Archives for category: Parents

Two Florida school districts–Sarasota and Manatee–have warned parents their children will not be promoted if they opt out of state testing.

The only way to opt out of the state test is to take a state test before opting out. Alice in Wonderland?



Even students who have earned high marks all year will be retained in grade.


“Third-grade students in Sarasota and Manatee counties who refused to take the state’s standardized English Language Arts test and a subsequent alternative test will be held back, school officials say.


“District officials have contacted several parents saying that because their students opted out of taking the state test, called the Florida Standards Assessment, they must take an alternative test to progress from third grade to fourth. If students do not take the test, officials said they will have to repeat third grade.


“School districts across the state are wrestling with what to do with third-grade students who refused to take, or opted out of, the Florida Standards Assessments. A state statute mandates that students take the test, but vague language makes it difficult for districts to determine what alternatives can be used to promote a student — namely whether a portfolio can be used in lieu of the tests.


“Counties such as Pasco, Hillsborough and Charlotte have allowed students who took neither the FSA or the Stanford Achievement Test, 10th edition, to progress to fourth grade. But districts including Orange, Sarasota and Manatee require students who did not take the FSA or the SAT-10 to repeat third grade.”


The tests, with all their flaws, are more important in those counties than teachers’ assessments of their students or parental rights.




Parents have the right to choose a new school but not the right to refuse standardized tests.

Here is Peter Greene on the Florida testing mess.

A group of parents in Texas has filed suit against the state education agency to stop the use of this year’s scores to punish students and schools.


The legislature passed a law requiring the tests to be shortened, but the state education agency did not comply.


Its failure to abide by the law invalidates the tests, the parents believe.


Commissioner Mike Morath does not agree and intends to use the test results for accountability purposes, continuing the test obsession in Texas.

Guess who really puts children first? Their parents!


MEDIA ALERT: Wednesday, May 25th, 9:00 a.m.


Billion Dollar Bake Sale/Rally Demands Budget Solution; Sustainable Revenue for CPS


WHAT: Hundreds of CPS Parents from across the city are leading the first ever: “Billion Dollar Bake Sale/Rally” for Sustainable Funding to Save Our Schools. This demonstration will illustrate parents’ frustration and determination to keep the pressure on elected officials throughout the summer and demand appropriate and equitable funding for CPS schools.


The mock bake sale will include “$250K Clout Cakes,” “$100k nothing-but-crumb cakes,” “Overcrowded Cookie Jars,” etc. to illustrate how traditional methods of filling budget gaps, like bake sales, will no longer suffice. The rally/march will also include real time logging of 1000+ calls from parents to city/state representatives demanding that they put children before politics.


WHERE/WHEN: Wednesday, May 25th
9:00 a.m: Gathering at Thompson Center;
9:15 a.m: March to Dearborn and Madison
9:40 a.m: Rally/Press Conference at Dearborn/Madison (Across from Board of Ed)


CPS plans to cut budgets by 25-30% after years of massive deficits that have gone ignored by state, city and CPS. Parents will announce plans for a summer full of public protests and events to keep the heat on for sustainable funding for Chicago Public Schools.


Paris Shaw, parent Leif Ericson
Pastor Kristian Johnson, parent Ravenswood
Parent Jose Hernandez, Calmeca
Parent Tim Alexander, OA Thorpe

Photo opp: Hundreds of parents from around the city, creative signage, “baked goods” ie “$250k Clout Cakes,” Etc.

Wendy Katten 773-704-0336

The Education Writers Association reviews the state of the opt out movement, nationally, presenting a variety of perspectives.  M


Once again, we hear the complaint that opt outs endanger the validity of the tests, but that’s nonsense if your concern is for individual living children, rather than data. No matter how many opt out, those who take the test will still get s score. The only thing that gets compromised is the ability to rank schools and districts on a bell curve. Tough.



Once again, we hear the complaint that opt out is concentrated among white families. So what? If families hate the over testing of their children, they should act on their concerns, whatever their race.



The article does not mention the reasons for lower rates of black and Hispanic participation in opt outs: fear that their school might be closed; fear of punishment; lack of information, which is spread through social media; and the Gates-funded disinformation campaign against opting out, which has misled some civil rights groups to support high-stakes testing that labels and stigmatizes children of color.

Yesterday the New York Times published a bizarre editorial about remedial classes in college.


The editorial says that former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was right when he said that the students who opt out are poorly educated, and their parents are “white suburban moms” who were disappointed to discover that their children aren’t so smart after all. Duncan always liked to say that America’s children had been “dummied down,” and no one was willing to tell the unpleasant truth but him.


The Times‘ editorial said that large numbers of suburban students need remediation when they get to college. This conclusion, it said, was based on a study by an advocacy group called Education Reform Now.


The editorial referred to Education Reform Now as a “nonprofit think tank.” ERN is nonprofit but it is certainly not a think tank. ERN is the nonprofit (c3) arm of Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), the organization of hedge fund managers that loves charter schools, high-stakes testing, and Common Core. It has a vested interest in saying that American public schools are failing, failing, failing so as to spur its campaign to privatize public education.


ERN sponsors “Camp Philos,” an annual affair where important political figures meet in the woods with hedge fund managers to figure out how to reform public schools that none of them ever sent their own children to. In 2014, its star education reformer was Governor Cuomo. At its 2015 meeting on Martha’s Vineyard, Mayor Rahm Emanuel was a keynote speaker, sharing his knowledge of how to reform public education by closing public schools en masse.


The staff director of ERN is Shavar Jeffries, who ran for mayor of Newark and lost to Ras Baraka. Jeffries was supported by DFER, which hired him after his loss.


Consider the board of directors. Every one of them is from Wall Street.


The authors of the report are staff members at ERN who come from public policy backgrounds.


Curiously, the editorial has a link to the words “Education Department,” but no link to the ERN policy brief.


The New York Times‘ editorial board has been a tireless advocate for the Common Core and for high-stakes testing. It has been a reliable cheerleader for the corporate reform. Its editorials show little understanding of the opt out movement or of the opposition to the Common Core standards. It is sad that the nation’s most prestigious newspaper so consistently distorts important education issues. It must be very distressing to the Times’ editorial board that the New York Board of Regents is now led by an experienced educator who does not share their zeal to tear down the nation’s public schools and abet privatization.





Denis Ian, a reader of the blog, has contributed several excellent comments which I have turned into post. Here is another that strikes a chord for its insight and thoughtfulness. American society has long been celebrated for individual freedom blended with civic responsibility. We take care of one another. We volunteer to help. We pitch in. But we don’t see why bureaucrats and legislators are forcing us to do things to our schools and our children that harm them. And we are responding.



Denis Ian writes:



Why should the parents of New York be out of step with what’s happening all across the nation?


Of course, this opt-out resistance is about education. But it’s also about what’s boiling folks from coast-to-coast … this never-ending, ever-intrusive, arrogant, and ruinous involvement of government to be front and center in the lives of every man, woman, and child.


This test-refusal effort is a scream at the federal and state governments to back off … retreat … and leave folks alone to craft the sort of society that will be … not the society envisioned by a few.


Parents want their schools back … among other things. This current effort … withholding kids from academic assessments … is way more complex than just a pile of lousy exams spawned by a wretched educational reform. That’s the surface stuff. The roots are much deeper. Only the daring will squint hard to see the links that are so obvious.


This society is set to explode … one way or another.


These tests are serious stuff for parents … and more serious stuff for children. This resistance has fired up lots of pretty ordinary folks into becoming very active managers of their own lives … and it will carry over into other issues soon enough. This election season is already the most bizarre of my long life … and it looks to get even more memorable in the months ahead.


Why? Because government … and a slender class of autocratic fops … has made it their business to be in everyone else’s business. We have these self-appointed wind-bags who have this neurotic, messiah complex that results in chaos for everything they touch.


They’ve ruined healthcare, border and homeland security, law enforcement, illegal immigration, the economy, education, and just about everything else they’ve knocked up against. Why are folks so surprised that people are fit to be tied?


The new Know-It-All class … the self-anointed oligarchs … have imposed their norms and values and programs and reforms with absolute ease over the last several years … but the breaking point is here. The signs are all about … just look at the sort of political figures who have captured the attention of the people. They’re not oligarchic types at all .. in fact, they’re the antidotes to the giant itch that troubles this nation.


The really amazing thing about this reform/test counter-action is the resistance to the resistance. The educational oligarchs … just like the social and political absolutists … will not admit what is underfoot. They will not concede that the agitation is THEIR fault … caused by THEIR ineptitude and THEIR arrogance. That is a sure-fire fuse that will easily flame up. Nothing pisses off good people more than being played for dummies.


And the people are plenty pissed off.


This moment … in education … is an early prelude to what’s in store for this political season. I’m certaint these parents … who stood tall for their children and their neighborhood schools … won’t vanish for a long while. They’re just warming up.


The oligarchs have blown it … big time. And it all began with the biggest dummy of all … Arne Duncan … that mother-bashing fop who lit that fuse.


This Duncan quote about suburban moms might be the most memorable educational gaffe of recent decades: ” … “their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.”


Duncan is still in search of the world’s largest vacuum … but those words have stuck in the craw of every parent from Long Island to Los Angeles. And now those moms … and dads … are the first in battle against the snob class. And they’re winning.


Denis Ian

Emily Kaplan has written a guest column for EduShyster. Kaplan taught in a no-excuses charter school, and she now teaches in a suburban public school. Here she describes the differences, much of which hasty do with power. The suburban parents “own” their public school; the urban charter parents can stay in the school only if their child obeys directions and follows the rules.


Kaplan writes:


“Politically and financially, affluent suburban parents own their children’s schools. Parents of students at urban charters, however, better not push their luck. (They “won the lottery,” after all.) Suburban parents can question the system all they like; ultimately, they are the system. Charter parents are certainly not— and by questioning it, they have everything to lose. (The racial undertones of this environment—black parents should be grateful for the education these white educators so generously provide— are significant.) Unlike suburban students who attend district schools, students at urban charter schools can be expelled or pushed out— and no parent wants to be forced back to the district which drove them to enter the charter lottery in the first place.


“Urban charters wield this power to ensure compliance from students and parents alike. The strict discipline for which charters are infamous is applied to parents as well as their children. Unlike at suburban schools—where parents are welcomed to join the PTA, to volunteer, to lead projects, and to meet with an administration that must earn their support—parental involvement at many urban charters is as unidirectional as it is punitive. If a student accumulates enough behavioral infractions, for instance, he or she must serve an in-school suspension until the parent is able—on one day’s notice—to take time off of work in the middle of the school day to observe the child in class for an hour and a half. Teachers and administrators threaten students who break the rigid rules of the school with parental involvement: “If your behavior doesn’t get better,” they tell these five- and six- and seven-year-olds, many of whom come from families struggling to make ends meet, “your dad will have to keep missing work to come here. You don’t want him to be fired, do you?” Parents who do not comply are told that the school may not be for them.


“Take it or leave it, be grateful, kowtow: we know what’s best for your child.


“Ultimately, this serves no one.”





Texans Advocating for Meaningful State Assessments (TAMSA) is known in Texas as Moms Against Drunk Testing. In the past, they successfully lobbied the Legislature to drops plan to require students to pass 15 high school exit exams to graduate. The number remained five.


They issued this statement, called ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!



“TAMSA Calls for Moratorium due to Testing Errors



“In his news release today, Thomas Ratliff, Vice Chairman of the State Board of Education, brings to light serious issues of misalignment between the STAAR US History EOC and the state mandated curriculum. Based on these and ongoing concerns with the validity of the test, Texans Advocating for Meaningful Student Assessment (TAMSA) calls for a moratorium on using the STAAR tests, and at the very least, the US History EOC, for high stakes purposes related to student graduation and school accountability.


“It is fundamentally unfair to hold students or schools accountable for questions that are not contained explicitly in the curriculum standards” said Dineen Majcher, President of the Board of Directors of TAMSA. Ratliff describes two questions on the US History EOC that asked for information about historical figures, but those specific historical figures were not included in the current TEKS. In one case, the figure, Shirley Chisholm, was removed from the TEKS in 2010.


“The logical conclusion is that 1) either the testing vendor was utilizing an outdated version of the TEKS on which to base questions, or 2) there is an underlying assumption that any historical figure fitting general criteria, whether or not they are mentioned in the TEKS, is fair game. “Neither conclusion is acceptable,” said Majcher. “If students are not given a full opportunity to learn what is tested, there are serious consequences for the system. It is completely unfair to students and teachers to have a high stakes test that is not based clearly and unequivocally on known material that is required to be taught, and instead on information not specified in the curriculum.” Already on shaky ground when legislators like Jimmie Don Aycock, Dan Patrick, Larry Taylor, and Kel Seliger have declared that the current STAAR system is broken, further proof has parents across the state declaring that “enough is enough.”


“Based on concerns over test alignment with curriculum standards, and fundamental fairness to students to learn what will be tested, TAMSA is requesting:


“1. An immediate moratorium on the stakes associated with STAAR tests.


“2. A complete review of the tests to ensure the vendor has utilized current TEKS and that the test questions are properly aligned with state curriculum.


“3. An exploration by the attorney general, or other appropriate state official, of whether the test questions not aligned with the curriculum should be the basis for action against the testing vendor, particularly if outdated standards were the basis for the faulty questions.


““We cannot continue to hold our students and schools accountable for performance on these tests when the State cannot guarantee that these tests are valid.” Putting a moratorium on the high-stakes means that the STAAR tests would still be administered and scores reported, but performance on the tests would not prevent students from being promoted to the next grade or from graduating. Also, schools’ ratings based on STAAR test scores would not be altered during the moratorium. “If we are to continue to administer state-designed assessments, we must have 100% certainty that the tests are aligned with the curriculum that the State has required” said Majcher. Without a guarantee that the tests are completely aligned with the curriculum, a moratorium on using those tests for high stakes purposes is essential.”




In your next action, dare the legislators to take the tests they mandate and publish their scores. Double-dare.



The new chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents visited a dual-language elementary school on Long Island, accompanied by the Superintendent, Michael Hynes (a member of the honor roll of this blog) and by Jeanette Deutermann, parent leader of the Long Island Opt-Out movement. Dr. Rosa spoke to the children in both English and Spanish.



The newly elected chancellor of the state Board of Regents visited a Medford Elementary School dual-language classroom Tuesday afternoon as part of her first statewide listening tour since she assumed the post in March.


“I am going around the state and seeing these wonderful opportunities,” said Betty Rosa, a former Bronx special education teacher, principal and superintendent. “My goal is to make sure our children have the resources and opportunities and access to a quality education.”


Rosa, joined by Patchogue-Medford Superintendent Michael J. Hynes, spoke in Spanish and English to students in the classroom at Medford Elementary in Patchogue. The district is in its eighth year offering a dual-language program, with 375 students now enrolled.


Hynes, a vocal critic of high-stakes testing, praised Rosa’s vision — seeing what’s working in public schools and trying to replicate it statewide.


“Everything she focuses on is what’s best for kids,” he said.
Rosa’s selection as chancellor marked a dramatic shift in tone for the Regents board, where a majority of board members in the past had supported higher academic standards and other reforms, first enthusiastically and then with growing reluctance.


She was named chancellor shortly before state assessments were administered last month. A Newsday survey found that more than half of Long Island students boycotted the English Language Arts and math exams in April.


It was the second sweeping boycott in New York, driven by parents’ and educators’ rebellion against the exams, the tests’ links to teacher and principal performance evaluations and other state education reforms.


Rosa was joined on Tuesday’s tour by Jeanette Deutermann, a North Bellmore parent and founder of Long Island Opt Out.


“It is so hopeful for parents who have been fighting and fighting to have somebody at the top who understands what we are fighting for and believes in the same philosophy,” Deutermann said.


Rosa called Tuesday for less emphasis on state tests and said she believes teacher evaluations should not be tied to scores on those exams.


“We have to get back to what really matters — which is teaching and learning, and . . . our kids’ excitement to become learners,” Rosa said.


And she means it.

Our reader Christine Langhoff writes about the current crisis in public education in Boston:

To use the common idiom, Boston is “woke”!

Parents, teachers and allies of public education protested on a frigid January night outside the mayor’s State of the City address. A few days earlier, 350 teachers, parents and students attended an informational town hall during the evening, as the issues of the hidden McKinsey report were publicly aired. There was another rally on February 17, during school vacation week.

Some 3400 students walked out of their classes on March 7 and went to City Hall and the State House to demonstrate after rallying on Boston Common. Some of them testified at the State House against the lifting of the charter cap. This was a student led and organized protest, which the mayor tried to dismiss with the classic “outside agitators” line. On March 17th, a group of parents, following the students’ lead, demonstrated outside City Hall, demanding the release of the report.

There have been a series of public hearings on the city’s budget, all of which are very well attended. A coalition of parents, educators and students are all on the same side of this argument, and though progress has been slow, we are not discouraged. Up next is walk-in day on May 7.

Much of this is organized on social media. In addition to the parents’ group QUEST, BEJA, Boston Education Justice Alliance and the student groups YOUNG and BSAC as well as Citizens for Public Schools are working together to keep our schools. The Boston Teachers Union has taken a page from our fellow unionists at the Chicago Teachers Union, allying with and supporting all these groups.

The question that has not been answered is why cuts to the budget, decreasing services to our SWD, and diminishment of offerings for students (closing high school libraries!) is necessary. Boston is in the midst of an unprecedented building and real estate boom; tax receipts are up by $95 million this year alone. (Massachusetts weathered the 2008 catastrophe pretty well.) We’re ranked number one (for what it’s worth) in urban school systems. What pretext is there for closing 30-50 schools? None.

But here’s the scenario we’re up against:

No elected school board, appointed by the mayor (since 1993)

The mayor founded a charter school

The superintendent is a Broadie

More parasites from TFA, TNTP, StudentsFirst are being hired at the school department

86% of our students aren’t white; most of them are poor and nearly half have English as a second language.

The governor wants more charters

The state board of ed is appointed by the governor

The state board is a cabal of privatizers from HGSE, the Pioneer Institute, New Schools Venture Fund

The former PARCC chairman is the state Commissioner

Walton is pouring money into the city

DFER sponsored successful candidates in the most recent election

Boston is a signatory to the Gates CRPE contract

The mayor and superintendent want One Enrollment

It’s an uphill battle and we can’t afford to lose.


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