The Wyoming Attorney General issued an opinion that parents are not legally allowed to withdraw their children from state testing.

 

They can do it in other states, but not in Wyoming.

 

Wyoming does not believe that parents should control the education of their children. Wyoming believes that the state may compel parents and children to take exams that they believe are harmful to their children.

 

Parents of Wyoming, don’t let the Attorney General bully you. When you grew up, there was no annual testing. There were no harsh consequences attached to test scores. This is all nonsense. Stop it by your determination. Stand up for your children.

Jeannie Kaplan, who recently retired from the Denver school board, knows how to read the reports and data from the district. Here is one of her best posts. She is a stalwart critic of the data-driven corporate reform culture and has often noted how little progress students have made after a full decade of corporate reform and constant testing. The latest bad news concerned test scores in science and social studies. But the district superintendent Tom Boasberg did not issue a press release acknowledging the low scores and proposing more time for instruction in science and social studies.

 

Kaplan writes:

 

So, what happens when test results are so awful that even a crack public information office, focused on test scores and accountability, can’t figure out how to put a positive spin on standardized test numbers? Denver Public Schools and Superintendent Tom Boasberg faced this situation in late October when, after several delays, the Colorado Department of Education released its first Colorado Measures of Academic Success (CMAS) Social Studies (grades 4 and 7) and Science (grade 5 and 8) results. This is a somewhat ironic name since the academic success was nowhere to be found. The superintendent writes regularly about the wonders of “reform” in DPS and has historically been able to spin even the worst “gains.” This time, however, he was flummoxed.

 

CMAS results were released at noon on Monday, October 27, 2014. Boasberg’s email went out later that afternoon. His 11 paragraph epistle waxed on about these new standards, how helpful they will be, how they set higher standards for our students, and how they will help ensure “our students graduate high school ready for college and career in the 21st century.” In paragraph six he briefly shifts gears and half-heartedly bemoans “the overall number of state assessments and the time spent on them” and asks very quietly for the state to find a way to make assessments precise, targeted and SHORT “to lessen the amount of lost instructional time” This from the quintessential Broad trained superintendent. There is hardly a standardized test he hasn’t supported.

 

What did this data-driven “reformer” not cite in his email? You guessed it. The data! Of the six links in the email, none of them links to actual data and test results. Instead there are PowerPoints and generalities about CMAS and the like. Again, no test results or links to test results. The actual test results for the state and more importantly for Denver Public Schools are nowhere to be found. But do not fear. I am here to shed light on that missing piece and help ensure the truth be told.

 

The scores were in fact abysmal. Read her post to see just how awful they were. Some charter schools with “science” in their names did poorly, as did most public schools.

 

Kaplan writes:

 

The superintendent is right about one thing: he always proclaims the kind of school – turnaround, innovation, charter, traditional – really doesn’t matter when it comes to academic outcomes. Whatever school is academically successful, he is all for it. In this situation he is right: no school has been successful in teaching Social Studies and Science. In this regard the kind of school is irrelevant. What he fails to understand is if you are not allowed to teach the subject, children in any kind of school will not learn the subject. And if you can’t speak, read and write English with fluency, you most likely won’t do well on a test in English.

 

This is all very puzzling to me. I truly cannot figure out how telling people they are failing is a good strategy. I truly cannot understand the long term purpose of testing all the time. Most of all I truly am saddened by how the education decision makers either never understood the purpose of public education or have lost sight of it. If you have solutions for stopping this madness, please share them.

 

 

 

 

This is a post by Justin Williams, an educator and resident of Uniondale, Néw York. Uniondale is a highly segregated school district on Long Island in Néw York. 98% of the students in the district are Aftican-American or Latino. Neighboring districts are 95% or more white.

 

Justin Williams writes:

 

Rising Violence in Schools Serving Predominantly Black and Latino Students

 

Over the last ten years, I have worked as a certified English teacher in a high school in Long Island, New York, a suburb of New York City. I am in my seventeenth year working in public education. I have taught various courses in four different school districts on Long Island that range from grades six to twelve. Children and adolescents, whether they are school shooters or gangbangers, do not become violent without cause. None of them were born violent.

 

I tend to connect the rise in school violence in my suburban school district, 95% of which is African American and Hispanic, to the recent economic downturn and education policy insidiously devoted to teacher, principal and school evaluations tied to standardized testing of students. These students have been exposed to school curriculum, said testing, and “raised” standards (Common Core) conceived by politicians, economists and billionaires, not professional and long-time education practitioners who would know much, much better how to make our public schools the envy of the world (again). They have also been victimized by inflexible “zero tolerance” policies with mandatory minimum suspension periods, as well as increased in-school surveillance and security measures that prepare chocolate and caramel students much more for the realities of prison than they do a safe existence.

 

I have noticed great family uprooting provoked by the trickle-down effects of the predatory mortgage-lending thievery that targeted chocolate, caramel and other relatively poor folks, all over America. This crime against humanity precipitated global economic catastrophe. American school children were affected too. My students were affected.

 

Largely (but not only) because of this dreadful event in our history, violence escalated in my community (I live in the town where I work), inside and outside of our schools, largely made up of the same demographic hoodwinked by bankers and lawyers who knew exactly what they were doing yet, remain unpunished. So many of these kids do not or cannot live with their parents (realistically homeless) that new categorical terms like “displaced” or “unaccompanied youth” have been recently coined for them in schools. These kids are angry, don’t feel protected by any adults, yet we’re asking them (forcing them) to do coursework and take tests they cannot and do not wish to do. They need therapy. And skills with which they can function in the workforce.

 

 

There have been numerous fights and assaults over the last decade in the secondary settings of my district, steadily escalating in severity. Adult professionals have been grabbed, groped or assaulted. A troubled young man, a recent graduate of our high school, shot himself in the head in a backyard next to mine. I heard the shot clearly. A kid was stabbed in a cafeteria. About two-dozen young men have been killed in our community or neighboring community, school districts with no more than seven thousand kids. I could not find many of these incidents in the local news. I’m talking about a middle class town where the median income is $70,000. This is not a stereotypical ghetto.

 

Presently and throughout the past two years, a huge influx of Central American kids with harrowing stories to tell of their journeys to New York have and are adding to the socio-emotional quagmire of the schools (students, teachers and administrators are emotionally, morally and ethically drained, strong as we try to be) in my district. Gangs like MS-13 are replenishing their ranks with Hispanic boys adrift in an American ocean of ambivalence aimed squarely in their direction. Others wish to learn enough English so they can work. Too many received little education in their native countries. Few of them are that interested in coming to our schools for anything else, save food. The Common Core has zero relevance to them. Z.E.R.O.

 

If my students find irrelevant the Common Core, as well as for-profit corporations like Pearson who greatly benefit from its ill effects, then Pearson and the Common Core are irrelevant to me.

 

I don’t need “the state” telling me how and what to teach. By paying close attention to the dreams, goals and/or likes and dislikes of my students (they always tell you or show you when they know you care), I know precisely what I need to teach, how I need to teach it, and when I ought to do so. When you can get ten or fifteen re-writes on a research assignment from kids prone to extremely disturbing, violent episodes, not only do you have fodder for great work, but you also have young people who are not thinking about being angry (for the time being).

 

Every teacher cannot and will not become a master teacher. Every doctor cannot and will not become a brain surgeon. Every lawyer cannot and will not become a famous defense attorney. Every mechanic or welder cannot and will not gain his or her own business. Every politician cannot and will not become Commander in Chief.

 

There is no profession, organization or country that thrives because of its talented tenth. Though often driven by the talented few, average, hard-working people are the engine that makes progress happen. Most teachers are average, hard-working, women committed to educating the children of others. You do not need to be a Marie Curie to teach, any more than you need to be Babe Ruth to be a professional baseball player.

 

The big failure of the current school reform debate is that creating great teachers is talked about much more than the creation of great homes. But even the very best teachers are unable to perform consistent miracles with our most angry, violent students; no more than a doctor can treat an emotionally volatile patient or a lawyer adequately interview a hostile witness. In these scenarios, the doctor and lawyer are not typically viewed as the areas to be addressed.

 

Angry, violent, aggressive students, on average, do not come from stable, healthy homes. Schools full of violent kids and fearful adults are rare in societies that are generally non-violent. But blaming professional educators is easy. Re-energizing and empowering the American family unit is harder.

 

But not impossible.

 

Justin holds a B.S. in English education and a M.Ed. in education administration from The Pennsylvania State University, a certificate of advanced studies (C.A.S.) in educational leadership from Hofstra University and he is working on a doctorate degree (Ed.D.) in educational and policy leadership at Hofstra University.

Yesterday, despite the strong objections of tens of thousands of parents across the state, the New York Board of Regents agreed to make field testing of the Common Core testing mandatory. This was supposedly to quell the uprising of parents who kept their children home last year. Making an unpopular policy mandatory seems likely to feed the parent rebellion.

 

New York has adopted the PARCC test, which some other states have rejected. PARCC is supposed to have at least 15 states signed on, but at present its numbers have shrunk to only 12 or 13 willing states.

 

Peter Goodman, a long-time commentator on New York education politics, here describes PARCC as “zombie testing.” It is dead, and no one is willing to give up the ghost.

 

He writes:

 

The only purpose of the current testing regime is to “measure” the effectiveness of the $55 billion New York State spends each year as well as to “measure” the effectiveness of individual teachers.

The governor loves to talk about turning New York State into a high tech center, creating high paying jobs in the new cyber industries and harasses educators and demeans parents, he is the troglodyte.

The governor should be leading our school system into the new age, not wasting time and money and resources testing kids in a meaningless exercise.

 

The Regents and Commissioner John King think they are in public office to compel the public to do what they want. They don’t understand that they are “public servants,” which means obviously they are supposed to serve the public. When thousands of parents rise up as one to say that their children are over tested and their schools have been turned into test-prep centers, the Regents should listen. They haven’t. They have added fuel to parent anger. It is not going away just because the Regents have passed a motion. The children belong to their parents, not to the state.

This essay was written by Horace Meister, a young untenured scholar who cannot use his own name for fear of retribution. Read it and judge it by the evidence.

 

This is what happens when policy is based on ideology, not evidence.

 

He writes:

 

The power and reach of the federal Department of Education (DOE) has grown dramatically since 2009. The DOE has used Race to the Top and the controversial granting of waivers from the legal mandates of No Child Left Behind to force states to implement very specific policies. These policies include increasing the number of charter schools, evaluating teachers through value-added measures, and implementing the Common Core Standards and associated assessments. The DOE has also attempted to improve the “lowest-achieving schools” by closing them, turning them over to private operators, or firing the principal and/or the staff.

 

Unfortunately, not a single one of these policies has any supporting evidence. As a sector charter schools do not have better student outcomes than public schools.[i] Value-added metrics are unreliable measures of teacher quality.[ii] The adoption of standards has no effect on student learning.[iii] The “lowest-achieving schools” are statistically schools that work with a more challenging student body, not schools with failing teachers and principals.[iv]

 

It is bewildering to see an entire department of the federal government taken over by what can only be described as mass hysteria. With no evidence backing their policies, we are left with ideology and the power of special interests as explanations for what is happening. This refusal to use evidence in evaluating educational policies is apparent in the work of Arne Duncan’s chief speechwriter, David Whitman. In 2008 he wrote a book, Sweating the Small Stuff: Inner-City Schools and the New Paternalism.[v] The book profiles six “no excuses” schools and argues that they show the way to a radically improved education system in the United States. But let’s see if the evidence actually supports this claim.

 

The first school profiled in the book is the American Indian Charter School in Oakland, California. Whitman forgot to mention that “half the 6th grade students performing poorly in 2007 had left the school before graduation, and only 39 of the 51 students who started in 2006 completed their middle school years with AIPCS[vi].” He also forgot to mention that “Chavis [the principal] routinely abused his students verbally, humiliating them in front of their classmates, to force them [to] score higher on tests or quit the school altogether… At minimum, Chavis’ schools appear to be nothing more than a rigged system in which mostly high-scoring students apply to get in, are accepted, and then continue to score well on tests.[vii]” Another story noted that “there’s evidence to suggest that the school’s high scores aren’t the result of an unusually high caliber of teaching or organization, but rather the educational equivalent of bringing in ringers… the school appears to be asking parents to submit test scores as part of their student’s applications.[viii]” Strangely enough Whitman claimed on page 80 of his book that the school was “hardly an example of selective recruiting or creaming from the top of the local academic ” It appears that he didn’t dig deep enough.

 

Moving on to the second school profiled in the book– Amistad Academy, an Achievement First school in New Haven, Connecticut. Here is what’s really going on at Amistad “Data show that for nearly one of them [i.e. graduating seniors] who walked across the stage Wednesday, another was “lost” along the way. Students “lost” to Amistad include one senior who withdrew in March to attend adult education…Of the 64 students who entered Amistad High in 2009 as freshmen, plus two who joined the group after freshman year, 25 are graduating this year and heading to college; seven were retained and plan to graduate high school next year; and 34 withdrew from the school.[ix]” Whitman notes (on pages 119-120) that every Achievement First school “is expected to keep student attrition to less than 5 percent a year.” He somehow forgot to mention that Amistad fails to meet this expectation.

 

Another aspect of the Amistad “model” is captured by this parent comment “the middle school is a stressful, mentally abusive, black children being degraded mess! I have never seen a kid get so many DEDUCTIONS, OSS, ISS in my life. If you are so much about kids getting their education, why are you so quick to kick them out of class and/or suspended them?[x]

 

 

The third school profiled is Cristo Ray Jesuit High School in Chicago, Illinois—a school that requires all students to work one full weekday a week to pay off tuition costs. An interview with G.R. Kearney who wrote More Than a Dream: The Cristo Rey Story: How One School’s Vision Is Changing the World noted that “Almost half of the student who enroll in Cristo Rey fail to graduate from Cristo Rey.” To which the Kearney added “Cristo Rey has a fairly rigorous application process, though there is no entrance exam. The school goes to great pains to ensure that the students selected to attend are capable of graduating and attending college. In theory, those students who would be true negative influences are screened out in the application process.[xi]” The interviewer also mentioned that the descriptions of disciplinary issues at the two schools dramatically differ between the two books “Whitman seemed to describe it as a place where discipline problems almost magically ceased to exist while Kearney provides a slightly different picture.” This raises some questions about whether or not Whitman’s descriptions of the schools he profiles mirror reality.

 

We are halfway through the list of schools that Arne Duncan’s chief speechwriter believes should serve as the model for transforming the entire American education system. So far we haven’t seen anything at all compelling. What comes next? The forth school profiled is KIPP Academy in Bronx, New York. Much space in Whitman’s chapter is devoted to describing the orchestra in which every student participates. When describing the school’s academic outcomes Whitman acknowledges (pages 176-78) that KIPP Academy serves students with higher incoming academic performance than the district average, many fewer English Language Learners (who score poorly on standardized exams), and many more female students (who in aggregate do better on standardized exams than male students). He nonetheless insists (page 175) that “the usual demographic suspects fail to explain the superior performance of KIPP students.” It is clear that Whitman has not done his research and neglects to mention lots of relevant data. “On their math tests in the fourth grade (the year before they arrived at KIPP), KIPP students in the Bronx scored well above the average for the district, and on their fourth-grade reading tests they often scored above the average for the entire city.[xii]” “KIPP Academy had one of the highest suspension rates among New York City charter schools.[xiii] Despite Whitman’s claim that “like their peers at comparison schools, KIPP students are likely to live in poverty (page 175)” the data actually show that KIPP schools in New York City have dramatically fewer free lunch students than local public schools.[xiv] KIPP schools in New York City serve many fewer high need special education students.[xv] And KIPP Academy has a 20% cohort attrition rate in middle school.[xvi]

 

Ironically, KIPP schools in New York City have done rather poorly on the policies that Whitman writes speeches for Duncan defending. Reporting on the Common Core test results Politico noted “the highly touted KIPP network also stumbled, with proficiency rates well below the city average for several grades and subjects.[xvii]” KIPP teachers also receive lower value-add scores than teachers at comparable schools.[xviii]

 

The fifth school profiled by Whitman is SEED, a boarding school in Washington D.C. The sky-high attrition rates at this school make it anything but a model for nationwide reforms. One analysis noted that of students who began 7th grade at SEED “most of their cohort was gone by the time graduation rolled around.[xix]” The SEED high school alone has attrition rates of over 50%, although Whitman only acknowledges attrition as an issue in the middle school.[xx] The New York Times describes “The incoming class of 70 students slowly dissipated each year so that by senior year, the remaining students barely filled a gym bleacher. The high attrition made the school’s much-lauded college acceptance rate less impressive: If a class of 70 seventh graders fell to 20 students by the time of graduation, those remaining 20 students were arguably among the best — at least in terms of self-discipline and a willingness to stick it out — of the original class.[xxi]

 

We now come to the final school model, University Park Campus School, in Worcester, Massachusetts. This is the only public school profiled by Whitman and it has a number of interesting characteristics. Unlike the other schools in the book, which focus on lecture-centered pedagogy, University Park Campus School’s focus is on group work. This is more aligned to the teaching style used in schools that serve America’s middle and upper class students than the militaristic methods focused on obedience all too common in “no excuses” schools serving America’s lower class students.

 

Whitman mentions some demographic differences, such as more students coming from “intact families” than the district average. He forgets to mention a lot of others– including half the number of African-American students and three times the number of Asian students as the district average.[xxii] He also forgets to mention that the school serves half as many English Language Learners and half as many special education students as the district average.[xxiii] Whitman claims (page 244) that “its attrition rate is effectively zero” but the data show that the attrition rate is actually 8% a year and five times higher among African-American and Hispanic students than White and Asian students.[xxiv] English Language Learners attrite at a rate 4% higher than the student average.

 

Whitman’s claim (on pages 243-44) that “unlike the two other high schools profiled… University Park has succeeded not only in eliminating the college attendance gap but the achievement test gap as well” is demonstrably false. According to the data the school has a 15% AP exam pass rate, well below the national average.[xxv]

 

So where does this all leave us? It is no fun to debunk the work that schools, principals, and teachers across America are doing. Each and every one of the schools discussed here has dedicated leaders and teachers doing amazing work with students every single day. In the current political climate claims about the performance of some schools are used by our Secretary of Education to bludgeon and demean the rest.[xxvi] That is not OK and the misrepresentations must be addressed. Hopefully, there will be a shift in policies at the federal level to reflect evidence and data.

 

We all want great teachers for every student. So let’s provide the training and on-the-job professional development that teaches teachers how to be great teachers.[xxvii]

 

We all want teachers to be held accountable for doing a great job with students. So let’s increase the use of peer-to-peer observation, feedback, intervention, and dismissal when appropriate.[xxviii]

 

We all want great schools for our students, especially students living in poor neighborhoods. So let’s build community schools that provide wraparound services for students.[xxix] And yes, let’s acknowledge that without addressing underlying issues of poverty, racism, and social inequality in neighborhoods and homes we will never close the achievement gap.

 

We all want our children to have rich and engaging curricula. So let’s ensure that our school districts are providing their schools with such curricula that teachers can modify and adapt for their students.[xxx]

 

We all want to know how are students are doing in school. So let’s let teachers create assessments that make sense for their classes and students. As has been done throughout history teachers will share the assessments and student progress in a transparent fashion with students and parents. A high-quality standardized exam given to a sample of students every other year will suffice to serve as a standardized measuring stick to norm across schools.

 

We all want to know the truth and create an education system that works for all students. So let’s stop perpetuating myths and falsehoods for ideological reasons.[xxxi]

 

 

[i] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/09/24/the-bottom-line-on-charter-school-studies/

[ii] https://www.amstat.org/policy/pdfs/ASA_VAM_Statement.pdf

[iii] http://nepc.colorado.edu/files/pb-options-2-commcore-final.pdf

[iv] http://shankerblog.org/?p=8664

[v] A pdf of the book can be found here http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED502972.pdf

[vi] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Indian_Public_Charter_School

[vii] http://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2012/06/18/its-time-to-close-the-american-indian-public-charter-schools

[viii] http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/are-american-indian-public-charter-schools-test-scores-inflated/Content?oid=3233632

[ix] http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/amistad_signing_ceremony/

[x] http://www.greatschools.org/connecticut/new-haven/1440-Amistad-Academy/reviews/ typos have been corrected.

[xi] http://www.edpolicythoughts.com/2009_09_01_archive.html

[xii] http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/26/magazine/26tough.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all&oref=slogin

[xiii] http://school-stories.org/2012/05/pushed-out-charter-schools-contribute-to-the-citys-growing-suspension-rates/

[xiv] http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2011/07/06/zip-it-charters-and-economic-status-by-zip-code-in-ny-and-nj/

[xv] https://dianeravitch.net/2012/12/20/inflated-claims-of-charter-success-in-nyc/

[xvi] http://miracleschools.wikispaces.com/KIPP+Academy+New+York

[xvii] http://www.politico.com/story/2013/08/new-york-fails-common-core-tests-95304_Page2.html

[xviii] http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com/2012/08/28/what-do-the-available-data-tell-us-about-nyc-charter-school-teachers-their-jobs/

[xix] http://shankerblog.org/?p=1078

[xx] http://ednotesonline.blogspot.com/2011/07/charter-school-attrition-exposes-bs-of.html

[xxi] http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/27/magazine/27Boarding-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

[xxii] http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/profiles/student.aspx?orgcode=03480285&orgtypecode=6&leftNavId=300&

[xxiii] http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/profiles/student.aspx?orgcode=03480285&orgtypecode=6&leftNavId=305&

[xxiv] http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/attrition/default.aspx?orgcode=03480285&fycode=2014&orgtypecode=6&

[xxv] http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/massachusetts/districts/worcester-public-schools/university-pk-campus-school-9570/test-scores

[xxvi] http://garyrubinstein.wordpress.com/2014/04/16/arne-debunkin/

[xxvii] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/27/magazine/why-do-americans-stink-at-math.html

[xxviii] http://www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/spring-2014/one-piece-whole

[xxix] http://www.communityschools.org/assets/1/Page/CCSFullReport.pdf

[xxx] http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2009/10/14-curriculum-whitehurst

[xxxi] http://www.amazon.com/Myths-Threaten-Americas-Public-Schools/dp/0807755249

Why do so many people find it so hard to tell the truth in the face of injustice? That’s easy: they are afraid. Afraid of being fired, afraid of being ostracized, afraid of standing alone.

More interesting to ask is why some people are fearless. Why are they willing to fight when others silently support them but remain silent?

Troy LaRaviere is unafraid. He is a champion for students. He is a principal of an Elentary school in Chicago who speaks truth to power. In this post, he is interviewed by EduShyster.

Here is his answer to one of her questions:

“The MO of this administration has been to take services that the public pays for and benefits from and hand them over to a private corporation that benefits from our loss. You know, I used to wonder why Emanuel left the White House to come to Chicago. I thought *he must really love it here to leave the White House to come and be mayor.* I didn’t get the trade off, but now I get it. If you want to rob a bank and rob it blind, what better way to do it than become the bank president and have the authority to create contractual relationships to direct the flow of tax revenue from services that benefit the people to schemes that enrich private corporations? And not just the billions of taxpayer dollars, but using the power of the city’s name to borrow additional dollars that we’re going to have to pay back to venture capitalists, vulture capitalists and corporate CEOs?”

LaRaviere has spoken out repeatedly on the failure if corporate education reform. He published an article recently showing that the public schools in Chicago outperform the charter schools. Time and again, he has lambasted budget cuts and privatization.

This principled principal deserves to be on the honor roll as a hero of American education.

Recently Mayor Bill DeBlasio and Chancellor Carmen Farina announced a plan to help struggling schools by providing extra tutoring, after-school programs, and other needed resources. They made clear that they wanted to support schools with low test scores instead of closing them. The mayor said he would invest $150 million in extra resources to the lowest performing schools.

 

However, Merryl Tisch, the chancellor of the state Board of Regents, said on a radio show that if the schools didn’t show progress by this coming spring,  she would move to close them and replace them with charter schools. The Tisch family, in addition to being generous philanthropists, are big supporters of charter schools.

 

Giving the DeBlasio plan only a few months to prove its success seems awfully unfair. Schools don’t get “turned around” in a few months. Surely Tisch knows that.

 

She said:

 

The main issue, according to Tisch, is that the principals need leverage to fire educators if they don’t meet standards.
“It’s not just saying, ‘We’re gonna fix these schools,’” she said. “You gotta give the new principals and assistant principals the ability to hire the teachers that they want and fire the teachers that they don’t want.”
Tisch applauded the efforts of city Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, however, and said she had faith the schools boss could make the right moves.
“I think she’s a fine educator, and I believe she will do ultimately what’s best for the children,” Tisch said.
Tisch also said she would push for more charter schools, something de Blasio opposes, and added the city should not change the admissions standards for specialized high schools.
“I personally am a great believer in charter schools,” she said. “I think that they have done remarkable work. I believe in opening them aggressively . . . I’d like to push for more charter schools.”

 

She was not asked, nor did she address the question about whether the principals and assistant principals were part of the problem. It seems unreasonable to assume that giving them more power to hire and fire at will is going to raise test scores or even produce better qualified teachers. But it is especially unreasonable to expect a fast result after years of neglect.

 

A Satanist group asked permission from the Orange County school board in Florida to distribute coloring books in the public schools. The cartoon books would show children performing Satanic rituals and drawing pentagrams. Up until now, the school board had allowed Christian groups to distribute Bibles in school and gave atheists to distribute their materials. Now the Orange County school board may ban the distribution of any religious materials in the schools. This seemed to be a settled principle in our schools since school prayer was banned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1962. But with the recent resurgence of vouchers, most of which are used in religious schools, the question of separation of church and state has become relevant again.

Contact your member of the Néw York Board of Regents and urge them not to make field testing of Oearson tests mandatory.

http://www.regents.nysed.gov/members/Membersterms0412.html

CURRENT MEMBER TERMS AND AREAS REPRESENTED

2016* Tisch, Merryl H.; B.A., M.A., Ed.D.
Chancellor; At Large
Regents Office, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12234
Phone: (518) 474-5889 Email: Regent.Tisch@nysed.gov

2016* Bottar, Anthony S.; B.A., J.D.
Vice Chancellor; Judicial District V — Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego
120 Madison Street, Suite 1600, AXA Tower II, Syracuse, NY 13202
Phone: (315) 422-3466 Email: Regent.Bottar@nysed.gov

2015* Bennett, Robert M.; B.A., M.S.
Chancellor Emeritus; Judicial District VIII — Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming
201 Millwood Lane, Tonawanda, NY 14150
Phone: (518) 474-5889 Email: Regent.Bennett@nysed.gov

2015* Dawson, James C.; A.A, B.A., M.S., Ph.D.
Judicial District IV — Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington
166 U.S. Oval, Plattsburgh, NY 12903
Phone: (518) 324-2401 Email: Regent.Dawson@nysed.gov

Vacant
Judicial District XI — Queens

2015* Phillips 3rd, Harry; B.A., M.S.F.S.
Judicial District IX — Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester
71 Hawthorne Way, Hartsdale, NY 10530
Phone: (914) 948-2228 Email: Regent.Phillips@nysed.gov

2017* Tallon, Jr., James R. ; B.A., M.A.
Judicial District VI – Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Madison, Otsego, Schuyler, Tioga, Tompkins
United Hospital Fund, 1411 Broadway, 12th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10018
Phone (212) 494-0777 Email: Regent.Tallon@nysed.gov

2015* Tilles, Roger; B.A., J.D.
Judicial District X – Nassau, Suffolk
100 Crossways Park West, Suite 107, Woodbury, N.Y. 11797
Phone (516) 364-2533 Email: Regent.Tilles@nysed.gov

2017* Bendit, Charles R.; B.A.
Judicial District I – New York
111 Eighth Avenue, Suite 1500, New York, N.Y. 10011
Phone (212) 220-9945 Email: Regent.Bendit@nysed.gov

2018* Rosa, Betty A.; B.A., M.S. in Ed., M.S. in Ed., M.Ed., Ed.D.
Judicial District XII – Bronx
State Education Building, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12234
Phone (718) 664-8052 Email: Regent.Rosa@nysed.gov

2015* Young, Jr., Lester W.; B.S., M.S., Ed.D.
At Large
55 Hanson Place, Suite 400, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11217
Phone (718) 722-2796 Email: Regent.Young@nysed.gov

2019* Cea, Christine D.; B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
Judicial District XIII – Richmond
NYS Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities
1050 Forest Hill Road, Staten Island, NY 10314
Phone (718) 494-5306 Email: Regent.Cea@nysed.gov

2019* Norwood, Wade S.; B.A.
At Large
74 Appleton Street, Rochester, NY 14611
Phone (585) 436-2944 Email: Regent.Norwood@nysed.gov

2015* Cashin, Kathleen M.; B.S., M.S., Ed.D.
Judicial District II – Kings
Regents Office, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12234
Phone (518) 474-5889 Email: Regent.Cashin@nysed.gov

2019*Cottrell, James E.; B.S., M.D.
At Large
SUNY Downstate Medical Center, 450 Clarkson Avenue, Box 6, Brooklyn, NY 11203-2098
Phone (718) 270-2331 Email: Regent.Cottrell@nysed.gov

2017*Brown, T. Andrew; B.A., J.D.
Judicial District VII – Cayuga, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Yates
925 Crossroads Building, Two State Street, Rochester, NY 14614
Phone (585) 454-3667 Email: Regent.Brown@nysed.gov

2019* Finn, Josephine Victoria; B.A., J.D.
Judicial District III – Albany, Columbia, Greene, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Sullivan, Ulster
Regents Office, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12234
Phone (518) 474-5889 Email: Regent.Finn@nysed.gov

* Year When Present Term Ends

:

My friend Deborah Meier tells me she loves this school in Long Beach, California. It is a charter school that fulfills the original vision of what charters were supposed to be: innovative, risk-taking, open to all kinds of kids. That’s what this school is and does, but its test scores are low. The Long Beach school board wants to close it; they should not.

To the members of the Long Beach school board: Save the Néw City School. Let innovation thrive. Let this functioning community live.

This is the letter that Deb Meier forwarded to me:

Dear Dr. Ravitch:

Several hundred low-income kids in Long Beach, CA need your immediate help. Their teachers and parents are desperate.

I have been following your work over many years, in particular the series of letters between you and Debbie Meier – she is a friend of mine whom I met through the North Dakota Study Group. It is for this reason that I dare to write a request, will the full knowledge that I might come off as a bit crazy.

15 years ago, I co-founded the New City School in the center of our city. Long before most had heard of charter schools, we rescued an abandoned hospital building [and later a warehouse] and turned them into learning oases in a blighted community that had long been without a small, loving neighborhood school. Consistent with the original intent of charter school legislation, our school would innovate in a district that has a single-minded focus on Broad-funded test-prep. Our school is fully bilingual – Spanish speakers learn English AND English speaking students of many backgrounds learn to read and write in Spanish too. We feature lots of art, great literature with read-alouds every day in every grade, 2 huge libraries, and music instruction for all students, grades TK-8. Members of our community built the area’s biggest playground AND a 1/3-acre working organic farm, growing fresh fruits and vegetables with our students and their families.

Scholars, including Deborah Meier, Stephen Krashen, and Constance Kamii have visited and worked with our teachers to help them be the best they can be. Students share their accomplishments via quarterly public exhibitions in two languages. We are a neighborhood school that does not prequalify students for enrollment. Parents love the school and would do anything to help it survive.

The problem is that The Long Beach Unified School District cannot stand us because we don’t get high test scores and we won’t stop our teaching and learning practices in order to simply prepare students for exams day in and day out. For years, the LBUSD has threatened our school with closure for refusing to comply with their dystopian view of education as standardized test preparation. Two years ago they nearly closed us down, but we closed our high school and combined our 2 small elementary campuses into one, and kept moving forward. In addition to ideological blindness, LBUSD seems hell-bent on reclaiming the meager per pupil allocation our school manages to live on. We have no corporate sponsors or celebrities hosting galas on our behalf, just working-class parents and highly professional constructivist teachers sacrificing to save a school they love.

As you might imagine, the constant threat of closure distracts us from our mission of educating young people.

This Tuesday, November 18th, the LBUSD is holding ANOTHER hearing to discuss whether or not to renew our charter or close our school. When this happened a few years ago, the school district police ended up dragging parents out of the meeting and turned off their cameras! One parent was hospitalized in the melee.

You have an enormous platform to generate assistance for us. Would you please consider writing a letter of support? I would appreciate it so immensely if you could ask your colleagues and readers to do one of the following:

Send a message of solidarity and support for The New City School – a small community-centered, authentic public school – to the Long Beach Unified School District Board [Diana Craighead, President] and Superintendent Christopher Steinhauser. Long Beach Unified School District Board of Education – 1515 Hughes Way, Long Beach, CA 90810…send letters to info@newcityps.org

Visit the New City Public Schools (Long Beach) Facebook page or the New City Farm Facebook page and leave an encouraging message there – we will collect and send them as well – say why it matters to stand up to relentless testing and “accountability” that discounts parents’ involvement in teaching and learning, as well as their children’s development and interest!

For any support or encouragement you could offer to us, I will be forever in your debt.

Sincerely,

Stephanie nicole Lee
Public school educator since 1990

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