Archives for category: Students

Jimmy Qin, a junior at Seminole High School in Sanford, Florida, received a perfect score on the AP Physics examination. He was one of only two students to earn a perfect score. Nearly 23,000 students took the test.

 

Seminole is not a magnet school or a charter school. It is a regular public school.

 

Jimmy is in the International Baccalaureate program at Seminole.

 

Beyond physics, Jimmy’s interests include politics and economics. His favorite magazines are “The New Yorker”and “The Economist,” while his favorite newspaper is “The New York Times.”

 

Jimmy also plays the piano and cello. He’s a member of the Florida Young Artists Orchestra, where he is the principal cellist and has performed as a soloist four times.

 

 

If it were up to the “reformers” in Florida’s legislature, Seminole High School would not exist anymore. It would have been given away to for-profit charter entrepreneurs and turned into a lucrative real estate deal.

Call Davis Guggenheim! Time for a new movie about a remarkable public school in Los Angeles!

 

Cedrick Argueta, the son of immigrant parents, received a perfect score on the AP Calculus exam, one of only 12 students in the world to do so. Some 302,000 students took the exam.

 

Cedrick is a student at Lincoln High School, which has 1200 students. His teacher is Anthony Yom. Lincoln is a regular neighborhood public school, not a magnet or a charter.

 

“As far as math whizzes go, Cedrick is unassuming. He likes to play basketball with his buddies, and his favorite reading of late was the Harry Potter series. Knowing he was going to do television interviews this week, he donned a blue LHS hoodie and sneakers.

 

“Math has always just made sense to him, he said. He appreciates the creativity of it, the different methods you can take to solve a problem.

 

“There’s also some beauty in it being absolute,” Cedrick said. “There’s always a right answer.”

 

“When asked about his perfect exam score, Cedrick just thanked everybody else in his life.

 

“It just sort of blew up,” he said. “It feels kind of good to be in the spotlight for a little bit, but I want to give credit to everybody else that helped me along the way.”
“Cedrick is the son of Lilian and Marcos Argueta, both of whom came to the United States as young adults – she from the Philippines, he from El Salvador. Lilian, a licensed vocational nurse, works two jobs at nursing homes. Marcos is a maintenance worker at one of those nursing homes. He never went to high school.

 

“Lilian Argueta, pausing during one of her shifts this week, said her son’s accomplishment is still sinking in. He texted her when he found out, and she told him it was great but, she said, she didn’t understand the magnitude until reporters started calling.

 

“Argueta said that she always told Cedrick and his younger sister to finish their homework and to “read, read, read,” but that they knew she’d be proud of them whether or not they got straight A’s.

 

Cedrick’s teacher was very proud too, although he is accustomed to good results.

 

“All 21 of Yom’s AP Calculus students who took the exam last year passed; 17 got the highest score of 5. It was the third year in a row that all of Yom’s kids passed the test.

 

“Yom, 35, said he treats his students like a sports team. They’d stay after school, practicing problem solving for three or four extra hours, and they’d come on weekends. On test day, they wore matching blue T-shirts sporting their names, “like they’re wearing jerseys to the game,” Yom said.”

 

 

 

 

 

Chicago students are threatening a one-day walkout on December 17 to protest the terrible school lunches they receive.

 

The fruit is bruised and moldy; the pizza looks as it was cooked three days ago. The kids are poor, but they don’t deserve to be fed food that is damaged goods. For some of these children, lunch may be the only meal they get. Why not serve them nutritious food? Mayor Emanuel runs the schools. He should be held accountable.

 

The food is prepared by Aramark, a private company that also supplies food to prisons and has a contract to clean the Chicago schools. Ever since Aramark won the custodial contracts, leading to the layoffs of experienced custodians, principals have complained about dirty buildings.

 

A modest proposal: Why not invite the Chicago Board of Education–all of them–to eat lunch in a public school every day for a week? Do you think they would show up?

In this post, a high school history teacher says that his students are utterly confused by the new requirements for high school graduation.

So is the teacher.

“Fortunately for our students, the ODE has made the path to graduation simpler by making it more complex. Students may graduate through an acceptable score on a certification in a vocational field. OR They may graduate through receiving a remediation free score on a college entrance test (scores not yet verified). OR They may graduate by earning 18 combined points on the aforementioned state assessments with a minimum of 4 points from 2 assessments in mathematics, a minimum of 4 points from 2 assessments in English Language Arts, and a minimum of 6 points from assessments in Biology, American History, and American Government equaling a total of 14 points with the 4 additional points picked up when students score 3 or higher, which is to say “Proficient or Above.”

“Does that make sense? My sophomores couldn’t explain it to me either, and they’re expected to graduate under that system. Fear not, I provided a thorough and engaging explanation replete with visual aids and low brow humor that seemed to do the trick. I could not, however, provide them with a satisfactory explanation as to why they “have to deal with this sh*t.” (Their words, not mine)….

“Look, maybe my scenario here is confusing. On a very basic level, this new testing system is terribly problematic. The issues lie in the fact that it is new, and being created as we go, but also in the nature of the convoluted paths to graduation themselves. The sheer number of variables at play here are impossible to fathom, from student strengths to test performance, low scores in these areas, but not those, 2 points here, other scores there, nothing formalized until very late. Now, take this level of absurdity and factor in real problems like hunger, poverty, instability in the home, disability, health problems, you name it, and you have a recipe for disaster.

“What seemed like a more humane system to someone is turning out to be nothing short of a nightmare. And now the tests are changing again in ELA and Math. Who knows what new issues may arise?

“How many students will be adversely affected? I don’t know. The ODE deals in percentages, I deal in human beings, the 140 plus sophomores I’m teaching. Like the one who told me, “I left half that math test blank. We hadn’t even learned that stuff yet.” Or the other kid who said, “There were some questions…I didn’t even know what they were asking.” These are good people, hard working kids that we’re simply grinding through this machine for some political rhetoric regarding career and college readiness….

“I have no interest in a punitive high stakes testing system. I am only interested in “Proficient and Above” percentages inasmuch as they impact the kids I teach. I am ashamed to be a part of the implementation of such a system, and I work every day to attempt to remediate its terrible impact. Like many of you, I am angry.”

Bonnie Cunard Margolin is a blogger and parent activist in Florida. Her daughter did not take the state and local tests, and her mom is very proud of her.

 

Margolin writes:

 

This year, I have opted my 6th grade daughter out of all district and state testing. So, yesterday and today, while her classmates were taking the district test/ practice FSA writing assessment, she wrote an essay, on her own, instead. Here it is.
Julianne M. Cunard

ELA 6 ADV
18 September 2015
Testing: I Can Do the Math.
Learning is not just about taking a test. It is about understanding a lesson, not about sitting at a desk for hours, failing as you go. If you wanted to educate children, why is there an FSA, FCAT, FAIR, PARCC, LSAT, MCAT? What do all of these words mean to you? Is standardized testing effective in education? I can tell you what tests mean to me.
Testing is something I refuse to be a part of, even teachers don’t like these tests. From the article, “Putting it to the Test”, the author writes, “In September, Susan Bowles, a kindergarten teacher at Chiles Elementary School, received widespread buzz when she openly refused to administer the computer-based Florida Assessments for Instruction in reading, or FAIR.” Teachers are forced to read the script, exactly as written, scared of losing their jobs if not. There should not have to be a time in school where anyone feels extremely worried. At school, students should feel relieved and secure. Yet then, these tests come along.
If I walked into a room and saw everyone taking a district\state test, I would not be happy because the students are not learning anything. The author writes, “Teaching is an art. It is about connection. It is not about getting ready for a test that is designed 70 percent to fail. Our best teachers are leaving because they are being forced to do things in the classroom that they know is not for OUR KIDS! They are leaving for OUR KIDS!” That statement right there tells me that teachers have had enough. This is a good reason why testing is not good for education.
Teachers shouldn’t have to quit because they are forced to do something, it is their life, their class. Oh, but no… that teacher can’t talk about it. It’s all so “secret” because nobody knows how to opt out, except for the kids that know. They know how to opt out. They know they won’t fail their grade because of a test. They know they will sit there for an hour, sitting and doing nothing, everyone looking at them. They know they will get an NR2. Other kids don’t. They don’t know what an NR2 means. They DON’T know, they don’t… but they should. The one thing everyone knows in that classroom is that these district\state tests are unnecessary and ineffective.
Let’s see how the leaders would like it if we gave THEM a standardized test. Are you shocked that I said that? Well, nobody realizes how bad these tests are. One person says they are fine, but someone else will say not to take it. What do they do? This is way too much pressure for children… WAY too much. THEY ARE KIDS, TESTING FROM THIRD GRADE THROUGH HIGH SCHOOL. Innocent children testing every day. What did they ever do to you?
Some think that testing is not a big deal. It isn’t but when it’s every day, like standardized testing is, I believe that it is an outrage. From the article,”Mom- Why My Kids Won’t Be Taking the New Florida Standards Assessment Test”, the author writes, “They have to be quiet, have alternate scheduling, sit in a single classroom and learn NOTHING during “testing season” because others are testing. This is time they’ll never get back in their education.” The author is correct. What about the kids?
What if everyone wants to opt out, they know, but can’t because the leaders are telling them not to. The kids shouldn’t be punished for other’s repetitive mistakes.
There were seven hours of FSA testing that I did NOT do last year. Others did. Don’t you feel bad for the children, wasting all of that time? Yes, it’s a waste of time. I should know, I did the math, and I don’t need a test to prove it.
‪#‎ThisMomGivesHerAnA‬+

Bret Wooten, a businessman in a small town in Texas, was puzzled about why his wife, a second grade teacher, spent so much money on her students. At tax time, he reminded her that the purpose of working was to make money, not to rack up expenses that were not tax-deductible.

 

She invited him to visit her classroom. And he did.

 

“When I came by that next afternoon, I found myself surrounded by the children doing projects and I jumped right in. I dropped by the school as often as I could, so the children were used to me at this point. But one young man always kept his distance. After the kids had gone, I asked Michelle why. She then revealed her dark secrets, the histories of the children in her classroom.

 

“These kids endured everything from true poverty to sexual abuse. Her list of questionable deductions started to make sense: granola bars, orange juice, cereal, milk, jackets, band aids and endless school supplies.

 

“The young man that would not approach me? She told me about him last. He had endured the worst. All the men in his life injured this child in ways that still bring tears to my eyes and a rage in my soul.

 

“Then she said: “He needs shoes.”

 

“The only thing I could mutter was: “What size?”

 

“These days we think we will find the answer to so many questions within the pages of a book or the folds of a standardized test, but this is the reality of many children in America. I wish stories like this were on the news or touted by politicians.

 

“Unfortunately, acts of kindness are far too common in education and thereby deemed unnewsworthy. If these stories were aired, maybe we could actually solve some problems instead of just pointing them out.”

 

 

Mercedes Schneider calls our attention to Ann Marie Corgill’s letter of farewell to her students. As you may recall, Corgill is Alabama’s teacher of the year for 2014-15. She decided to resign after she was informed that she needed to get new certification to teach the grade she was teaching when she won the award. She had taught for 21 years in grades 1-6. Her salary check was delayed for two months. She got the message, and she resigned.

 

Here is a small part of her letter to her students:

 

Rules and regulations and certification requirements can separate us physically, but they will never be able to separate your hearts from mine. I will help you, learn with you, write you, and even talk on the phone with you (even though I hate talking on the phone).

 

I want each of you to always remember that YOU are more important than tests, scores, federal laws, teacher certifications, or hurtful words that others say. It’s your hard work, your never-give-up-attitude, your determination to become a team, your willingness to apologize and forgive others, and your character that matter most….not just now, but forever.

 

Please remember that I know what it is that makes each of you special and unique, and I want you to promise to continue to learn, live hopefully, and tell the complete and wonderful story of you. Once a Corgill kid, always a Corgill kid. Don’t ever forget that.

 

Jamaal Bowman, principal of Cornerstone Academy of Social Action in Néw York City, was a major speaker at a conference “A Call for Educational Justice.” You may have read about Jamaal in this earlier post.

You will enjoy watching this six minute video, created by film-maker Michael Elliott.

Jamaal Bowman has earned a fine reputation as an educator who believes in children and in public schools. He knows there are no quick fixes when children have so many burdens and obstacles in their young lives. Where to begin, he asks? Start with love. Recognize the brilliance in every child. Prepare them to live in a different world and to change the world they live in.

Mark Pafford, House Minority Leader in the Florida legislature, supports parents who tell their children to opt out of standardized testing.

Pafford says that Florida does not have the public education system that the state’s children need. He singles out the overuse of testing as an area where the state has gone wrong. It uses tests not to help people, but to punish them.

Wise man! Pafford for Governor!

A reader of a post this morning about a letter from John Kline to Arne Duncan asked for more information about the Department of Education’s change of regulations governing FERPA (the Family and Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974).

In a post two years ago, I described the lawsuit filed by EPIC (the Electronic Privacy Information Center), which sought to block the changes in federal regulations in 2011 that loosened the protections of student privacy.

Here is an explanation of the lawsuit that appeared on Valerie Strauss’s Answer Sheet blog.

The EPIC lawsuit was dismissed in 2013; the Court held that EPIC did not have standing to sue. Its ruling did not deal with the substantive claims.

Parent groups became concerned about FERPA when the Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation funded the “Shared Learning Collaborative,” which was renamed inBloom. The plan was to aggregate personally identifiable student data from state data warehouses, store them in a cloud, and make them available for use by others. Whether those others included vendors, researchers, or commercial enterprises is not sure, but parents vehemently opposed the entire plan. The software was developed by Rupert Murdoch’s Wireless Generation (part of Joel Klein’s Amplify division) and the data would be stored in a “cloud” managed by amazon. Parent groups, fearful that their child’s personal data would be mined, testified against the data-sharing agreements in every state and district that agreed to join inBloom, and the effort collapsed. The last state to withdraw was New York, because Commissioner John King supported inBloom. The legislature compelled the state’s withdrawal. When there were no states or districts willing to share student data, inBloom had no reason to exist.

The organization to fight inBloom was led by Leonie Haimson of New York and Rachel Strickland of Colorado, who formed the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy. See here and here and here.

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