Archives for category: Standardized Testing

A new group called Voices for Public Education has organized in Douglas County, Colorado. This is a district whose elected board favors market reforms and hired Bill Bennett to speak before the last election ($50,000), as well as paying Rick Hess to write a laudatory paper about its policies.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Innovation Schools Do Not Mean Less Testing

Highlands Ranch, Colorado -September 15, 2014 – Voices For Public Education (Voices) opposes the Douglas County Board of Education (BoE) resolution authorizing the submission of innovation waivers to the Colorado Board of Education and the BoE’s use of the Innovation Schools Act of 2008 to waive state assessments. The resolution passed at the September 2nd board meeting.

This resolution authorizes schools to submit waivers from testing required by the READ act to the Colorado Board of Education. These waivers will be submitted under provisions from the Innovation Schools Act. Voices for Public Education supports fewer high-stakes, state and district-mandated tests, but they do not support this resolution.

Amy DeValk, co-founder of Voices for Public Education, believes this resolution will not result in less testing. State-mandated tests will be replaced by district-mandated tests.

“Passing this resolution has nothing to do with standardized testing. The board is using testing as a distraction to the real intent of submitting Innovation Waivers. These waivers will allow the BoE to get out of state requirements they do not agree with, ultimately giving them the ability to implement their own agenda and testing with little to no oversight from the state. Teachers and parents need to learn what this really means for their school.”

Voices urges parents to demand community meetings regarding this resolution and to oppose its implementation. Voices also encourages parents to oppose all standardized testing, whether it is mandated by the state or the district. Parents should demand testing that supports learning and helps teachers to guide instruction.

About Voices for Public Education:

Voices for Public Education is dedicated to educating the community to empower individuals to act and take back our public schools.

We educate by:

• Bringing in national education experts to discuss education reform and offer alternatives

• Building personal relationships to tell our story

• Supporting other community groups fighting education reform

We empower by:

• Working with our school communities to develop actions to take back our schools

• Giving teachers, parents, students and community members a voice in decision-making

We act by:

• Creating actions for both quick “wins” and long term goals

• Providing the resources and information for people to take individual actions

• Partnering with and supporting other grassroots organizations

https://www.facebook.com/VoicesForPublicEducation

Contact:

Amy DeValk, Voices for Public Education co-founder
wasnoyes@comcast.net
303-350-7206
Stefanie Fuhr, Voices for Public Education co-founder
tutucker@comcast.net
303-483-1196

Frank Breslin, retired teacher of foreign languages and history, calls for Congressional hearings about the cost and misuse of testing.

He points out that test scores are used to close public schools, fire teachers, and privatize schools, even though charters do not get better results than public schools.

He warns that the federal government has used testing to impose its failed ideas on schools, eviscerating local control. Breslin concludes that the best way to end federal intrusion is to abolish the Department of Education.

On September 4, I posted two things about Marc Tucker’s latest accountability proposals. One was a brief summary of his ideas. I was especially impressed by the point he made that no other advanced nation tests as much as we do.

The second was a critique of Tucker’s accountability plan by Anthony Cody.

Cody wrote the following:

““We need to learn (and teach) the real lesson of NCLB – and now the Common Core. The problem with NCLB was not with the *number* of tests, nor with when the tests were given, nor with the subject matter on the tests, or the format of the tests, or the standards to which the tests were aligned.

“The problem with NCLB was that it was based on a false premise, that somehow tests can be used to pressure schools into delivering equitable outcomes for students. This approach did not work, and as we are seeing with Common Core, will not work, no matter how many ways you tinker with the tests.

“The idea that our education system holds the key to our economic future is a seductive one for educators. It makes us seem so important, and can be used to argue for investments in our schools. But this idea carries a price, because if we accept that our economic future depends on our schools, real action to address fundamental economic problems can be deferred. We can pretend that somehow we are securing the future of the middle class by sending everyone to preschool – meanwhile the actual middle class is in a shambles, and college students are graduating in debt and insecure.

“The entire exercise is a monumental distraction, and anyone who engages in this sort of tinkering has bought into a shell game, a manipulation of public attention away from real sources of inequity.

“We need some accountability for children’s lives, for their bellies being full, for safe homes and neighborhoods, and for their futures when they graduate. Once there is a healthy ecosystem for them to grow in, and graduate into, the inequities we see in education will shrink dramatically. But that requires much broader economic and social change — change that neither policymakers or central planners like Tucker are prepared to call for.”

For some reason, Tucker decided that Cody and I are one and the same person, apparently using different names when it suits our purpose. Cody wrote the second piece, and I quoted it.

I actually think that Tucker agrees with Cody, and I agree with them both, on the main issues at hand. We all agree that our schools would have higher test scores if there were less poverty. I think I can safely say that we believe that more testing and higher stakes won’t reduce poverty. I think I can say we agree that teachers should have better preparation for their work, more mentoring and support, and higher salaries. (Marc, correct me if I am wrong.)

Maybe where we diverge is on the value of high-stakes standardized tests. I don’t think they are necessary to improve teaching and learning. If they were, we would surely see them used at Sidwell Friends, Lakeside Academy, Groton, Dalton, Exeter, and Deerfield Academy. Instead, these institutions have small classes, respect their experienced teachers, have extensive programs in the arts, a well-stocked library, and assure that all students have a full and balanced curriculum. These schools do not judge their teachers by value-added metrics based on test scores. They are not faced annually with the threat of budget cuts and layoffs.

That’s what I want for all children. Marc, let me know where we disagree.

A group of teachers at a progressive public school in Néw York City have formed “Teachers of Conscience” and written the Chancellor of the school system to say that they could no longer administer the state tests to their students.

For their willingness to act on the demands of their conscience rather than serve as compliant enforcers of actions intended to rank and rate their students, I place them on the honor roll of this blog. They are indeed Teachers of Conscience. They are resisters and conscientious objectors. From small acts of conscience, multiplied, grow revolutions.

They were inspired to act by the Seattle teachers’ boycott of MAP testing, but also by their conviction that the tests distort the purpose of education. They act in opposition to market-based reform and the Common Core.

Here is their letter to the chancellor from Teachers of Conscience:

Teachers of Conscience

A Letter to Chancellor Carmen Fariña

“The ongoing wars, the distortions of truth we have witnessed, the widening gaps between rich and poor disturb us more than we can say; but we have had so many reminders of powerlessness that we have retreated before the challenge of bringing such issues into our classrooms. At once, we cannot but realize that one of our primary obligations is to try to provide equal opportunities for the young. And we realize full that this cannot happen if our students are not equipped with what are thought to be survival skills, not to speak of a more or less equal range of literacies. And yet the tendency to describe the young as “human resources,” with the implication that they are mainly grist for the mills of globalized business is offensive not merely to educators, but to anyone committed to resist dehumanization of any kind.”

- Maxine Greene, In Search of a Pedagogy

Dear Chancellor Carmen Fariña,

We are teachers of public education in the City of New York. We are writing to distance ourselves from a set of policies that have come to be known as market-based education reform. We recognize that there has been a persistent and troubling gulf between the vision of individuals in policymaking and the work of educators, but we see you as someone who has known both positions and might therefore be understanding of our position. We find ourselves at a point in the progress of education reform in which clear acts of conscience will be necessary to preserve the integrity of public education. We can no longer implement policies that seek to transform the broad promises of public education into a narrow obsession with the ranking and sorting of children. We will not distort curriculum in order to encourage students to comply with bubble test thinking. We can no longer, in good conscience, push aside months of instruction to compete in a city-wide ritual of meaningless and academically bankrupt test preparation. We have seen clearly how these reforms undermine teachers’ love for their profession and undermine students’ intrinsic love of learning.

As an act of conscience, we are declining the role of test administrators for the 2014 New York State Common Core Tests. We are acting in solidarity with countless public school teachers who have paved their own paths of resistance and spoken truthfully about the decay of their profession under market-based reforms. These acts of conscience have been necessary because we are accountable to the children we teach and our pedagogy, both of which are dishonored daily by current policies.

The policies of Common Core have been misguided, unworkable, and a serious failure of implementation. At no time in the history of education reform have we witnessed the ideological ambitions of policymakers result in such a profound disconnect with the experiences of parents, teachers, and children. There is a growing movement of dissatisfied parents who are refusing high-stakes Common Core testing for their children and we are acting in solidarity with those parents. Reformers in the State Department of Education are now making gestures to slow down implementation and reform their reforms. Their efforts represent a failure of imagination — an inability to envision an education system based on human development and democratic ideals rather than an allegiance to standardization, ranking, and sorting. State policies have placed haphazard and burdensome mandates on schools that are profoundly out of touch with what we know to be inspired teaching and learning. Although the case against market-based education reform has been thoroughly written about, we feel obliged to outline our position at length to address critics who may see our choice of action as overstepping or unwarranted. You will find a position paper attached to this letter. We are urging you, Chancellor Fariña, to articulate your own position in this critical and defining moment in the history of public education. What will you stand for? What public school legacy will we forge together?

Sincerely,

Colin Schumacher, 4th/5th Grade Teacher, P.S. 364, Earth School

Emmy Matias, 4th/5th Grade Teacher, P.S. 364, Earth School

Jia Lee, 4th/5th Grade Teacher, P.S. 364, Earth School

If you have written a letter or statement regarding market-based education reform and the Common Core state standards, please consider submitting it for publication on our blog.

Here is the weekly Fairtest report on new developments in the public’s efforts to roll back the testing frenzy that has been imposed on our nation’s children by Congress, the Bush administration, and the Obama administration:

Bob Schaeffer of Fairtest writes:

It’s only the middle of September but assessment reformers have already recorded an initial set of “wins” for the new school year: Pittsburgh significantly reduced district-mandated testing, and Florida suspended a controversial statewide reading exam. Building on successes of the recent past, escalating “enough is enough” pressure on federal, state and local policy-makers should produce many more victories in 2014-2015. For a list of questions to ask your district, check out the second item in this week’s collection of clips.

“Testing Reform Victories: The First Wave” — How Much Our Movement Has Already Accomplished

http://fairtest.org/new-fairtest-report-testing-reform-victories-first

Key Questions to Ask Your District About School Testing

http://takingnote.learningmatters.tv/?p=7218

Connecticut Should Reduce Student Over-Testing

http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/editorials/hc-ed-cut-student-overtesting-20140910,0,348395.story

Florida Suspends a Controversial Test as Debate Widens Over School Testing

http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/testing/florida-suspends-a-controversial-exam-as-debate-widens-over-school-testing/2197837

Another Florida School Board Blasts Testing Overkill

http://www.floridatoday.com/story/news/education/2014/09/09/standardized-school-testing-criticized-brevard-board/15364851/

Lift Florida’s Test Obsession Burden

http://www.gainesville.com/article/20140912/OPINION/140919833/-1/opinion?Title=Kathleen-Oropeza-Lift-the-burden-of-test-obsession

Floridians Stand Against Testing Excess is Long Overdue

http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/k12/romano-a-stand-against-school-testing-is-long-overdue/2197607

Georgia Education Association Seeks Major Reduction in Testing

http://www.13wmaz.com/story/news/local/georgia/2014/09/09/georgia-association-educators-change/15350845/

Kentucky Public Schools Under Siege by So-Called “Reformers”

http://www.kentucky.com/2014/09/15/3429862_public-schools-under-siege-by.html?sp=/99/349/&rh=1

Massachusetts Needs Less Testing, More Learning — A Model Letter to the Editor

http://brookline.wickedlocal.com/article/20140912/OPINION/140918288

Putting Minnesota Test Scores in Context

http://www.timberjay.com/stories/Test-scores-in-context,11683

Too Much Testing in New Mexico Schools

http://www.currentargus.com/carlsbad-news/ci_26511345/carlsbad-current-argus

New York Congressman Will File Bill to Cut Federally Mandated Testing in Half

http://www.theislandnow.com/great_neck/rep-israel-bill-seeks-to-limit-standardized-tests/article_4ac25b28-39c3-11e4-a1f4-3bdc515cb9d2.html

New York May Slightly Relax Grad Testing Requirements

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2014/09/new_york_mulls_changes_in_grad.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS3

New Ohio School Report Cards Show Link Between Poverty and School Performance

http://xeniagazette.com/news/home_top/50621045/New-report-cards-show-link-between-poverty-student-performance

Pittsburgh PA Elementary Schools To Reduce Testing Significantly

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2014/09/09/Pittsburgh-schools-to-make-big-cuts-in-testing/stories/201409090234

Fewer Exams Means More Hours for Learning

http://yinzercation.wordpress.com/2014/09/10/33-more-hours-for-learning/

Parents, Teachers Applaud Pittsburgh’s Cutback in Testing

http://www.post-gazette.com/news/education/2014/09/15/Pittsburgh-s-reduction-in-student-tests-wins-applause/stories/201409150007

In Texas NEA President Calls for Testing Reform

http://www.valleymorningstar.com/news/local_news/article_28c281ac-3963-11e4-8e72-001a4bcf6878.html

Introduction to Yong Zhao’s New Book, “Fatal Attraction: America’s Suicidal Quest for Educational Excellence”

http://zhaolearning.com/2014/09/13/fatal-attraction-americas-suicidal-quest-for-educational-excellence/

“Teach to the Test” Drives Teachers to Quit

http://www.futurity.org/standardized-testing-teachers-quit-762122/

How Young Is Too Young to be Inundated With Standardized Tests

http://www.alternet.org/education/how-young-too-young-be-inundated-tests

Good Morning Mission Hill: A Way to Highlight Your Organization’s Work

http://goodmorningmissionhill.com/a-way-to-highlight-your-organizations-work/

National Merit Scholarships Continue to Misuse Tests Scores to Award College Aid

http://www.examiner.com/article/national-merit-qualifying-scores-released-for-2014

Another Large, Public University Adopts Test-Optional Admissions

http://articles.philly.com/2014-09-10/news/53775454_1_test-scores-rowan-university-applicants

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office- (239) 395-6773 fax- (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468
web- http://www.fairtest.org

Frank Breslin, retired high school teacher, considers the current obsession with standardized testing in reading and mathematics and laments the neglect of history, foreign languages, science, and everything else that is not tested.

He writes:

“Reading and math, indeed, must be taught, but much more besides — literature, history, science, world languages, music, art, and, in an age of childhood obesity, physical education. But, thanks to this mandate, they no longer are because they no longer are tested.

“Even the restorative elixir of play and recess so vital to children is often omitted, so frantic are teachers at not having enough time to cover the testable material of reading and math. The result is an alarming narrowing both of curriculum and of children’s minds by this relentless barrage of testing and test preparation.

“But this has also had an overlooked, though no less pernicious, effect on students, not just by the little that is now being taught, but also by the many subjects now being omitted because there is no time to teach them.

“And it is this that is so very chilling about this educational “reform,” which is not about reform at all, but something very ominous — control of the mind.

“How better undermine education than by crippling thought; how better discourage critical inquiry than by stressing rote learning; how better weaken democracy than by subverting its schools!

“Teachers are deeply disturbed by what is now going on in the classroom. Only someone ignorant of what a school is about, who likens the classroom to an assembly line for the making of widgets, could be blind to the intangible dimension of what should be going on between teacher and students, but no longer is — the opening of vistas, introducing new worlds, the inducing of wonder, pushing back the unknown.

“Gone are those wondrous “teachable moments” that all of us recall from our own childhood years when a teacher would transfix us for a few rapturous moments when time stood still, as he or she took us into the very heart of what it means to be human, thrilling lessons that would remain with us for the rest of our lives. Such old-fashioned teaching is a thing of the past….

“Dickens skewered such “education” in his grotesque portrayals of Victorian schools in Hard Times, Nicholas Nickleby, and David Copperfield, where gargoyle schoolmasters like Gradgrind, Squeers, and Creakle are let loose upon children to their irreparable harm.

“The interminable mantra of “facts” heaped upon “facts,” the dogmatic insistence that only what can be measured, quantified, counted, and weighed is real and important, objective and useful, that all else is humbug — this pestiferous doctrine was unmasked for all times as tragically destructive to children. Such was the national fury and outrage at what innocent children were being made to endure in such schools that they were swept away overnight.”

Only those who know nothing of the love of learning could impose so soulless and deadening a regime on the nation’s children. Unfortunately Washington, D.C. and our state legislatures are overrun with people who resemble Mr. Gradgrind.

Jason Stanford has written a jaw-dropping article about what happened to the professor who debunked standardized testing. It’s not pretty.

Walter Stroup, a professor at the University of Texas College of Education, made a remarkable discovery about standardized tests: “what the tests measured was not what students have learned but how well students take tests.”

He shared what he learned with the Texas legislature in 2012, as the testing rebellion was heating up across the state among parents. Legislators had long clung to the dogma that the way to improve test scores was to test more and make the tests harder. The state had recently signed a big contract with Pearson to deliver the tests.

“Stroup testified that for $468 million the Legislature had bought a pile of stress and wasted time from Pearson Education, the biggest player in the standardized-testing industry.”

After 15 years of high-stakes testing, the state was still waiting for the promised results. What they got instead was a huge number of students who could not graduate high school and a parent uprising against testing.

What happened to Stroup was alarming. Pearson tried to discredit his research. Pearson has some high-powered lobbyists on its payroll in Texas.

“Stroup had picked a fight with a special interest in front of politicians. The winner wouldn’t be determined by reason and science but by politics and power. Pearson’s real counterattack took place largely out of public view, where the company attempted to discredit Stroup’s research. Instead of a public debate, Pearson used its money and influence to engage in the time-honored academic tradition of trashing its rival’s work and career behind his back.”

But even more alarming, the Pearson Foundationade was already a major benefactor of Stroup’s employer, the University of Texas College of Education.

“In retrospect, Stroup might have anticipated that the UT College of Education wouldn’t celebrate his scholarship on standardized tests. In 2009, the Pearson Foundation, the test publisher’s philanthropic arm, created a $1 million endowment at the College of Education, which in turn engendered the Pearson Center for Applied Psychometric Research, an endowed professorship, and an endowed faculty fellowship.

“Tax law allows corporations to establish charitable foundations. What tax law doesn’t allow is endowing a nonprofit to supplement the parent corporation’s profit-driven mission. Last December, Pearson paid a $7.7 million fine in New York state to settle charges that the Pearson Foundation “had helped develop products for its corporate parent, including course materials and software,” reported The New York Times. There is some evidence that the same thing is going on at UT, mainly because Pearson said so in a press release posted on the College of Education’s website:

“Pearson Foundation’s donation underscores the company’s dedication to designing and delivering assessments that advance measurement best practice, help ensure greater educational equity and improve instruction and learning in today’s global world,” wrote Steve Dowling, Pearson executive vice president. “Through our endowment with The University of Texas at Austin, we are investing in technology-driven assessment research that will promote and personalize education for all.”

Six months after Stroup testified before the Legislature, he learned that his tenure was in jeopardy.

The story is not over. It is about politics and power. It is not about what’s best for children or how to improve education.

Here is FairTest’s weekly roundup of resistance to test mania:

This week’s biggest assessment reform news was the vote to “opt out” of state-mandated standardized exams by the Lee County, Florida School Board. Though that was the most dramatic action so far this school year, we are seeing more and more local officials across the nation speaking out against testing overkill. As grassroots activists, educators, and experts ratchet up the pressure, expect more politicians to join the chorus of Americans saying, “Enough is enough!”

Colorado Education Leaders Question Standardized Testing Fixation

http://watchdogwire.com/colorado/2014/08/26/standardized-testing-questioned/

Florida District Sets Precedent by Voting to “Opt Out” of Standardized Testing

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/08/28/us-usa-florida-education-idUSKBN0GS2LV20140828

Lee County Schools Opt-Out Action is First Real Public Stand

http://www.news-press.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/08/28/opting-decision-first-real-public-stand/14774379/

In MIami-Dade Schools, the Testing Never Ends

http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/09/01/4322452/in-miami-dade-schools-testing.html

Taking It Beyond Testing: Minnesota Think Tank Report on School Funding Priorities

http://www.bemidjipioneer.com/content/education-taking-it-beyond-testing-minnesota-think-tank-release-report-education-spending

Mississippi County Superintendents Says Test Scores Are “Meaningless” and “Useless”

http://onlinemadison.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=29229

Keep New Jersey Test Scores in Proper Context

http://www.app.com/story/opinion/columnists/2014/08/28/editorial-keep-test-scores-proper-context/14758023/

New York City Mayor Pledges to Scrap Test-Only Selective High School Admissiosn

http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/mayor-de-blasio-defends-plan-scrap-test-only-admissions-elite-high-schools-blog-entry-1.1920767

New Mexico Students Decry Say Standardized Test Pressure Undercuts Learning

http://krwg.org/post/new-mexico-students-feeling-pressure-standardized-testings

Oklahoma Will Not Use Scores From Failed McGraw-Hill Writing Exam

http://newsok.com/state-education-department-says-it-will-withold-fifth-through-eighth-grade-writing-scores-from-report/article/5336605

Texas Tests Are Developmentally Inappropriate; Scores Are Politically Manipulated — Great Letters to the Editor

http://letterstotheeditorblog.dallasnews.com/2014/08/staar-standards-tests-are-flawed.html/

Vermont Stands Up to Testing, Respects Students, Parents and Teachers

http://www.ruraledu.org/articles.php?id=3205

Washington State Educators Have a Message for Arne Duncan

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/08/29/we-have-a-message-for-you-secretary-arne-duncan/

Student Test Scores Do Not Drive National Economic Performance:

http://www.ascd.org/ASCD/pdf/siteASCD/publications/policypoints/Test-Scores-Economic-Performance-Aug-14.pdf

Teachers of Affluent Students Get Highest Evaluations

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/teacherbeat/2014/08/do_ratings_penalize_teachers.html

Common Core Testing Group Shortens English/Language Arts Assessment

http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2014/08/parcc_shortens_englishlanguage.html

A Question for Arne Duncan: Who is Really “Sucking Air” Out of Education?

http://michaelklonsky.blogspot.com/2014/08/duncans-unsolicited-confession-hes.html

Test-Optional College Admissions Movement Takes Off

http://www.examiner.com/list/the-test-optional-movement-takes-off

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

Last week, the Lee County, Florida, school board voted 3-2 to opt out of state testing. Over the past few days, one member of the three-vote majority declared that she wanted to change her vote. A meeting was called for 8:30 a.m. This morning, a time that was sure to be inconvenient for parents and teachers.

A message to me from Bob Schaeffer of Fairtest, who lives in Lee County:

“As expected, given the notion that one member had reversed her position, the Lee County School Board just voted 3-2 to override its previous decision. However, four of the five board members spoke out against “test misuse and overuse” as well as “the punitive use of standardized exams.” The two Board members who opposed the original motion (allegedly due to the lack of an implementation plan) pledged to take their concerns to a meeting of the Florida School Boards Association, which is holding a statewide conference beginning tonight, and one threatened a lawsuit against unfunded state testing mandates. After the vote, several Board members said that there would be a public workshop next week to discuss how to move forward to reduce testing overkill, and two members pledged that they would make implementation motions at the Tuesday night, September 9 regular Board meeting.

“The hundreds of parents, teaches, students and taxpayers who packed the room viewed the decision as a temporary tactical setback, not a long-term defeat, for the assessment reform movement.”

Zak Jason wrote a fascinating interview in “Boston” magazine with Barbara Madeloni, the recently elected president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, the largest union in the state with 110,000 members.

I first learned of Madeloni when she was preparing teachers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and she refused to give the Pearson test to evaluate new teachers. Michael Winerip wrote a story about her defiance in the New York Times, and within a matter of days, her contract was not renewed. Now all teacher candidates across the university are required to take the Pearson exam.

I learned many things from this article. I learned that Barbara was a psychotherapist before she became a high school English teacher. I learned that when she ran for union president, she was considered a very long shot. Some people thought she had no chance at all.

I learned that the State Commissioner of Education, Mitchell Chester, is also chair of the governing board of PARCC, one of the two federally-funded Common Core tests. Some in the state say he has a conflict of interest.

Madeloni has called for a three-year moratorium on all testing and teacher evaluations:

“We’ve been trying to do scale, instead of human beings. We need to do human beings,” she says. She lambasts the Common Core, a national set of curriculum standards that the state adopted in 2010, as “corporate deform,” and described its architects to CommonWealth magazine as “rich white men who are deciding the course of public education for black and brown children.”

“The past and present heads of the state’s top education offices I talked to dismiss Madeloni’s rhetoric as naive, absurd, and, in the case of the moratorium, illegal. Mitchell Chester, the commissioner of the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), says he’s concerned that her “hyperbolic” vision may force the DESE to tune out the entire union.”

Chester may dismiss her, but teachers view her as a savior. “She’s the first MTA leader willing to listen to their agony, and to tell the truth about how teaching in the age of accountability can be, as Holyoke teacher Cheri Cluff puts it, “like waiting tables at a busy restaurant; you’re running and running and running, and you’ve lost your head.” Whereas past presidents and her opponent, MTA vice president Tim Sullivan, were willing to compromise with state administrators, Madeloni is combative, unapologetic, and, as Agustin Morales, another Holyoke teacher, says, “unafraid to make her life uncomfortable.”

Morales, the article notes, was elected president of his local in Holyoke with a 70% majority; he complained about the data walls, where students’ names and test scores are publicly posted. He was fired.

Madeloni is a fighter. She is outspoken and unafraid. Will she be marginalized by the state? Can the state alienate its largest union? Watch for the battles ahead. Madeloni was elected to stand up for teachers. Richard Stutman of the Boston Teachers Union has agreed to collaborate with her.

Zak Jason concluded:

“When I first talked to Madeloni soon after her election, she agreed to have me follow her throughout her first week. But just before her presidency began, she told me, “As a psychotherapist, I know the presence of someone else in the room can affect how the room behaves,” and said she would only be available for an interview, and her communications director James Sacks would join.

“As I’m about to leave her office, Madeloni turns to Sacks and asks, half-joking, “Is there anything I didn’t say that I was supposed to say?”

“What’s your vision?” he says.

“That we reclaim the vision of public education as a space for democracy, for joy, for hope, for a better future for all of our children. All of our children.”

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