Dr. Terri Reid-Schuster writes:

I was disgusted by my IEA President, Cinda Klickna’s, response regarding the low scores soon to be released in Illinois. I sent her the following:

Dear Cinda Klickna,

I was very disturbed to read your recent response to the news that Illinois students’ recent PARCC score test release. You characterized it as something that will improve as teachers get better at the standards and students get more experienced with the test. You could not be more wrong.

First, I am a career Illinois teacher with more than 20 years of experience. I have a doctorate in developmental literacy and currently work as a reading specialist in Oregon, IL. I have been active in my union and am currently serving as OEA president. I vote democrat, and have always been a proud union member. However, now I am doubting whether IEA/NEA really has the best interests of children and teachers at heart. Your recent response has confirmed that.

Here is what you SHOULD have said:

The PARCC test is a capstone of corporate reform efforts to discredit hard-working teachers and school districts. It is a natural progression of developmentally inappropriate and unvalidated Common Core Standards that were written almost exclusively by test publishers whose intentions are to create a market for their “new and improved” curriculum materials, assessments, remedial programs and expensive consulting deals.

The test itself is written several years above the average student’s reading level, it is to be given on unfamiliar computer technology, contains intentionally vague and poorly designed questions with opaque directions, and is excessive in length. Additionally, cut scores were set outrageously high–ostensibly to align with NAEP proficiency levels and completely disregarding the fact that a rating of “proficient” on the NAEP means the equivalent of “A” level work in the classroom.

This is the new and impossible standard Illinois students have “failed” to reach. This is by design, it is absolutely the intention of companies like Pearson who stand to make billions off the misery the CCSS and PARCC are creating. Now politicians can “prove” teachers are lazy and incompetent and point to PARCC scores as evidence, then hand over public dollars to their business cronies and donors for charter schools. Your statement helps that process along by promoting the fantasy that it is possible to improve these test scores if only we numbskull public school teachers would just get up to speed on these dandy new standards.

Please, if you are going to take our money and purport to represent teachers collectively in Illinois, it is incumbent upon you to educate yourself about the reality of the monumental bamboozle that is corporate reform. I recommend Diane Ravitch’s book Reign of Error for starters, and her blog is a daily format for exposing the damaging effects of the move to privatize and profitize education. Todd Farley’s book Making the Grades is an insider’s expose of Pearson’s shoddy test design process and and standardized test-grading mills.

Additionally, I am requesting that IEA not accept funding from Bill Gates or Pearson or any other entity that seeks to destroy public education. Doing so ensures our demise as a profession, and will hasten the dismantling of democracy itself.

Democracy works best when we prepare students to be critical thinkers who are creative problem solvers and question authority–CCSS are preparing students to be obedient worker bees. Ask yourself why students at elite private schools aren’t being subjected to CCSS or PARCC testing? If these standards and tests are so essential to a great education, wealthy parents would be clamoring to have them for their own children. In fact, exactly the opposite is happening. CCSS and unfair, rigged exams like the PARCC are for the unwashed, undeserving poor and middle class.

Cinda, you disappoint me. I am beginning to believe my dues to the IEA and NEA are not money well spent. Please educate yourself and become an advocate for children and teachers in this state. Call out corporate reform for what it is: a blatant profit-making scheme. Stop falling for the slick marketing. Talk to real teachers about their struggles under this brutal and demoralizing test-and-punish regime. STOP looking to “have a seat at the table.” Don’t collaborate and cooperate with those who will destroy the education profession.

If you need real teachers to talk to, I volunteer myself and my colleagues. Thank you for your attention in this matter. It is critical teachers have the informed support of our biggest professional organization.