Archives for category: Parents

Ira Shor is a professor at the City University of New York, where he teaches composition and rhetoric. Shor understands that standardized testing is the foundation on which the entire “reform” project rests. Take away the test scores, and the data-driven teacher evaluation collapses, along with the ambitious plans for privatization.

Shor writes:

“Opt-Out: The REAL Parent Revolution”

We parents can stop the destruction of our public schools. We can stop the looting of school budgets by private charters and testing vendors. We can stop the abuse of our children by the relentless hours of testing. We can stop the closings, the co-locations, the mass firings, the replacement of veteran teachers with short-term Teach for America newbies, the shameful indignity of public schools told they have 24 hours to clear out so a charter can seize their classrooms. To do this, we have to opt-out our kids from the new testing regimes—refuse to let the schools test our kids with PARCC or Smarter Balanced, boycott the pointless and punitive tests which make the best years of our kids’ lives into a digital hell.

I opted-out my 10-year-old son from all state tests this year and will continue to do so when the useless and costly PARCC tests arrive next year. I will encourage other parents to join me in boycotting such standardized tests, which Diane Ravitch has rightly called “junk science” because they cannot accurately report a student’s achievement, learning process, or academic needs, or a teacher’s competence. For commercial and political reasons, it pleases Duncan, Gates and Co. to spread such tools from coast to coast, but they offer no evidence that such tools can do the job they claim, despite the constant promotion financed by Gates’s millions to the two teacher unions, to the national PTA, to “Education Week” magazine, and other key players working on his side.

Neither CCSS nor PARCC can make our kids “college and career ready.” This is impossible from the rigidly-defined, narrow Common Core State Standards(CCSS) skill-sets or from the hours of standardized testing, which over-produce metrics that don’t amount to teaching or learning. First, of course, I ask, Who can predict what the job market will be like when my 10-year-old enters it? Also, school curricula which narrowly focus on skills under-develop the critical habits of mind and communication which children need to make sense of the world as they find it. Employers, in fact, report that narrow subject matter is not what they look for in candidates, preferring instead future employees who have learned how to learn, how to ask questions and to make sense of situations, how to ask for help, how to work in groups, how to learn from others by example, and how to communicate. Hours of standardized testing cannot lead to these outcomes.

The national CCSS-machine also ignores the most important factor in a child’s test scores: family income(widely-discussed since 1966 and the famous Coleman Report, reiterated again and again by social research.) SAT/ACT/high-school and college graduation rates have always correlated closely with family income. Because our society has the highest rate of child poverty of any developed nation(about 35% of Black and Hispanic kids, about 11% of white kids), our national averages on standardized tests are pulled down. The strongest policy, then for raising average scores would be an anti-poverty program, what Christopher Jencks 40 years ago called “an incomes policy,” that is, equalizing family incomes. When he proposed equal izing incomes, policy in the U.S. tilted towards the bottom 80%, especially the bottom 20% of families, as research by Saez and Piketty and by Robert Reich have shown; in that era, Black kids closed about 20% of the “achievement gap” with their white peers(see Jencks’s “The Black-White Achievement Gap.”) CCSS and its PARCC testing will fail just like NCLB and RTTT failed before them, fail to close the achievement gap, fail to produce deep learning for the vast majority of children, fail to close the huge income gap.

Because our children are in this together, so are we. Because our kids cannot defend themselves, we have to defend them. We parents must step in to stop it. We should put our foot down and say, “Do it to your own kids first before you experiment on ours!” Tell that to Bill Gates, to Arne Duncan, to Eli Broad, to Daniel Coleman, to Michelle Rhee, to Wendy Kopp, to Eva Moskowitz, to Govs. Cuomo and Christie, to the hedge-funders in Democrats for Education Reform, who send their own kids to test-exempt private schools with small classes, well-paid veteran teachers, handsome campuses, and field trips so that their kids “feel at home in the world,” as the elite prep of certain kids is sometimes called.

If we parents opt-out, we remove our kids from the commercial machine invading and destroying public schools. We refuse to let our kids become mass subjects tested to distraction. We insist that inspired teaching and complex learning and rich arts should be at the center of every school.

Authorities count on our quiet compliance to cement their plans into place. We need defiance instead, for the sake of the kids and for the sake of the public sector without which democracy cannot survive. When we opt-out we rescue our kids, our public schools, and our society at the same time. Our opposition will force authorities to retreat, if we stick together, get tough on behalf of our kids, and insist that public schools belong to us for the public good, not to the private sector or to the commercial parasites stealing our children’s futures.

Go to United Opt Out and learn more about how to join the cause.

You are invited to a major event honoring Leonie Haimson, a brilliant, fearless leader. Please make plans to attend and meet her and other allies in the fight for better education! Haimson led the fight to block inBloom from gaining access to the confidential records of millions of children. Thanks to her leadership, inBloom went out of business even though it was backed by the Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, and Rupert Murdoch’s Corporation. One principled woman defended the privacy rights of children and families, and she won! She showed all of us the power of one person.

Join Parents Across America at its first annual Parent Voice Award Dinner honoring PAA co-founder Leonie Haimson, leader of New York City-based Class Size Matters in DC on July 28.

http://www.eventbrite.com/e/paa-parent-voice-award-dinner-honoring-leonie-haimson-tickets-11831617687?aff=es2

This year, Leonie nearly single-handedly organized parents around the U.S. to oppose the impending commercialization of student information by the inBloom company, which ultimately went out of business after every state on its original clientele list pulled out of the program. Leonie is also the founder of NYC-based Class Size Matters, a group dedicated to promoting smaller class size – a proven, effective school reform strategy. Leonie started the New York Public School Parents’ Blog and has been a leader in challenging school privatization, misuse and over use of standardized tests, and, most recently, the threat to student data privacy.

The 2014 PAA Parent Voice Award Dinner is being hosted by the National Education Association at their headquarters in Washington, DC.

Tickets will include cocktails and a buffet dinner — and are only $20!

Proceeds from the dinner will support PAA’s programs and the work of our chapters around the U.S.

The registration form also includes an option for those unable to attend who would like to make a fully tax-deductible contribution to PAA in honor of Leonie, or anyone who can attend and would like to make a tax-deductible donation to PAA over and above the cost of the ticket.

Thank you!

A comment from a Mad Mom in Utah. When the parents wise up and act in concert to protect their children, the toxic reform hoax will collapse.

She writes:

“I live in Utah and I have a third and fourth grader that completed the AIR SAGE test this last school year. Yes, those test are just as long as reported for my children. These tests were given over a number of days and my children suffered from high anxiety on these days and they were exhausted. After the testing was finished I asked them how they felt about it and they said they didn’t really like it because it was long and hard (there is no ceiling). I also heard from my children that some kids in their classes cried or just put their heads down and quit, which is interesting because some of the questions were supposed to get easier if they get a wrong answer on a harder question.

“I spoke with a retiring third grade teacher in another district to see if her experience with SAGE was similar and she said it was awful for the children. She said the tests lasted up to 10 hours for some children because of the essay section. Although, she said she had two students finish the essay in 10 minutes and then they hid under their desks.

“The crazy thing is that in Utah State Code R277-515-4 Educator Responsibility for Maintaining a Safe Learning Environment in Section B4 it states educators “shall take action to protect a student from any known condition detrimental to that student’s physical health, mental health, safety, or learning”. But right after this section, in B5, it states their duty on administering all of this testing. So, which is it Utah? Because I can attest that this testing is doing more harm than good for our children. Should educators administer the tests and remain silent (which I think they are being told to do) or should educators share their experiences so we can learn from them and hopefully do better?

“Shame on those in the position of power in my state for making this happen. And shame on me for allowing my children to be the guinea pigs. I know better; but I was curious. They won’t be taking SAGE tests next year.

“Thank you to all of those that have stood up and have been brave! You have educated me and reminded me that I too can be brave. I have a voice and it is time to use it.”

In response to a post by Peter Greene (“The Arne Duncan Drinking Game“), this reader describes the National PTA convention in Texas. The National PTA has received $2.5 million from the Gates Foundation, including $500,000 specifically for Common Core. Also, the National PTA provided a screening of the anti-public school “Waiting for Superman” at its annual convention in 2011. Odd.

She writes:

“I was at that PTA convention in Texas and I bit my tongue through his entire speech. I wanted to throw up. I have lost faith in the PTA. While I love what PTA does at a local level for our schools, I am sickened by what I see at the state and National PTA levels. Our voices as members have been sold out to corporate interests, and the top leadership is out of touch with parents today. Most of the top leaders dont even have children in public schools anymore so they think we are overreacting about the excessive testing and problems with common core. The leaders enjoy the power and prestige of their office and won’t listen to parents and teachers.

“Even more alarming, the general meetings at the national PTA convention were sponsored by Discover Card, Microsoft, and Pearson. During the general meetings, attendees were forced to sit through 15 minute commercials about their corporations and hear about their “partnerships” with PTA. The week before the convention, delegates received emails from PTA with advertisements for Pearson, telling us to be sure to stop by Pearson’s booth in the exhibit hall. How much did PTA get to spam our inboxes with marketing? We paid a lot of money to attend that convention, I don’t appreciate my email address being sold like that, especially to Pearson.”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 19, 2014
More information contact:
Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123; nys.allies@gmail.com
Lisa Rudley (917) 414-9190; nys.allies@gmail.com
NYS Allies for Public Education http://www.nysape.org

Parents Outraged by APPR Albany Deal that Ignores the Children

The deal reached today by Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature regarding minimizing the impact of Common Core test scores on teacher evaluations is a slap in the face to parents across the state who have implored them to reduce the amount of testing that children are subjected to and to improve the quality of these exams and the learning standards.

“The deal does nothing to protect students or to address poorly constructed tests, abusive testing practices or concerns about the Common Core,” said Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and founder of Long Island Opt-Out.

“While protecting teachers, this does nothing to protect our children who will continue to be subjected to the stress and damage from inappropriate curriculum, standards and exams,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess County public school parent.

In light of this misstep, it is not surprising that Governor Cuomo and Commissioner of Education John King have lost the confidence of New Yorkers. The recent Siena poll shows that only 9% of respondents say they “completely trust” Governor Cuomo to act in the best interests of our students, and only 4% completely trust Commissioner King.

“Governor Cuomo and Commissioner King have made it clear they will not heed the concerns of millions of outraged parents across the state. Their arrogance is dangerous and will only continue to hurt our children, our teachers and our schools,” said Nancy Cauthen, NYC public school parent and member of Change the Stakes.

Many New Yorkers have expressed dismay that Governor Cuomo continues to ignore the growing number of unfunded mandates, insolvent schools, and increasing poverty that public schools face, while promoting excessive and developmentally inappropriate testing practices and flawed learning standards. He has also put the interests of his wealthy contributors who support charter schools that rob public schools of resources. “Neither testing nor the Common Core will help close the achievement gap or erase the inequitable funding and inadequate conditions that plague our public schools,” said Marla Kilfoyle, Long Island public school parent and General Manager of BAT.

“Let’s not forget that according to King and Cuomo, eight year old children will continue to sit for almost seven hours of testing over the course of six days, tests that no one can see or critique. Parents will not be fooled by token changes that do nothing to protect students from these abusive practices. Unless a moratorium directly reduces or suspends testing for students, our children will continue to suffer,” said Bianca Tanis, Ulster County public school parent.

Katie Zahedi, Dutchess County principal at Linden Avenue Middle School said, “As long as the NYSED and Cuomo’s education office are run by non-experts, beholden to forces bent on dismantling public education, our students will continue to be subjected to bad policies.”

“It’s time for a Governor that supports the priorities of parents, evidence-based teaching practices, and REAL learning for the students of New York,” said Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County public school parent and co-founder of NYSAPE.

NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) is a coalition of more than 50 parent and educator groups throughout the state.

###

Leonie Haimson of ClassSizeMatters calls on NYC parents and concerned citizens to attend public hearings about allocation of money.

Starting Tuesday of this week, the NYC Department of Education will hold mandated hearings in each borough on the use of more than $500 million in state Contracts for Excellence funds – which, according to state law, is supposed to include a plan to reduce class size.

Right now, class sizes in the early grades are the largest in 15 years, despite the fact that smaller classes are the top priority of parents in the DOE’s own surveys, and the constitutional right of NYC students, according to the state’s highest court.

Yet instead of allocating specific dollars for this purpose, the DOE has left it up to principals to decide which among five programs they would like to spend these funds. To make things worse, in an Orwellian bit of doublespeak, the DOE will allow principals to spend these funds not to lower class size – but if they merely claim that they will be used to minimize class size increases.

Please attend these hearings and speak out; more information and a schedule is here, and a petition you can sign is here.

Leonie Haimson
Executive Director
Class Size Matters
124 Waverly Pl.
New York, NY 10011
212-674-7320
leonie@classsizematters.org
http://www.classsizematters.org

http://nycpublicschoolparents.blogspot.com

Stephanie Simon writes in politico.com about how parents organized, lobbied, agitated, and brought down inBloom.

Simon writes:

“You’ve heard of Big Oil and Big Tobacco. Now get ready for Big Parent.

“Moms and dads from across the political spectrum have mobilized into an unexpected political force in recent months to fight the data mining of their children. In a frenzy of activity, they’ve catapulted student privacy — an issue that was barely on anyone’s radar last spring — to prominence in statehouses from New York to Florida to Wyoming.”

Most shocking of all is that the Obama administration is prepared to spend $1 billion (half from the federal government, half from the states) to track the movements of every child:

“Now, parents are rallying against another perceived threat: huge state databases being built to track children for more than two decades, from as early as infancy through the start of their careers.

Promoted by the Obama administration, the databases are being built in nearly every state at a total cost of well over $1 billion. They are intended to store intimate details on tens of millions of children and young adults — identified by name, birth date, address and even, in some cases, Social Security number — to help officials pinpoint the education system’s strengths and weaknesses and craft public policy accordingly.

“The Education Department lists hundreds of questions that it urges states to answer about each child in the public school system: Did she make friends easily as a toddler? Was he disciplined for fighting as a teen? Did he take geometry? Does she suffer from mental illness? Did he go to college? Did he graduate? How much does he earn?

“Every parent I’ve talked to has been horrified,” said Leonie Haimson, a New York mother who is organizing a national Parent Coalition for Student Privacy. “We just don’t want our kids tracked from cradle to grave.”

Why does the Education Department want so much information about every child? What is the rationale for assembling Big Data about our children? Does Congress know about this? Is there any other government in the world that is data mining its children?

Will parents mobilize to stop the federal government from mining their children’s personal data?

Parents at the Luis Munoz Marin public school in Philadelphia voted overwhelmingly to oppose a charter takeover of their school.

“After a bitterly fought battle, parents at Luis Muñoz Marín Elementary have voted to keep their school a part of the Philadelphia public school system, rejecting a charter organization’s takeover proposal.

“According to results announced Thursday night by Philadelphia School District officials, 223 parents wanted Muñoz Marín to remain a traditional public school and 70 voted for ASPIRA of Pennsylvania to take control.

“In a separate vote, 11 members of the school’s advisory council wanted to remain with the district. None voted for ASPIRA.

“Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. has the final say on the fate of the struggling North Third Street school, which has 700 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. A decision is expected soon.”

This is the second Philadelphia school where parents rejected a charter takeover. “Steel, an elementary school with 540 students in Nicetown, faced possible conversion by Mastery Charter Schools, but its parents overwhelmingly said they did not want that affiliation. Hite approved the parents’ choice.”

Read more at http://www.philly.com/philly/education/20140606_Parents_at_Phila__school_reject_takeover_by_charter.html#JvAbRmjOyGXDZ0Wv.99

Parents, there is one sure way to stop the testing mania that is devouring your child’s education: Say NO to the next round of field tests, scheduled for June 2 to June 11. Don’t let Pearson and the State Education Department steal more time from your child that should be spent learning, playing, dancing, singing, and studying.

Want to learn more about the campaign to Change the Stakes? Open this link to go to the webpage of Change the Stakes. You will find practical information about how to opt out of the field testing.

Opposition to the testing madness of the Bush-Obama administrations continues to escalate, as parents, teachers, and student react to excessive testing across the nation.

Here is the Fairtest update:

An increasing number of stories report criticism of Common Core tests and rising opposition to other high-stakes standardized exams. This week’s clips include updates from 20 states, several excellent commentaries and links to important reports.

The Gathering Resistance to Standardized Testing

http://www.alternet.org/education/gathering-resistance-standardized-tests

State Political Rifts Sap Support for Common Core Exams

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/05/07/30tests.h33.html

The Cost of Our Testing Obsession

http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/costs-testing-obsession-article-1.1785275

Why a Common Core Testing Moratorium is Needed . . . Now!

http://www.fairtest.org/common-core-assessments-factsheet

Competitor Sues to Overturn Pearson’ s Common Core Testing Contract

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/marketplacek12/2014/05/american_institutes_for_research_challenges_pearson_common-core_testing_award_in_court.html

Pearson’s History of Testing Problems

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/05/06/a-history-of-pearsons-testing-problems-worldwide/

Test Expert: Most California Schools Not Ready for Common Core Exams

http://www.thecalifornian.com/article/20140507/NEWS12/305060040/Test-expert-Most-schools-not-ready

Tryout of New California Test Plagued by Computer Problems

http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-new-tests-20140512-story.html#page=1

Common Core Testing Raises Question About Who Is in Charge of Connecticut Education

http://ctmirror.org/op-ed-common-core-raises-question-who-is-in-charge-of-education/

Florida Governor Approves One-Year Pause on School Grading Consequences

http://www.news4jax.com/news/scott-approves-1year-pause-on-school-grades/25951312

Student Testing a Major Issue in Idaho School Chief Election

http://www.spokesman.com/stories/2014/may/08/rivals-idaho-schools-chief-differ-student-testing/

Illinois Suburbs Push Back Against Testing

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/education/ct-school-ratings-overhaul-sidebar-met-20140511,0,478278.story

Louisiana Tax Dollars at Work: Training Teachers to Administer High-Stakes Tests Which Grade Their “Effectiveness”

http://wwno.org/post/back-school-training-teachers-give-high-stakes-tests

http://wwno.org/post/behind-test-using-test-scores-grade-teachers

Why Standardized Testing is Ruining Maine Schools, Hurting Our Kids

https://bangordailynews.com/2014/05/08/opinion/why-standardized-testing-is-ruining-our-schools-hurting-our-kids/

Massachusetts Teachers Union Elects Strong Foe of High-Stakes Testing as President

http://www.gazettenet.com/home/11920874-95/barbara-madeloni-of-northampton-foe-of-standardized-testing-elected-president-of-110000-member-massa

A Fairer Test Score Measure for Massachusetts

http://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2014/05/06/fairer-test-score-measure/sjpTO5mv9hldIrfUxLC2rJ/story.html

Common Core Field Testing Seen as Another Unfunded Massachusetts State Mandate

http://www.southcoasttoday.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20140509/PUB04/405080312/1040

Parents Boycott New Jersey ASK Test

http://tri.gmnews.com/news/2014-05-08/Opinion/Parents_boycott_NJ_ASK_test.html

How to Refuse New Jersey Tests for Your Child

http://thealternativepress.com/articles/misinformation-and-half-truths-is-this-what-we-h

Student: Standardized Tests Taking a Toll in New Mexico Classrooms

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/life/teen/are-standardized-exams-taking-a-toll-in-the-classroom/article_c0064cf3-f1d4-5576-bca7-1b7747a2bd44.html

A Conversation About Tests New York Teachers Can’t Have

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/07/nyregion/principals-want-to-complain-about-new-york-state-tests-but-explanations-have-to-wait.html

The Pseudo-Science of New York’s Common Core Tests

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-singer/common-core-pseudoscience_b_5280441.html

Ohio Teachers Seek Three-Year Delay in High-Stakes Testing

http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2014/05/10/ohio-teachers-union-wants-delay-in-high-stakes-testing.html

Oklahoma Legislature Passes Bill Giving Parents a Voice in Overruling Grade Promotion Test

http://kfor.com/2014/05/12/bill-passes-giving-parents-and-teachers-a-voice-in-3rd-grade-reading-test/

Testing Expert: Oregon’s Assessments Should Be Designed by Local Educators

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/05/student_assessments_should_be.html

Oregon Teachers Seek Common Core Testing Moratorium

http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2014/05/oregon_teachers_union_calls_fo.html

They’ll Never Catch Pennsylvania’s Worst Test Cheating Culprits — Politicians Who Mandate High-Stakes Exams

http://www.philly.com/philly/blogs/attytood/Theyll-never-catch-the-real-culprits.html#IQAktHH1XgkwVvho.99

Philadelphia “Culture of Cheating” Reflects Standardized Exam Misuse

http://news.yahoo.com/principal-teachers-face-criminal-charges-philadelphia-test-scandal-202509850.html

Different Value-Added Systems Produce Wide-Range of Results in Pittsburgh Schools

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2014/05/12/Pittsburgh-Public-Schools-state-use-different-formulas-to-calculate-value-added-by-schools/stories/201405120068

Rhode Island School Board Resists Mounting Pressure to End Graduation Test

http://www.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/content/20140512-r.i.-board-of-education-stays-with-necap-as-graduation-requirement.ece

Nashville Tennessee to Take Up Anti-Testing Resolution

http://www.tennessean.com/story/news/education/2014/05/09/nashville-board-will-take-anti-testing-measure/8903165/

Another Test Cheating Probe in the Home of the “Texas Miracle” Which Begat “No Child Left Behind”

http://blog.chron.com/k12zone/2014/05/teachers-at-2nd-hisd-school-face-firing-in-cheating-probe/

Texas Teacher Evaluation Earns a Failing Grade

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/opinion/outlook/article/Lee-Sridharan-Sung-HISD-gets-a-failing-gradede-5460933.php

Are Texas Children Allowed to Read for Pleasure Any More?

http://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2014/may/10/ys_education_matters_051114_239099/?features

Virginia Parents Start Organizing Opt Out Campaign

http://www.nbc12.com/story/25497436/sol-opt-out

How NCLB Waiver Revocation Will Hurt Washington State Schools

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/05/08/how-students-will-be-affected-by-federal-revocation-of-washingtons-nclb-waiver/

Obama-Duncan Testing Policies Contradict Their Own High-Sounding Statements

http://www.edweek.org/tm/articles/2014/05/06/tm-ntoy-obama-evaluation.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS2

New Study Casts Doubt on Rating Teachers by Students’ Test Scores

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/good-teaching-poor-test-scores-doubt-cast-on-grading-teachers-by-student-performance/2014/05/12/96d94812-da07-11e3-bda1-9b46b2066796_story.html

Standardized Testing Focus is Part of 19th Century Model of Education

http://www.centredaily.com/2014/05/13/4176028/henry-g-brzycki-why-standardized.html?sp=/99/145/

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office- (239) 395-6773 fax- (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 696-0468
web- http://www.fairtest.org

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