Archives for category: Parents

These remarks were delivered by a parent in Brooklyn at the Opt Out rally:

“Good morning and welcome to Brooklyn!

“My name is Kemala Karmen and I am the parent of a 4th grader at PS 146, the Brooklyn New School. In recent years, our borough has earned a reputation as a trendsetter in everything from Indie music to urban farming to participatory budgeting—pioneered in NYC by Council Member Brad Lander, who is here today to support us.

“Now we can add one more way in which Brooklyn is blazing a trail: the parents of Brooklyn, outraged by the hijacking of our childrens’ educations, outraged by the assault on our public schools and on our public school teachers, we parents of Brooklyn are taking a stand. Whether we live in Brownsville or Cobble Hill, Ft. Greene or Greenpoint, we are saying ENOUGH! Stop using the blunt instrument of the state ELA and math tests to rank and sort our children, our teachers, and our schools.

“Maybe it’s our city, state, and federal policy makers who need to take the ELA test! When we delivered petitions or wrote letters about the misuses of the tests, they didn’t seem to be able to read—or heed—our urgent concerns about our children.

“Our policy makers also flat-out ignored experts in child development and test design, experts whose published research “warned against attaching severe consequences to performance on any test.” And, sadly, even the teachers’ union has been slow to protect its members from the stranglehold of testing.

“So now, we parents are invoking the only tool we have left. In growing numbers, we are refusing to let our children take these tests. No test score means no data. No data on which to base teacher evaluations. No data on which to justify school closings. No sensitive, personal data that follows our children from year to year, from school to school.

“This morning parents at our District 15 school stand together with parents at other Brooklyn schools to announce the explosive growth of test resistance in our borough, a movement that is gaining momentum elsewhere, too—in the city, and the state, and, really, anywhere in the country where parents see the joys of teaching and learning constrained, the spark of curiosity and creativity snuffed out.

“At 3 Brooklyn schools that we know of—our school, District 23’s PS 446/The Riverdale Avenue Community School (which is in Brownsville) and the Academy of Arts & Letters, located in Ft. Greene in District 13—this year there will be far more children NOT taking the tests than taking them. What that means in stark numbers: at PS 446 48 out of 60 children will REFUSE THE TESTS. At Arts & Letters 44 out of 53 3rd graders will REFUSE THE TESTS. At PS 146, Brooklyn New School 243 out of 306 students will REFUSE THE TESTS.

“It may be April Fools Day, but these tests and, indeed, the whole edifice of corporate “education reform” built upon these tests is no joke. It is no laughing matter when millions are diverted away from our children’s classrooms and into the hands of for-profit companies. It fails to amuse when our class sizes become so large that even our best teachers are hard pressed to know each child.

“I am happy to report that at Riverdale Avenue Community, Arts & Letters, & BNS, our families will no longer blindly default to taking the tests. We are fortunate, because the administration and teachers at our schools have supported us in exercising our rights as parents to make informed decisions about “opting in” or “opting out” of the tests. We hope that others will take heart from what is happening at our schools, that other parents will understand that they have the right to direct their children’s education—and not be afraid to exercise that right. And we hope more principals will not be afraid to stand up for their families.

Dear Friends,

Today this blog reached the unbelievable number of eleven million page views!

I had no idea this would happen when I wrote the first post on April 26, 2012.

Thank you for reading. More than that, thank you for participating.

Many of you contribute regularly to what must be the liveliest discussion about education on the Internet. I read your comments and pick out some that are the most interesting, the most thoughtful, the most informative, and the most provocative and post them. It may be the same day or weeks later. The important thing is that I have tried to make this blog a place where the voices of parents, students, teachers, principals, and superintendents are heard, unedited.

The rules of the blog are limited and simple. Be civil. Avoid certain four-letter words which I will not print. Do not insult your host. There are plenty of other forums for all of the above. Just not here.

As you know, the blog has a point of view, because I have a point of view. I care passionately about improving the education of all children. I care passionately about showing respect for the dedicated men and women who work hard every day to educate children and help them grow to be healthy, happy human beings with good character and a love of learning. I care passionately about restoring real education and rescuing it from those who have dumbed it down into preparation for the next standardized test. I care passionately about restoring to all children their right to engage in the arts, to play, to dream, to create, to have a childhood and a youth unburdened by fear of tests. I care passionately about protecting the public schools from those who seek to monetize them and use them as a source of profit and power.

I am in my end game. I will fight to the last to defend children, teachers, principals, and public education from the billionaires and politicians who have made a hobby of what is deceptively called “reform.” What is now called “reform,” as the readers of this blog know, is a calculated plan to turn public schools over to amateurs and entrepreneurs, while de imaging the teaching profession to cut costs.

The people who promote the privatization and standardization of public education are the StatusQuo. They include the U.S. Department of Education, the nation’s wealthiest hedge fund managers, and the nation’s largest foundations. They include ALEC, Democrats for Education Reform, Stand on Children, ConnCAN, and a bevy of other organizations eager to transfer public dollars to private organizations. Their stale and failed ideas are the Status Quo. Their ideas have been ascendant for a dozen years. They have failed and failed again, but their money and political power keep them insulated from news of the damage they do to Other People’s Children.

We will defeat them. We will outlast them. Who are we? We are the Resistance. We are parents and grandparents, teachers, and principals, school board members, and scholars. We will not go away. They can buy politicians, but they can’t buy us. They can buy “think tanks,” but they can’t buy us. Public schools are not for sale. Nor are our children. Nor are we.

PRESS ALERT

Contact 1: Elizabeth Elsass, 917-605-3640, rinelsass1@gmail.com
Contact 2: Dani Liebling, 347-218-3107, daniliebling@yahoo.com

GROUNDSWELL OF BROOKLYN PARENTS FROM BROWNSVILLE TO CARROLL GARDENS REFUSE STATE TESTS

WHAT:

To mark the first day of State-mandated standardized tests, Brooklyn parents from schools with unprecedented rates of test refusal will hold a playground press conference to announce how and why they have embarked on a civil disobedience campaign.

WHEN:

Tuesday, April 1st at 9:15 AM

WHERE:

Dimattina Playground, adjacent to the Brooklyn New School

(between Rapelye and Woodhull Street, Henry and Hicks Street)

WHO:

Parents from a diverse group of Brooklyn public schools including host schools PS 446/Riverdale Ave Community School (Brownsville), Arts & Letters (Fort Greene), and PS 146/Brooklyn New School (Carroll Gardens); elected officials or their representatives. (Confirmed: Brad Lander, Daniel Wiley, Community Coordinator for Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Community Education Council 15 Member. List in formation.)

WHY:

Brooklyn parents organized a grassroots opt-out campaign that yielded a record number of test refusals for this year’s 3rd-8th grade state math and English exams. In a first for the borough, more students at the host schools will sit out the tests than will take them.* The campaign is part of a national movement in which parents are rejecting high-stakes tests as harmful to their children, teachers, and schools and as detrimental to creativity and deep learning.

VISUALS:

Parents holding signs and examples of student work.

*Exact number available at the press conference

Here is good news indeed!

After a dozen years of test mania in New York City, Chancellor Carmen Farina issued instructions for testing that make clear that students will not be punished for opting out of the state tests that start next week.

Here are key quotes:

What should a principal do if parents express an interest in opting their children out of the State
exams?

“The principal should offer to meet with the parents to discuss their concerns. The principal may want to explain that a student’s test scores will be only one of a number of factors that evaluate his or her progress and describe the impacts of opting out of the State exams (as detailed in this School Guide and in the corresponding Parent Guide). If, after consulting with the principal, the parents still want to opt their child out of the exams, the principal should respect the parents’ decision and let them know that the school will work to the best of their ability to provide the child with an alternate educational activity (e.g., reading) during testing times.

“What happens after test administration if a student refuses to participate in State testing?

“Students who do not participate will not receive a score, similar to students who were present for the exam but did not respond to any questions or for students whose exams were invalidated as a result of an administrative error.

“For promotion decisions: Promotion portfolio assessments will be prepared based on specified exercises that assess students’ proficiency. Results will be reviewed by the teacher, principal and then by the superintendent, who makes a final determination based upon standard benchmarks. Students who achieve proficiency based on the portfolio assessment will be promoted. Some students with IEPs and some English Language Learners have different promotion standards based on their needs, as described here.”

Imagine that! “The principal should respect the parents’ decision….!” What a thought! When was the last time you heard anything like that from school authorities?

Kyle and Jennifer Massey in Waco, Texas, wrote a respectful letter to their child’s principal explaining why they would not permit him to take the state STAAR tests or to engage in test prep for STAAR testing. As his parents, they care more about their child than the Legislature or Governor Perry or Pearson. They clearly, in this instance, know more than the legislators who are influenced by lobbyists to keep piling on more testing without regard to the best interests of children or our society. They want for their child what “the best and wisest parent ” wants for his own children: a full, rich, creative, liberating education, one that prepares him for life in a democracy, not endless drill and practice for tests that are prepared thousands of miles away, whose sole purpose is to rate their child, his teachers, his principal, and his school.

The Masseys write:

“This letter is to respectfully inform you that our fourth grade child XXXXXX will need to be excused
from all mandated standardized testing (e.g. STAAR test) during the remainder of the school year. This is also
to include classroom activities that are intended as STAAR test preparation, such as practice tests and test-
taking training exercises. As we are morally and ethically opposed to these school activities, we are making this
decision with recognition of our parental rights and obligations under the due process clause of the Fourteenth
Amendment of the United States Constitution and the Texas Education Code (Title 2, Subtitle E, “Students and
Parents, Section 26, “Parental Rights and Responsibilities”).

“We maintain that it is our parental right to choose to opt our children out of school activities that are harmful to
children as stated in the Texas Education Code CHAPTER 26. PARENTAL RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES
Sec. A26.010.EXEMPTION FROM INSTRUCTION. A parent is entitled to remove the parent’s child
temporarily from a class or other school activity that conflicts with the parent’s religious or moral beliefs if the
parent presents or delivers to the teacher of the parent’s child a written statement authorizing the removal of
the child from the class or other school activity. Please consider this letter to be our written statement of
authorization.

“We want our children to become critical and creative thinkers, not subservient test-takers.
We do not want XXX or his teachers shackled to a faulty testing product such as the STAAR test, or any standardized test for that matter. High-stakes standardized testing is not the education experience we want for our children, and thus we are choosing to opt XXXX out of all STAAR testing activities.

“Public education in this country has been the victim of thirty years’ worth of neoliberal hegemonic attacks in the form of political and
economic policies. These corporate attacks have negatively altered the structures, pedagogical practices, and
intended democratic goals of public education. As we reflect on the intended goals of public schools in a liberal
democracy – to prepare citizens for active civic participation, and indeed for global citizenship, for example –
we believe it is morally wrong to put children through the ordeal of standardized testing which has no benefit to
their personal education or development as citizens.

“The following summarizes some of our reasons for our belief that the practice of high stakes standardized
testing is morally wrong:

“AFFECTS SOCIO-EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING: This system of constant testing seems designed to
produce anxiety and depression. Evidence has accumulated over the last few decades of the
detrimental effect of frequent testing on students’ enjoyment of school, their
willingness to learn, other than for the purpose of passing tests or examinations, and their understanding of the process of
learning. A well-documented direct impact of testing regimes is that they induce test anxiety in young
learners and that perceived low scores negatively affect students’ self-esteem and perceptions of
themselves as learners. Any negative impact on motivation for learning is clearly highly undesirable,
particularly at a time in a young person’s life when the importance of learning to learn and lifelong
learning is widely embraced.

“KILLS CURIOSITY AND LOVE OF LEARNING: High-stakes standardized testing actually limits and
reduces the amount of QUALITY learning experiences. Rather than focusing on a child’s natural curiosity, testing emphasizes (and drills in) isolated facts limiting teacher’s ability to create
environments that stimulate a child’s imagination.

“REDUCES A CHILD’S CAPACITY FOR ATTAINING NEW KNOWLEDGE: If children cannot actively
make connections between different topics of study, they don’t remember what they learn from day to
day. Most standardized tests are still based on the recall of isolated facts and narrow skills.

“REPLACES HIGHER ORDER THINKING WITH SKILL, DRILL AND KILL: Most tests include many
topics that are not important, while many important areas are not included on standardized tests
because they cannot be measured by such tests. Teaching to the test does not produce real and
sustained gains on independent learning measures.

“NARROWS THE CURRICULUM: The loss of a rich curriculum has been documented in research and
in teacher testimony. The use of high-stakes tests is universally found to be associated with teachers
focusing on the content of the tests, administering repeated practice tests, training students in the
answers to specific questions or types of question, and adopting transmission styles of teaching. In
such circumstances teachers make little use of assessment formatively to help the learning process.
High-stakes tests are inevitably designed to be as ‘objective’ as possible, since there is a premium on
reliable marking in the interests of fairness. This has the effect of reducing what is assessed to what
can be readily and reliably marked. Generally this excludes many worthwhile outcomes of education
such as problem-solving and critical thinking.

“REDUCES SOCIALIZATION AS A CENTRAL CORE OF LEARING: The reduction of opportunities to
learn to socialize through and collaborative classroom activities reduces children’s opportunities to
develop healthy social skills. Being seated alone at a desk taking a test all day, or for a significant
portion of the day, isolates children from learning how to develop community-based problem solving
skills they will need as adults.

“WASTES VALUABLE EDUCATIONAL TIME SPENT TAKING TESTS: Texas Public Schools will
spend one of every five days or nearly 20% of the school year conducting tests. According to the
Texas Education Agency, Texas public schools will spend 34 out of the 185 day long year conducting
tests mandated by the state government. This does not include the regular testing in schools such as
six-weeks tests, quizzes, and final exams.

“VIOLATES ALL CHILDRENS’ RIGHTS TO A FREE AND APPROPRIATE EDUCATION: High-stakes
testing leads to under-serving or mis-serving all students, especially the most needy and vulnerable,
thereby violating the principle of ‘do no harm’. For example, students living in poverty, who already lack
critical access to books and free reading, are condemned to test prep instead of having opportunities
to read. Monies desperately needed for vital school resources such as clean drinking water, supplies
and roofs that don’t leak are being spent on testing materials. Texas spends $44 billion per year on
public education, of that $1 billion is spent just on testing days!

“LIMITS THE EDUCATION DECISION-MAKING POWER OF COMMUNITIES: Largely though
standardized testing, neoliberal reforms have transferred the control of schools away from the local
school boards, where control has resided since the founding of public schools, to the state and federal
levels, which create policies about which communities have little input but are mandated to implement.
States and the federal government have managed to gain control in part by adopting a discourse of
civil rights and equity, and by not imposing specific curricula on schools but, instead, leaving it to the
local school districts to implement curricular policies to achieve the test score goals, what can be
described as steering from a distance. In this way, the state and federal governments are able to take
credit for whatever perceived improvements result from their policies, and, conversely, whenever their
policies produce negative results, they can blame someone else, usually teachers. Teachers have
suffered the brunt of the blame since the publication of a Nation at Risk (1983) thirty years ago.
Consequently, the negative portrayal of public school teachers in the USA has demoralized many
educators.”

There is more. Go to the link and read the letter.

This comment came from “Albany Mom”:   I
agree with the writer that “if parents do not advocate for their
children, who will?”
However, I need help
knowing how to advocate for my child. Who is going to
help?
My husband and I have struggled with the
demons of Common Core this year, watching our 9 year old son sink
into what looks like depression. We can’t afford private school, so
I have coerced, offered rewards, and tried everything to encourage
him. He has developed sleep problems, moody and irritable, and
hardly eats. He has impulsive aggression with his younger sister.
He has lost his previous love of creative play, especially with
Legos, and now is chronically bored unless he has a video game. I
have banned video games since I think it is an escape and he is
becoming addicted. He is withdrawing from me, just as he is from
school. When his father is home on weekends, he tries to talk to
him, but it is more like “you don’t have a choice, just man up and
do your best”. It seems like we can’t change the school
environment, so we have to change our son to adapt to
it.
Every morning is a struggle just to get
him out the door, and every night is another dismal episode of
boring homework (always worksheets with the “common core” logo at
the bottom). He cries frequently at home, and even broke down two
times at school this year when he became frustrated. I know that
caused a loss of dignity for him, and I met with his teacher to ask
for help. I can sense the teacher feels pressured too, and is
concerned about his test scores. He says son daydreams in class. I
was referred to take him to a child guidance center for counseling,
but that is not helping. A therapist can’t change the school
either, so is just trying to help him adapt to it.

I recognize it is not possible for me to make him like
school, and forcing him to go makes me feel like a bully. He may be
more sensitive than some children, but I think public schools need
to be happy welcoming places for children, and not like “work
camps” that make them feel worthless and trapped. This has caused
our family ongoing stress and fear, and it seems to be getting
worse.
This is indeed a “psychological plague”
that is taking my child’s spirit, and I think there

are millions of other children out there experiencing
similar emotional distress from CC.
Now I ask
this question to Arne Duncan:
“Is it healthy
and realistic to expect the nation’s children to adapt to an
environment that is obviously causing them psychological
distress?”

Boston’s Citizens for Public Schools show how a powerful group of parents, teachers, and concerned citizens can inform the public and keep the heat on legislators. I was unable to repost all the links; there were so many! Go to their website to find them all.

Here is their latest update:

CPS writes:

What a fascinating week it’s been for education news! First, there was the spectacle of leading charter school proponents busting their gaskets at the slow pace of legislative action on lifting the charter cap. Then there was the jaw-dropping statement from a state education official that the state will not force families to participate in PARCC field tests (after an earlier statement that parents had no right to opt their children out of state testing). Scroll down to read about these stories and more. We rely on our members (your voices, your actions and your membership contributions) to keep going, so if you have not yet become an official part of the CPS family, join today by clicking here!

Best regards,
Lisa Guisbond
CPS Executive Director, lisa.guisbond@gmail.com

News You Can Use About Our Schools

The Charter Cap Battle Boils Over

Tempers flared and fingers stabbed out vitriolic editorials at the news that the Joint Education Committee wanted time to hear from voters and think about proposed charter cap and school turnaround legislation.

Sen. Chang-Diaz

First, Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz released a statement announcing the one-week extension. The statement was posted at the Blue Mass Group blog, prompting an interesting series of comments, including an excellent post by CPS member Shirley Kressel.

Sen. Jehlen

The Boston Herald then printed a vicious editorial attack on Senators Chang-Diaz and Jehlen, saying there should be “a special place in hell reserved for those who would deprive children of a way out of a failing school.” On behalf of CPS, my letter to the editor points out, “It takes courage to resist and not kowtow to deep-pocketed charter proponents. Parents see how charter school growth has constricted resources available for basics like art and music, gym and social workers. Lifting the cap will make this bad situation worse.”

Meanwhile, tempers flared at the Pioneer Institute, which launched this public attack on Secretary of Education Matt Malone, saying his views on charters are “characterized by bigotry and demonization.”

Some groups kept their decorum and stuck to the issues, including the Black Educators Alliance Massachusetts (BEAM), which wrote this letter on lifting the charter cap. It says, in part, “The state should not lift the cap on charter schools without addressing the funding inequities imposed on districts such as Boston and the disproportionately lower number of English language learners and students with disabilities enrolled in charter schools.”

Finally, we got a needed dose of delicious satire from EduShyster, who wrote, “a funny thing happened on the way to the charter cap-lifting fête. Lawmakers began to hear from some actual constituents-upon whom they actually depend for actual re-election-about devastated public school budgets, the loss of local control and a growing fear that more charters means dual, and dueling, school systems that educate very different students.” A tip of my cap to you, EduShyster!

Don’t forget that the State Auditor’s Office is close to completing a comprehensive audit of charter school finances and practices. We remain convinced that it would make sense for legislators to read that report before considering changing the charter school cap.

Meanwhile, if you want to add your voice to the fray, here’s a petition from the Boston parent group Quest, seeking investments in Boston public schools and maintaining the cap on charter school growth. And don’t forget to sign on to the Boston Truth Coalition’s Principles of Unity, which include this: “We believe in investing in public schools, which serve the majority of students in Boston, and we oppose lifting the cap on charters, which drain resources from district schools and don’t serve ALL students and their diverse needs.”

_____________________________________________

Breaking PARCC News: Parents & Students Have Rights!

The PARCC test controversy continues to rage, with state officials reversing themselves on whether parents have the right to opt their children out of the field tests this spring. Recall that a Feb. 20 letter to the Worcester School Committee from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) said state law did not permit parents to opt their children out of state testing and therefore “participation in the PARCC assessment field test is mandatory.” But this week, at a Framingham forum on PARCC testing, the message was different. In answer to a question, Bob Bickerton, senior associate commissioner at DESE, said “common sense” will prevail, and “We’re not going to force the kids to take the test.”

Meanwhile, add Tantasqua to the list of school committees voting to allow parents to opt out of PARCC field testing.

Todd Gazda
And in Ludlow, MA, Superintendent Todd Gazda wrote a blog post titled, “Enough is Enough!” In it, he decries the top-down imposition of “national standards, increased regulations, standardized testing, and mandates regarding what and how our children should be taught.” He says that assessments are an essential part of education. “However, standardized tests whose scores take months to arrive, often after the student has moved on to another teacher, have a limited utility for shaping the educational environment. I am concerned that we are creating students who will excel in taking multiple choice tests. Unfortunately, life is not a multiple choice test. Enough is enough!”

Boston Globe writer Scot Lehigh interviewed U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan during his Massachusetts visit to plug his favored corporate reforms. To back up his claim that students’ lack of preparedness for college is a state and national emergency, Duncan said that 40% of Massachusetts high school students require remedial coursework in college. This is not true. Thanks to award-winning New York principal Carol Burris for her Answer Sheet blog holding Duncan and the Globe accountable for their misuse of statistics to promote Common Core testing and more charter schools. Burris insisted that Lehigh and the Globe run a “clarification” (at the end of another Lehigh oped) that set the record straight by acknowledging that just 21% of students who attend four-year universities in Mass. take at least one remedial course.

Don’t forget about CPS’s fact sheet: What we know about PARCC test refusal. And we’re keeping track of school committee resolutions on opting out, here. Please let us know if we’ve missed any.

And read all about a successful Take the PARCC test event in Somerville, then think about planning one in your community.

_____________________________________________

Reforms We Can Believe In: Equity, Restorative Justice, Diversity

How different from current U.S. school reforms is a system based on equity? In an interview published in the Atlantic, Finnish education chief Krista Kiuru describes a vision close to CPS’s heart, of a whole child education: “Academics isn’t all kids need. Kids need so much more. School should be where we teach the meaning of life; where kids learn they are needed; where they can learn community skills. We like to think that school is also important for developing a good self-image, a strong sensitivity to other people’s feelings … and understanding it matters to take care of others. We definitely want to incorporate all those things in education.”

In the interest of equitable and adequate school funding, public education advocates including the Mass. Teachers Association and the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, along with the Mass. Association of School Superintendents, the Mass. Association of School Committees and others are calling for a commission to re-examine the state’s Foundation Budget (required amount that public schools must spend on education). The budget formula, part of the state’s Chapter 70 education aid law, was passed to ensure adequate funding to meet the education needs of all students. However, the formula has not been updated in 21 years. Read this fact sheet about a bill to establish such a commission.

The Opportunity to Learn Campaign offers a tool kit and illustration of zero tolerance versus restorative justice.

The goal of diverse and inclusive public schools seems to have fallen off the agenda of our political leaders and policymakers. In this report, the author recommends that “policymakers address race-conscious policies, practices and conditions that perpetuate segregation and inequality while simultaneously tapping into the changing racial attitudes of Americans by supporting racially diverse schools.”

_____________________________________________

For and About Teachers

Watch this video from Educators for a Democratic Union and listen to these teachers describe the way testing is getting in the way of teaching students the best way they know how.

Inspiration from Seattle teachers in this article about their successful test boycott and plans for more action.

_____________________________________________

Upcoming Events of Interest

Charters, Publics, Pilots & Everything In Between

How are the Differences in Schools Affecting Equity in Boston? Monday, March 31 from 5-7 PM at Spontaneous Celebrations, 45 Danforth St in Jamaica Plain.

Citizens for Public Schools, Inc. | 18 Tremont St., Suite 320 | Boston | MA | 02108

A reader submits a model opt out letter for parents in New York:

“If anyone is interested in refusing the state assessments or know someone who is:

REFUSAL LETTER:

Dear Board of Education, Superintendent, Principals, and Teachers of ________________ school district,

We are writing today to formally inform the __________ school district of our decision to refuse to allow our child _____________ to participate in any local assessments tied to APPR for the 2013-2014 school year. My child will be scored as a “refusal”, with a final score of “999” and a standard achieved code of 96, on all State testing including ELA, Math and Science as described in the NYS Student Information Repository System (SIRS) Manual on page 63.

Our refusal should in no way reflect on the teachers, administration, or school board. This was not an easy decision for us, but we feel that we have no other choice. We simply see these tests as harmful, expensive, unfair, and a waste of time and valuable resources.

This year we will show effort to eliminate unnecessary and harmful assessments in our public schools. Our child will not participate in any assessments other than those solely for the use of the individual classroom teacher.

We refuse to allow any data to be used for purposes other than the individual teacher’s own formative or cumulative assessment. Any assessment whose data is used to determine school ranking, teacher effectiveness, state or federal longitudinal studies or any other purpose other than for the individual classroom teacher’s own use to improve his or her instruction will not be presented to our child.

To be clear, our children will not participate in the following:

➢ Any so-called “benchmark” exams whether they are teacher-designed or not, since these exams are imposed by entities other than the individual teacher.
➢ Pre–assessments connected to “Student Learning Objectives”.
➢ Any progress-monitoring or RTI assessments such as AIMSweb, MAP, or STAR
➢ Any exam used to formulate an evaluation or score for our children’s teachers or their school.

We believe in and trust our highly qualified and dedicated teachers and administrators. We believe in the high quality of teaching and learning that occurs at _____________ School. We hope our efforts will be understood in the context in which they are intended: to support the quality of instruction promoted by the school, and to advocate for what is best for all children. Our school will not suffer when these tests are finally gone, they will flourish as they have in the years previous. ________ school should have a unified policy in place to address children who are refusing these assessments.

We do apologize in advance for the inconvenience this decision may cause the administration, the school, and staff.

Sincerely,”

Parents and other supporters of public schools will rally today against Governor Cuomo’s attempt to wrest control of the New York City public schools for the benefit of his campaign contributors.

Dan Morris. 917.952.8920.

Julian Vinocur. 212.328.9268.

Media Advisory for Fri. March 14, Noon, Cuomo’s Midtown Office

Rally Against Quid Pro Cuomo State Budget Deal and Gubernatorial Control of NYC Schools

*Parents condemn Cuomo’s pay-to-play budget deal with charter school lobbyists who are bankrolling his re-election campaign and want to undermine New York City’s power over its schools.*

WHAT: Public school parents, community leaders, and elected officials will rally against the budget deal Cuomo clearly orchestrated with the Senate Majority to advance the extremist, anti-de Blasio agenda of charter school lobbyists who are heavily funding the Governor’s re-election campaign. This disturbing Quid pro Cuomo opens the door to gubernatorial control of New York City schools.

WHO: Outraged public school parents, community leaders, and elected officials who won’t stand for Cuomo and the Senate Majority cutting a pay-to-play budget deal with charter school lobbyists.

WHERE: Governor Cuomo’s Midtown office: 633 Third Avenue, between E40th and E41st Streets.

WHEN: Friday, March 14, Noon.

Michelle Gundersen, a veteran teacher in the Chicago Public Schools, here describes how the school system is harassing parents and children who try to opt out of unnecessary state testing.

Her own son, without her prompting, said he wanted to opt out of the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT), a test that will soon be phased out and replaced by a Common Core test.

But it was not so easy for other children to opt out, because their principals quizzed them about who prompted them to do it.

In one case, a child was asked to take a visual survey comprised of emoticons, to explain how she felt about opting out and who urged her to do it.

Funny, isn’t it, that our education policymakers prattle on about “choice,” but the one choice parents are not allowed to make is to say NO to standardized testing, even to totally useless tests.

No choice there.

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