Archives for category: Principals

Anthony Cody here describes teachers as “reluctant warriors,” as men and women who chose a profession because they wanted to teach, not to engage in political battles over their basic rights as professionals.

 

The profession is under attack, as everyone now knows. Pensions are under attack. The right to due process is under attack. The policymakers want inexperienced, inexpensive teachers who won’t talk back, who won’t collect a pension, who will turn over rapidly:

 

In years past we formed unions and professional organizations to get fair pay, so women would get the same pay as men. We got due process so we could not be fired at an administrator’s whim. We got pensions so we could retire after many years of service.

But career teachers are not convenient or necessary any more. We cost too much. We expect our hard-won expertise to be recognized with respect and autonomy. We talk back at staff meetings, and object when we are told we must follow mindless scripts, and prepare for tests that have little value to our students.

No need for teachers to think for themselves, to design unique challenges to engage their students. The educational devices will be the new source of innovation. The tests will measure which devices work best, and the market will make sure they improve every year. Teachers are guides on the side, making sure the children and devices are plugged in properly to their sockets.

 

First, the privatizers came for the schools of the poor, because their parents and communities were powerless and were easy marks for privatization. Then they came for the union and the teachers:

 

Schools of the poor were the first targets. It was easy to stigmatize schools attended by African Americans and Latinos, by English learners and the children of the disempowered. Use test scores to label them failures, dropout factories, close them down, turn them over to privatizers. But this was just the beginning. And now, as Arne Duncan made clear with his dismissal of “white suburban moms,” they want all the schools, and are prepared to use poor performance on the Common Core tests to fuel the “schools are failing” narrative.

 

Teacher unions are under ruthless attack by billionaires, who conveniently own the media, and provide the very “facts” to guide public discourse. Due process is maligned and destroyed under the guise of “increasing professionalism.” Democratic control of local schools is undermined by mayoral control and the expansion of privately managed charter schools.

 

Congress and state legislatures have been purchased wholesale through bribes legalized by the Supreme Court, which has given superhuman power to corporate “citizens.”

 

Teachers, by our nature cooperators respectful of authority, are slow to react. Can the destruction of public education truly be anyone’s goal? The people responsible for this erosion rarely state their intentions. With smiles and praise for teachers, they remove our autonomy and make our jobs depend on test scores. With calls for choice and civil rights, they re-segregate our schools, and institute zero-tolerance discipline policies in their no-excuses charter schools. They push for larger classes in public schools but send their own children to schools with no more than 16 students in a room. Corporate philanthropies anoint teacher “leaders” who are willing to echo reform themes – sometimes even endorsed by our national teacher unions.

 

Now, he says, as the truth gets out about the privatization movement and its bipartisan support, teachers are starting to fight back. They are joining the BATs, they are joining the Network for Public Education, they are speaking out, they are (as in Seattle) refusing to give the tests, they are organizing (as in New York City) to protest the low quality of the tests.

 

Join in the fight against high-stakes testing, which is a central element in the privatization movement. They use the data to target teachers, principals, and public schools. They use the data to destroy public education. Don’t cooperate. Join the reluctant warriors. One person alone will be hammered. Do it with your colleagues, stand together, and be strong.

 

 

 

 

Today, parents and students rallied against the state tests at dozens of schools across New York City, unassuaged by State Commissioner John King’s claims that the tests were better this year and consumed less than 1% of the year. Little children that had sat for three hours of reading tests did not take comfort in his words, and parents demanded transparency.

“The protests, which drew hundreds of people to some schools before the start of classes, followed a speech Thursday by New York State Education Commissioner John King, in which he fiercely defended the state’s education initiatives, including the new standards and tests.

“He described recent debates over those efforts as “noise” and “drama,” and attributed some of the outcry to “misinformation.” And while acknowledging that some schools spend too much time preparing for tests, he insisted that the state had worked to reduce testing time. He added that the new Common Core exams “are better tests” than previous ones.

“His comments struck a nerve with some of the principals, who usually avoid getting involved in education’s political fights, but felt impelled to refute the notion that misinformed members of the public were stirring up unrest about the tests.

“P.S. 59 Principal Adele Schroeter said the hundreds of parents and students who filled the streets around her Midtown school Friday morning were “more than noise and drama, in spite of what John King might say.””

Tomorrow, dozens of Manhattan principals plan their own protests. One of them wrote in a letter to parents: ““I have never seen a more atrocious exam.”

“Echoing criticisms of the exams that other educators have posted online, the Manhattan principals said the tests did not measure the type of analytical reading and writing they associate with the Common Core standards. They also argued that the tests were too long and many of the multiple-choice answers were bafflingly similar.

“I have a double masters and some of them could be A or C,” said Medea McEvoy, principal of P.S. 267 on the Upper East Side, one of the schools planning to protest.

“The principals also said that confidentiality rules shield the test maker, publishing giant Pearson, from public scrutiny. And because only a portion of the test questions are eventually released, they said, teachers cannot rely on them as instructional tools.
The school leaders added that, considering all the flaws they found in the exams, they do not trust the state’s new evaluations that rate teachers partly on their students’ test scores.”

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.

Chalkbeat reports that the principal of a NYC charter school has gone from one position to the next, touting fake credentials.

Despite the fact that he had been forced out of other schools, despite the fact that he made numerous other unsubstantiated claims about jobs he had held, he was hired to run a charter for transfer students, a school for students at risk of not graduating.

His résumé is impressive:

“He claimed to have been a senior adviser to Barack Obama as a senator and a consultant to Hillary Rodham Clinton. He said he had served as a deputy chief of staff for Carrie Meek, then a U.S. Representative. He claimed to have a doctoral degree. And he said he was the principal of a school in Washington, D.C. where he was actually a teacher….”

“From Feb. 2009 to June 2010, Thomas worked as a program director for Phase 4 Learning Center, a nonprofit that operates alternative education centers in Pennsylvania. The company’s CEO, Terrie Suica-Reed, said that Thomas’s deception while working for her company “was enough that he had to be released from all duties and all association with Phase 4.”
“I would listen to the warning signs,” Suica-Reed said.

In New York City, Thomas served as a “principal-in-residence” for New Visions for Public Schools from March to June 2011. The nonprofit then tapped Thomas to be the principal of its first high school, the New Visions Charter High School for the Humanities.
New Visions spokesman Tim Farrell said that Thomas was a part of the school’s “start-up team” but left before it opened that fall, and would not comment further on his departure.

The article suggests that charters may have to e more careful about hiring principals.

Of course, when public funds flow to unregulated schools that are not required to comply with state law governing credentials and qualifications, problems will arise.

This statement was written by Katie Zahedi and Bianca Tanis.

Katie Zahedi is principal at Linden Avenue Middle School in Red Hook, NY, and serves on the administrative panel for NYSAPE.
Bianca Tanis is a public school parent in the Hudson Valley as well as an elementary special education teacher and a co-founder of NYS Allies for Public Education.

“We ask that the New York State Education Department (NYSED) Board of Regents act to reform hiring and appointment procedures for employees and new regent members. The lack of professional and scholarly input has produced many of the problems with the failed Regents Reform Agenda. Constituencies in education have historically guarded against governmental involvement in education, yet there are unprecedented requests of the legislature for protection from the corporatized dismantling of public education by NYSED leadership.

Our comments embody attempts to advocate for a secure future for public schools and do not represent their respective school districts.
_________________________________________________________________________________

Bianca Tanis and Katie Zahedi, a teacher and a principal are asking that the New York State Education Department (NYSED) Board of Regents reform hiring and appointment procedures for employees and new regent members. A lack of professional and scholarly input has produced many mistakes and a failed Regents Reform Agenda. Constituencies in education have historically guarded against governmental involvement in education, yet there are unprecedented requests of the legislature for protection from the corporatized dismantling of public education by NYSED. Their comments constitute advocacy for a secure future for public schools and do not represent their respective school districts.

_________________________________________________________________________________

NYSED has been enforcing standards based evaluations for teachers and principals, despite the absence of consistently used standards and protocols for hiring or evaluating NYSED. The current commissioner’s performance program is not public, though it was under Commissioner Mills. As such, schools are held accountable to increased standards under a department that is violating the state labor contract. The commissioner was hired without a formal search or established criteria. There are unqualified “fellows” hired as “consultants” who are doing work not appropriately linked to approvable expenditures for consultants or accountable to any public entity because they are privately funded. There are postings for temporary employees to evaluate APPR plans, with a pre-requisite “one year of relevant professional experience”.  The Regents’ appointment process is in need of review, while the NYSED has allowed corporate know-nothings to design curriculum that is being forced on our schools.

 

Are these inappropriate hiring practices at NYSED upholding flawed policies that waste time, public money and hurt students?  Are we comfortable leaving implementation of education reform to unproven methodologies managed by private consultants who are unaccountable to the public? The two images depicted here include: 1) an advertisement for temporary employment seeking applicants with minimal qualifications (one year of relevant experience) to evaluate the compliance plans of New York School districts to the SED’s directives, and 2) a FOIL submitted by the Professional Employees Association (PEF) at the NYSED for what they believe may be the illegal relocation of their work, which is currently being done by others in private offices under the direction of the questionably hired fellows.

Some professionals are rendered speechless at the chagrin of what is happening in full public view. Those who are able to respond to the overbearing conditions have written to leadership, requested meetings, spoken at forums all over the state, and pleaded with elected officials to intervene in the troubling course.  Has the time yet come to turn the APPR (teacher and principal evaluation system) around?  If so, we encourage policy makers on the Board of Regents and SED executive staff to reflect and consider their performance on a state HEDI band. In case you don’t know what we mean, are they “Highly Qualified”; “Effective”; “Developing”; or “Ineffective” as leaders of the NYSED?

 

The Regents oversee education but the board is presently populated with few individuals possessing experience or expertise relevant to educational governance at the state level. With four seats open on the board, we encourage hiring and selection criteria for all appointments based on professional expertise and related criteria.  The best candidates will have backgrounds in education, with increased representation from stakeholder groups such as experienced K-12 practitioners, parents and advocates of students enrolled in public schools and scholars of education history, policy and practice.

 

The NYSED has only grudgingly listened to educators. They have resisted input from scholars who have sought to assist with analysis of reform efforts and systems of implementation now under review. NYSED leadership’s almost fetishistic obsession with data in the absence of substantive analysis of the efficacy of high-stakes tests and test scores vis-à-vis their meaning or relevance to school improvement and student learning has effectively obscured any focus on reforms that might actually work. Innovation, at the heart of American success, doesn’t appear to be tightly coupled with an ability to answer fact-based questions correctly. What if social emotional learning, creativity and relationships are more relevant to success than test rankings? Who will be accountable for RTTT if it cripples student progress?

 

While NYSED is preoccupied with unreflective implementation, even scant effort would yield local assistance.  For example, at the Department of Education Administration and Policy Studies at SUNY Albany, within a half an hour of the commissioner’s office, are experts who can assist them with a better understanding of the macro-factors contributing to comparatively lower scores of US students on the Program for International Students Assessment (PISA) league tables.  Lower international rankings are driving RTTT, so understanding causality is critical to the design of appropriate solutions. Perhaps the Board Secretary might order a few copies of Pisa, Power, and Policy and the Globalization of Educational Governance, written by experts at SUNY, Albany.  Editors, Meyer and Benavot, scholars at the State University of New York (Albany), may be willing to drive across town to help them understand faulty assumptions driving RTTT that has shaped the policies that are creating havoc in New York schools.

 

APPR and CCLS, as formulated, are crumbling.  We suggest that APPR with number grades for teachers that are tied to student test scores, be scrapped and the CCLS be left to the states and districts for review. Meanwhile, SED mandates should cease until our leadership is properly reviewed and a higher standard is applied to their hiring and evaluation.  The public will soon be asking who is going to be accountable for the billions of dollars wasted on systems that were imposed on schools against the earnest advisement of professionals in the field.

 

We want to acknowledge that the Regents are public-minded in their service as volunteers and thank them all for their efforts. Commitment and devotion are respected, but we call for standards guiding the Regents selection process.  While it may be difficult, we are asking for decision makers to vote for what is best for schools and children even if it means that the calls for “change” that have been enacted on schools are now applied to themselves. They will know what is best by speaking with actual school leaders, not policy entrepreneurs!

 

Heinz-Dieter Meyer & Aaron Benavot. Introduction. PISA and the Globalization of Education Governance: some puzzles and problems. OXFORD STUDIES IN COMPARATIVE EDUCATION

PISA, Power, and Policy. The Emergence of Global Educational Governance
Edited by HEINZ-DIETER MEYER & AARON BENAVOT (Benavot, 2013)

The five Newark principals who were suspended for daring to question Superintendent Cami Anderson’s plan to close their schools have sued her for violating their First Amendment rights. They were joined by a Parent-TeCher organization whose president was barred from his child’s school.

Anderson was appointed by Governor Chris Christie’s administration.

Newark has an elected school board but has been under state control since 1995.

This is a very important letter from the New York principals who have led the fight against high-stakes testing and the state’s invalid educator evaluation system.

Here is an important excerpt. Read the letter in its entirety.

 

Here’s what we know:

1)    NYS Testing Has Increased Dramatically: We know that our students are spending more time taking State tests than ever before. Since 2010, the amount of time spent on average taking the 3-8 ELA and Math tests has increased by a whopping 128%! The increase has been particularly hard on our younger students, with third graders seeing an increase of 163%!

2)    The Tests were Too Long: We know that many students were unable to complete the tests in the allotted time. Not only were the tests lengthy and challenging, but embedded field test questions extended the length of the tests and caused mental exhaustion, often before students reached the questions that counted toward their scores. For our Special Education students who receive additional time, these tests have become more a measure of endurance than anything else.

3)    Ambiguous Questions Appeared throughout the Exams: We know that many teachers and principals could not agree on the correct answers to ambiguous questions in both ELA and Math. In some schools, identical passages and questions appeared on more than one test and at more than one grade level. One school reported that on one day of the ELA Assessment, the same passage with identical questions was included in the third, fourth AND fifth grade ELA Assessments.

4)    Children have Reacted Viscerally to the Tests: We know that many children cried during or after testing, and others vomited or lost control of their bowels or bladders. Others simply gave up. One teacher reported that a student kept banging his head on the desk, and wrote, “This is too hard,” and “I can’t do this,” throughout his test booklet.

5)    The Low Passing Rate was Predicted: We know that in his “Implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards” memo of March 2013, Deputy Commissioner Slentz stated that proficiency scores (i.e., passing rate) on the new assessments would range between 30%-37% statewide. When scores were released in August 2013, the statewide proficiency rate was announced as 31%.

6)    The College Readiness Benchmark is Irresponsibly Inflated: We know that the New York State Education Department used SAT scores of 560 in Reading, 540 in Writing and 530 in mathematics, as the college readiness benchmarks to help set the “passing” cut scores on the 3-8 New York State exams. These NYSED scores, totaling 1630, are far higher than the College Board’s own college readiness benchmark score of 1550. By doing this, NYSED has carelessly inflated the “college readiness” proficiency cut scores for students as young as nine years of age.

7)    State Measures are Contradictory: We know that many children are receiving scores that are not commensurate with the abilities they demonstrate on other measures, particularly the New York State Integrated Algebra Regents examination. Across New York, many accelerated eighth-graders scored below proficiency on the eighth grade test only to go on and excel on the Regents examination one month later. One district reports that 58% of the students who scored below proficiency on the NYS Math 8 examination earned a mastery score on the Integrated Algebra Regents.

8)    Students Labeled as Failures are Forced Out of Classes: We know that many students who never needed Academic Intervention Services (AIS) in the past, are now receiving mandated AIS as a result of the failing scores. As a result, these students are forced to forgo enrichment classes. For example, in one district, some middle school students had to give up instrumental music, computer or other special classes in order to fit AIS into their schedules.

9)    The Achievement Gap is Widening: We know that the tests have caused the achievement gap to widen as the scores of economically disadvantaged students plummeted, and that parents are reporting that low-scoring children feel like failures.

10) The Tests are Putting Financial Strains on Schools: We know that many schools are spending precious dollars on test prep materials, and that instructional time formerly dedicated to field trips, special projects, the arts and enrichment, has been reallocated to test prep, testing, and AIS services.

11) The Tests are Threatening Other State Initiatives: Without a doubt, the emphasis on testing is threatening other important State initiatives, most notably the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Parents who see the impact of the testing on their children are blaming the CCSS, rather than the unwise decision to implement high stakes testing before proper capacity had been developed. As long as these tests remain, it will be nearly impossible to have honest conversations about the impact of the CCSS on our schools.

 

 

Jersey Jazzman reports on the annual meeting between State Commissioner Chris Cerf and the New Jersey superintendents. Unlike previous meetings, there were few questions, few signs of life.

Have they given up, JJ wondered. He unites a news story, which says:

“Compared with previous convocations at which tensions were high and questions were plentiful, the more than 300 school leaders gathered yesterday at Jackson Liberty High School appeared to be getting used to the new world order under Cerf and his boss.
Gary McCartney, the South Brunswick superintendent and president of the state’s superintendents group, which hosted the event, said he saw the three years of convocations with Cerf as a period of evolution.

“I think people are beginning to assimilate,” he said. “In the first year, it was kicking and screaming, hoping (the initiatives) would go away. The second was wringing your hands and whining, thinking they would go away. Now you say, I don’t have any more tantrums, I think we’re going to do this.”

JJ points out that any one of the three superintendents in the room knew more about education than Cerf and his Broadie fellows.

He writes:

“The primary function of this blog over the past three years has been to catalog the many sins Christie and Cerf have committed against New Jersey’s public schools, including:

*A failure of state control in Newark, Paterson, Jersey City, and now Camden.
*Cerf’s insistence on bringing unqualified, poorly-trained staff into the NJDOE and the large urban districts.
*A despicable retreat from funding equity in our schools.
*The imposition of an innumerate teacher evaluation system that has never been properly field tested.
*The imposition of bizarre schemes that have never worked, like merit pay.
*The imposition of curricular and testing changes that have never been properly vetted.
*A rampant expansion of privatization that both undermines democratic control of our schools and rewards poor educational and fiscal practices.
*The lowest morale of the NJ teaching corps seen in a generation, precipitated by Christie’s blatant lies to educators about their compensation, his truly reprehensible behavior in public appearances, and his personal hypocrisy regarding his own children’s education.

As JJ says, “They only win when you give up.”

Help is on the way.

I am speaking to the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors on October 17. They will hear you, JJ. They will hear you loud and clear. They will not give up. And they will win, despite the efforts of Cerf and Christie to break their spirit.

This principal works hard to support his staff and inspire them.

This principal protects the children in his school.

This principal learned that the State rated him as a 9.

Nine out of twenty.

That meant that no matter how many more points (out of 80) he might accumulate, he could never be rated “Highly Effective.”

So, in the spirit of evaluation madness, he decided to offer nine suggestions for State Commissioner John King (who by the way, has less experience as an administrator than the principal who wrote this post):

1) Our children, staff and communities are much more than a number. Instead of trying to reduce us all to a number (evaluative scores, test results, rankings, etc.) please take the time to get to know us and know what we are doing well because we are more than a number. 
 
2) Figure out what schools are doing well and try and emulate those practices instead of trying to make us all fit into the same box. I understand it’s difficult to know what’s going on in each school because there are thousands of schools in NYS, but a more robust understanding of the current landscape throughout the state would be greatly appreciated. Are there issues throughout the state? Yes! Are there schools and districts that need to improve significantly because the children deserve better? Yes! But, why must educational reform in NYS be rooted in what’s wrong in our schools instead of what’s right in our schools? Instead of feeling pressured to get our test scores up, I would much rather spend time sharing and collaborating with colleagues from around the state about best practices – these practices are what make a difference in the daily lives of children.
 
3) Give us time to shift, implement and take risks with our practices! We just adopted and implemented the Common Core State Standards all within the last year (many districts are still working on the implementation) and yet already, we are all being assessed against these standards. How is that fair? Just because a teenager passes his/her permit test and takes a few driving lessons, doesn’t mean he/she are ready to race at the Daytona 500! Instead, we need time to experiment, fail and problem solve without being judged. Give us time!
 
4) Take feedback from the people working in schools, with children, to help enhance, modify and improve various mandates and policies. We are living APPR each day – let us tell you what should change! We administered the Common Core NYS Tests to actual children – let us tell you what happened and what could be changed. We are struggling to “fit it all in” – let us tell you what could possibly change. Instead of implementing all these sweeping large scale changes across the entire state, things should have been piloted or tested in pockets so State Ed could have worked out the kinks before imposing it all on every child and educator in the state. 
 
5) Evaluating a teacher based on how students perform on high stakes testing is not a reliable measure (check out this article about the issues with value added models). The scores for individual educators will go up and down each year with little ability to predict where they will end up. So, what’s the point? For example, I know of an educator who received a 2 out of 20 last year but this year received a 13 out of 20. My guess is that next year the same educator will have a totally different score because of the student population. The number fluctuates dramatically each year and that is because there are too many variables to control for when evaluating an educator against how their students perform on high stakes testing. Eliminate this part of the APPR plan – let’s implement something more robust and thorough (maybe a digital portfolio) and less quick and dirty (ratings that are based on high stakes tests that rely heavily on multiple choice questions).
 
6) Change the NYS Tests! Instead of letting them be so one dimensional with an over abundance of multiple choice questions, give our children an opportunity to show you what THEY know and can do in the areas of literacy and mathematics. Instead of trying to trick them with multiple choice questions that many adults cannot answer and trying to exhaust them with days of testing, give them a chance to evaluate, synthesize, think critically and apply the skills they have to solve real life problems and situations. This way, we can have a true understanding of what our children know and can do. Instead, currently, all we can really figure out is if they bubbled in the right answer – not WHY they bubbled it in just if they did. The current testing situation, where the results are used to evaluate educators, does NOT work. Furthermore, it seems that NYS is saying that we can assess college and career readiness with how students perform on multiple choice tests – REALLY?!? We need to consider multiple data points – not just the results of one test! By considering multiple data points we do not have to rely on annual standardized state testing to evaluate our students or educators. For example, our students could be tested independently every three years, starting in third grade, using a standardized test. This way, we will have data points that span from elementary to high school graduation. Additionally, there should be group task oriented assessments during the years between standardized tests where the students must collaborate to solve a set of real life problems. Furthermore, our students should be expected to maintain a digital portfolio that will feature work from all content areas that will be scored against rubrics generated collaboratively between teachers and students. By integrating all these assessments we can use multiple data points to determine student growth over an extended period of time and across all content areas, not just in Mathematics and English Language Arts. Multiple data points mean that we do not have to rely on summative assessments for evaluation purposes and instead we will have access to formative assessment data that can help us meet the needs of our students in real time and give every student an entry point to learning. 
 
7) Give us data we can use to inform instruction and help our children learn and grow! Our children spend hours taking these tests, which we are never allowed to see again, and we receive the results just in time for the next school! What’s the point? We cannot do anything with this information because we don’t have all the pieces in a timely fashion. As educators, many of us dedicate our lives to using as many assessment points as possible to help us plan and guide future instructional decisions to best meet the needs of our children. The data from NYS seems to be used for one purpose, and one purpose only, to judge.       
 
8) Implement policies and mandates that foster and expect the use of 21st century skills and innovation in our schools! Challenge us to make technology a regular part of instruction- not an add on. Ask us to encourage our children to collaborate for the purposes of thinking critically and creating – that is the root of innovation. Innovative thinkers who are willing to keep failing until they perfect their vision are the ones changing the world and affecting the global economic landscape – not the people who can pick the correct answer on a multiple choice test.
 
9) Don’t use our children and educators as pawns in some massive money making scheme. Let Pearson figure out other ways to make money. Don’t try and privatize public education and turn it into a business. Our children should be the focus – each and every day we should be driven by doing what is best for our children; not what is going to put more money into the already fat pockets of different individuals and corporations. 

How many times have we heard that the a Chicago Public Schools are broke? Isn’t that why CPS laid off thousands of teachers and closed 50 elementary schools?

But wait: this week, CPS gave a $20 million no-bid contract to a for-profit corporation called Supes Academy to train principals.

CPS Superintendent Barbara Byrd-Bennett worked for Supes Academy until April 2012.

“The size and the circumstances surrounding the contract have raised eyebrows among some outside observers. The contract with Wilmette-based Supes Academy is by far the largest no-bid contract awarded in at least the past three years, according to a Catalyst Chicago analysis of board documents. In addition, CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett worked for the company as a coach up until the time she came on board at CPS as a consultant.

“There’s also conflicting information about Byrd-Bennett’s involvement with another company owned by the same individuals who run the Supes Academy.

“Andy Shaw, president and CEO of the Better Government Association, says that a large, no-bid contract such as this one deserves scrutiny.”

Scrutiny? I’ll say. Chicago has several excellent institutions of higher education that could have done the same job for far less money. Was this a necessary expenditure at a time when the schools don’t have enough teachers and at being closed, allegedly to save money?

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