Archives for category: Students

Dawn Neeley Randall is a fifth grade teacher in Ohio. She speaks forthrightly on behalf of her students. She asks: Why are we inflicting this barrage of deceptive, confusing, demoralizing testing on our children? Parents need to know that today’s tests are not like the tests we took in school when we were children. They take time away from instruction–lots of it. They are designed to fail most students. They will crush the children’s spirits and their interest in learning.


“Probably the bravest thing I’ve done in my entire 25 year career. Let the chips fall where they may.


“Blubbered on the way home after the first round of English Language Arts testing today. Got pretty choked up in the back of the room during the test itself and I think the principal who was in the computer lab administering the tests probably wondered if she was going to need to deal with a full-fledged teacher meltdown (I worried about that myself). This is just all so, so wrong. This is only Day 3 of testing and we still have months to go. Some districts (not mine, thank GOD) in our own state are bullying parents who are refusing to allow their children to sit through tests. Some superintendents (again, NOT mine!) are getting their messages out loud and clear to teachers that they are not to talk about this testing situation with parents. Some schools are making students “sit and stare” after finishing testing in order to make them work longer during the tests. Some schools are offering incentives to students testing (like gift cards and trips to a water park), but disqualifying students whose parents preferred them not to take take these tests and now they will be left behind from a day with their peers.


“A teacher in another county told about her third grader crying during yesterday’s test and a local principal told about his child awaking in the middle of the night with anxiety about the upcoming tests. Why are we allowing this? I’ve been begging for help from legislators since last March. I’m done with that. As much as I hate to see myself on video (oh, boy, do I)…I’m going to try to do the bravest thing I’ve ever done in my professional career and tell you how a teacher truly feels. I bet there are a whole lot more out there feeling just like me.


Teacher Philip Kaplan left the following comment on the blog:


The plight of Our Children, our schools and our nation



The ranks of special education students are swelling, and as the breakdown of society continues to impact the ability of public schools to deliver resources and services, the crisis deepens. Teaching today’s students is difficult by any definition, and as educators are blamed for the consequences of society’s collective abandonment and subsequent surrender of their young people to technological marvels, enter the government with their ridiculous plans to hold us, and only us, accountable. Enter the right wing politicians, desperate to discredit teachers to ensure funding for their political campaigns. They have blindsided us, stabbed us in the back, and have squarely pinned the blame for America’s problems on America’s teachers



There are dozens of variables in a child’s education, and to choose one variable, the teachers, and to choose two arbitrary points during the school year to measure that variable, is statistically speaking, unsupportable by any stretch of any imagination.



As I watched my ten and eleven year old children sit before their computer screens, as springtime weather called to them from outside the windows, as dozens of tests collected into one big massive distaste in their minds, I thought how absurd this whole picture looked. For two hours of silence, a highly unnatural condition for them to endure, I watched them struggle to do their best.



Two measuring points on a 180 day continuum was going to translate into my measurement as a teacher. Two arbitrarily chosen points on a wildly fluctuating line that changed as quickly as a child’s mood and their willingness and ability to focus and discipline their minds.



Now I fully understand the need to ensure effective educators. I fully understand that bad teachers exist and that the right wing agenda is to kill all the apples in the basket because of the one or two rotten ones. I fully understand that most teachers, most of the time, work hard to create a small oasis of hope and happiness if many of our most troubled areas. But most importantly, I understand, from the moment a child is born, that single event of lottery predicts and creates (perhaps a self-perpetuating lesson) an environment that leads one way or another. To believe otherwise is pure hypocrisy or self-delusion.



I even support the idea of accountability, but only when calibrated properly against the other variables that impact a child’s future just as deeply as we do. Start with the school’s ability or willingness to enforce a behavioral code, making the students accountable for their behavior. We will call that the Coefficient of School Effectiveness (COSE) Does the school itself create a calm and safe environment in which both students and staff feel that effective learning can take place. Then widen the circle and look at the school district’s willingness and ability to provide the necessary curriculum and resources that should lead to good learning outcomes (Assuming the district has the school’s “back” when it comes to behavioral accountability). Does the district provide enough adults in each school? We will call that the Coefficient of District Effectiveness (CODE)

Looking at the next layer of accountability, the school funding formulas that the states and districts use to purchase all the resource’s necessary to lead to good learning outcomes. Look at the average per student expenditure. Is that funding stream secure, or is it open to the vagaries of a whimsical legislature, intent on securing the necessary votes to remain in office? Is there flexibility built in to ensure that the five year old who enters school reading already at a first grade level is properly challenged? Is there flexibility built in to ensure that the five year old who barely recognizes letters and colors has the necessary interventions to quickly bring him or her up to an equal footing as their peers? Let’s call that the Coefficient of Funding (COF). Let’s not forget to mention the state’s scrutiny on a district’s suspension rates or dropout rates, and whether or not those numbers impact present or future funding. Oh, and the various organizations who sue districts for suspension rates or special ed rates for minorities that are out of line with what they believe they should be.



Of course, the home environment itself, out of fashion with the fantastic number crunchers and ivory tower academicians running education, has no impact on how well the young lady or man performs on those two arbitrarily chosen measuring points. Ask anyone making policy, and there will be a collective sigh and then the inevitable answer that goes something like this, “We have no control over the home environment and we can only control the school’s environment (Keep in mind the COSE, CODE and COF), so we have to have something to measure the success of our teachers.



Let’s take a collective pause in our discussion. Perhaps we need to clear our throats to rid ourselves of the collective crap collecting in our craws. The successful education of any community’s young people is the lynchpin for that community’s future success, but as anyone with more than a sliver of common sense can attest to, we are what we choose to immerse ourselves in. We are what we eat, and our most chronic sicknesses, obesity, diabetes, heart disease, have direct links to the choices individual people make on a daily basis. While the big companies that push GMO’s and sugar laced foods are doing what they are designed to do, create and market products, they are only as successful when we choose to buy their products.



Ok. back to education. Schools market a product. It’s called education. It’s called reading and writing and math and social studies and science. It is called college and career readiness. But most importantly, it’s called hope and dreams. It is the future we market. Or at least we used to. Nowadays, we’re forced to market high test scores and low suspension rates.

But if we are true to our convictions as educators (and not pyramid scheme salesmen) our product requires more than just a passive recipient mentality, the same mentality that laps up technology and sugar laced foods with impunity. Our product requires a mutuality of expectations and a relationship based on trust, responsibility and accountability. Successful schools mirror homes in which the people in that home are more involved with each other than they are with their own individual pursuits.



Let’s take another pause from education and examine oncology. Yes, oncology. An oncologist diagnoses, treats and hopefully rids the body of cancerous cells. If the oncologist is good, the average life span and quality of life of his or her clients improves, clearly a measurable outcome. Let’s take two randomly chosen days in the nine months that the patient is undergoing treatment and then create a test that measures that person’s quality of life. Should that person be throwing up or weak that day, that’s too bad, as the test was scheduled for that particular day, and to reschedule impacts other tests. Oh, and let’s make sure we only select patients for this test who follow all the doctors’ recommendations. That would make the numbers look really good, but in education, most caregivers do not follow our basic recommendations.



Returning to our nation’s classrooms, where education happens, relationships dictate outcomes. Good bad or indifferent, relationships build results, In a healthy environment, there are relationships with shared expectations between home and school adults within which a child benefits. It is that simple. In an unhealthy environment, the adults at home and at school have different expectations, little or no communication, and the child’s future suffers. It is that simple. If a child respects the adults in his personal environment, it is more likely they will respect the adults in the school environment. If a child is left to his or her own devices without adult supervision, it is more likely their behavior will challenge the structure within which a school must operate to be successful.



Let’s take another side trip, a corollary to this education essay, to look at the latest results from a test given every four years at the fourth, eight and tenth grade levels, a test that measures math and reading proficiency, as calibrated against the rest of the world’s industrialized nations. At all levels, across all demographics and grade levels, we are on the lower rungs, but digging more deeply, we are competitive at the elementary level, less so in middle school and by high school, are so far out in left field, that we are for all intent and purposes, not even part of the game any longer.



Again, the reason for this is simple. In elementary, children benefit from the village approach to education, where several people get to know and work with the students, where parent teacher conferences are more common, and where the home school connection is at its peak.



Suppose we all take a step into the kindergarten room, on the first day of school, where everyone is filled with excitement and where parents and guardians are the most involved. That enthusiasm and energy should be the norm as children move through the grades, so that by the time they reach middle and high school, home and school are irrevocably and positively committed to working together as a team. But something (or everything) runs amok of the goal and the goal of raising a child is bastardized until it resembles, of all things, a goddamn number. What’s the test score, what’s the numbers say, the numbers dictate everything but tell us nothing we do not already know.



But two things go wrong on the way to this ideal world. First of all, increasing numbers of our young people arrive at schools unprepared to learn in the school settings. So accustomed are they to the fleeting and momentary focus that screen time creates, their minds are literally wired contrary to what real world learning demands. So accustomed are they to a sense of behavioral entitlement that altering their behaviors to the currency of conversation and cooperation is difficult.



I recall a survey I gave students at my school several years ago, and of the 300 or so that replied, over 90% have a TV and computer in their bedroom. Over 80% have dinner with their good friend, Mr. Screen, a inanimate but strangely comforting friend who offers nothing but what the user desires.



What can we expect from a society that delivers their collective offspring to us with their minds already wired to expect instant gratification and immediate satisfaction and attention to their needs? Should there be any surprise that increasing numbers of our young people have no regard for behavioral norms.



The real surprise is that we, in public education, have managed to hold this crumbling infrastructure together for so long. As custodians for fifty million young people, we are the only institution with the ability to transform a nation and deliver it from its own nightmarish future. But there are some basic transformations that must take place, or we will become just another appendage to the unrelenting appetite of politicians, bureaucrats and business people whose credibility is dependent upon their ability to mislead, misdirect and otherwise confuse the vast majority of consumers that education’s maladies have nothing to do with them but everything to do with us.



Making a shift in education means a shift in checkbook policy. Take a look at a person’s checkbook and you understand more about that person than you can gather in conversations. It also means fundamentally altering the infrastructure that underlies most secondary scheduling. But most importantly, it means redefining and molding the home school partnership, so that as our young people move through the years, parents and caregivers are in constant communication with us, the educational experts.



At the end of the day, public schools can be the saviors of a nation. As the only institution in America that routinely sees 50 million young people a day, we have a chance to redefine our future. But instead of leading the way, we have lost our way and our mission, once clear as a bright sunny day, has become muddied and incoherent. Business and politics have so polluted our ranks that it has become increasingly difficult to distinguish among educational, political and business leaders.



Our leaders in education, at the district, state and national levels, have permitted the discussion to steer away from what is best for kids to what is best for funding, or what is best to avoid lawsuits, or what is best to hold onto jobs, or what is best to satisfy the incompetent meddlers. In other words, we have lost the voice of reason we once had, and we have lost the respect we once had and we have lost power to truly educate. Instead, we have become pawns in someone else’s game.



We give lip service to what is best for kids, but operationally, we don’t follow through. We are not allowed to. If we did what was best for kids, we would enforce behavioral codes uniformly, restructure our secondary schools to create a relationship rich culture, reform funding structures to ensure equality in opportunity, build strong home school partnerships and reestablish the teaching profession as the expert in all matters educational.



Until we regain our leadership role, public education will continue to be bullied and dragged into the mud. Teachers’ unions at all levels must reinvent themselves as leaders in best practices, and until that occurs, they will continue to loose footing with both the public and legal infrastructures of our country. Education leaders have embraced the conversation about single data point testing, instead of fighting against the flawed logic driving it. In backroom conversations, we all talk about the absurdity of it, but in public view, we refuse to take the lead, instead ignoring common sense and the legions of evidence that undermine its credibility.



Somehow, somewhere between common sense and now, yellow journalism in its most sinister form, has managed to shape our nation’s educational policy.



There over three million teachers in America, but somehow the shameful cases of a few scattered situations has been parlayed into a national image of incompetence, laziness and general indifference.



Real education requires an involved and active relationship between the teachers and students, and that active relationship in turn, requires ongoing conversations that mirror mutual respect and most importantly, a shared behavioral code. No one ever talks about the role students’ behaviors play in the education world, but that is the most important variable over which we pretend does not exist. Until behavioral codes are enforced across all demographics, in the busses that carry our students, in the cafeterias that feed our students, at the sports arenas that hold our students, in the hallways through which our students pass, and of course, in the classrooms in which learning must occur, nothing of lasting worth can occur. And until we, as public educators, take the lead in all things relating to a learning, and education, we will continue to lose those daily battles of attrition with which we are all familiar. And in the end, we will lose the war that profit hungry corporate America, aided and abetted by irresponsible members of the political establishment, is waging on all of us in public education. The children of America deserve better. They deserve our leadership, not our blind allegiance to an educational hierarchy intent on bartering with the enemy.

Hundreds of high school students walked out of Common Core tests in New Mexico, despite administrators’ threats that they may not be able to graduate. Many carried hand-lettered signs with statements like “We are not a test score.” U.S. News reports on the walkout here. 


State Commissioner of Education Hanna Skandera, who previously worked for then-Governor Jeb Bush in Florida, is an avid supporter of Common Core and the PARCC tests. She is a member of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change and previously worked for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. The Senate in New Mexico delayed her confirmation because she has never been a teacher, which is a requirement for her post.

Fox News reported that an eighth grade student was suspended in New Mexico for telling her classmates about their right to opt out. She found the forms for opting out on her own school’s website. The Santa Fe school district reiterated that students have the right to opt out. Yet she was suspended for doing what everyone seemed to agree was legal and right. For her common sense and courage, I place Adelina Silva on the blog’s honor roll. Not only did she do the right thing, she said she would do it again.



12-year-old Adelina Silva printed out the forms from her own school’s website and was rewarded with a trip to the principal’s office.


Adelina and her mother, Jacqueline Ellvinger, appeared on “Fox and Friends” this morning to explain what happened and why Adelina was punished.


“I wanted the parents to know that they had the option to let the student either take the test or not,” Adelina said.


“I was sent to the principal’s office for an hour and 20 minutes and then at the end of the day she ended up suspending me.”


The school district released a statement, saying, “Santa Fe Public Schools supports a parent’s right to opt his or her child out of state-mandated standardized testing … no students in the district have been disciplined for supporting or promoting this district policy of a parent’s right to opt their child out of testing.”


Ellvinger said her daughter’s rights were violated even though she didn’t do anything wrong.


“She did absolutely nothing wrong and yet they are making her feel like she did,” Ellvinger said, adding that she’s “furious” and has spoken to the state’s senators.


Despite the negative reaction from the school, Adelina said she would do the same thing again.

Susan Barber, chair of the English department at Northgate High School in Coweta County, Georgia, wrote a letterd to State Superintendent Richard Woods.


Her message: “Please protect my instructional time. I want to teach my students…..”


“I love students, and I love teaching. I want to be a teacher who is “part of the solution and not part of the problem,” which is harder and harder to do in education today. While I have little control over decisions on a large-scale, my mind is continually thinking on and dreaming of ways to make my classroom, and our system, better.


“I believe the greatest and most under tapped resource in Georgia’s education system today is Georgia teachers, but the good teachers are starting to leave….


“If I am going to be measured on how well my students read and write, I need more time to teach them to read and write. Some days I feel I spend more time getting my plans properly formatted, administering standardized tests, and going to professional development meetings on the state evaluation system or Georgia Milestone than I do teaching. These things are needed and necessary, but when they interfere with my ability and time to teach, there is a serious problem.


“Please protect my instructional time. I want to teach my students.


“My students need me to teach them. Please protect our administrators’ time by allowing them to be about the business of curriculum planning, strategic and long-term goal setting, and spending quality time with teachers and students.


“In addition to instructional time being used for testing, the amount of money devoted to testing is mind-boggling. Almost $108 million has been designated for the Georgia Milestone assessment. As department chair at my high school, every year I have to tell my team that we will once again not get new textbooks. We have been through three adoption cycles now without new books. I beg that state money will be funneled to where it is most needed – students.


“Students do not directly benefit from testing, yet that is where the money goes. I understand this is a complex issue with federal and state requirements to be fulfilled, but our students are suffering while political gains are being made. We must put a stop to this.


“Testing does offer some advantages. I am not a proponent of throwing out tests all together. Schools should be held accountable on student learning as well as teacher instruction, but we have swung so far to one side that there is no longer balance in the system.


“Testing does not measure a student’s growth in his or her love for learning or the development of grit. Testing does not measure a student’s thought process or style of writing. Testing does not measure the ability to apply knowledge or creative problem solving. I would like to think that these are some of the most important skills students learn in school today, yet they count for nothing in regard to my evaluation or my school’s performance.


“The system today is defined by terms such as CCSS, TKES, LKES, CCRPI, GHSGT, GAPS, SACS, CRCT, GMAS, SGAs, SLOs, yet all I want to do is teach SCHOOL. Give me and my colleagues the freedom to do what we are trained to do and what we love doing.”

Allison Hunt is a teacher at DuPont Manual High School in Jefferson County, Kentucky. She is an NBCTwith an MAT in social studies from the University of Louisville. She wrote this reflection on hearing of the death of legendary basketball coach Dean Smith.

She writes:

“Sports commentators have emphasized Dean Smith’s practices more than they have focused on his games. The practices, according to reporters and former players, were carefully planned. He also did not hesitate to be innovative, informed by his knowledge of his players and their strengths and weaknesses. As teachers, we need to focus less on the assessments themselves and more on the lessons that lead to the assessments. We, like Smith, must carefully plan every minute of instruction and we must also make sure that we know our students and creatively maximize their strengths to overcome their weaknesses. What is our level of effectiveness in day-to-day lessons? Are we willing to be innovative and take risks?

“Former National Player of the Year Jerry Stackhouse, when reflecting on Dean Smith, said, “It was always about the players.” There is no doubt that Dean Smith wanted to win and, in fact, had to in order to keep his position as head coach, but he did not let the accountability detract from what he needed to be to his players. As teachers, we must not forget it should always be about the students, not about the assessments. We must be what we need to be for our students—not just for the stars or those who struggle, but for each and every student. All students needs to know that we put them first. Will your students reflect on your teaching and say it was always about the students? “

High school students in Bloomington and Normal, Illinois, have organized a student union to oppose PARCC. it is called the Blono Student Union.

In a statement, these super-smart students said:

PARCC Refusal Campaign

Refusing the PARCC

An effective way to resist standardized testing is to simply not participate in it; refusing state tests is a common, legal strategy used all over the nation. Students and parents around the country are becoming more and more fed up with the excessive testing in our public schools, causing a massive opt-out/refusal movement.

Illinois State Board of Education does not explicitly recognize opt-outs; however, students have the right to refuse to take state tests in Illinois. Parents are encouraged to notify the principal and superintendent in writing that their child will be refusing. To send a notice of refusal for your child, see our letter template here.

Illinois State Board of Education recognizes that students may refuse testing. Refusing will have no negative academic consequences for students, and despite what ISBE says, will not result in loss of funding. See our full explanation of refusal rights and implications here.

What Is The PARCC Test?

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) test is the new Common Core standardized test that will be used for state level accountability measures. This test will replace the ISAT for elementary schools and PSAE for high schools. This year (spring 2015) is the first time the PARCC is being administered. In Unit 5, the PARCC will be administered to students in grades 3-8 and high school students that are enrolled in English II and Geometry (or have previously taken geometry). PARCC is expected to take up just under double the amount of time the ISAT and PSAE assessments took respectively. See full testing times here. Testing dates will be sometime between March 9 to April 3, 2015 and April 27 to May 22, 2015.

In future years, the PARCC is intended to be a state graduation requirement for 11 graders and is intended to be available to use for college entrance, in addition to being administered in elementary/junior high. These policies are not in place yet. 2015 is a baseline year, so the PARCC will have no consequences for schools or students.

Why Are We Against It?

Since No Child Left Behind was passed, testing in schools has become overused and overemphasized. Excessive testing takes away from classroom time for authentic teaching and learning. Especially in elementary schools, test preparation takes even more away from instructional time. This leads to loss of curiosity and creativity. Emphasis on these tests also leads to a narrowed curriculum, taking focus away from untested subjects.

We reject the use of test scores to dictate the success of schools, students, and teachers. This only induces competition between schools through the means of a less rigorous learning experience for students. These scores are not representative of a student’s growth, as they only test a narrow set of skills. Also, some students get anxiety upon taking these tests, and some students are just better test takers. Standardized testing primarily measures a district’s socio-economic characteristics; wealthier districts, with access to more resources, score higher on tests. Attaching high stakes to these tests only perpetuates inequity.

PARCC has shown to be poorly designed and developmentally inappropriate for each grade level. Also, administration of the PARCC is extremely costly. With the abundant amount of technology needed, some districts in Illinois are struggling to finance the administration of the PARCC. A week of PARCC testing means a prolonged use of schools’ resources; computer labs will be closed off for testing and not available to any student that needs to use them, which is especially problematic in the high schools. And since the test is highly dependent on computer skills, some students are left at a disadvantage.

More reliable and effective forms of alternative, performance-based assessment are available. Proponents claim that the PARCC allows to compare students around the nation; however, fourteen out of twenty-five states have already dropped the PARCC in the past year.

To read more about the flaws with the PARCC, click here.

Other Resistances to the PARCC

Parents and students around the country are refusing testing in record numbers. Specifically, people are taking action against the PARCC more than ever. There are only ten states left that are administering the PARCC; among them are increasingly large refusal/opt-out movements.

There is already widespread opposition to the PARCC in Illinois; Chicago public school district has expressed concern with administering the PARCC, over 40 superintendents in Illinois urged the state to delay administration of the PARCC, and one superintendent in Illinois even wrote a warning letter to parents and community members about the PARCC . Meanwhile, Chicago parents and students are actively organizing to refuse the PARCC. If more communities in Illinois organize together and speak up, we will not be ignored.

By uniting in opposition locally, we can add our voice to a nation full of teachers boycotting tests, parents opting their kids out, and students walking out of tests. We are in the midst of a wave of resistance to standardized testing in order to reclaim our public schools. Join the movement. Refuse the PARCC.

Refusal Rights

Students have the right to refuse state tests. Illinois State Board of Education acknowledges that students may refuse to participate in testing. ISBE provides a list of reasons for not testing for districts to use when stating why a student has not taken a state-required test (medically exempt, homebound, in jail, etc.) Code 15 on this list is refusal. It is state mandated that districts administer the PARCC, but there is no legal way that a school can force a student to test. For younger students and students with special needs, parents can notify the school of their child’s refusal to ensure that the student will be treated fairly and not compelled to test after refusal.

The district will not lose funding if a large amount of students refuse to test. This is a baseline year for PARCC testing (meaning the data will just be used to establish cut scores since this is the first year it is being administered), so ISBE has stated that there will be no consequences for schools or students this year. There will also be no federal penalties since students that refuse to test will be marked by code 15 of reasons for not testing; code 15 does not count against the school’s adequate yearly progress participation rate. No Child Left Behind requires that schools test 95% of their students in order to make adequate yearly process; however, Illinois is one of the forty one states that has a waiver from the US Department of Education that eliminates sanctions brought to schools that don’t make adequate yearly progress. There is also no federal or state law that requires penalties for schools or districts if parents/students opt out or refuse the test.

No student will be penalized for refusing to test. Students cannot be penalized for exercising their refusal rights. There is no basis for any state agent to take any action against parents’ and students’ explicit refusal, and/or take any action that causes the student emotional, psychological, and/or physical harm against their refusal. Also, there are no academic consequences for refusing. PARCC has no effect on students’ grades, and it is not a state graduation requirement for high school students this year. Again, this is a baseline year, so there will be no consequences for students.

Send a Notice of Refusal

Notice of Refusal

Your Name:

Your Email:

Child’s Name:

Child’s School:


Dear Principal,

My child, [CHILD’S NAME], will be refusing to participate in PARCC testing this spring. I am fully aware of my child’s right to refuse state testing, and as my minor child’s legal representative, I am informing you that he/she will not be taking the PARCC this March and May.

I expect my child to be treated with kindness and respect upon this decision, and be allowed a meaningful learning opportunity, or be able to read or do other work as other students test. No state agent should harass, intimidate, or attempt to force my child to test after he/she has respectfully refused.

Please respect this decision and have your staff treat my child appropriately upon this notice of my child’s refusal.

The school should code my child’s test as Reason 15 for not testing (refusal) so that this refusal will not count against the school.

Thank you for your support,

[To read all the links, open the students’ statement.]

If education is the civil rights issue of our time, as “reformers” often claim, then the students of Newark should sue Governor Christie, Cimmissioner Hespe, and Superintendent Cami Anderson for violating their right to a high quality education.

Bob Braun reports a study showing that the ongoing disruption in the lives of students, families, and educators have failed.

“A report compiled by the Alliance for Newark Public Schools reveals that so-called “Renew Schools,” city schools singled out for special attention–Anderson would call it “reform”–not only did not produce the student progress she predicted–but, in fact, lagged behind schools throughout New Jersey whose students have the same socio-economic and racial characteristics.

“So, after 20 years of state control and four years of experimentation by Anderson, the best the state-run Newark school administration has to offer fails in comparison to schools in the poorest school districts throughout New Jersey.

“This report…revealed that, with respect to 2013-2014 academic performance, all seven (7) Newark, New Jersey, Renew Schools significantly lagged or lagged their peer schools across the state.

“In the area of student growth performance, six (6) Renew Schools lagged or siginifically lagged their peer schools…”

“The analysis also shows that Newark has failed to meet its promised academic progress targets established as a condition for the granting by the federal government of a waiver of the draconian provisions of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. Under the law and under the waiver, student progress was measured for tracked for various subgroups based on race, language skills, poverty and other factors. According to the analysis, “The Renew Schools did not meet any of the 56 targets.”

And more:

“The commissioner also hinted he would, despite her failures, renew Anderson’s contract for another year. Hespe, once a well-respected educational administrator, clearly has moved to Chris Christie’s alternate universe, an Orwellian place where truth is lying and success is failure.

“It’s an embarrassment not because she failed but because of the pain and disruption Anderson caused creating the so-called “Renew Schools.” Under her plan, new principals were brought in, entire staffs were fired, schedules were changed, days were lengthened, millions of dollars were spent–including on outside consultants with close ties to Anderson–and it all has come to nought.”

After a four-day sit-in and a meetung with State-appointed Superintendent Cami Anderson, Newark Student Union members agreed to end their occupation of her office. They apparently won no concessions from her, but achieved widespread attention for their grievances.

In Newark, a dozen or fewer students continue their sit-in in the office of Cami Anderson, who was appointed by Governor Chris Christie to turn Newark into an all-choice district. The students demand that Anderson meet with them and the local school board or resign.

Their protest has received national and international coverage.

Margaret Mead said:

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”


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