Some of those who are offended by the idea that parents opt their children out of state tests have said that all children MUST take the test because “it’s the law.”

But Peter Greene says there is nothing in the law that says students MUST take the test. The law says that the state MUST give the tests.

Parents have the right to refuse. The state does not own their children. The state education department works for the public, not the other way around.

Even MaryEllen Elia recognizes that parents have the right to opt out. She will try to persuade them not to, but she cannot coerce them. She has no legal power to do so.

Mike Klonsky has the latest update on the Dyett hunger strikers. The strike is now ending its 16th day, in which the strikers have had liquids but no solid food. Their resolve is undiminished. Apparently, so is the Mayor’s.

The post includes a link to a debate between Eve Ewing and Peter Cunningham, who used to be Arne’s flack. Ewing wrote an eloquent article about the ghosts of Dyett and what the school meant to the community.

Philadelphia has hired a search service to hire 5,000 substitutes.

“Whether you’re a recent college graduate looking to work your way into a full-time teaching position, a retired teacher interested in getting back in the classroom, or someone looking to make a positive contribution to the development of children, Source4Teachers has a place for you. We offer health insurance and other benefits including a 401(k) plan and opportnities for various bonuses. Plus, working as a substitute is extremely flexible –how frequently, when and where you work is entirely up to you,” the website says.”

This could happen only in a district that doesn’t care about education or children. This could happen only in a district that serves poor Black and Hispanic children. It would never happen in a ritzy white suburb.

Three major newspapers in Ohio have seconded the State Board of Education’s call for an investigation of grade-rigging of charter school data by state officials. They demand that the state open its records but the state has been stonewalling their requests.

Here is one from the Columbus Dispatch:

“If state Superintendent of Education Richard Ross is not covering up something embarrassing or illegal at the Ohio Department of Education, his recent actions aren’t helping his credibility.

“Ross, who formerly worked for Gov. John Kasich as head of the Office of 21st Century Education, has been dragging his feet for a month in honoring a request from several Ohio newspapers for documents that might shed light on why someone at the education department decided to omit the poor performance of online and dropout-recovery charter schools from the department’s evaluation of charter-school sponsors. The omission artificially inflated the rankings of at least one sponsor. Several charter-school sponsors have made large donations to Republican officeholders. These donations are routinely cited as a major reason why Ohio’s lawmakers have failed to reform Ohio’s abysmal charter-school system.

“David Hansen, former head of the education department’s office of school choice, was blamed for the data omission and resigned. Declaring that Hansen — who happens to be the husband of the woman who heads Gov. John Kasich’s presidential campaign — acted alone, Ross hoped the matter was closed and everyone would move on. But seven members of the State Board of Education instead called for an investigation of the matter.

“That call has gone unanswered. Even State Auditor Dave Yost, who was zealous in the investigation of performance-enhancing data-rigging at Columbus City Schools, is surprisingly incurious about the attempted data-rigging at the education department. He declared himself satisfied that the attempt was disclosed and corrected and that no financial harm had come to the state.

“Nothing to see here, move along, move along.

“Absent any official interest in investigating the matter, Ohio’s newspapers, including The Dispatch, The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, the Akron Beacon Journal, The Cincinnati Enquirer and the Dayton Daily News all filed formal requests for records that might show whether Hansen truly acted alone.

“The papers have been waiting for weeks for the education department to comply with state open-records law. The education department says the process is taking so long because the emails are being vetted to ensure that no mistakes are made.”

Here is another, from the Akron Beacon-Journal:

“John Kasich subscribes to the theory of a rogue offender in the Ohio Department of Education. The governor deems “political” the calls to look deeper into David Hansen doctoring the grades of charter schools so they would remain in position to add students and thus collect additional state money.

“I mean, the guy’s gone. He’s gone,” the governor declared, as if Hansen admitting his deed and resigning as the head of the school choice and accountability office ends the matter. Legitimate questions remain. They start with whether other officials, in particular, Richard Ross, the state school superintendent, had anything to do with altering the grading system.

“Perhaps Hansen acted alone. Yet the way this governor and fellow Republicans in charge at the Statehouse have coddled many in the charter school industry, there is much room for skepticism about the claim. More, some state school board members see possible violations of the law, which requires the full inclusion of grades in evaluations.

“The job of investigating is ripe for the state inspector general. Unfortunately, in his case, politics do interfere, Randy Meyer closely aligned with Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. Seven members of the state school board (six Democrats and one Republican) rightly requested an independent investigation. They were rebuffed.

“Which leaves this and other newspapers to dig into what happened. That means, in large part, seeking and examining public records. The trouble is, as Doug Livingston, the Beacon Journal education writer, explained over the weekend, that process has encountered a lengthy delay. The Education Department has been slow in releasing related email messages and other documents.”

The Cleveland Plain-Dealer wrote a scathing editorial as well.

“The Ohio Department of Education needs to stop its inexcusable foot-dragging and turn over emails and other public documents requested by news outlets attempting to determine who was responsible for trying to omit from overall charter evaluations the poor grades of online charter and dropout-recovery schools.

“The scheme, which was first revealed by Plain Dealer Education Reporter Patrick O’Donnell, would, among other results, have helped the academic standing of charter school organizations in which some large GOP campaign donors have a financial stake.”

Thanks to Bill Phillis of the Ohio Equity and Adequacy Coalition for alerting me to this situation. If Kasich gets onto the GOP ticket, the national press will be digging along with the Ohio press, to see how much payola influenced the grade rigging.

Phillis writes:

“ODE is under a dark cloud, which is of its own creation. Never before, in its history dating back to 1956, has ODE been under such a veil of suspicion. ODE is hiding suspected misfeasance and malfeasance regarding its dealings with the charter school industry. Since the Governor’s office is now in charge of ODE, the probe should include that office.

“According to the ODE website, Frank Stoy is now director of the charter school office. It should be of interest that David Hansen, while heading up the charter school office, brought Mr. Stoy into ODE. Stoy had been associated with the Ohio Council of Community Schools, which as a result of data manipulation ended up as the top-rated charter school sponsor. Just a coincidence?

“An independent investigation, as called for by seven elected State Board of Education members, should reach all the way back to the beginning of the charter industry in 1999.”

William Phillis
Ohio E & A

Ohio E & A | 100 S. 3rd Street | Columbus | OH | 43215

The Los Angeles Times published letters from some teachers about why teachers quit.

Bottom line: The “Children First” mentality drives teachers away by creating the presumption that teachers are on a “different side” from children and that they put their own greedy self-interest above the needs of their students.

Hello, parents of New York, you have the right to opt your child out of state testing. So says the State Superintendent MaryEllen Elia.

Forget what you heard last week about threats and sanctions. That was then. This is now.

” State Education Commissioner Mary Ellen Elia says she won’t prevent parents who want their children to skip the state’s standardized tests from doing so. The commissioner detailed her views on the controversial Opt Out movement in an interview with public radio and television….

“Commissioner Elia says parents “absolutely” have the right to opt their kids out of state standardized tests, but she says she still wants to talk to them to try to bring them back to the fold.

“We haven’t done enough communication,” Elia said. “But if parents understand it and they still want their child to opt out, that certainly is their right.”

“Robert Lowry, the spokesman for the New York State Council of School Superintendents, says some superintendents did indeed ask for help. Others are trying on their own to convince students to participate. But he says many more believe that the tests themselves are fundamentally flawed.

“The real issue is that the tests have to change,” Lowry said. “Parents are upset for a reason.”

“Lowry says the preparations was not well thought out, and schools get too little information on results too late.”

This is a work in progress.

Message to parents: do what you think is best for your child.

The Washington Post recently wrote an editorial defending Common Core and excusing Jeb Bush’s sudden change of tactics. Mercedes Schneider sent in an op-ed piece to explain what the Post got wrong. Her article was shunted over to “letters to the editor,” where it was rejected. She posted her response here.

Were the Common Core standards really developed by the states? Did the federal government have nothing to do with them? Does Jeb Bush really believe in state-created standards? Mercedes explains to those who care to know.

A group of educators who oppose the current corporate reforms have organized a petition drive. They have issued “A Manifesto for a Revolution.”

Please read it and if you agree, consider signing on.

They have also launched an informational site called Follow.Education. Read their response to Campbell Brown in the link.

To bring about the change we hope for, we need even more activism. We need the support of parents who opt out of the tests; we need students, whose own education is being warped by high-stakes testing. We need retired educators. None of these groups can be fired. They should demonstrate, protest, do whatever they can–like the brave Dyett hunger strikers–to stop the destruction of real education.

The Chester Upland school district in Delaware County, Pennsylvania, will return to school even though the district has no money to pay them. The district is in a deep financial hole because of former Governor Corbett’s deep budget cuts and the charter schools that drain funding from the public schools. Chester Upland might be the first school district o go bankrupt because of competition with a charter school whose for profit owner is ranking in millions.

These educators are heroes of public education. They are truly doing it “for the kids” at personal sacrifice to themselves and their families. They join the honor roll of the blog.

On Thursday, about 200 members of the local teachers union voted unanimously to work without pay as the new school year opens. They were joined by secretaries, school bus drivers, janitors and administrators.

“The thought of it is very scary,” said John Shelton, 60, dean of students at the district’s only middle school and a 23-year employee. “It’s mind-boggling because there’s truly uncertainty. But we are all in agreement that we will come to work, so that the children can get an education.”

Shelton, who will be able to count on some income from his moonlighting job as a janitor, said he and his colleagues are willing to sacrifice because the students rely on the schools. “Some of our children, this is all they have as far as safety, their next nourishing meal, people who are concerned for them,” he said. “We are dedicated to these children.”

The district is about 20 miles west of Philadelphia and serves roughly 3,300 students, most them low-income.

A similar financial collapse occurred in the district in 2012, and the teachers also agreed to work without pay then. In the end, a federal judge ordered the state to pay the district, and lawmakers arranged a bailout, so that employees’ paychecks were just a couple of days late.

Chester Upland’s current fiscal crisis, however, is more serious, said Jeff Sheridan, a spokesman for Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D).

“They are in such dire financial shape right now,” he said, “unless something drastic happens . . . the school district is in danger of not existing.”

The governor is grateful to the teachers and other employees who are willing to work without pay, Sheridan said, adding, “It’s helpful and we commend them.”

But it’s not a solution, he said.

Chester Upland is facing a $22 million deficit that could grow to more than $46 million without major intervention, Sheridan said. He blamed several factors: local mismanagement, state cuts in education spending under the previous governor and a state law that requires traditional school districts to pay charter schools significant amounts for students who live within their boundaries but attend charters.

Public charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run, have been growing to the point that they educate nearly half the students who live in the Chester Upland district. Chester Upland pays local charter schools about $64 million in tuition payments — more than it receives in state school aid.

State law includes a funding formula that is especially generous toward special education students who attend charters; Chester Upland has to spend $40,000 per student per year for every special education student from its district who enrolls in a charter school. That’s twice the amount the district spend on its own students with special education needs and more than any other district in the state, Sheridan said.

Chester Community Charter School, a nonprofit institution managed by a for-profit company, is the largest charter in the district. It began in 1998 with 100 students and now enrolls 2,900 students, nearly as many as attend the traditional public school system.

This week, a Pennsylvania judge denied a request by Wolf and Chester Upland officials to reduce the district’s payments for special education to charters by about half, or nearly $21 million, in the 2015-16 school year.

Wolf based his request on a recommendation by a 2013 bipartisan legislative commission that the law should be changed to bring payments to charter schools more in line with what it costs traditional public schools to educate special needs students. The committee also recommended lower payments to online charter schools, which currently get the same per-pupil payments that brick and mortar schools receive. That change would save the Chester Upland district an additional $4 million a year, state officials said.

Tell the story of the teachers and staff at Chester Upland the next time you hear someone complain about “greedy” teachers who put their interests before the interests of their students. Maybe StudentsFirst could offer to pay the salaries of the teachers who are working for free?

The previous post included the letter that Dr. Michael J. Hynes of the Patchogue-Medford school district sent to teachers.

Parents in the district on Long Island in Néw York received this letter from Dr. Hynes.

The letter is straightforward. It says parents have the right to opt out without penalty.

Did your superintendent say that to parents in your district? If not, why not?

Thank you, Dr. Hynes, for leveling with parents and siding with students. I hope other superintendents follow your example.

Critics of opt out have likened the state tests to taking a vaccination. If the state tells you to do it, you must. The importance of a vaccination is based on science, not whim or politics. Children should be vaccinated whether their parents approve or not, because public health is at risk if they don’t.

But in light of the fact that the standardized tests now used are social constructs that arbitrarily label children as failures, parents should feel no obligation to subject their children to the tests. There is no risk to public health if children don’t take the tests. Opting out is the only way that parents can send a strong message to their elected representatives, who mandated the tests.


Thank you for subscribing to “Diane Ravitch's blog”

You’ll get an email with a link to confirm your sub. If you don’t get it, please contact us

The authors can also be followed on: