Archives for category: Teachers

This is great news!

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, tweeted and wrote on her Facebook page yesterday that she supports parents who opt out of the PARCC tests. She had previously endorsed opting out when participating in a parent-teacher rally at Fort Drum, New York. Yesterday she said that if she were a parent of children in the public schools of New York, she would opt out too.

Opting out is not about helping the teachers’ union or opposing accountability. It is a clear, unambiguous message to governors and legislators, to Congress and the Obama administration that testing is out of control. Testing is not teaching. Since the passage of NCLB in 2001-02, billions of dollars have been spent on test prep and testing. In the case of the Common Core tests, the results are not reported for 4-6 months, the teacher is not allowed to see what students got right or wrong. The tests have no diagnostic value. None. They are used solely to rank and rate students, teachers, principals, and schools. Furthermore, they are designed to fail the majority of students because of the absurd “cut scores” (passing mark) pegged to NAEP’s proficient level. Most children will “fail” (for the last two years, nearly 70% of students in New York did not reach “proficient.”) We are the most over tested nation in the world. Enough!

Any politician who advocates for the tests should do one simple thing: Take the eighth grade math test and publish their scores.

Thank you, Randi, for personally and unambiguously endorsing opt out! Encourage your members across the nation to join those who are defending their students and their profession. It is hard to stand up alone; in unity there is strength.

She wrote on her Facebook page:

I have been in NY alot fighting shoulder to shoulder with educators and parents against Cuomo’s wrongheaded actions. I was asked the question abt opt out today and this is what I tweeted out.

We believe parents have right to opt-out & tchrs shld be able to advise parents how. We’ve said it repeatedly, are fighting for it in ESEA.

@lacetothetop et al have asked what I’d do if I had kids in NYPS—based on what I’ve seen, if I had kids, I’d opt them out of the PEARSON (PAARC) tests this yr

It’s crazy what’s happening in NY, w/ Cuomo leading the misuse of testing. We understand why @NYSUT and parents are calling for an opt-out

Karen Magee, president of Néw York State United Teachers, has called for a mass opt out from state testing. Her protest is in response to Governor Cuomo’s hostile actions towards teachers and public schools.

Magee said (correctly) that test-based evaluation is an unreliable measure of teacher quality.

“New York State United Teachers president Karen Magee hinted on Monday that the powerful statewide union would launch a campaign to further encourage parents to have their children “opt out” of state-administered, Common Core-aligned exams in order to undermine the use of test scores as a component of teacher evaluations.

Speaking to reporters at the Capitol, Magee said the union has posted information on its website instructing parents on how to have their children refuse the third through eighth grade English and math exams, which are required by the federal government and will be administered next month.

“I’m a parent,” said Magee, who lives in Westchester. “My child is in 11th grade at this point in time. Had he been a third to eighth grader, he would not be taking the test. The tests are not valid indicators. The American Statistical Association has said there is no direct link to tie these tests to student performance or teacher evaluation. Let’s look at tests that are diagnostic in nature, that actually inform practice in the classroom, that actually work to serve students who are directly sitting in front of the teacher for the year as opposed to what we have in place right now.

“At this point in time, yes, we are encouraging parents to opt out,” she said. “We will be taking further steps to make parents aware of this…..”

“Magee admitted that some level of opt outs could hurt teachers in this way, but said, “Statistically, if you take out enough, it has no merit or value whatsoever.”

“When asked whether it was her goal to impact the validity of the exams, the union president responded: “At this point in time it’s the best way to go.”

Cuomo sought the most punitive possible evaluation approach to teachers. Despite the evidence against tying teacher evaluation to test scores, Cuomo demanded that 50% of each teacher’s evaluation be based on test scores.

He never explained his plan to evaluate the 70% of teachers who do not teach tested subjects.

He also has insisted that the views of an independent evaluator count more than that of principals, but has not explained the cost of hiring thousands of evaluators or why the judgment of a drive-by evaluator should have greater weight than that of the principal.

His hostility towards teachers is palpable. Future leaders will have to repair the damage Cuomo has done through his blatant disrespect for teachers, all teachers. Who will want to teach?

Dozens of teacher associations have endorsed a strong resolution against high-stakes testing.

These groups include:

Amityville Teachers’ Association
Associated Teachers of Huntington
Babylon Teachers’ Association
Baldwin Teachers Association
Bay Shore Classroom Teachers Association
Bellmore-Merrick United Secondary Teachers
Bellport Teachers Association
Bethpage Congress of Teachers
Brentwood Teachers Association
Brockport Teachers Association
Camden Teachers Association
Carmel Teachers’ Association
Center Moriches Teachers’ Association
Central Islip Teachers Association
Clarkstown Teachers Association
Commack Teachers Association
Connetquot Teachers Association
Deer Park Teachers’ Association
East Williston Teachers’ Association
Elwood Teachers Alliance
Farmingdale Federation of Teachers
Freeport Teachers Association
Fulton Teachers Association
Garden City Teachers’ Association
Glen Cove Teachers’ Association
Half Hollow Hills Teachers’ Association
Hamburg Teachers Association
Hauppauge Teachers Association
Hastings Teachers Association
Hewlett-Woodmere Faculty Association
Hicksville Congress of Teachers
Ichabod Crane Teachers Association
Islip Teachers Association
Kingston Teachers Federation
Lancaster Central Teachers Association
Lake Shore Central Teachers’ Association
Lakeland Federation of Teachers
Lawrence Teachers’ Association
Levittown Teachers Union
Lindenhurst Teachers Association
Little Flower Teachers Association
Locust Valley School Employees Association
Lynbrook Teachers Association
Merrick Faculty Association
Middle Country Teachers Association
Middle Island Teachers Association
Miller Place Teachers Association
MORE Caucus (NYC)
New Hartford Teachers Association
New Paltz United Teachers
New Rochelle Federation of United School Employees
New York Mills Teachers’ Association
North Babylon Teachers’ Organization
North Bellmore Teachers Association
North Merrick Faculty Association
North Rockland Teachers Association
North Shore Schools Federated Employees
North Syracuse Education Association
Oceanside Federation of Teachers
Oneonta Teachers’ Association
Orchard Park Teachers Association
Patchogue-Medford Congress of Teachers
Plainedge Federation of Teachers
Plainview-Old Beth Page Congress of Teachers
Port Jefferson Teachers Association
Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association
Ramapo Teachers Association
Rocky Point Teachers Association
Rockville Centre Teachers’ Association
Rome Teachers Association
Sauquoit Valley Teachers Association
Sherburne-Earlville Teachers’ Association
Smithtown Teachers Association
Spencerport Teachers Association
Springville Faculty Association
Shoreham Wading River Teachers Association
Three Village Teachers Association
Troy Teachers Association
United Teachers of Harborfields
United Teachers of Seaford
Valley Stream Teachers Association
West Babylon Teachers Association
West Canada Valley Teachers Association
West Genesee Teachers’ Association
West Hempstead Education Association
West Islip Teachers’ Association
West Seneca Teachers Association

This is the resolution they support:

Resolution to Support “The I Refuse Movement” to Oppose High Stakes Testing

WHEREAS, the purpose of education is to educate a populace of critical thinkers who are capable of shaping a just and equitable society in order to lead good and purpose-filled lives, not solely prepare that populace for college and career; and

WHEREAS, instructional and curricular decisions should be in the hands of classroom professionals who understand the context and interests of their students; and

WHEREAS, the education of children should be grounded in developmentally appropriate practice; and

WHEREAS, high quality education requires adequate resources to provide a rich and varied course of instruction, individual and small group attention, and wrap-around services for students; and

WHEREAS, the state assessments are not transparent in that–teachers and parents are not allowed to view the tests and item analysis will likely not be made available; and

WHEREAS, the assessment practices that accompany Common Core State Standards – including the political manipulation of test scores – are used as justification to label and close schools, fail students, and evaluate educators; therefore be it

RESOLVED that NYSUT opposes standardized high stakes testing that is currently pushed by the Federal and State governments, because this testing is not being used to further instruction for children, to help children, or to support the educational needs of children; and be it further

RESOLVED, that NYSUT advocates for an engaged and socially relevant curriculum that is student-based and supported by research; and be it further

RESOLVED, that NYSUT will embark on internal discussions to educate and seek feedback from members regarding standardized high stakes testing and its impact on students; and be it further
RESOLVED, that NYSUT will lobby the NYS Board of Regents to eliminate the use of high stakes testing; and be it further

RESOLVED, that NYSUT will ask that all of its members have their own children refuse to take the Grade 3-8 assessments: and be it further

RESOLVED, that NYSUT will organize other members and affiliates to increase opposition to high stakes testing; and be it further

RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution will be sent to the NY State Board of Regents, the Governor of NYS, and all members of the NYS legislative branch; and be it finally
Resolved, that if after this resolution is passed at the 2015 NYSUT RA, the resolution be sent to the NYSUT Board of Directors for the purpose of having the NYSUT Board of Directors craft an appropriate version of the resolution that the NYSUT Board of Directors can vote to send to the American Federation of Teachers for consideration at the AFT July 2016 Convention.

Please encourage your members to purchase/replicate these bumper stickers/magnets to support test refusal as a way to stop corporate education reform.

http://www.cafepress.com/nysalliesforpubliceducation

Leonie Haimson includes in this post a summary of the latest Quinnipiac poll about public reaction to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s education proposals. The long and short of it is that they are so unpopular that they have dragged down his overall rating.

 

28% approve his proposals while 63% reject them.

 

The Quinnipiac poll shows that Cuomo has dropped to his lowest rating ever–50%, and the poll connects his declining popularity to his ferocious attacks on public schools and teachers. He doesn’t seem to understand that most people like both and can’t understand why the Governor wants to destroy them. They have a low opinion of all his plans to “improve” them by raising the stakes on testing. This should be a warning to other politicians who think they can attack public education without arousing public antagonism. Most Americans–say, 90%–went to public school and presumably have good memories of their teachers and schools. Why would the governor or any other politician want to send public money to private and religious schools?

This is one of the most powerful letters I have read. I hope Diane Sekula doesn’t quit. I hope she changes her mind and stays to fight.

Veteran teacher to resign over Common Core and SBAC

A statement from Diane Sekula, experienced educator and Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Moldova, ’99-01):

I have been a teacher for well over a decade and this spring, I will turn in my resignation because of Common Core and its associated data collection through SBAC and other means.

Common Core is substandard and the required data collection highly UNETHICAL. It is causing stress amongst students, teachers, and parents alike and has taken much joy out of teaching and learning.

I have witnessed extreme anxiety and tears from both teachers and students because of the pressure, confusion and uncertainty surrounding Common Core and SBAC Testing.

When I taught in the Soviet Union as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 1999-2001, I was told by our federal government to help teachers design lessons that included opportunities for creativity and innovation as this was not done under Soviet Rule. Under Soviet Rule testing was everything and you were labeled because of it. Labels work for bottles of poison BUT NOT FOR CHILDREN OR DEMOCRATIC SOCIETIES. Our ability to nurture individual dreams encourage innovation is one of the things that makes the United States better than socialized countries in many ways.

The Common Core is not what it was sold as.

It encourages uniformity through one-size-fits-all standards at the cost of individuality, individual thinking and individual differences.

The Derryfield School has referred to it as INFERIOR.

It is not used at Thomas Hassan’s school, Philips Exeter.

The way this is going, public school children will be trained as workers while those who can afford it will get a true education.

New Hampshire children, families and teachers deserve better than Common Core.

This just in from teachers in Everett, WA:

A RESOLUTION OF DISAPPROVAL OF THE SMARTER BALANCED ASSESSMENT

WHEREAS, the motto of Mariner High School is to “provide an excellent education to every student;” and

WHEREAS, the Smarter Balanced Assessment is not required for graduation; and

WHEREAS, this computer based assessment will take approximately eight hours for each 11th grader to complete and its confusing format is unlike anything students will experience outside the testing environment; and

WHEREAS, there are not enough computers to test the students in a reasonable amount of time and it is unacceptable for computers to be unavailable to non-testing students for such a long period of time; and

WHEREAS, the failure rate of the assessment is going to be extraordinarily high (possibly 60%) for the general population and even higher for students of color, ELL students, and students on individualized education plans; and

WHEREAS, student performance on this test will in no way be indicative of their learning and instead this test must be given to meet arbitrary, antiquated and poorly considered state/federal mandates; and

WHEREAS, graduation and standardized testing requirements in Washington State are in constant shift, confusing, and poorly communicated; and

WHEREAS, the sheer number of state mandated standardized tests is unacceptable; in addition to other assessments during the last seven weeks of school we must administer two weeks of AP testing, many weeks of 11th grade SBA testing, the 10th grade ELA exit exam, the Biology EOC exam, the Geometry EOC exam, and the Algebra 1 EOC exam; many of these exams are required for graduation or could possibly earn students college credit; moreover, during this time we are also required to teach our students and administer year end finals and projects; and

WHEREAS, the detrimental impact on the school schedule and more importantly student learning cannot be justified simply to meet a superfluous bureaucratic requirement; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, the members of the Mukilteo Education Association at Mariner High School object to the administration of the 11th grade Smarter Balanced Assessment for spring 2015 as an unacceptable obstruction to providing an excellent education to every student.

Passed Unanimously 3/6/2015

Ken Mitchell, who recently retired as a school superintendent, attempts to shed light on thorny problems in current education policy in this article.

 

No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top have been dismal failures, and their main result appears to be the creation of chaos and incoherence at the local level. Both assume that standardized tests are not only the measure of education but the goal of education. Legislators are reacting by passing laws about how to evaluate teachers, a subject about which they are not expert and not well-informed.

 

Mitchell calls for the creation of an education summit, but with a twist:

 

It is time for an education summit, but not one that emanates from the governor’s office.

 

The governor has appointed commissions on mandate relief, school reform, and Common Core, naming members who often lacked expertise or objectivity. This time we need a summit involving stakeholders: teachers, principals, superintendents, parents and school boards. We need a de-politicized venue to ensure an objective analysis of the evidence behind current and proposed reforms related to assessment, teacher evaluation, Common Core and charter schools. If policymakers continue to mandate without evidence and allow profiteers to influence educational decisions, children will be harmed and public education ruined.

 

His suggestion makes sense. The Legislature should listen to the experts, rather than attempt to regulate the teaching profession. They would never dream of passing laws to evaluate the medical profession or any other profession. Why should they tell principals and superintendents how to evaluate teachers?

This just in:

Local Teachers Condemn New Standardized Tests

REDMOND, Washington-March 26, 2015-Teachers at Redmond Middle School in the Lake Washington School District have publicly announced their objection to the “Smarter Balanced Assessments” to be administered to students this spring. Their announcement comes as educators across the nation have begun to react against standardized testing and its negative effects on teaching and learning.

“For me, it’s a matter of social justice,” said David Sudmeier, a twenty-eight year veteran teacher at Redmond Middle School. “We might as well pass out scores on the basis of family income. These tests pretend to offer an objective measure of student learning, but really discriminate against students who have parents working multiple jobs, who have limited home resources for activities that support learning, and who may go home to a bare cupboard instead of a warm, nourishing meal.”

“We care deeply about student learning,” remarked Shell Lockwood, who is about to end a long career as a teacher of gifted students, “but we don’t get any useful information from these tests. By the time scores are reported, those students have moved on. Every group of students is unique, and we can’t assume that the next group will have the same needs or abilities. These tests are more a distraction from productive teaching and learning than anything else.”

Some people might find it odd that teachers who object to the test are going to administer the test anyway.

“Our kids are the bottom line,” said Lockwood. “We want the public to know that we stand by our students to support them in a no-win situation. To abandon them just as testing begins would be unthinkable.”

So what can parents do in this situation? “Many of us are parents, too,” said Adam Wujick, math teacher at RMS. “I am disappointed in the lost instructional time for both my own kids and my students. I know that some parents are opting their children out of standardized testing entirely.”

It’s quite apparent that these teachers are determined to make their voice heard. “We have confidence in the wisdom of parents and the public,” said Sudmeier. “Now we just need our state legislators to heed our state constitution and lift public education to its rightful position as the paramount concern.”


From members of the Lake Washington Education Association of Redmond Middle School, east of Seattle, and part of the Lake Washington School District:

A RESOLUTION OF DISAPPROVAL OF THE SMARTER BALANCED ASSESSMENT

WHEREAS, the stated mission of the Lake Washington School District is that ”Each student will graduate prepared to lead a rewarding, responsible life as a contributing member of our community and greater society;” and

WHEREAS, the Smarter Balanced Assessment is not required for graduation; and

WHEREAS, this computer based assessment will take approximately eight hours for each student to complete and its confusing format is unlike anything students will experience outside the testing environment; and

WHEREAS, student computers and district infrastructure are unreliable and it is unacceptable for students to have learning time diverted to an activity so likely to be plagued with technical issues; and

WHEREAS, the failure rate of the assessment is likely to be extraordinarily high (possibly 60%) for the general population and even higher for students of color, ELL students, and students on individualized education plans; and

WHEREAS, student performance on this test is unlikely to be indicative of learning, but very likely to correlate directly with family socioeconomic status; and

WHEREAS, graduation and standardized testing requirements in Washington State are in constant flux, confusing, and poorly communicated; and

WHEREAS, the sheer number of state mandated standardized tests and End of Course exams deprives teachers of adequate time to provide instruction and for students to learn; and

WHEREAS, some of these exams may impact high school graduation; and

WHEREAS, during the testing window teachers are also administering unit tests, year-end finals and facilitating summative projects; and

WHEREAS, the detrimental impact on school schedules, student learning, teacher and administrative work time is out of proportion to the limited value of the test results; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, we, members of the Lake Washington Education Association at Redmond Middle School object to the administration of the Smarter Balanced Assessment for spring 2015 as an unacceptable obstruction to assisting students to “… graduate prepared to lead a rewarding, responsible life as a contributing member of our community and greater society.”

David Sudmeier

Denise Gross

Shell Lockwood

Sacha DeBeaumarchais

Kristin Rhode

Heidi Knable

Adam Wujick

Kaylee Hansen

Mary Chandler

Melissa Brown

Dena Kernish

Carol McCaig

Eric Fredlund

Ben Pinneo

Sara Hall

Scott Nelson

Quinn Thompson

Paul Neet

Kelly Konicki

Meg Town

Kris Kornegay

Chris Fleharty

The Néw York Times says Hillary Clinton will be forced to choose between the Wall Street big donors and the teachers’ unions.

The real choice is between Wall Street money on one hand and millions of parents and teachers who are fed up with high-stakes testing and privatization of public schools, on the other.

Then it refers to the Democrats for Education Reform as a “left of center group,” even though its program is indistinguishable from that of Republican governors and it was denounced by the California Democratic Party as a front for corporate interests.

Sixteen elementary school teachers in Framingham, Massachusetts, wrote an eloquent letter to parents explaining the damage that is done by high-stakes PARCC testing.

 

They write:

 

As teachers we cannot stay silent as PARCC makes its way into our classrooms.

 

In the words of Soujourner Truth at the 1851 Women’s Convention, “Where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter.” Nationally, we’re hearing a racket about the problem of standardized tests driving instruction, knocking the process of education clearly out of kilter. Here are a few reasons why:

 

First, test prep takes time away from real instruction in reading, math, and writing. “On average we will cancel six weeks of reading and writing instruction to prepare for the tests.”

 

Second, test prep extinguishes students’ love of learning:

 

Third, standardized tests harm students who are English language learners, students with disabilities, and students with anxiety.

 

Fourth, PARCC will feed into the reform mantra that our schools and teachers are “failing.”

 

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