Thousands of teachers marched in Seattle to demand better funding for the schools.
In Newark, hundreds of students marched and blocked traffic to protest the destruction of their public schools
As historian-teacher John Thompson explains, reform spokesmen were really outraged by John Oliver’s brilliant send-up and put down of our nation’s obsession with standardized testing and its primary beneficiary: Pearson.
Some used the typical manipulation of test data to claim big gains in 1999 allegedly caused by NCLB, signed into law in 2002.
Others must have been embarrassed by scenes of children chanting pro-testing propaganda, like happy robots.
The fear and trembling by reformers showed that Oliver hit exactly the right spots.
“Its hard to say which is more awful – the way that stressed out children vomit on their test booklets or schools trying to root inner-directedness out of children. On the other hand, even reformers should celebrate the way that students and families are fighting back, demanding schools that respect children as individuals. Even opponents of the Opt Out movement should respect the way it embodies the creative insubordination that public schools should nourish. …,
“Reformers need to understand two things. First, their obsession with the punitive is showing. The more they condemn others for not understanding that George Bush was right and “accountability must have consequences,” the more they convince the general public that their devotion to reward and punish is bad for children.
“Second, we live in the United States of America, not some sort of command and control system imposed by social engineers. Public education is supposed to prepare students to think and express themselves as individuals. Schools aren’t a farm club for the corporate world. They shouldn’t socialize children into being Organization Men and Women, conforming to dictates from above. Reformers may believe that they know the one right answer, but they should be ashamed of that their policies seek to produce only square pegs for square holes.”
Marissa Smock wrote her final college paper on May 5. She died of an asthma attack two days later. Friends asked if I would post it. Of course.
Tuesday, May 5, 2015
This I Believe
5 May, 2015
This I Believe
We are a nation that prides ourselves in coming in first place, from the Olympics to our economy. Yet, if we take a step back and look at how successful this nation really is… we’re actually failing; we’re failing our students in the world of education. According to Person’s article called, “Cognitive Skills and Education Attainment, the United States is ranked number fourteen in the world for our education system. So what is our response to such a ranking?
Yep, that’s right, we create more rules and regulations that apply all schools are capable of coming out with the same results and success rates. Wrong. America is ignorant of the fact that we should follow another nation’s education system (for example, ranking #2 in the world, Finland), and/or ask the students what they would like to change. And if you’d ask me, I’d say our high school curriculum (that’s supposed to prepare us for college), is our nation’s Achilles heel.
I will never forget the feeling of disappointment when I would sign up for classes to take in high school. So many rules on what I could and could not take, required to have five main core classes only leaving one or two spots open in my schedule to finally add a class that I’d like to take. High school should be a place that preps you for the next level of education, not a place where you have no say in what you want to learn and how you want to learn it. According to the National Governors Association, nearly 60 percent of the jobs in the labor market, require post-secondary education, and that number is expected to continue to increase. Our education system is all tangled up in testing and “getting the grade” that we don’t focus on the individual needs and wants of each student. If a student could pick what he/she wanted to learn then drop-out rates would lower, more students would be motivated to go to college, and our educational ranking would possibly get us up to the top in the world. For example, my high required a minimum of two years of a foreign language and although that doesn’t sound like a big deal, it is because the students that were in the class just to take it in order to graduate didn’t try as hard and held back the class from advancing. And not to mention, teachers would actually be motivated to teach because they will finally have students that want to take their class. This system would be similar to that of a four year college which will significantly prepare one for the next level.
If the standard high school curriculum of core classes, placement testing, standardized testing, exit exams, etc., were to be eliminated, not only would the success rate of the school and a student’s personal performance increase but their health will increase. We are or have been a student before and we’ve all had stress over test taking, project finishing, and “busy-work” homework preventing us from activities such as exercise, social gatherings, and sleep. If teachers gave less homework in class and less tests to stress about then students would have the time to balance out their lives with positive outlets and relieve stress. According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), American 15-year-olds spent an average of six hours a week on homework in 2012, yet teens from countries like Korea and Finland spent less than three hours a week on after-school work, and when you look at the world ranking of Korea and Finland, they place first and second with the best education system. In my honest opinion there is no way the average American teen spends only six hours a week on homework and performs well. If students were spending only six hours a week on homework then why are there so many sleep studies on teenagers not getting the recommended seven plus hours of sleep a night? Yes, cell phones and social media play a role but we all know it’s the busy work teachers give us that are preventing us from sleeping and relieving our stress. Other than inducing stress and anxiety on students because of excessive amounts of studying and homework, more and more teens are (according to the NSF poll), were likely to say they worried about things too much (58%) and/or felt stressed out/anxious (56%), and many of the teenagers surveyed also reported feeling hopeless about the future, or feeling unhappy, sad or depressed. Depression can lead to suicide which is not something we should brush off our shoulders like it’s nothing.
I believe that our education system is corrupt into thinking that students are just a number and that scores matter over the cognitive and mature development of a teenager (high school student), into a young adult college student. High school needs to allow students discover what they’re interests are by allowing them to select the courses they want to take. Also, testing should be spread out and not determine how smart a student is or how well a teacher can teach for a number on a piece of paper does not represent a student’s full potential.
Ourtimes. “OECD Education Rankings – 2013 Update.” Signs of Our Times. N.p., 10 Apr. 2008. Web. 29 Apr. 2015.
Conklin, Kristen D., Bridget K. Curran, and Matthew Gandal. “An Action Agenda for Improving America’s High Schools.” National Governors Association, 2005. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
“Index of Cognitive Skills and Educational Attainment.” Index Ranking. Pearson, n.d. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
“Teens and Sleep.” Sleep for Teenagers 4. National Sleep Foundation, n.d. Web. 18 Apr. 2015.
Marisa Smock at 4:11 PM
Vicki Cobb, a prolific writer of science books for children, is offended by the simplistic idea that education practices can be “scaled up,” just like manufacturing processes. Standardized testing is the quintessence of “one size fits all.”
“Let me explain why. The very nature of “standardized” testing runs counter to the work of educators and to the notion of America as a haven for the individual worth of each human being.
“There are certain professions that are considered “high touch.” Nursing, for example, is about patient care and “care” is the operative word. Nurses deliver human kindness to people who are not at the top of their game. A patient may want a glass of water, but getting it from a robot is not the same as interacting with another human being. Teaching is another “high touch” profession. Children learn because of the relationship established between them and their teacher. They see each other every day. They come to know each other intimately. A good teacher reveals herself to her students — her passions, her standards, her caring for her students. Students at first do their lessons to please their teacher.
“A good teacher ultimately teaches students to do the hard work of learning to please themselves. This is how good students are made.
“Think about it. If you remember the teacher who had the most influence on you, I’ll wager you remember nothing of substance that you learned from him. You remember how he made you feel about yourself and about the learning process. You remember how you worked and how you achieved.
“Independent schools know this and value it. Each student is hand-crafted. There is no mass production and they don’t take the standardized tests. These schools pride themselves on turning out individuals who are “college and career ready.” They know there are no short-cuts, no efficiencies, no one-size fits all.
“In other words, you can’t “scale up” education. Learning is hard work that must be done by each individual. Fortunately, children are born to learn. Just watch what they accomplish the first two years of life. The mass-production of education to take the standardized tests puts the fear of failure into students and teachers. Make no mistake, learning doesn’t happen without failure. When you embark on learning a new skill, you’re not going to be very good at it when you start. Yet the emphasis from the culture created by the standardized test is that only correct answers are acceptable. This is insane! Schools should not foster a fear of failure; schools need to be a safe place to fail.
“Finally, I want to challenge the assumption made by the corporate reformsters that there is a bell-shaped curve of teacher effectiveness. They can’t believe how such a high-percentage of teachers can be evaluated as effective. So they need some kind of process that will produce a bell-shaped curve. Why not use student grades on the standardized tests to evaluate the teachers? How could they possibly think this will separate the wheat from the chaff? Is it because they come from a culture where an external motivator — money and all that goes with it — shapes the behavior of its participants?
“Teaching is a profession that is self-selective. Most people don’t have the patience or interest to spend every day with 25 eight-year-olds. Only a certain kind of person has the talent and drive to develop the myriad interpersonal skills needed to shape the development of these children so they become fourth graders. A great teacher is not motivated by money, assuming she is paid a living wage. Her reward is the light she sees in the eyes of her students. It is pay-back for her revealed humanity, sacrifice and hard work.
“Such workers are to be cherished and supported and yet, (can you feel how hard I’m pounding these keys as I write?) these absolutely wrong-headed politicians are doing the exact opposite by imposing strict rubrics and punishments that are demoralizing teachers, destroying a generation of students and indelibly scarring the ones (both students and teachers) who manage to hang onto their souls as they barely survive.”
A reader contacted me and told me that Nancy Carlsson-Paige, professor emeritus at Lesley University and early childhood education expert, gave a wonderful graduation speech at Temple University. I reached out to Nancy and post it here with her permission.
TEMPLE GRADUATION SPEECH
May 8, 2015
Good Evening, Everyone!
I am truly honored to have this opportunity to speak to you today. This is a big day for you, graduates, and for your families. It’s a celebration of your accomplishments, all your hard work—I know it wasn’t always easy getting here. And this is a day also to appreciate those many people who have helped you, supported you, and loved you on your path to this graduation.
I’m so glad that education is the field you have chosen! It is a rewarding and meaningful profession. It is through education that our minds expand, we get wiser, and better able to improve the human condition. Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
This moment in time that you have chosen to enter education is a rocky and uncertain one. In recent years, the meaning and purpose of education has narrowed. In the eyes of many today, education is seen as a delivery system to transmit units of knowledge and specific skills to our young people that are then tested to ensure they’ve been learned. It’s a one-dimensional, restrictive view of education that has led increasingly to the disappearance of engaging, holistic curriculum, the arts, recess, teacher innovation, teacher collaboration, and education for citizenship.
Classrooms for our young children have seen a dramatic disappearance of play. But we know play is the way young kids learn. And it is also how they build inner security and resilience. I learned this lesson when my own two sons, who are now grown, were very young.
It was a winter day, after my teaching and the boys’ day at school. The three of us were together in the living room of our rented apartment. An accidental fire started from the fireplace—accidental in the sense that I wasn’t trying to burn down the house, but tired after work, I’d made a sloppy fire. I do wonder as I look back now how overwhelmed I might have been as a young, single working mom. So the flames were leaping out of the fireplace, lapping the wooden mantle. I began trying to suffocate them with a heavy blanket. My older son Kyle was trying to help. But my younger son Matt, who was then five years old, ran out of the room.
I started having success suppressing the flames but then I was wondering: Where is Matt? And then after some moments, he ran into the room. He was dressed in his red corduroy bathrobe, his fire fighter’s hat, his black galoshes and a sea divers mask. He had a little piece of rubber tubing in his hand, it wasn’t connected to anything, but he was spraying it in the direction of the fireplace.
The outfit Matt had on was the one he wore for his rescue hero play.
–He had it on now because wearing it was what he could do to put out the fire.
A young child in a rescue hero outfit IS a hero in that moment—and he can fully believe that by wearing firefighter clothes and with his rubber tube, he can put out a fire.
When kids pretend to be Superheroes and other Rescue fantasy characters, it helps them feel safe and in control. Life presents so many challenges to young children, this kind of play helps them develop a sense of security and inner resilience.
Studies are now showing that play is rapidly disappearing from classrooms for young children, increasingly replaced by more teacher-directed instruction.
This test-driven education climate we have today, reinforced with accountability measures and high stakes, has made teachers fearful and discouraged. Currently 40 to 50 percent of teachers leave the profession within their first five years. I don’t want you to be included in that percentage of educators who become too demoralized to continue.
It is ironic that at this very moment in history when we need an expanded vision of education, the blinders come on. We are teaching as if we think that what our youth will need to know in the future is already known.
Our young people are going to have to exceed our limitations. They’ll need to develop wide-ranging competencies to be able to live well in the world they are inheriting. They’ll need to think in new ways, initiate, create, explore and solve problems, collaborate with others, make ethical decisions. They will have to grapple with all the problems we are handing them–climate change, income inequality, mass incarceration, nuclear weapons, war and terrorism.
These critical competencies that our young people will need are not quantifiable. How could you test for creativity on a computer-based exam? Or measure original thinking on a fill in the bubbles standardized test? (Let’s hope no one tries.) What passes for education today—all the facts and skills that can be defined, pinned down and tested– is a very small part of what education truly is and should be.
When I was a new teacher about forty years ago, I came across a letter that a principal had written to the teachers in his school. The words had a profound impact on me, and they have stayed with me all these years—as a reminder of the true purpose of education.
This is the letter:
I am a survivor of a concentration camp. My eyes saw what no man should witness:
Gas chambers built by learned engineers.
Children poisoned by educated physicians.
Infants killed by trained nurses.
Women and babies shot and burned by high school and college graduates.
So I am suspicious of education.
My request is: Help your students become human.
This letter was written in 1971. And it is so relevant for us now.
It calls on us to understand education as a human and moral endeavor. In school we learn knowledge and skills and the moral and ethical awareness to choose how we use them. We educate whole people—their minds and hearts—so they will become citizens who can think for themselves and make choices for the good of others as well as themselves.
John Dewey believed that the aim of education was democracy and citizenship.
And that each generation had to learn citizenship anew– learn it by living it. Ideally from their first days in school.
I was in a kindergarten classroom one day early in the school year when the teacher was sitting with the children in a circle. She was asking them, “How do we want to be with each other in this class?” The children were raising their hands and saying things like: “We should share! No hitting! If you hurt someone, say you’re sorry.” The teacher was writing down the children’s words on chart paper. She told me that each morning she reads this list with the children. As the children have more experience with each other, they add more ideas to their list. Soon they start coming into the classroom and reading the list by themselves. The words are their words and the children want to learn how to read them.
In another kindergarten I visited more recently– during this era of high stakes testing—all of the children were sitting silently at tables. The teacher was testing one little boy at a computer. The other children were copying words from the chalk board. The words were: “No talking. Sit in your seat. Hands to Yourself.” These were the teacher’s rules.
Most of the children looked scared or disengaged, and one little boy was crying. For them, learning to write was something required; someone else’s words–disconnected from their ideas and passions.
This teacher was required to complete mandated testing of each child in her class—one by one at the computer– 3 times a year. She had no classroom aid. The program’s funding depended on the test scores. It would have been hard for any teacher in this situation to give children engaging, play-based curriculum, and community building experiences.
In the narrowed education climate of today, some people think of teachers as technicians. But good teaching can’t be pinned down to a recipe. Good teaching is a form of art.
Of course our work is grounded in science. But it isn’t enough to know only the science. In education, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Being a good teacher means knowing how to apply what we know, when and how to use it, and how to innovate upon it—and that takes talent.
There was an incident that happened in a high school in East Harlem, that taught me a lot about the art of good teaching. It was at a time when there’d been two incidents in NY City—within a couple of weeks, two teens had been shot and their coats stolen. In this school in East Harlem, there was a conflict resolution program, and the teacher had been talking with her students about these shooting incidents, and the kids were practicing ways to deescalate conflict.
Raymond went to this high school and he had recently bought a new coat.
On this day, Raymond arrived at school without his coat and profoundly upset. At the subway stop near school, he’d been surrounded by three guys who demanded he give up his new jacket.
The teacher called a class meeting immediately, with Raymond’s permission, so he could share his story and express his rage.
Teacher: Raymond I know you are very upset. Could you tell us what happened?
Raymond: I was getting off the subway stop right here in East Harlem and all of a sudden I was surrounded by three guys who told me that I better give them my coat. One of the guys had his hand in his pocket and I thought maybe he had a knife.
Teacher: Go on Raymond. We’re right here listening to you and all of us care a lot about you and what happened.
Raymond: Well, before I could even think, I started to unzip my coat, and I said to the guy who I thought had the knife, “This is incredible. I was just getting ready to give you my coat.” I said, “Who should I give it to?” One of the guys snatched the coat and all of them started to run off as fast as they could. Then, of course, I wanted to pick up some rocks and throw them at them, but I didn’t.
Maria said: I can’t believe you did that, Raymond. I think you saved your life. How come you didn’t try to say “no” or fight back? I think that’s what I would have done.
Raymond: I don’t know. It just came to me, but now I feel so angry and humiliated and I can’t believe I don’t have my coat. It’s 20 degrees out there today and I walked three blocks without a coat.
Teacher: Raymond, how do you think you were able to respond in this way and–I would agree with Maria–probably save your life? Remember just last week this same thing happened in Queens and the young man didn’t give up his coat and was shot to death.
Raymond: Well, I was actually thinking of what we were talking about last week of what makes violence even worse and that’s more violence. I also remember when we were talking about what happened to the kid in Queens, you said, “Remember, you are not your coat”. So I guess I decided to do something that would de-escalate the conflict and not give back more violence, and that’s what I did.
Manuel: Raymond, I think it was more courageous to not fight back and use your skills, but I don’t know if I would have been able to do that.
Teacher: So Raymond, it looks as though you really put your skills to use in a horrible situation. And when you asked who you should give the jacket to you were also de-escalating the conflict by staying neutral.
Anthony: How much was that jacket?
Raymond: Well, it was $119.00.
Tanya: There are 92 seniors in this school—that is a little over a dollar each.
Teacher: What are you thinking here, Tanya?
Tanya: I’m thinking that if I had help I would be willing to collect this money for Raymond to buy another jacket.
James: I would be willing to help. I can’t believe you were able to do what you did Raymond.
Teacher: Well, this sounds like a wonderful plan. Do we need to do anything else to make it happen? How do you feel about that Raymond?
Raymond: Wow. I can’t believe you would all do that. But I know my mother wouldn’t be able to buy another coat. Maybe don’t ask everybody or say, “Only if you can afford the dollar.” That would make me feel better.
This high school teacher had the skill, compassion, and the artful ability to respond to her students in the moment and to build community from their experiences and ideas. And she had enough autonomy as a teacher to be able to create a teaching moment from what happened to Raymond.
Too many external requirements stifle a teacher’s ability to practice her craft.
Teaching is so much more than transmissin of information, test prep, and data collection. It’s why you can’t be replaced by a computer. Or by someone who had a 5-week summer program in how to teach.
But teaching like the teacher in East Harlem is a lot harder today. Many teachers say there isn’t room anymore for conflict resolution programs, community building, and student-centered projects when so many mandates fill the day. But teachers also know what good education looks like–and they hear its beating heart. They keep on finding creative ways to teach even in this climate.
The singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen wrote: “There is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.”
You are holding that light now. You, with all of your energy, your fresh ideas, your idealism (I hope you have it and hold onto it), your knowledge and talent. You’ll shine that light where you can—in whatever situations you find yourselves.
We have to keep our eyes on an expansive vision of education. So wherever we are, we find ways to move toward it. When I look around I see so many teachers, parents, administrators, and students—even a couple of politicians– taking steps toward a more holistic and human vision of education. And I feel sure that we—individually and together—are going to move that big needle.
Margaret Mead’s words, uttered decades ago, are timeless and history has proven them over and over to be true: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
This comes from Michael Hynes, one of the best superintendents on Long Island, Néw York, epicenter of the Opt Out movement:
Public Schools Work- We Need to Focus Below the Iceberg
Everyone in American education hears the relentless and consistent criticism of our schools: Compared to schools in other nations, we come up short. But the evidence on which that judgment rests is narrow and very thin.
A January study released by the Horace Mann League and the National Superintendents Roundtable, “School Performance in Context: The Iceberg Effect,” challenges the practice of ranking nations by educational test scores and questions conventional wisdom that the U.S. educational system has fallen badly behind school systems abroad.
The study compared six dimensions related to student performance—equity, social stress, support for families, support for schools, student outcomes, and system outcomes—in the G-7 nations (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States) plus Finland and China. They then examined 24 “indicators” within those dimensions.
Of the nine nations, the United States remains the wealthiest with the most highly educated workforce, based on the number of years of school completed, and the proportion of adults with high school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees.
“Many policymakers and business leaders fret that America has fallen behind Europe and China, but our research does not bear that out,” said James Harvey, executive director of the National Superintendents Roundtable.
Despite high educational levels, the United States also reflects high levels of economic inequity and social stress compared to the other nations. All are related to student performance. For example, in American public schools today, the rate of childhood poverty is five times greater than it is in Finland. Rates of violent death are 13 times greater than the average for the other nations, with children in some communities reporting they have witnessed shootings, knifings, and beatings as “ordinary, everyday events.”
Some key findings:
• Economic Equity: The United States and China demonstrate the greatest gaps between rich and poor. The U.S. also contends with remarkably high rates of income inequality and childhood poverty.
• Social Stress: The U.S.reported the highest rates of violent death and teen pregnancy, and came in second for death rates from drug abuse. The U.S.is also one of the most diverse nations with many immigrant students, suggesting English may not be their first language.
• Support for Families: The U.S. performed in the lowest third on public spending for services that benefit children and families, including preschool.
• Support for Schools: Americans seem willing to invest in education: The U.S. leads the nine-nation group in spending per student, but the national estimates may not be truly comparable. U.S. teachers spend about 40 percent more time in the classroom than their peers in the comparison countries.
• Student Outcomes: Performance in American elementary schools is promising, while middle school performance can be improved. U.S. students excel in 4th grade reading and high school graduation rates, but perform less well in reading at age 15. There are no current studies comparing the performance of high school graduates across countries. All nations demonstrate an achievement gap based on students’ family income and socio-economic status.
• System Outcomes: The U.S. leads these nations in educational levels of its adult workforce. Measures included years of schooling completed and the proportion of adults with high-school diplomas and bachelor’s degrees. American students also make up 25 percent of the world’s top students in science at age 15, followed by Japan at 13 percent.
“Too often, we narrow our focus to a few things that can be easily tested. Treating education as a horse race doesn’t work,” said HML President Gary Marx.
American policymakers from both political parties have a history of relying on large, international assessments to judge United States’ school performance. In 2013, the press reported that American students were falling behind when compared to 61 other countries and a few cities including Shanghai. In that comparative assessment—called the Program for International Student Assessment—PISA controversially reported superior scores for Shanghai.
The study doesn’t oppose international assessments as one measure of performance. But it argues for the need to compare American schools with similar nations and on more than a single number from an international test. In a striking metaphor, the study defines test scores as just “tip of the school iceberg.”
A fair conclusion to reach from the study is that while all is not well in the American classroom, our schools are far from being the failure they are painted to be. Addressing serious school problems will require policymakers to do something about the huge part of the iceberg that lies below the waterline in terms of poverty and economic inequity, community stress, and support for families and schools. We must stop blaming public schools and demonizing educators. The problem is not at the tip of the iceberg, it is well below the surface.
Michael Hynes is the superintendent of the Patchogue-Medford School District and member of the National Superintendent’s Roundtable
Leonie Haimson and Rachel Stickland are warriors for student privacy. Together, they mobilized parents in state after state to oppose inBloom, the massive data-mining project funded by the Gates and Carnegie Corporations for $100 million with software developed by Rupert Murdoch’s education division; thanks to their efforts, inBloom folded.
But the data mining hasn’t stopped. Vendors are eager to get your child’s name, address, grades, records, interests, and hundreds of other personally identifiable bits of data. We thought our children’s data was confidential and protected by federal law, but as Haimson and Stickland explain in this article, this is no longer the case because the U.S. DOE revised regulations in 2008 and 2011 to make data mining possible without parental consent.
Now Congress is revising the privacy law, but it is inadequate to protect children’s privacy. Haimson and Stickland explain what needs to be done to stop the commercial invasion of children’s privacy.
For years, for-profit “colleges” have been criticized for false promises and preying on veterans, low-income students, and students of color. Congressional efforts to rein them in have been stymied by their high-priced lobbyists from both parties. They pay protection money and continue to fleece their students, many of whom Re saddled with debt and no education or job prospects.
Corinthian Colleges was one of the biggest and worst. It recently collapsed in bankruptcy, despite the US Department of Education’s bailout.
Thousands of students were left holding the bag, and they are threatening not to repay their student loans for a worthless education.
Bottom line: For-profit colleges should be prohibited or closely regulated. Instead they ate left free to rip off unausoecting students and to continue their predatory practices.
Don’t expect any change during the remaining days of this administration. Undersecretary of Education Ted Mitchell is in charge if this issue, and he is a supporter of for-profit education. When he was chosen, he was CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund, which helps build charter chains and advocates for for-profit education.
According to a news story from Minneapolis, scores plunged at some of the best high schools in the city due to students who opted out of the testing.
The acting superintendent is upset by the falling scores, but parents are making their voices heard against the deluge of testing that has overtaken their schools. They are protesting the “reforms” based on test scores in the most effective way possible: by not letting their children take the tests.
With so many missing scores, the scores are invalid. Before the students opted out, the tests were invalid and unreliable, not available for review by independent experts. Parents know that the absence of transparency by the test-makers in not in the interest of their children and that the tests are designed to fail the majority of students because their passing score is set unrealistically high. Some parents understand that the tests provide little or no diagnostic information about their children (most Common Core tests provide NO diagnostic information, just a score.) Some are protesting the Common Core, some are protesting the federal takeover of their state and their local schools. Some are protesting the tests themselves. As more students take the tests, the opt out movement will grow.
This is a lovely story about the graduation ceremonies at Clarke Central High School in Athens, Georgia.
The story describes the school as probably the most diverse school in north Georgia. Look at the photo. This is American public education. This is what it should be. No one was excluded because of their disability or their lack of English skills. This is a community public schools, built by the community, for the community, of the community.
If the governor and the legislature have their way, charters will open, and students will be lured away, most to racially separate schools.
Can we afford to lose Clarke Central High School? I don’t think so.