation, school funding, gentrification, and charter schools — but we can’t have that conversation as long as nonsense like this is allowed to go unchallenged. The “doing more with less” arguments from the Hoboken charter cheerleaders are, at best, incomplete, because those charters raise substantial additional funds from their parents, and rely on a concentration of social and political capital to benefit their schools.

 

The charter cheerleaders deny the facts and distort the reality. Private schools have the same segregative effects, but they don’t take money away from needy public schools; charters do.

 

JJ writes:

 

How can anyone make the case that charter school expansion isn’t having an unequal and pernicious effect on the neediest children of Hoboken? How can anyone seriously deny that the proliferation of charters is harming children in HPS — children who are far more likely to be in economic disadvantage?

 

What’s happening in Hoboken is, again, atypical. But as cities gentrify; and family size shrinks, making urban living more attractive; and income inequality grows, watch out: Hoboken may be the template for a new wave of charter school proliferation. The intra-city economic and racial segregation that used to be the exclusive province of private schools may well be replaced by charter schools, subsisting on the taxpayers’ dime.

 

We have enough problems with segregation between school districts; do we have to replicate that within cities simply to create diverse communities? Wouldn’t we be better off fully funding our urban — and, for that matter, non-urban — schools, so that they become as desirable as the best-resourced suburban districts? Or is the current form of charter proliferation in Hoboken as inevitable as the current segregation of our urban and suburban school districts?

 

These are hard questions that need to be discussed. Let’s get rid of the charter cheerleading, then, so we can do just that.

In December, the York (Pennsylvania) Dispatch tried to meet with representatives from Charter Schools USA, the Florida for-profit chain that has been selected by the district’s receiver to take control of the city’s financially strapped public schools. The company canceled the meeting. The newspaper submitted 36 questions. The company did not respond to 12 of them.

“Those questions include the following: Will Charter Schools USA allow employees to unionize? How much does the average teacher make at a school operated by Charter Schools USA? What is CEO Jonathan Hage’s annual salary? How much profit does Charter Schools USA expect to make on the York City contract?

“The Dispatch recently reiterated those questions to the company.

“Due to the current status of contract negotiations, Charter Schools USA will not be visiting our market for one-on-one media interviews until more information is known regarding the future of a potential contract in York,” Kernan wrote in response. “Should the situation change indicating potential movement on the contract, Charter Schools USA will welcome face-to-face interviews regarding the students of the York City School District. Charter Schools USA continues to be focused on providing educational opportunities for students.”

Kernan said Charter Schools USA would also decline phone or email interview requests.”

Meanwhile CSUSA has hired a prominent lobbying firm to represent its interests in Harrisburg.

“Malady & Wooten lists a diversity of clients on its website — from major retailers like Walmart, Target and Rite Aid to smaller interests like the Pennsylvania Golf Course Owners Association and several schools for deaf and blind children.”

“Calls to Malady & Wooten were not returned.”

Two questions occur:

First, how can any corporation make a profit managing a district with a tax base too small to support its schools?

Second, doesn’t the state have a constitutional obligation to provide public education to all children? If the district can’t afford to maintain its schools, doesn’t the state have an obligation to subsidize its schools rather than giving them away to a company whose first responsibility is to make a profit?

Florida has more than 600 charter schools. It has a significant number of for-profit charter schools that make money on management fees and paying rent to their own corporations. Many charter schools have failed and closed. But charter schools fund candidates for the state legislature who support the expansion of charter schools, and some of their champions hold key positions in the state legislature.

 

Governor Rick Scott announced that he wants $100 million for construction and maintenance of charter schools. He didn’t mention whether he would propose any funding for construction or maintenance of public schools. At his side in Miami was the rapper Pitbull, famous for his misogynistic lyrics. The announcement was made at the charter school founded by Pitbull, called the Sports Leadership and Management Academy (SLAM). It is managed by the politically powerful Academica charter chain.

 

It is all about politics, money, and power. Not kids or education. Politics, money, and power.

Michael Hynes, who is superintendent of schools of the Patchogue-Medford (NY) district, writes in Education  Week that our nation may still be at risk. He believes the “reform” agenda of the New York Board of Regents is wrong and merely echoes the wrongheaded agenda of the U.S. Department of Education. How did we go so wrong, he wonders.

 

He writes:

 

As a school system seeks to progress one should often ask, “Is this best for kids?” I believe this question was never asked by the U.S. Department of Education or the New York State Education Department. They are paving a road as “we” drive on it. As this road is paved, we have little to no say as to the road conditions that we see ahead of us, how fast we are going and where our destination is.

 

I believe this is true at both the state and national level in relation to public education. Over the years I have seen many things come and go. It’s the perpetual pendulum of mandates, ideas, movements, etc. There are some things that are still around that I wish were gone, and some things are gone but I wish were still here. I won’t mention which things because it really is a matter of perspective. My perspective, my opinion. However; I believe it is a fact that public education is under assault and “we” are driving on a road that will lead to it crashing and crashing hard….As a superintendent it is imperative that I am accountable (for myself and others) as well as building up other people’s capacities to reach their potential. If an employee is not the right fit in my district, it is my job to find someone else who is. Every aspect of the Regents Reform Agenda has very little to do with child development and everything to do with the wrong drivers for improving schools.

My question is, how are they accountable?

 

Where did we go wrong, he wonders. He reviews the findings of the famous 1983 report “A Nation at Risk” and discovers to his surprise that it did not promote the road we are now on (though it may have focused too much on test scores as the ultimate gauge of “success”):

 

This document made recommendations to focus on curricula and learning from other advanced countries. What I found most interesting was that the report doesn’t mention anything about how schools should run and rarely makes any remarks about testing. I was surprised and found that extremely refreshing.

 

Furthermore, Dr. Hynes noted what was missing from “A Nation at Risk”:

 

When I read the recommendations, I found the following items absent:

*Test children into oblivion;
*Use tests from our children to grade and assess teachers and principals;
*Develop new standards that have very little input from the educators who will teach the new standards to our children;
*Do not trust teachers, principals, superintendents and school boards to make informed decisions about what is best for their children in relation to assessments, curricula and best practices at the local level;
*Ensure that state and federal government (Governor and President) has significant influence over teacher accountability systems and assessments. They should decide what is best for children in public education (even if their children don’t attend public school);
*Guarantee corporations will make billions of dollars in the age of compliance and testing

 

Is there an alternative to our present disastrous path? Dr. Hynes believes there is.

 

Some of us believe in trusting the local control of our school systems. I believe in the capacity building of our teachers individually and collectively. It’s about climate control within our schools and trying to work with the command and control mentality outside of them. State Education Departments should be working with school districts, not against them…. I believe the underpinnings of the New York Regents Reform Agenda have never been proven to work successfully AND longitudinally in any school district…. As Alfie Kohn stated, “The goal beyond testing is about building a thriving democracy. It is about helping each child reach his/her potential as a human being and learner.” Strip away the over-testing of students, tying student scores to teachers and principal evaluations, using the new poorly designed standards and the command and control mentality from our state and national education departments.

 

It seems the world of education is divided into two camps. Those who think we are on the wrong road, and those who say full speed ahead, regardless of the warning signs. Dr. Hynes is in the first camp. He is truly putting students first.

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