Archives for category: Parents

Lyndsey Layton wrote a compelling account in the “Washington Post” about Governor Chris Christie’s calamitous and non-productive attempt to burnish his credentials as a school reformer in Newark.

Five years ago , Christie boasted that he would turn Newark into a national model of school reform. He and then-Mayor Cory Booker persuaded Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to donate $100 million for such reforms as merit pay and charters. Christie and his then-state Commissioner Chris Cerf.

What’s happened in the past five years has not enhanced Christie’s reputation as a reformer. His appointee as superintendent, Cami Anderson, has alienated students, educators, parents, the clergy, and legislators. Her plan, One Newark, was imposed without community support. Ras Baraka was elected mayor in large part because of Anderson’s unpopularity.

“Five years after Christie launched what could have been a career-defining policy initiative for an aspiring future president, city leaders are in revolt. On Wednesday, a band of city, county and state elected officials, along with leaders from the NAACP and others, will board a train bound for Washington for a meeting with Obama administration officials. Newark parents have filed a federal civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, alleging that the plan, called “One Newark,” disproportionately affects African Americans, and the local officials plan to ask the administration to help halt a plan they say has thrown their city into chaos.

“The plan, which fully took effect during this academic year, essentially blew up the old system. It eliminated neighborhood schools in favor of a citywide lottery designed to give parents more choices. It prompted mass firings of principals and teachers, and it led to numerous school closures and a sharp rise in the city’s reliance on charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run.

“Many families saw their children spread among multiple schools or sent across town. The scattering has been problematic for a city divided along gang lines, where four in 10 residents don’t own cars.

“In addition, state test scores have stayed the same or even declined. Amid protests, Christie’s hand-picked Newark superintendent, Cami Anderson, faces calls for her removal — even from some of her onetime allies.”

Newark is turning out to be a drag on Christie’s presidential ambitions, says Layton.

What’s astonishing is to read defenders of “reform” finding silver linings or straws to grasp at. Some claim that Cami has plenty of supporters, others say that success is around the corner. Just be patient. Christie’s state commissioner says, “Christie, through a spokesman, declined to comment. According to Christie’s education commissioner:

“It will take time to see the type of progress we all want,” he said. “Whatever we’re doing, we need to double down.”

Astonishing. If they double down, they are likely to face open rebellion from the parents of Newark.

Christie, in his typical bully style, makes clear that he doesn’t care what the people of Newark think. He likes her and that is all that matters. He just reappointed her for another one-year term.

Anderson is paid nearly $300,000 a year. In 2011, Christie capped superintendents’ salaries at $125,000-175,000, depending on the size of the district. Charter school leaders and Cami Anderson are exempt from the state salary cap.

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Michael Elliott is an excellent film-maker whose children attend public schools in New York City. He understands the fight against high-stakes testing. Here is a short video he created to tell the story about how parents feel about PARCC.

Liza Featherstone explains why her child will not take the state tests. She does not want her child subjected to endless test prep. She does not want teachers evaluated by her son’s test scores. She wants what the school offers:

“Studying ancient China, the third-graders at my son’s school made lanterns, clay plates and terra cotta masks. They learned how to write Chinese calligraphy. They wove silks.

“My son, Ivan, and his team made a papier-mâché model of the Great Wall as viewed from space. The kids displayed their works in a breathtaking “China Museum” for parents and younger children.”

According to those who were there, about 1,000 parents, educators, and other citizens packed the statehouse in Indianapolis to let the Governor and Legislature know that they support State Superintendent Glenda Ritz, and they don’t want their 1.3 million votes for her to be nullified by petty politics.

 

Here is a video and text from the Indiana Coalition for Public Education.

 

Here is Cathy Fuentes Rohwer speaking to the crowd in a riotous speech that had everyone cheering. Cathy wrote a passionate letter that ran on this blog. Cathy said what every teacher and parent knows: “My child is not college-and-career-ready because he is a child!” She also said: “Standards don’t educate children, teachers do!”

 

Here is the text of her great speech. “We can’t afford a three-tiered system of charters, vouchers, and public. We tried segregation and it didn’t work.”

 

Here is the video of Phyllis Bush’s wonderful speech.

 

And if you want even more, here are articles about the rally:

 

http://in.chalkbeat.org/2015/02/16/photos-ritz-supporters-rally-at-statehouse/#.VOj8jkK4mCR

 

http://www.journalgazette.net/…/Disdain-shown-for-Repub…

 

http://www.tribstar.com/news/local_news/statehouse-rally-supports-ritz-slams-gop/article_a7487dc5-457a-5c62-a06b-5c2a31acc6d4.html

 

http://thestatehousefile.com/supporters-rally-superintendent-ritz-public-education/20256/

 

http://wishtv.com/2015/02/16/teachers-parents-rally-for-ritz/

 

http://www.indystar.com/story/news/politics/2015/02/16/ritz-declares-teacher-rally-know-need/23515403/

 

http://www.wthr.com/story/28117025/statehouse-rally-today-to-support-superintendent-ritz

 

http://www.idsnews.com/article/2015/02/rally-for-ritz-to-take-place-in-indy-today

 

http://www.wfyi.org/news/articles/rally-for-ritz-packs-the-statehouse

 

http://www.heraldtimesonline.com/news/opinion/our-opinion-does-the-fight-over-hoosier-education-policy-have/article_56a45910-76c8-5e70-b048-8a49a4a54150.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rocky Killion is an amazing superintendent in West Lafayette, Indiana. To begin with, he produced a wonderful documentary about the assault on public education, called “Rise Above the Mark.” You can go to the website to find out how to order a copy to show in your community (it is also for sale on amazon.com). He is very critical of the testing-gone-wild culture that has been foisted on public schools in Indiana and across the nation. He is very sensitive to the damage done to education, to children, and to teachers. His colleagues named him Indiana’s Superintendent of the Year for 2015.

 

Now he is furious because the computers that give the state test–the ISTEP–froze during a practice run. That was just too much.

 

“It’s inhumane what we are doing to the kids, what we are doing to the educational environment, we lost so much instructional time today, it’s ridiculous,” Killion told WTHR-TV in Indianapolis on Feb. 12, after computers froze during a dry run for ISTEP last week.

 

The Superintendent of the Year for 2015, as named by the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, followed it with this: “I would prefer all of my students’ parents withdraw and become home-schooled during ISTEP, and then we can re-enroll them…..

 

Killion wasn’t backing away this week.

He repeated the same advice Monday during a visit to West Side schools from Glenda Ritz, Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction. (Ritz didn’t jump on board, instead calling on parents get their kids ready for ISTEP days.)

And on Tuesday, Killion clarified the statement, saying he wasn’t necessarily advocating the withdraw/home-school/re-enroll plan.

“Since there’s no legislative mechanism, that’s the only opt-out workaround that I know to tell parents,” Killion said. “Typically, when I’m asked a question, I try to come up with the correct answer, and that’s what’s happened in this case.”

 

The journalist writing the column is critical of Killion and so is this legislator:

 

State Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, wasn’t pleased to hear a superintendent “encouraging people to willfully thwart (the) system.”

 

“It’s just the latest episode in his series of irresponsible and provocative comments that bear little to no relevance to the school system he’s supposed to be leading,” Hershman said Tuesday, a day when the Senate was dealing with a bill that would strip some of Ritz’s authority and a resolution to shorten ISTEP that had doubled in length since last year.

 

“I think we test too much, and the ISTEP is not perfect, but testing is required under federal and state law,” Hershman said. “His comments represent a flawed example of leadership in education policy.”

 

Killion’s answer: “The only thing I’ve said is what I said in the interview when a reporter asked me how can parents opt out of ISTEP. That’s the only thing I’ve done.”

 

Martin Luther King, Jr., said: “One has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.” 

 

Welcome to the honor roll, Rocky Killion!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anthony Cody was first to feature a leaked document that advised reformers how to mollify parents who are angry about testing.

But it is well worth reading EduShyster’s hilarious explication of the same document.

She begins:

“Can we talk about testing? And by *talk* I mean the thing where parents offer up reasonable, legitimate and likely heartfelt concerns, which testing advocates then deflect by changing the subject and *pivoting to a higher emotion.* That’s right reader—it’s time for another edition of Say This, Not That.Today’s topic: testing. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll gasp in amazement as our *testing talk* is transformed to appeal to different audiences. But watch out for weeds and rabbit holes!”

Thanks to your generous contributions, added to those raised by BATs and many others, this billboard is now driving around Long Island, the hotbed of parent anti-testing sentiment.

 

Highway billboards will soon loom over major roads into Albany and other cities.

 

The funds were raised by New York State Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE), a coalition of 50 parent and teacher groups across the state.

Parents and students are the most powerful participants in the education debates for a simple reason: No one can fire them. Furthermore, they are not simply kibitzers or think tank pundits: Their lives are involved in the decisions about education. Here is a thoughtful comment by a parent in New Jersey, where the rebellion against high-stakes testing is in full swing:

 

 

I think it is extremely important for all educators to take the high road on this and not let justified anger cloud the logical arguments. I would encourage the NJEA President, Wendell Steinhauer, to sharpen his criticism and clearly articulate parental as well as educator concerns. I would also encourage him to have his association develop their own professional development / educational programs for teachers, working with schools. We all have many things to learn – it is a continuous process. Partnership with the “other side” – for the worthy goal of providing a wonderful education for our children – that would be difficult for Governor Christie to make less of.

 

I informed my local board of education during public comment that my son (6) will not be sitting for the PARCC testing (if it is still around) when he reaches third grade. I am quite serious as I feel PARCC and everything behind it is not in the best interest of any student – any teacher – any grade. Testing 8 year olds for career readiness is in itself inappropriate. Basically Common Core attempts to centralize everything – and this robs the spirit from the classroom. I feel this process it is hurtful to students for several reasons not limited to these:

 

 

1. PARCC will be administered on computer rather than paper which places pressure on our youngest of students to learn keyboarding (my son is already learning in first grade) and be exposed to computers even before they have had the experience and develop the proper motor skill to form letters correctly. The computer forms letters perfectly at the push of a button. In the perfect world I would prefer students be on computer much later. Students would benefit by working with real materials rather than inundating elementary schools with I-pads, laptops, “smart-boards” and all the other hardware “sugaring” up classrooms our youngest occupy. Tight school budgets are spending yet more on hardware just to accommodate computerized PARCC. It would make much more sense to give just one test on paper. A school’s network infrastructure, computer operating systems, and labs are not designed as a professional testing center is – and should not be. Tests of this kind are documents that require paper and are more practical on paper. Give an appropriate and elegant test once per year on paper and get the results to their teachers in a week. Perhaps that might be helpful.

 

2. The type of questions I found on PARCC in taking a practice test caused me a huge headache as they were twisted and confusing. I would not subject a young mind to such an assessment. In addition, activities in the classroom should not be centered on what is on this test. This robs the classroom of spontaneity – teaching moments – and valuable digression into areas of interest. A one size fits all top down totalitarian style mandated test is counter to our land’s free and open spirit.

 

3. Data collection – I will not have 400 points of data collected on my son and held in a database of a private company (already under investigation) for unknown future use. Centralizing this is an invasion of my son’s privacy and disrespectful. I will not have a third party testing company hold his data. Every parent needs to be concerned about this – it is Un-American! More than enough data to inform instruction can be obtained in various ways within the school itself.

 

4. Two tests per year are given. Massive amounts of instructional time is lost. Two tests because they will be used to evaluate teacher performance. This is flawed logic. There are way too many variables in the lives of students that can have dramatic effects on how they do in school. In addition, over evaluate a staff and you will have no time to inspire – no energy to motivate. Yet more tests, in most cases, are also administered for the so called “Student Growth Objectives“ – one more bad idea gone wild. Administrators have more than enough information within the building to inform instruction. In addition, local school districts are surrendering to a micromanaging overreach by the federal and state governments – as are teachers. What will be next? Teacher lesson plans from headquarters? We are going down a dangerous and undemocratic road.

 

An educational leader, in my opinion, must be a catalyst – must be the cause of positive excitement about the world – like of the world, real curiosity, knowing of the world! The American poet and philosopher Eli Siegel stated “The purpose of education is to like the world through knowing it“ and I wholeheartedly agree. I hope Mr. Hespe and other leaders will respectfully find out more about his important philosophy and extremely effective teaching method.

 

I believe that we are presently in a situation where teachers and students are not lifted up – but instead, insulted through SGOs, endless data collection, performance rubrics, and more. A once more collegial relationship is being replaced by a corporate style data collecting and crunching top down management – (a la McDonald’s) filling out endless computerized evaluations of teachers digitally warehoused by a centralized and privatized third party company. If more weight were given to supporting and lifting our teachers – more resources given to motivating, exciting, and further educating them – it would, in my opinion, be very wise – as our students, our children, my child, would benefit. We are missing that boat all should be on – parents, teachers, administrators, elected, BOE members, and our children.

 

I intend to be a vocal critic / advocate for my son and all his classmates at PTA meetings, BOE meetings and even council meetings in my own town. I hope more and more parents will object to mandating of Common Core / PARCC / teacher over- evaluation, and hope that the state reconsiders how it sees its schools, its teachers, and all its young residents across a most uneven (and unfair) financial spectrum. What is desperately needed is people centered decisions and laws – not profit centered.

 

I believe Dr. Maria Montessori saw children as individuals and respected the differences – and different rates of development found in each young mind – this is needed – not a one size fits all (profit centered) approach. Most importantly, in order to have schools be more successful everywhere, the state must work hard to close the huge financial gap within and between communities and lift communities rather than attempting to privatize schools in the most needy areas. That is no solution and an ugly cop out by our government that increasingly seems to be on the side of the profiteers – not the people.
David Di Gregorio, Parent
Englewood Cliffs, NJ

Someone gave Anthony Cody a copy of a secret training document created by public relations consultants to corporate reformers. The document is only six pages; it is printed in bright colors. Its purpose is to show reformers how to answer complaints about testing.

Is there too much testing? Agree, yes , there is too much testing but the new Common Core tests will solve that problem.

Whatever the complaint, answer by saying the new tests are better, the new tests are different, the new tests solve that problem. No more teaching to the test. Why ? Because the new tests are better, the new tests are different, the new tests solve that problem. Teachers want more time for creative teaching? No problem. Because the new tests are better, the new tests are different, the new tests solve that problem.

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