Vouchers are a bad idea, and the public doesn’t support them. Time after time, vouchers have been put on state ballots, and every single time they have been defeated. They were defeated overwhelmingly in Utah in 2007, with 62%-38% of the vote, and defeated most recently in Florida in 2012, by a vote of 58%-42%. Yet, with the help of the far-right ALEC and its model legislation, several state legislatures have created voucher programs without going to the voters. Even in states that explicitly ban the use of public funds for religious institutions, the legislatures have coined some euphemism like “opportunity scholarship” or, as in Nevada, “education savings accounts.” A voucher is a voucher is a voucher.

I tweeted this message; I hope you will too: Should taxpayer $ go to religious schools? @ACLUNV says no & Nevada agrees. Support separation of church & state! http://bit.ly/1XhsFyg

Here is an appeal from the ACLU:

Last week we filed a major lawsuit against the state of Nevada to stop the voucher program that diverts taxpayer funds to religious schools. The program was passed by the Nevada Legislature and signed by Governor Sandoval this year.

Parents have a right to send their children to religious schools, but they are not entitled to do so at taxpayers’ expense. Do you want your tax dollars going to fund a parent’s preferred religious school choice? We don’t and that’s why we are suing to stop it.

Proponents of the new program bristle at our use of the term “voucher” instead of their preferred description of “education savings accounts,” but we do that because we know better — these accounts will do nothing to save education, but will in fact destroy education across the state. Is it any wonder why this program was written and proposed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)?

In just three short days we have seen those who seek to dismantle public education and divert education money to private religious purposes attack us and the plaintiffs for daring to thwart their plans. They are even attacking Ruby Duncan, the lead plaintiff and longtime civil rights, education, and welfare rights champion. What these pro-voucher forces don’t know is how firmly we believe this voucher program violates the separation of church and state and how resolute Ruby is in standing up for kids and providing them the education that they deserve. Ruby was honored when a school was named after her to recognize all the work she has done in making sure every child is educated and now they want to question her motives.

Share this victory with your friends, family, and any allies that believe that liberty is only possible when the separation of church and state is secure.

Sincerely,

Tod Story
Executive Director
ACLU of Nevada

P.S. Lawsuits are hard work, they require resources, and take time, but we are in this until the end. We need your help in ensuring we can fight this battle all the way to the Nevada Supreme Court. Donate now to help provide the resources we need in this battle — and in all our efforts to protect your rights.

Emma Brown of the Washington Post reports a dramatic increase in student poverty rates and increased segregation of the poorest students since the “Great Recession” of 2008.

The data are supplied by a nonprofit called Edbuild.

It includes a stunning comparison between maps of the United States, showing student poverty, in 2006 and 2013.

Student poverty has increased most in the South and the MidWest.

New Mexico saw a huge increase in student poverty, from half its students to 87%.

The state that has seen the most growth in student poverty is Florida.

Schools and teachers, of course, will be blamed and expected to cure what is a structural economic problem.

The Common Core and rigorous tests will not fix poverty.

This is an appalling commentary on what matters most in the United States today.

In an action taken in the past hour or so, Seattle teachers voted to strike.

The two big issues: a salary increase; recess time for children. Many children in the district get only 15 minutes a day of recess. Teachers want children to have at least 30-45 minutes a day.

“The union is advocating for a decrease in the use of high-stakes testing. This would include forming a joint committee with the union and the district to accept or reject any standardized testing beyond the federally mandated tests and getting rid of the “Student Growth Rating” that ties tested subject teacher’s evaluations to standardized tests scores. The Seattle School District has inundated our school with dozens of tests that students have to take in their lives as K-12 students, and it’s past time that we reclaim our classrooms for teaching rather than test prep.”

Rahm and Andrew backed off today. Or maybe they didn’t.

Rahm decided that Dyett High School re-open as an open-enrollment school. Cuomo said the Common Core and the testing were badly bungled by the State Education Department (John King), and he needs a commission to review the mess that he (Cuomo) made.

Bear in mind that Cuomo has no constitutional authority for education. He does not appoint the state Board of Regents (the legislature does) or the state commissioner (the Regents do).

Did Rahm really back down? Did Cuomo?

Ask the experts.

Here is Mike Klonsky in Chicago.

Here is Peter Greene, calling hoax.

Read the Washington Post’s article about the decline in SAT scores since 2005.

Scores on the SAT have sunk to the lowest level since the college admission test was overhauled in 2005, adding to worries about student performance in the nation’s high schools.

The average score for the Class of 2015 was 1490 out of a maximum 2400, the College Board reported Thursday. That was down 7 points from the previous class’s mark and was the lowest composite score of the past decade. There were declines of at least 2 points on all three sections of the test — critical reading, math and writing.

The steady decline in SAT scores and generally stagnant results from high schools on federal tests and other measures reflect a troubling shortcoming of education-reform efforts. The test results show that gains in reading and math in elementary grades haven’t led to broad improvement in high schools, experts say. That means several hundred thousand teenagers, especially those who grew up poor, are leaving school every year unready for college.

You will see lots of speculation, but what’s missing is a straightforward question about the value of NCLB and test-based accountability. Education doesn’t start in 9th grade.

Now it seems that reformers want to reform their reforms. The “”reforms are “broken” and must be reformed.

A news release from Governor Cuomo’s office:

STATEMENT FROM GOVERNOR ANDREW M. CUOMO ON THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS

“There has been an ongoing discussion about Common Core Standards nationwide, and in this state as well. I have said repeatedly my position is that while I agree with the goal of Common Core Standards, I believe the implementation by the State Education Department (SED) has been deeply flawed. The more time goes on, the more I am convinced of this position.

“A growing chorus of experts have questioned the intelligence of SED’s Common Core program and objective educators across the state have found the implementation problematic, to say the least. The new Commissioner of Education has inherited this problem and I understand has been meeting with parents, educators and students, and has heard the same concerns. Recently, SED has made comments about organized efforts to have parents choose to opt out of standardized tests. While I understand the issue and SED’s valid concern, I sympathize with the frustration of the parents.

“We must have standards for New York’s students, but those standards will only work if people – especially parents – have faith in them and in their ability to educate our children. The current Common Core program does not do that. It must.

“The fact is that the current Common Core program in New York is not working, and must be fixed. To that end, the time has come for a comprehensive review of the implementation of the Common Core Standards, curriculum, guidance and tests in order to address local concerns. I am taking this action not because I don’t believe in standards, but because I do.

“In the past, I employed an Education Commission to make substantive, unbiased recommendations on reforms to our education system. It has worked very well. I will ask a representative group from that Commission, including education experts, teachers, parents, the Commissioner of Education and legislative representatives to review the issues raised above and provide recommendations in time for my State of the State Address in January.”

At a budget hearing last night, Dyett protesters swarmed the stage, and police removed Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

“SOUTH SHORE — Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s second of three citywide public budget forums descended in chaos Wednesday night when Dyett High School protesters took the stage, and police had to hustle the mayor off the stage.

“Just over an hour into the hearing at the South Shore Cultural Center, Emanuel was rushed out by Chicago Police, including Supt. Garry McCarthy, after protesters rushed the stage chanting that they wanted an answer from the mayor on Dyett, “Right now!”

“The meeting did not resume.

“The mayor has been collecting public feedback on ideas to trim costs and raise revenues ahead of his 2016 budget address Sept. 22, when he’ll submit his proposed budget to the City Council.”

Protesters chanted, “We want Dyett!,” “Save Dyett!,” and “We are all Dyett!”

The Dyett hunger strike has the Mayor’s attention now.

Though schoolsy are still closed for the summer in many parts of the country, the weekly testing story count is already exploding. No doubt it’s going to be a most exciting and productive year for assessment reformers. Sta with us for weekly updates and be sure to check the news clip archives (http://www.fairtest.org/news/other) for articles you may have missed.

National

Five Years of Stagnant ACT “College Readiness” Scores Show Failure of Test-and-Punish K-12 Strategies
http://fairtest.org/Five-years-flat-ACT-Shows-testandpunish-fails

Focus on Standardized Tests Hurts Learning
http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2015/08/30/standardized-tests-opt-out-learning-your-say/71427338/

Most People Don’t Like Current Education Policies, So Why Do Public Officials?
http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/people-dont-like-current-education-policies-so-why-do-policy-leaders/

U.S. Bars States From Offering Alternative Tests for Most Students With Disabilities
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/08/27/u-s-education-department-bars-states-from-offering-alternative-tests-to-most-students-with-disabilities/

Multiple States Smarter Balanced Consortium Orders Review of AIR Testing Problems
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/DigitalEducation/2015/08/american_institute_for_researc.html

States

Arizona Don’t Blame Teachers for Poor Test Scores
http://www.tucsonlocalmedia.com/northwest_chatter/article_8e95e714-4b7b-11e5-b471-e725e920b4a2.html

California Governor Signs Law Suspending Graduation Exam Requirement
http://edsource.org/2015/governor-signs-bill-exempting-seniors-from-exit-exam/85533
California Legislators Consider Retroactive Diplomas for Students Who Failed Grad Test Over Past Decade
http://edsource.org/2015/lawmakers-consider-retroactive-diplomas-for-students-who-failed-exit-exam/85839
California Time to Abolish Senseless High School Exit Exam
http://www.marinij.com/opinion/20150831/marin-voice-time-to-abolish-senseless-high-school-exit-exams

Connecticut Education Commissioner Falsely Blames Teachers for Growing Smarter Balanced Exams Opposition
http://jonathanpelto.com/2015/08/25/malloys-education-commissioner-blames-teachers-for-lack-of-support-for-common-core-sbac-testing/

Florida Validity Study Concludes Computer Tests Should Not Be Used for Student-Level Consequences
http://www.tampabay.com/news/education/testing/florida-tests-shouldnt-be-used-for-student-level-consequences-report-says/2243631
Florida In Miami-Dade Schools Every Day is a School Testing Day
http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article32591382.html
Florida State Headed for Testing Turbulence
http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/florida/2015/08/8574987/florida-headed-testing-turbulence

Georgia Superintendent of the Year Says High Stakes Testing Is The “Fools Gold of Accountability”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/08/27/2015-superintendent-of-the-year-high-stakes-testing-is-the-fools-gold-of-accountability/

Indiana Too Much Riding on Standardized Tests
http://www.thestarpress.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/08/28/much-riding-standardized-tests/71345136/

Maryland Teachers Group Launches TV, Radio Ad Campaign on Testing
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/aug/31/maryland-teachers-group-launches-ad-campaign-on-te/
Maryland “Less Testing, More Learning” Campaign
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/bs-ed-school-testing-20150831-story.html
Maryland State Comptroller Blasts Pearson Testing Contract
http://marylandreporter.com/2015/08/26/franchot-flips-out-over-standardized-testing-contract/

New Mexico You Can Do Something About Testing Overkill
http://www.lcsun-news.com/las_cruces-opinion/ci_28695808/rep-bill-mccamley-you-can-do-something-about

New York State Education Commissioner Says Parents Have a Right to Opt Kids Out of Tests
http://wamc.org/post/ed-comm-says-parents-have-right-opt-out-kids-tests#stream/0
New York Why So Many Families Opted Out of Standardized Exams
http://www.buffalonews.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/letter-there-are-many-reasons-why-students-opted-out-of-tests-20150826
New York Gropes for Alternatives to Sanctions to Slow Surging Opt-Out Movement
http://www.thedailynewsonline.com/news/article_b59e92f0-4bf0-11e5-a426-bb5a41f55d91.html

North Dakota State to Recover More Than $316,000 for Testing Glitches
http://www.grandforksherald.com/news/education/3827308-nd-recover-more-316000-testing-glitches

Oregon Opt Outs Hold Participation Rate Below 95% in 21 School Districts
http://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/3461266-151/common-core-21-districts-miss-mark-for-test
Oregon Students Return to Changing Testing Environment
http://www.opb.org/news/article/oregon-schools-standardized-tests/
Oregon Kindergarten Testing is Bad for Kids
http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/08/kindergarten_testing_is_bad_fo.html

Pennsylvania Don’t Let Muddled Test Strategy Determine Our Children’s Future
http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20150826_Don_t_let_muddled_test_strategy_determine_future_of_students.html
Pennsylvania The Wrong Way to Get Teacher Evaluations Right
http://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2015/08/getting_teacher_evaluations_ri.html#incart_river

Rhode Island Graduation Test Requirements May Get Second Look
http://www.providencejournal.com/article/20150825/NEWS/150829615/13748/NEWS

Tennessee The Obvious in School Test Scores
http://www.chattanoogan.com/2015/8/26/306959/The-Obvious-In-School-Test-Scores.aspx

Texas Many Students Now Graduate Without Passing STAAR Exit Exams
http://www.wfaa.com/story/news/local/education/2015/08/28/many-texas-students-graduate-after-flunking-staar-tests/71285686/

Washington 48,000 Students Opted Out Across the State
https://seattleducation2010.wordpress.com/2015/08/25/48000-students-refused-the-testocracy-in-washington-state-by-opting-out-this-isnt-an-anomaly-its-an-uprising/
Washington Testing Is One of Top Issues in Teacher Contract Negotiations
http://kuow.org/post/seattle-teachers-say-recess-testing-are-among-top-issues-contract

Canada Mega-Testing Creates Illusion of Badly Failing Schools
http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/1308459-mega-testing-merely-creates-illusion-public-education-is-failing

Bad News for Testing Advocates
http://themerrowreport.com/2015/08/25/bad-news-for-testing-advocates/

Student Teachers Are New Casualty of High-Stakes Testing
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/08/30/a-new-casualty-of-high-stakes-testing-student-teachers/

Free Copies of “Defies Measurement” DVD Available on Request
http://dianeravitch.net/2015/08/30/get-a-free-copy-of-defies-measurement-and-show-it-to-friends-and-neighbors/

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director

FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing

office- (239) 395-6773 fax- (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468
web- http://www.fairtest.org

Last night, I posted that New York Regent Roger Tilles had told an audience of educators in Port Jefferson, Long Island, that he opposes test-based evaluations of teachers and principals. What a remarkable reversal, I wrote. His statement led many, including me, to assume that he would vote “no” when the Regents consider the Cuomo plan to evaluate educators by test scores on September 16. His declaration was unequivocal.

I was wrong.

This morning I heard from reliable sources that Regent Tilles intends to vote yes. He is personally opposed to test-based evaluation, but he intends to vote to to impose it on every public school in New York state. Despite what he said, he will vote yes. Despite the massive opt outs in the region he represents, despite the respected superintendents in his region who have spoken out against test-based evaluation (as Tilles did), he still intends to approve the governor’s plan. His logic apparently is that while he is opposed to test-based evaluation, he must support the law that was pushed through hurriedly in the middle of the night last spring. He also believes that superintendents in Long Island support the governor’s plan. I hope he has read this analysis of the law, which shows why he and other Regents should vote against it.

When you speak to Regent Tilles, don’t ask if he opposes test-based evaluation. The answer will be yes. Ask him if he will vote to oppose the governor’s test-based evaluation plan. The answer will be no.

If you live in Long Island, please let him know what you think.

Fortunately, there are six brave, thoughtful, and honorable Regents who are prepared to vote NO. All six are experienced educators. They know that the governor’s plan will demoralize teachers and worsen teacher shortages, especially in schools that educate the lowest-scoring students, that is, Black and Hispanic children in urban districts, children with disabilities, and English language learners.

If three Regents change their votes, the ill-considered and harmful law will go back to the legislature for deliberation and revision.

The three likeliest to flip their votes are Roger Tilles, Josephine Finn, and Lester Young. The last two are African Americans, and they surely know that the governor’s plan will compel teachers in New York’s most segregated schools to double down on test prep and to cheat the children of the arts, physical education, science, history, geography, civics, and everything else that is not tested.

You will find the emails here for all the Regents. Please let them know what you think.

Charles Bendit
Anthony Bottar
Andrew Brown
Christine Cea
James Cottrell
Josephine Finn
Wade Norwood
James Tallon
Merryl Tisch
Roger Tilles
Lester Young

Here are the Regents who voted NO last time. Please thank them for standing up for common sense, good education, the rights of children, and the dignity of the teaching profession:

Kathleen Cashin
Judith Chin
Catherine Collins
Judith Johnson
Beverly Ouderkirk
Betty Rosa

Governor Paul LePage is a blunt-spoken Tea Party kind of guy, who has won two elections by a plurality, not a majority.

Early on, he aligned himself with Jeb Bush to promote for-profit digital learning.

But now he is in trouble because he threatened to cut the state funding of a charter school that wanted to hire the Democratic House Speaker as its president.

Some legislators are talking impeachment, and the movement seems to be picking up momentum.

The cynic in me wonders why a charter school wanted to hire the speaker of the Democratic House as its president. Charter schools are notorious for finding ways to send money to key political figures, usually as direct campaign contributions. Was this on the up-and-up or just another clever ploy by the charter industry to shore up political support from both sides of the aisle?

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