Archives for category: New York

Teachers and administrators have been posting their comments on the new Common Core tests at the new website testing talk.com.

This was typical.

I copied this from the testingtalk.org website just now and thought you might like to see this. Bravo to this principal. I wish I taught for him/her!

Disheartened and Disgusted

Author: Anonymous, Administrator, Principal
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State: NY

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Test: State test: Pearson

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Date: April 3 at 4:38 pm ET

“As an administrator of a suburban public school, I have dedicated my life to educating young children… as a teacher, as a parent and as a school administrator. When asked, I will readily share that I believe my job to be exciting, invigorating and rewarding. I describe it as the best job a person can have. After all, I awake each morning eager to get to school because I have the privilege of spending many hours with students who bounce into school with a thirst for learning and a dedicated staff, who work tirelessly to provide the best education possible for their students. When the common core standards were first introduced, my staff and I did what we always do…we met, we conversed, we scrutinized the standards to gain an in-depth understanding, and then we organized our curriculum and collected materials so that we could work with our students to achieve the desired outcomes. As an experienced curriculum leader, I take my responsibility to students and teachers very seriously. Today, for the first time ever, I doubt my work and question what it is we are trying to teach children.

“Each day of the ELA testing, I sat down to read the assessments my students were taking. I was appalled at what they were asked to answer and exhausted from reading and rereading passages over and over again. If I as an adult struggled with the task, I can only imagine how my students suffered.

“Each day of the ELA testing, I have walked my building, peering into classrooms and observing my third, fourth and fifth graders attempting to complete what I have now termed a ludicrous ELA assessment. I became increasingly disheartened as I watched my young students, with anguished looks upon their faces, struggling to answer poorly worded and ambiguous questions based on text too difficult for them to comprehend. After twenty-nine years of administering standardized tests, I noted for the first time children handing in test booklets with many blank pages. Instead of children feeling exhilarated after completing the ELA because they knew they had successfully met the high expectations that have been set for them, the children were forlorn because they knew that they had failed to rise to the occasion. How could we have done this to young children????

“Throughout the day, I have engaged in informal conversations with my teachers questioning how going forward we will try and prepare our youngsters for this exam. The answer is unanimous… preparing for this exam is impossible and so going forward, we will continue to do what we do best, teach children to embrace the joy of reading and writing. We will teach to the common core standards so that we prepare children for real-life reading … reading for enjoyment, reading for key ideas and details, reading for craft and structure, and reading for the integration of knowledge and ideas.

“All of my life I have been a rule follower. Now, for the first time, I will become a staunch advocate for eliminating these assessments that have no validity and offer no legitimate data for improving students’ English Language Arts skills.”

On the website Testtalk.org, there are many interesting comments about the three days of testing English Language Arts. Why does it require so many hours to find out how well children read? No one knows, or if they know, they aren’t saying.

Here is a thoughtful reflection by a third-grade teacher:

“I have been wondering for years now what these tests are really accomplishing, and this year I am more dismayed than ever. I firmly believe that they are not even measuring what they claim to be assessing.

“You cannot measure reading comprehension when the student has to spend all of his or her energy decoding the text. You cannot measure writing ability when the topic of their writing is dependent upon understanding of a text that was above their reading level. You cannot test math skills when the students have to spend so much time just figuring out what the task even requires of them.

“You cannot really measure ANYTHING when students are too fatigued to function (which most third graders are after about 30 minutes of one activity, let alone 60 or more). And most importantly, you cannot measure progress when where the students STARTED is never taken into account.

“As a special educator, this last one is most troubling to me. Year after year, I have to answer for why my students are not progressing, when in reality, they are making TREMENDOUS strides in their abilities to function in school and perform basic life skills and academic tasks. Sadly, these will never come to light if both the baseline assessment AND the culminating assessment are so far out of their reach it is like putting a foreign language in front of them.

“I know we want to be the best and brightest country in the world, but the fact remains that humans do not learn new things overnight. Everyone learns differently, learns at their own pace, and has different ways of showing what they have learned.

“One of the first things I learned in my teacher certification program (one of the best and most respected in my state), was that NO ONE should be judged by tests and tests alone, but that day to day observation data, work samples, and multi-faceted projects were far more valuable.

“Now, teachers are being told by those who never went through such programs, that what they learned doesn’t matter, schools need to run like businesses, and students need to be programmed like machines (and if they cannot be, it is the teacher’s fault – NOTHING else is considered). What are we doing? What are we teaching our children? What are we preparing them for? WHAT ARE WE TESTING????”

Kenneth Mitchell, a school superintendent in the Lower Hudson Valley of New York, has been concerned about the costs imposed on school districts by Race to the Top. He previously estimated that six districts in his region would spend $11 million to comply with the mandates of Race to the Top, which paid these districts $400,000.

In this comment, he describes a recent meeting with lawyers about possible lawsuits that will be brought because of New York’s flawed Educator Evaluation System.

 

On Friday, March 14, The Lower Hudson Council of School Superintendents hosted a panel of education attorneys to address the following topic:

LEGAL IMPLICATIONS OF NEW YORK STATE’S NEW TEACHER AND PRINCIPAL EVALUATION SYSTEMS

Supervision, Evaluation & Tenure Decisions

• What is the effect of Education Law §3012-c on a school district’s ability to terminate probationary teachers and principals?

• How might overly prescriptive, rigid statutory and regulatory policy frameworks, such as §3012-c, regarding teacher evaluation, tenure, and employment decisions withstand teacher and principal appeals?

Statistical Reliability and Validity of Data in Supervision, Evaluation & Tenure Decisions

• How might the statistical reliability and validity of measures of teaching effectiveness – state assessments, VAM, SLO’s, school-wide assessment scores – affect teacher evaluation, tenure, and employment decisions?

• How will the metric of ‘confidence intervals’ be considered in a legal decision about a teacher’s effectiveness?

• How will the number of years of value-added assessment data to determine teacher quality be a factor in a teacher or principal appeal?

• In what ways will the use of locally-developed assessments, such Student Learning Objectives (SLOs), be challenged in an appeal?

• How will the individual evaluation of a teacher based on school-wide data, such as the 4th grade math assessment, withstand an appeal?

Implementation, Professional Development, and Resources

• How will such factors as consistency, training, and quality be considered in observations and evaluations developed by supervisors?

• How will equity issues, such as the access to materials (e.g., Common Core units) or technology, be a factor in an appeal?

• Experts in child and adolescent development have asked for a review of the Common Core to ensure that all of the standards are developmentally appropriate.
Since assessments are being developed on the basis of Common Core and teachers and principals being assessed accordingly, how will the aforementioned concerns be considered?

Other References

“Evaluation Law Could Limit Ability to Terminate Probationary Teachers”; Warren Richmond III (Harris Beach), New York Law Journal, (May 2013)

“Legal Issues in the Use of Student Test Scores and VAM to Determine Educational Quality”; Diana Pullin, Education Policy Analysis (2010 Manuscript)

In addition to these references, we have posted other related legal articles on the main page of our website: http://www.lhcss.org. We have also raised other concerns about the model that we have shared with state legislators, members of the Board of Regents, officials at the State Education Department and with representatives of the governor’s office. There are many other questions that will need to be answered once this enters the legal arena.

We shared that many in our organization have concerns that a) the design of reform model is flawed on multiple levels; b) the expedited and unsupported implementation will further contribute to inevitable legal challenges; c)the weak technical basis and very limited or no research behind elements of the model will not withstand legal challenges. These are just a few of our concerns. As a result, school districts will be wasting even more time and money on legal costs. Unless significant changes are made on the basis of substantive evidence, New York’s reform model is headed for trouble that will move beyond the anxiety and frustration of over-tested students, angry parents, weary teachers, and harried administrators.

A new report by the Education Law Center, the Campaign for Fiscal Equity, the Alliance for Quality Education, and the Public Policy and Education Fund of New York contrasts the funding of public education in New York and New Jersey and finds two different worlds in two neighboring states:

On opposite sides of the Hudson River, New York and New Jersey stand only a mile apart. But when it comes to how they fund their public schools, the yawning gulf between these two states is wide and deep.

Unfair describes school funding in New York. Many New York children in high poverty districts are not provided with the basic resources and opportunities necessary to succeed in school, while their peers in affluent districts enjoy all the advantages of well-­‐resourced schools.

In sharp contrast, New Jersey school funding is fair. The state’s finance system adjusts for the additional need created by student poverty and other disadvantages, and includes funds for universal, high quality preschool for all three-­‐ and four-­‐year-­‐olds in its lowest wealth communities.1

The bottom line is that New York’s academic performance, as measured by high school graduation rates and test scores, trails New Jersey’s by wide margins.

Bottom line is that equity produces better schools, higher academic performance. And it is just.

According to the UCLA Civil Rights Project, New York State has the most segregated public schools in the nation. Nearly three-quarters of the charter schools in New York City are considered “apartheid schools” because less than 1% of their enrollment is white. Charters are often more racially segregated than the district in which they are located.

 

2014 marks the sixtieth anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision, Brown vs. Board of Education, which ruled that legally-sanctioned racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.

 

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New York Schools Most Segregated in the Nation

UCLA report identifies alarming trends throughout the Empire State

LOS ANGELES–A report released today by UCLA’s Civil Rights Project finds that public school students in New York continue to be severely segregated. Public school students in the state are increasingly isolated by race and class as the proportion of minority and poor students continues to grow, according to the CRP report, “New York State’s Extreme School Segregation: Inequality, Inaction and a Damaged Future.”

The study explores trends in enrollment and school segregation patterns from 1989 to 2010 at the state and regional levels, including the New York City metropolitan areas of Long Island and the New York City District, and the upstate metropolitan areas of Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse.

The report also documents the history of school desegregation in the state and across its geographic regions, including key desegregation cases and remedies in Yonkers, Rochester, and Buffalo.

In New York City, in particular, the report highlights both historical and current practices and policies perpetuating racial imbalance and educational inequity across schools, and challenged by parents and community organizations.

Educational problems linked to racially segregated schools, which are often intensified by poverty concentration, include a less-experienced and less-qualified teacher workforce, high levels of teacher turnover, inadequate facilities and learning materials, high dropout rates, and less stable enrollments. Conversely, desegregated schools are linked to profound benefits for all students.

“This report runs the geographic gamut: from the upstate metros dealing with transforming demographics and an urban-suburban divide, to Long Island, one of the most segregated and fragmented suburban rings in the country, and New York City, the largest school district in the country,” said John Kucsera, lead author of the report.

Specific findings at Various Geographic Levels

Statewide:

At the state level, the proportion of Latino and Asian students has nearly doubled from 1989 to 2010, as the exposure of these groups to white students has decreased.

Concentration levels have increased for black students in intensely segregated minority schools (where less than 10% of the student body is white), and there has been a simultaneous and dramatic increase in black exposure to Latino students over the last 20 years.
In terms of poverty concentration, statewide patterns show that schools become more low-income as their enrollment becomes majority minority.

Nearly 50% of public school students were low-income in 2010, but the typical black or Latino student attended a school where close to 70% of classmates were low-income. Conversely, the typical white student attended school where less than 30% of classmates were low-income.

Upstate Metropolitan Areas:

In Buffalo, the typical white student attended a school with 30% of poor students compared to 73% for the typical black student, two and one half times more.

Black and Latino students experienced a substantial increase in the percentage concentrated in intensely segregated schools (those with less than 10% white students) since 1989.

In the Syracuse metropolitan area, the proportion of black students grew by 4%, but black isolation rates skyrocketed. The average black student attended school in 1989 with a third of students from their own race; twenty years later, the typical black student attended schools with nearly half black students.

The majority of school districts in upstate New York remain predominantly white. In the Rochester metro, however, near a quarter of school districts are drastically changing, with most substantially integrating nonwhite students.

In the Albany metro, 97% of the metro’s multigroup segregation – measured by the distribution of racial groups in schools across the metro – occurred between rather than within districts. A total of 59 out of 65 districts in 2010 were predominantly white or nonwhite.
New York City:

Across the 32 Community School Districts (CSDs) in New York City, 19 had 10% or less white students in 2010, which included all districts in the Bronx, two-thirds of the districts in Brooklyn (central to north districts), half of the districts in Manhattan (northern districts), and only two-fifths of the districts in Queens (southeast districts).

73% of charters across New York City were considered apartheid schools (less than 1% white enrollment) and 90% percent were intensely segregated (less than 10% white enrollment) schools in 2010. Only 8% of charter schools were multiracial and with over a 14.5% white enrollment (the New York City average).

Magnet schools across the New York City district had the highest proportion of multiracial schools (47%) and the lowest proportion of segregated schools (56%) in 2010. However, 17% of magnets had less than 1% white enrollment and 7% had greater than 50% white enrollment, with PS 100 Coney Island having a white proportion of 81%.
New York Metropolitan Area:

For the New York City metro in 2010, the five boroughs represented nearly 60% of the state’s total black students, two-thirds of the total Asian and Latino students, but only 10% of white students.
In Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, where charter schools consist of around 10% of all public schools, nearly all charters were intensely segregated in 2010, with less than 10% white student enrollment. 100% of the Bronx charters, 90% of those in Brooklyn, and 97% of the Manhattan charters were intensely segregated.

Author Kucsera states, “Many of these areas, particularly suburban ones, have experienced dramatic demographic transformation coupled with a lack of diversity-focused policies, and this inevitably leads to problematic segregation patterns.”

With the help of various New York-based community groups, researchers, and civil rights organizations, the report provides a host of recommendations and actions to help create and maintain integrated schools from the federal level down to local communities and schools. These include altering school choice plans to ensure they promote diversity, supporting communities that are experiencing racial change by helping them create voluntary desegregation plans, and creating regional or interdistrict programs in urban/suburban areas.

“In the 30 years I have been researching schools, New York State has consistently been one of the most segregated states in the nation–no Southern state comes close to New York,” commented CRP Co-Director Gary Orfield. “Decades of reforms ignoring this issue produced strategies that have not succeeded in making segregated schools equal. It is time to adopt creative school choice strategies to give more New York children an opportunity to prepare to live and work effectively in a highly multiracial state.”

Read the report and see a complete breakdown of the data. This report is the fifth in a series of 12 reports on East Coast school segregation trends.

About the Civil Rights Project at UCLA
Founded in 1996 by former Harvard professors Gary Orfield and Christopher Edley, Jr., The Civil Rights Project/Proyecto Derechos Civiles is now co-directed by Orfield and Patricia Gándara, professors at UCLA. Its mission is to create a new generation of research in social science and law on the critical issues of civil rights and equal opportunity for racial and ethnic groups in the United States. It has monitored the success of American schools in equalizing opportunity and has been the authoritative source of segregation statistics. CRP has commissioned more than 400 studies, published more than 15 books and issued numerous reports from authors at universities and research centers across the country. The U.S. Supreme Court, in its 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision upholding affirmative action, and in Justice Breyer’s dissent (joined by three other Justices) to its 2007 Parents Involved decision, cited the Civil Rights Project’s research.

The Civil Rights Project / Proyecto Derechos Civiles
8370 Math Sciences, Box 951521
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1521
crp@ucla.edu

Newsday reports that nearly 6,000 studentsrefused to take the state ELA test on Tuesday.

Think how absurd these Common Core tests are.

Students in grades 3-8 sit for four hours of reading tests, then four hours of math tests. Why so long? I think the bar exam is shorter.

When the scores are eventually reported, the students have a different teacher. The scores are not broken down to show what students’ strengths and weaknesses are. That means they have no diagnostic value at all. Teachers learn nothing about the students except their scores. The tests offer no clue about how teachers can help their students.

Fact: the tests are an expensive waste of time. They won’t make students smarter. The only beneficiaries are the testing corporations, the vendors of software and hardware, whose equipment is required for the federally-funded tests. Why must all testing be online? Does it implications data mining ?

Everyone should opt out. That is the only way that policymakers will understand the deep frustration of parents.

Carol Burris here describes how Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York legislature pulled a fast trick on the parents of the state.

Rob Astorino, County Executive of Westchester County, announced today that he and his wife have decided to opt their three children out of state testing. Astorino opposes both the high-stakes testing and the Common Core as intrusions on local control imposed by Washington and Albany.

 

Astorino, a Republican, is running for Governor against Andrew Cuomo.

 

He has twice been elected as County Executive in a county where only a quarter of voters are Republicans.

 

Because Cuomo has raised $33 million for his re-election campaign, most political pundits think he will be re-elected easily. He is heavily favored by Wall Street and has made his reputation as a pro-business, anti-public education governor.

 

Education will be an important issue in this campaign.

 

 

Tim Farley has had it. He knows what the state and federal government is mandating is wrong. He knows it hurts children. He will do his best to protect the children from these harmful and spirit-deadening demands. But he will home-school his youngest child. He explains why here:

Tim Farley writes:

My wife and I have finally hit the breaking point. We can no longer sit by and watch the educational system that has been co opted by Bill Gates and his corporate cronies in the name of “education reform”, harm our youngest child. Jessica and I are the parents of four wonderful children (7th, 5th, 3rd grade, and kindergarten). Although we would like to homeschool all of our children, due to several factors, we will only be homeschooling our youngest, John Paul.

John Paul is a bright and energetic boy. He was born with a heart defect, and at two years old had open heart surgery. As traumatic as that experience was for my wife and me, it didn’t seem to have any long lasting impact on him. He is a little spitfire. At least he was. He no longer likes going to school. In fact he hates going to school. It is not his teacher, as one of our older children had the same teacher and had a fantastic experience. It is the developmentally inappropriate standards and the “rigorous” demands placed on 5 year old children that has changed. Kindergarten is supposed to be a time of exploratory learning and developing social skills. Unfortunately, it has become an assembly line environment of “drill and kill”. The inane assignments that lack any sort of creativity have crushed his love of school.

Recently I stumbled upon this video (http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FHetioUW4lI) which illustrates what many thousands of children and parents are experiencing on a daily basis due to the Common Core. My child could easily be one of those in the video.

At first, I felt that by choosing to homeschool, we were giving in to the “reformers”. It was our hope that the state legislators would have taken real steps to slow down the rushed implementation that has been widely described as an “unmitigated disaster”, a “train wreck”, and as “institutionalized educational abuse”. The legislators have failed. The Commissioner has failed. The Board of Regents has failed. The Governor has failed. We will not allow our children to be “collateral damage” while the politicians figure out how to fix the mess that they created.

My son will be provided individualized instruction by a loving mom and a former educator. He won’t be reduced to a number. We are truly blessed that this is even an option for us, as many parents lack the resources to make this choice. We only get one chance to get this right. There are no do-overs.

I will keep you posted as we embark on this new journey.

Sincerely,
Tim Farley
(Elementary and Middle School Principal of a school in the Hudson Valley)

Kathleen M. Cashin and Bruce S. Cooper are on the faculty of Fordham University. Dr. Cashin, an experienced educator, is also a member of the New York State Board of Regents. She is regularly in the minority on votes that increase the pressure for high-stakes testing. Dr. Cooper is a scholar who has written about school finance for many years. In this essay, they criticize the state’s pressure to raise test scores while sacrificing the social and emotional supports that students need to succeed in school. Schools across the state, restricted by Governor Cuomo’s 2% tax limit, must cut somewhere, and they are forced to cut such necessary services to students as social workers, psychologists, counselors, as well as the arts and athletics. These demands and the sacrifices they require will prove harmful to students, in the short run and the long run. A cardinal rule of medicine, derived from the Hippocratic Oath, is: “First, do no harm.” If it were the rule in education, the Regents and the State Commissioner would be judged to have done significant harm to the students in their care, whose well-being they willfully ignore in pursuit of ever higher scores on standardized tests.

Sacrificing Psychologists, Counselors,

& Social Workers—and Athletics & the Arts—to Test Preparation

Kathleen M. Cashin Bruce S. Cooper

To increase funds for the preparation of students for state tests, sadly, New York public schools and their districts have reduced the number of professionals for critical student services; these include guidance counselors, psychologists, and social workers, while removing often athletic coaches, arts and music staff. But how can we expect our children to flourish in schools socially, psychologically, and inter-personally if these students have fewer trained school professionals to turn to, should they need help, comfort, or support?

Thus, we are cutting the most important services for children, those that help them to develop as healthy, happy human beings, all because we are obsessed with spending more funds, hoping to raise test score results through test prep. As one school principal recently commented, “Just forget it if you are seeking a job as a school guidance counselor, as these jobs are few and far between!”

For example, New York State recorded a decline from 7,126 guidance counselors in local public schools in 2009, to 6,622 in school year 2011-12, a drop of 7%, even though the enrollments (and needs) had risen. Likewise, social workers in the state employed in public schools dropped by 6%, from 3,270 to 3,050 during the same time period. And nurses working in public schools in New York declined by 3%, from 3,662 to 3,544 during this time.

As another administrator recalls, when he was a student at a major N.Y.C. public high school, his guidance counselor frequently called him into her office and asked:

“How are you adjusting to school?” She would regularly check on my grades, attendance, and my adjustment to various subjects and classes. This attention and private time meant so much to me, and I remember her fondly to this day, as she helped me to become the person and professional that I became.

Even teachers of art, music, drama, and physical education – and other areas that often go “untested” by the state — are disappearing, again reducing children’s engagement, joy, expression, physical fitness, creativity, and affirmation. What have we as a society accomplished by turning schools into “test mills” where fewer kids are happy; and schools are now spending eight months each year prepping for state tests?

Funding for the music and art in schools in New York City, for example, has plummeted by 81 percent since 2006, from about $10 million for supplies, dipping down to just $2 million in 2012. Cultural partnership funding — to build bridges between N.Y.C. public schools and it important cultural institutions — likewise, has been reduced by 50 percent, from $26 million to only $13 million.

Results

Now, attention and time devoted to the “whole child” are now much less likely because teachers working alone in their classrooms are assuming more and more responsibility. And we see less staff who are trained and hired to help students — socially and emotionally — with a reduction in social workers, guidance counselors, athletic coaches, and school psychologists.

As a consequence, what are the effects of this drop in guidance counselors, now fewer in number in many schools, on children’s growth, stability, school attendance, as well the impact on levels of bad behaviors, such as physical bullying, and cyber-bullying? Those staff, specifically trained to address these students’ needs and problems, have diminished and thus are no longer around — or have so many students to serve, that they are not able to counsel students fully for college and career readiness.

We have data on the reduction in nonteaching staff, and on the rise of bad, anti-social behavior and depression among school kids; thus, we are believe that the drop in counselors and athletic-arts-music staff relates to the rising despair of students, who may have no one to whom to turn: fewer coaches, counselors, and psychologists in their schools.

Hence, we are making demands that students now become college and career prepared, while reducing (or overburdening) the very staff members who are trained to help these students. These critical questions must be answered at the federal, state, and local levels:

1. What is the level of relationship between loss of staff and the rise in student bullying and cyber-bullying?

2. What are the effects of reductions in available psychological and guidance personnel upon the levels of: (a) student suicide, (b) self-mutilation, and (c) truancy and dropout?

3. And how has the increase in gang membership — and combat among gangs –affected students’ feelings of school safety, school climate, and productivity?

Thus, overall, why are we letting our schools become less humane, supportive, and communal. And how are some students taking steps to join or create more gangs for fellowship and a sense of safety in numbers—or trying in other ways to create their own “safety nets”? Unsafe schools may then become breeding grounds, where frightened children look for protection in neighborhood gangs.

In effect, students are creating their own victimhood by these actions:

Looking to gangs for protection from other gangs;

• Missing coping mechanisms developed through counseling, guidance, and teacher relationships;

• Losing chances to learn life and life-coping skills in schools, along with other students and professional staff;

• Reducing available parental involvement and support in helping their own children learn to cope, practice, and succeed in school – and life; and,

• Losing real opportunities to practice social and personal skills at school and home.

We must recognize that caring for and supporting the socio-emotional needs of children are as important in the long-run as simply test-prepping our children’s way to a higher score on English, math, science, and social studies examinations.

Research and experience together show that children can learn, retain, and focus better when they are feeling and functioning as safe, happy, well-adjusted young people. Society has a real responsibility once again to make schools safe-havens for all children, physically and socially. For are we not truly our brothers and sisters’ keepers?

______________

Kathleen M. Cashin, Ed.D., is a member of the N.Y. State Board Regents and a clinical professor at Fordham University.

Bruce S. Cooper, Ph.D., is professor at Fordham University, Graduate School of Education, N.Y.C.

Contact:

Dr. Bruce S. Cooper

175 Riverside Dr. Apt. #2F

New York, NY 10024

Tel: 917 843-2281

Email: bruce.cooper@mac.com

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