Archives for category: Students

Did you know that your child is constantly data mined? Adrienne Hill writes about how extensively most children are now tracked, usually without their parent’s knowledge or consent. The federal government has given states hundreds of millions of dollars to help build a giant database, called a “statewide longitudinal data system.”

Hill writes:

“The government isn’t the only one trying to figure out what’s working by investing in and gobbling up data about your kid.

“Sales of educational technology software for kids in kindergarten through high school reached nearly $8 billion last year, according to the Software and Information Industry Association.

“One of the biggest players is the field is Knewton. It analyzes student data that it collects by keeping track of nearly every click and keystroke your child makes during digital lessons.

“Jose Ferreira is Knewton’s CEO. In a video posted by the Department of Education, he says “We literally know everything about what you know and how you learn best, everything.”

“Knewton claims to gather millions of data points on millions of children each day. Ferreira calls education “the world’s most data-mineable industry by far.”

“We have five orders of magnitude more data about you than Google has,” he says in the video. “We literally have more data about our students than any company has about anybody else about anything, and it’s not even close.”

“Five orders of magnitude more data than Google is a whole lot of data.

“The promise is that all that data can be used to tailor lessons to individual kids, to their strengths and weaknesses. They will become better learners, and that will lead to higher grades and better graduation rates.

“Ferreira imagines a day when “you tell us what you had for breakfast every morning at the beginning of the semester, by the end of the semester, we should be able to tell you what you had for breakfast. Because you always did better on the days you had scrambled eggs.”

“If the right breakfast makes for a better behaved child, that will be measured, too.”

And more:

“We live in a 24/7 data mining universe today,” says Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media. “And I think most of us parents and teachers and kids don’t realize how much of our data is out there and used by other people.”

“Steyer is also a parent. He says what worries him most is that “information that’s very personal to me and my family, for example my kids disciplinary record or health record or something like that, is made available to somebody who it’s no business to have that.”

What will be done with all this data? Sell stuff to your child? Monitor her behavior? For what ends? For whose benefit? What brave new world is this?

Progressivism is not dead at Harvard University.

A group of students called on the University’s President Drew Faust to cut ties with Teach for America unless the organization made major changes.

“The group’s demonstration comes as part of a larger movement initiated by United Students Against Sweatshops, which holds that holds that Teach For America is working to privatize education through its relationships with big-name corporations that are threatening the sanctity of public education. The group had a TFA Truth Tour during March and April earlier this year, wherein protests were scheduled and executed on college campuses, including Harvard University.

“In their letter to President Faust, the student group outlined the reforms they would like to see within the organization:

“Send Teach for America participants only to areas where there is a teaching shortage

“Work to provide these participants with more training and education

“Eliminate the ties the organization has with such corporations as Goldman Sachs, Exxon Mobil, and JPMorgan Chase.”

In other words, SLAM recognizes that TFA is an enabler of privatization and acts like scabs, taking the jobs of experienced teachers and busting unions.

Peg Robertson is a teacher and a founder of United Opt Out, a national group that encourages parents, students, and other educators not to take or give the state tests. She writes here that though she has refused to administer the PARCC assessments, someone else will do it. Try as she might, she admits, she cannot protect the children from endless test prep and the age-inappropriate practices introduced into the early grades by Common Core.

She writes:

“Across the nation teachers are fighting back hard. Across the nation – actually across the world – teachers will shut their doors and do their best to protect children from high stakes testing, test prep, nonstop district and state mandated testing and more. But – the truth is this, our best is not good enough, because in order to attempt to do our best we are jumping through hoops, shutting our door to secretly do what is right for children, spending our own money on resources for our classrooms and on supplies for children who have none, and we are spending hours and hours gaming our way through “teach to the test” curriculum and massive amounts of mandated corporate formative and summative assessment – in order to attempt to “do our best.”

“So, I’m going to be blunt here. I cannot do my best under these conditions. I can attempt to do my best, but my best under these conditions is not good enough. And my attempts to play the game and resist where I can will not be enough to protect your children from what is happening….

“And I cannot protect children from certain non-negotiables within common core curriculum and on-going assessment. We cannot protect the children from the common core professional development which takes us away from our buildings and leaves children with substitute teachers. As a literacy coach, I do what I can to rephrase and rid my school of corporate reform language such as rigor, grit, calibrate, accountability, no excuses and college and career ready. I can even replace these words with language that represents inquiry, heart, relationships, community, equity, creativity and more. But ultimately, all of my attempts are simply band aids.

“Even though I have done my best to make writing “on-demand” prompts developmentally appropriate for kindergarten (let’s face facts -there is NO such thing), it is still an “on-demand” writing prompt for kindergarten. Even though I will do everything in my power to support children in their inquiries about bugs, outer space, poetry, sports, cooking, their favorite authors, music, art, history and more; I cannot stop the testing train which makes stops in every classroom every week in some shape or form. The classroom is no longer driven by the rhythm of learning, it is driven by the testing schedule which continually interrupts our children’s talk and exploration of their interests – the testing schedule extinguishes the passion for learning. It makes all of us tired with the constant stop. start. stop start. as we try to regroup and get back on track with the real learning that is occurring in the classrooms. I can’t tell you how many “ah ha” moments have been lost for children as they had to break away from their projects, their thinking, their conversation, in order to hunker down over an assessment as they labor for the corporations…..

“Some days I feel like a nurse inside a war tent with wounded soldiers. And no matter how brave I am, no matter how much I stand up to these reforms, it is not enough – they have taken away so much of my power, and my ability to make professional decisions in order to protect children and do what is right for all children.

“I teach at a school with 73% free/reduced lunch. Over 40 languages are spoken within my school. I know what our children need – they need wrap around services for poverty, books, librarians, small class size, health care, nurses, counselors, recess, quality food, and the opportunity to express their interests as they talk, read, write, play, sing, dance, create and smile. But you see, that doesn’t create corporate profit. Poverty must be ignored in order to keep corporate profit churning.

“Parents, I cannot protect your children. I must be honest in telling you that the war is alive and well in our classrooms, and children are being harmed every day. What is happening is evil, cruel and abusive. Refuse the tests and deny the corporations the profit, deny the district, state and federal government your child’s data (which they can share with corporations), deny the publishing companies the opportunity to create more common core products. Without the data, the profit ends and we have an opportunity to reclaim our public schools, our profession. We have an opportunity to do what is right for all children. I am done smiling and saying, I am doing my best. I’m not.”

JOIN US FOR THE FIRST PUBLIC EDUCATION NATION ON OCTOBER 11!

NBC has abandoned its annual “education nation” funded by Gates and featuring the leaders of privatization and high-stakes testing.

Now is our hour! We are here for you! We are here for the millions of students, teachers, parents, and administrators who are part of public education. We are here permanently. We are not going away.

Coming Saturday, Oct.11

PUBLIC Education Nation

Panel #1: Testing & the Common Core

Just Two Weeks Away! The first-ever PUBLIC Education Nation

This time we own the table, and we will bring together educators, parents and students to tell the truth about what is happening in our schools, and what real reform ought to be all about.

Next Sunday, October 5, will be our major money bomb online fundraiser for the event. This is NOT sponsored by the Gates, Bloomberg or Walton foundations – it is sponsored by US – each and every person who cares about the future of public education. Please donate here, and spread the word.

If you are in the New York area, and would like to attend the October 11 event in person, please show up by 11:30 am at 610 Henry St at Brooklyn New School/Brooklyn School for Collaborative Studies, and register here in advance. You can also sign up for the online event on Facebook here.

Follow us on Twitter at @PublicEdNation & @NetworkPublicEd

Panel #1: Testing & the Common Core

One of the highlights of the event will be the very first panel,

Testing and the Common Core, which will be moderated by New York’s high school Principal of the Year, Carol Burris. Burris has written extensively about equity in schools and the impact of the Common Core, and will bring her many years as an educator to the table. She will be joined by the following education experts:

Alan A. Aja, Ph.D. is the Assistant Professor & Deputy Chair of the Department of Puerto Rican & Latino Studies in Brooklyn College. His research examines race, gender and class disparities between and among Latino and African American communities; immigration/education policy; social and economic segregation; sustainable development and collective action/unionization. Before academia, Aja worked as a labor organizer in Texas, an environmental researcher in Cuba, a human rights organizer in Argentina and in a refugee hostel in London. He is a public school parent and elected member of the SLT (School Leadership Team) of PS264 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

Dr. Aja will discuss the impact of common core aligned testing in New York, Kentucky and other states on marginalized communities, with attention to blacks, Latinos, ELLs, special ed/learning and disability students. He will present the early evidence to demonstrate that the Common Core and its testing is not resulting in the closing of the achievement gap, but may, instead be leaving disadvantaged students even further behind. He will also discuss alternative ways to increase student and school performance.

Rosa L. Rivera-McCutchen, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at CUNY’s Lehman College. She began her career in education as a high school teacher in the Bronx.Her research examines the theory and practice of leadership in small schools in urban settings in order to create socially just and equitable schools for Black and Latino students. Dr. Rivera-McCutchen’s research has appeared in an edited book entitled Critical small schools: Beyond privatization in New York City urban educational reform.

Dr. Rivera McCutchen will focus on the moral imperative of leading for social justice in the face of CCSS and high-stakes testing. She will highlight the challenges leaders face in resisting, and focus on the strategies that leaders have used in mounting successful campaigns of resistance.

Takiema Bunche Smith is the Vice President of Education and Outreach at Brooklyn Kindergarten Society (BKS), where she oversees educational programming and outreach initiatives at five preschools located in low-income neighborhoods in Brooklyn, New York. In both her professional and personal life, Ms. Bunche Smith is involved in various advocacy efforts that relate to early childhood care and education funding and policy, and the push-back against the overemphasis on high stakes testing in public schools. She has been a classroom teacher, teacher educator, content director for Sesame Street, and director of curriculum and instruction. She attended NYC public schools for 3rd-12th grade and is now a public school parent and member of the SLT at Brooklyn New School.

Ms. Bunche Smith will discuss the early childhood education implications of the Common Core and how it affects schools, students and parents. She will discuss various parent perspectives on the Common Core as well as critically highlight those who are not part of the conversation around Common Core.

On Saturday, Oct. 11, you can tune in online here at SchoolhouseLive.org to the live broadcast starting at 12 noon Eastern time, 9 am Pacific time.

The event will conclude with a conversation between Diane Ravitch and Jitu Brown.

The Network for Public Education is hosting this event. It is NOT sponsored by the Gates, Walton or Bloomberg foundations. It is sponsored by YOU, each and every one of the people who care about our children’s future.

Can you make a small donation to help us cover the expense of this event? We are determined to create the space not ordinarily given to voices like these. But we need your participation. Please donate by visiting the NPE website and clicking on the PayPal link.

A live-stream of the event will be available on Saturday, Oct. 11, starting at Noon Eastern time, 9 am Pacific time at http://www.schoolhouselive.org.

Support The Network for Public Education

The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society. Our mission is to protect, preserve, promote, and strengthen public schools and the education of current and future generations of students.

Over the past year, donations to The Network for Public Education helped us put on out first National Conference – an incredible success. In the coming year, we will hold more events, webinars, and work on the issues that our members and donors care about the most!

To become a Member or to Make a Donation, go to the NPE website and click on the PayPal link. We accept donations using PayPal, the most trusted site used to make on-line payments.

http://networkforpubliceducation.org

The Network For Public Education | P.O. Box 44200 | Tucson | AZ | 85733

As I write, community activists in Chicago are demanding that Mayor Emanuel allow Dyett High School to remain open.

 

The local community is fighting for the school. They want it to be a school dedicated to global leadership and green technology. Only 13 students remain in the school. They remain as a symbol that the community will not give up. They will not abandon a high school that they cherish. They do not want it to be closed.

 

Mike Klonsky gives some background here.

 

Please call the mayor’s office. Tell them to restore Dyett High School as a treasure that belongs to the community, not as a place to be shuttered by the mayor.

 

Jitu Brown of Journey for Justice–and a new member of the board of the Network for Public Education–sent this appeal today:

 

Brothers and Sisters,

 

You may know that the Bronzeville community has waged a protracted battle for saving Dyett High School on the south side of Chicago. Students, parents and community residents are rallying at city hall at 4pm CST today, demanding support for the Dyett 13 (the remaining students who are taking art, physical ed as online classes) and support for Dyett to stay open as global leadership and green technology high school (the community’s plan). We have been disrespected, under served and ignored so today…we are taking arrests and we need your support. Starting at 3pm CST, please call Mayor Rahm Emanuel office at (312)744-5000 and Deputy Mayor Ken Bennett at (312)399-5370 and tell him this:

 

1. Shame on you. Parents and community should not have to go through this to have voice in their PUBLIC schools.
2. Get resources like a gym teacher and ACT prep to Dyett students NOW.
3. CPS sabotaged Dyett hs. Support the community plan for Dyett Global Leadership and Green Technology H.S. NOW! We want a signed commitment from the Mayor, Barbara Byrd Bennett and David Vitale to support our planning and implementation process. NOW!
4. Dyett community must be treated with dignity and respect. If they are arrested, do not harm them! The nation is watching!
Go to twitter and Facebook today with #Dyett13 and #SaveDyettHS. Let @RahmEmanuel know that the world is watching.

Talk about “no excuses”!

Blogger and retired teacher Norm Scott broke the story that Girls Prep Charter School in New York City posted a warning to parents about the dire consequences of arriving late to pick up their children. If the parent did not arrive by 3:45, the child would be taken to the local police precinct. Repeated failure to pick up on time would lead to a report to the city’s Administration for Children’s Services.

Referral to ACS might trigger an investigation of the parent and family. Chalkbeat picked up Scott’s report, based on an anonymous tip. ““You’re almost criminalizing parents. You’re calling them neglectful,” said Ocynthia Williams, an advocate with the Coalition for Educational Justice. “The bottom line is it’s a terrible policy for parent engagement at that school.”

Officials told Chalkbeat’s Geoffrey Decker that it was probably an idle threat. Girls Prep earlier came under criticism for offering $100 for referring students who remained enrolled at least three months.

Norm Scott ran another exposé of the same charter, posting a letter from a disgruntled parent, who claimed that the school was a “boot camp” that was training children in robotic behavior.

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.

The Providence Student Union Is an inspirational group of high school students who have shaken up Rhode Island. Due to their creative protests against high-stakes testing, especially the use of a normed, standardized test for graduation, they won the support of the Boston Globe and then the state legislature, which declared a moratorium on using tests for high stakes purposes.

Take a moment and help PSU organize other high school groups.

This is a letter from Aaron Regunberg, one of the PSU leaders who just won the Democratic primary for a seat in the State Senate:

“PSU was nominated for an award from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation for $100,000 dollars. Here’s all the information:

http://www.rifuture.org/help-the-providence-student-union-win-100000.html

And here is the award site:

http://www.nmefoundation.org/grants/larry-o-toole-award.aspx

As you can imagine, $100,000 would be game-changer – not just for our organization, but really for the fight for public education across our state. Everything we’ve been able to do has been on a shoestring budget; with that level of resources, we could create a student union in every urban district in Rhode Island and really change the power balance for public ed in RI.

In order to win, we need to get more online votes than the 5 other nominated groups. We’ve had a really late start – as we’ve been working on the actual state elections until this last Tuesday – and now need to kick into high gear.

If you could encourage your loyal readers and fans to vote (takes 10 seconds) and spread the word, it truly could make a radical difference here in RI. You can use the language from the post on RIFuture above.

–Aaron”

Jeannie Kaplan says that the best reform would be a later start to school. Why? Because teenagers biologically need to sleep later, and she has the research to prove it.

She writes:

“American teenagers suffer from a lack of sleep. Middle and high school students are chronically affected by this health risk. Obesity, depression, absenteeism and tardiness rise, academic performance and public safety fall due to sleepiness. Last month The American Association of Pediatricians (AAP) released a study documenting the severity of this epidemic. And to its credit, the AAP has proposed a solution: start middle and high school later in the morning. While most secondary schools start between 7:15 and 8:15, the AAP recommends a start time of no earlier than 8:30 for middle and high school. No surprise to those who have experienced and/or studied teenagers’ sleep patterns. Some secondary schools even offer classes during something called “zero” period which is an even earlier start to the school day and occurs before first period which as we have seen is often too early for students to be alert and “ready to learn.” One unintended ironic consequence of “zero” period is the actual amount of learning that goes on – close to zero because the students are so sleepy and tired. The optimal level of sleep necessary to be high functioning teenagers? Eight and a half to nine and a half hours per night. Where the later start time has been implemented, behavior and atmosphere at school improves.

Bob Braun has been writing about the abusiveness and insensitivity of Cami Anderson’s “One Newark” plan. He has written that it has disrupted the lives of children and families, with no goal other than to sweep away neighborhood schools and impose charter schools. Newark has been under state control for nearly 20 years. In short, the people of Newark have had no say in the governance of their city’s schools, and now Chris Christie and Cami Anderson have decided to turn them over to private management.

Braun reports that the real heroes in this struggle for democracy are the high school students of Newark. While most of the adults seemed resigned and ready to bow to authority, the high school students went into the streets to protest. A group of them chained themselves together, sat down in the city’s main thoroughfare, and blocked traffic. The newly elected Mayor Ras Baraka tried to protect the students. He ran for office as an opponent of Cami and “One Newark,” but he has no power to stop her.

Braun wrote:

“Newark’s public schools will be saved from privatization only if supporters are willing to take risks. Yesterday, Newark finally saw some risk takers–the high school students and handful of adults who blocked Broad Street for eight hours, refusing in a very adult way to give up their lines despite an effort by police to plow through, and a mayor who risked criticism for not arresting the students.

“The children are doing what the adults are not doing because the adults are too scared to do it,” said Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson about the siege of board headquarters at 2 Cedar Street organized by the Newark Students Union. The school board member spent most of the day monitoring the protest.

“But did it make a difference? Will the risks taken by the students and Mayor Ras Baraka–the courageous actions taken yesterday by both –hasten the end of Anderson’s tenure? Will it quickly end the “One Newark” plan that has brought so much pain to so many city families?

“Maybe not. But this is what they will do: They will keep the fight alive, keep the light shining, in the face of the inertial forces that would try to gloss over the pain Anderson is causing and bring on a complacent, apathetic business-as-usual attitude that will allow Anderson to continue her plans unimpeded. Without the students, Anderson would be free to act without, not just restraint, but even without notice.”

Braun wrote:

“They’re coming for you.

“They’re coming for you in Wisconsin. In California. In New York–and, yes, in New Jersey. In places like Newark and Paterson–ask Paterson teachers about the great contract they “won” from the state-operated district. And. remember, the Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), the people who almost made Shavar Jeffries mayor, believe tenure and other protections are the dam that “must be burst” to reform education.

“Think about it. Those are Democrats. They might eat your rights elegantly with some fava beans and a little Malbec–but they will do it every bit as effectively as the Koch Brothers who would just as soon have public employee union leaders jailed and shot.”

The kids were heroes. It is a very small gesture on my part to add them to the honor roll as heroes of American education. They are standing up for public education. They are standing up for democracy.

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