Search results for: "Stand for children"

Read Alan Singer’s column posted in Valerie Strauss’s blog The Answer Sheet to learn how the Obama family opted out.””

Singer says that the Obamas opted out of high-stakes testing by sending their daughters to Sidwell Friends, which does not give standardized tests to every child every year and does not evaluate teachers by the test scores of their students.

Now you can opt out your children from high-stakes tests too. It’s not hard. NYS Allies for Public Education has a sample “refusal” letter and video instructions on its website. All parents have to do is fill out the letter and deliver it to the school principal, either in person or via email. They also recommend a follow-up call before the test dates to remind school personnel. Last year approximately 60,000 New York State students refused to take the tests. In New York State, high-stakes Common Core aligned math and reading tests will be administered in grades 3-8 from April 14 – 16 and April 22 – April 24.

Karen Magee, president of the New York state teachers’ union (NYSUT) is calling for a statewide boycott of the Common Core-aligned tests to protest new testing regulations and test-based evaluations of teachers propagated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Despite evidence against the validity of evaluating teachers using student scores on these tests, Cuomo demanded that 50 percent of every teacher’s evaluation be based on test results in their schools. Meanwhile, he is unable to explain how the 70 percent of teachers who do not teach tested subjects can legitimately be judged based on the tests.

Open the links and learn how you can opt out with sending your children to private school to escape the test prep and high-stakes tests imposed by NCLB and made worse by Race to the Top and the new Common Core tests.

The Gesell Institute of Human Development issued a statement in 2010 that was completely ignored, but its warning bears hearing.

In March 2010, the Gesell Institute released this statement. It fell on deaf ears.


The core standards being proposed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers are off the mark for our youngest learners. We at Gesell Institute call for a new set of standards for Kindergarten through Grade 3 that adhere to solid principles of child development based on what research says about how and what young children learn during the early years, birth to age eight. The proposed standards for Kindergarten through grade 3 are inappropriate and unrealistic. Policy must be set based on hard data and not on unrealistic goals surrounding test scores.

If the achievement gap is to be closed, child development must be respected and scientific research surrounding how children learn must be taken into account. Research clearly shows that early readers do not have an advantage over later readers at the end of third grade, and attempts at closing the achievement gap should not be measured in Kindergarten based on inappropriate standards.

The work of Gesell Institute has long been focused on research and best practice in child development and education – our legacy is based on the ground-breaking work of Dr. Arnold Gesell, a pioneer in the field of child development who observed and documented stages of development with normative data reflecting what children typically do at each age and stage. Currently, our national study collecting developmental information on over 1400 children across the country is in its final stages of data collection. This data, to be released in Fall 2010, is expected to further support what we know about how children develop and what they know at various ages, as well as the importance of focusing on appropriate methods for teaching young children.

We urge the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to respect the individual developmental differences of children and revise the K-3 standards based on research and the advice of experts in the field of early childhood. Having endorsed The Alliance for Childhood’s Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health and Education Professionals on the Common Core Standards Initiative, we support the call to withdraw the early childhood standards and create a consortium of experts “to develop comprehensive guidelines for effective early care and teaching that recognize the right of every child to a healthy start in life and a developmentally appropriate education.” (

Earlier today, the news broke that the notorious Wall Street-funded corporate Stand on Children had selected John R. Connolly as their favorite for mayor and planned to give him $500,000-700,000.

But it must have played badly in Boston, because Connolly announced that he would reject their campaign contribution.

Surely there are enough successful hedge fund managers in Boston to pay for their guy’s campaign without seeking funding from out of state.

Let’s keep an eye on this and see what candidates actually say, as opposed to ads saying that they love little children and are devoted to improving education.

We have heard that song before.

The corporate reform group, Stand on Children, dumped $500,000 into the Boston’s Mayor Race, and selected their candidate, City Councilor John R. Connolly.

It is prepared to spend even more, dwarfing the spending of other candidates.

This follows the pattern of the infusion of large outside money by corporate reformers in races in Louisiana, Colorado, California, and elsewhere.

After reviewing a large field, Stand on Children decided that Connolly was their man, the one who is likeliest to push hardest for privatization of public schools and to emphasize test scores as the highest goal of public education.

Stand began its life in Oregon as a civil rights group, but then discovered that there was a brighter future representing the interests of equity investors and Wall Street.

Subsequently, many of its original members left, but the budget greatly expanded, allowing them to be a major presence in states like Illinois and Massachusetts, where they promote charter schools and the removal of teacher tenure.

In Illinois, they bought up all the best lobbyists and got passed a law that made it illegal for the Chicago teachers to strike unless they got a 75% approval vote.

The Chicago Teachers Union got more than 90% and went on strike, much to the surprise of the big-money funders who thought they had crippled the union.

Edelman boasted at the Aspen Institute Festival about how he had “outfoxed” the teachers’ union by working with the state’s wealthiest hedge fund managers, buying up lobbyists, and winning anti-union legislation.

Stand pretends to be a “progressive” organization. It is, in fact, as Edelman boasts on the Aspen video, a mouthpiece for the 1%: Pro-privatization, anti-union, anti-public education.

The session title was, “If It Can Happen in Illinois, It Can Happen Anywhere.”


Robert D. Shepherd, one of our many brilliant readers, offered the following explanation of the impulse to standardize the education of children across the nation:

“It’s no secret that income inequality has skyrocketed in the United States in recent decades, that economic and social mobility have plummeted, that wealth has been increasingly concentrated at the top, and that increasingly, the affluent in this country are isolated in their own circles–living in their own separate neighborhoods; sending their kids to their own separate schools from preschool through college; keeping their money offshore; spending much of their time in homes outside the country; and so on.

“Isolation from ordinary people breeds contempt and prejudice. Lack of intimate, long-term interaction with ordinary people makes it easier for the wealthy to generalize about “those people,” whoever they might be–workers, teachers, the poor, etc., and to buy into across-the-board, one-size-fits-all prescriptions regarding those Others. It becomes easy to think that it makes sense that we have a top-down, mandated, invariant curriculum for the masses based upon the vise of invariant standards on the one side and invariant tests on the other if one thinks of teachers, students, workers, the poor–of any group of people outside the privileged class–as homogenous. “If only we held those people accountable via a standardized test!” begins to sound sensible, even though giving the same test to every third grader is equivalent to giving the same certification exam to plumbers, doctors, airplane mechanics, and NBA players. And when the privileged, with all their accomplishments and clout, make such generalizations, others buy in out of fear and self interest and, of course, respect. How could a man as clearly brilliant and skilled as, say, Bill Gates, be so terribly wrong? Our politicians left and right have almost entirely bought into the absurd generalizations underpinning the accountability movement. And our educational “leaders” have lacked all leadership; they haven’t had the courage to say that the emperor has no clothes.

“There are two main issues here: First, we can have liberty, or we can have standardized objectives (and, inevitably, the standardized curricula that follow from them) mandated by a small, centralized, unaccountable, totalitarian authority. Second, we can recognize students’ uniqueness and diversity and foster their individual propensities and talents, or we can give them a homogenous, one-size-fits-all education.

“It’s astonishing to me that there is even any debate about which we should do. And it’s horrifying that our “leaders”–professional education people–have come down so often on the side of taking away educators’ autonomy, their ability to make their own decisions about what to teach, when, and to whom.”

Long ago there was an organization called Stand for Children that advocated for children and their public schools. Unfortunately, the organization jumped on the money train and joined the corporate reform movement. Now it is flush with cash. It still pretends to care about children but it uses its clout to strip teachers of any rights and to advocate for privatization. It is anti-teacher, anti-union, and anti-public education. Some of its former supporters now refer to the organization as Stand on Children.

In Colorado, where there is a heated contest for control of the Legislature, Stand on Children removed the mask. It has endorsed five Republicans who support privatization. Corporate money is bolstering the GOP campaigns, along with Stand on Children and Wall Street hedge fund groups devoted to privatization of Colorado’s public schools.

If you live in Colorado, please support these five Democrats:

Evie Hudak (SD 19)
Andy Kerr (SD 22)
Daniel Kagan (HD 3)
Brittany Petterson (HD 28)
Max Tyler (HD 23)

Public education advocates also urge a NO vote on Bond 3B, which allocates disproportionate funding to charter schools while neglecting the needs of students who are poor, black, and Hispanic and attending overcrowded schools.

Opponents of the bond say:

• A zip code shouldn’t determine the quality of a child’s education. This bond reinforces that race and class still largely determine which children are prioritized depending on where they live.
• Though SW Denver’s low-income children have suffered years of chronic overcrowding, there is little money allocated through the bond to address the needs of the 12 SW Denver schools which are over 100% capacity.
• Lincoln High School will remain overcrowded. Lincoln is the only high school designated by the district for English Language Learners. Many students must travel from throughout the district to attend this program.
• Charter schools will get millions of taxpayer dollars at the expense of neighborhood schools. Nearly 40% of non- technology monies will go to select charter schools. Of the $119M for new facility capacity, $80.6M will go to charter schools directly or through co-locations.
• Nearly $40 million or 32% of the new facility bond funds will go to Stapleton even though there is space in nearby schools. Manual High (4.4 miles from central Stapleton) and George Washington High (4.9 miles) have a combined 1500 open seats, and Smiley Middle School (2 miles) has 381 open seats. The planned location of the proposed Stapleton high school, at 56th and Spruce St, is 3.8 miles from central Stapleton.
• The amount to build a Stapleton high school is more than all bond monies allocated for the high schools of East, George Washington, North, South, Kennedy, Lincoln and TJ combined.

Sabrina Stevens answers the question here.

Who worked to get children out of the factories and into school?

Who worked for a shorter work day for women?

Who worked to help poor people enter the middle class?

Not the Wall Street hedge fund managers.

Not the equity investors.

Not the big corporations.

One guess.

Vermont decided not to apply for a waiver from NCLB.

Not because it loves NCLB. No one does.

But because Vermont education officials had their own ideas about how to help their schools.

And they discovered that Arne Duncan’s offer to give them “flexibility” was phony.

He did not want to hear Vermont’s ideas. Contrary to his claims, the waivers do not offer flexibility.

What Arne Duncan wants states to do is to agree to his own demands, not to shape their own destiny.

He wants them to allow more privately managed charters. He wants them to evaluate teachers by student test scores. He wants them to adopt Common Core state standards.  He wants them to agree to threaten and close down schools with low test scores. He has a laundry list of what he wants them to do.

Of course, this is all very puzzling since none of Arne Duncan’s mandates have a solid basis in research or evidence. In that regard, they are not much different from NCLB. You might say they represent NCLB without the timetable.

Even more puzzling is the assumption that Arne Duncan and the U.S. Department of Education know how to reform the schools of the nation. It is not as if anyone would look at Arne Duncan’s Chicago as a model for the nation. That district is once again being “reformed,” this time by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

And from a strictly Constitutional point of view, the U.S. Department of Education has never been empowered to tell schools and school districts how to reform themselves.

Quite candidly, there is no one at the U.S. Department of Education who is competent to tell entire states how to reform their schools.

So, kudos to Vermont.

A state that said no to federal control, federal mandates, privatization, and other bad ideas.

As often, I add a footnote to the original post: Bruce Baker of Rutgers alerted me to a change in governance in Vermont. The legislature just passed a bill to have the state commissioner of education report to the governor. This opens the way for business community and privatizers to exert more influence. Privatizers like to eliminate input from parents and communities, making it easier for them to get what they want.

Vermonters: Don’t let it happen.

Stay outside the consensus.

Keep Vermont and Vermont parents and communities in charge of your schools.


The Network for Public Education is allied with Pastors for Texas Children. PTC has been a courageous leader in the fight for our public schools and against privatization.

The leader of PTC wrote the following statement:

Statement from Reverend Charles Foster Johnson on the 2020 Elections
Pastors for Texas Children extends a hearty congratulations to all those elected and re-elected to serve our children in the 87th Texas Legislature! Both incumbents and challengers fought hard and often confrontational, contentious campaigns that produced untold stress on them and their families. This is the messy price we pay for open and free elections, and we honor all candidates for serving the public in this important and sacrificial way. We have held every candidate in our prayers, and will continue to do so. We note with profound gratification the emphasis on public education in this electoral cycle. Virtually every incumbent and challenger ran on a strong public education platform. It is clear that the people of Texas want their House of Representatives to be fully affirming of great public schools for all 5.4 million Texas children, promote policies that protect and provide for them, and oppose policies that harm them.  It is crystal clear what public education support means:

*Opposition to any voucher proposal, regardless of its name, that diverts funding away from our neighborhood public schools to underwrite private and home schools.

 Support for budget plans that adequately fund our children’s public education, for a comprehensive study that determines what that education actually costs in current dollars, and for new sources of state revenue to sustain HB3.  

Opposition to charter school expansion that drains money away from public schools.

Support for charter school transparency and accountability.

Opposition to burdensome standardized testing that teachers and parents clearly abhor.

Support for teacher authority and compensation.  

We will be working closely with all 150 House members and 31 Senate members to make sure these promises are put into action in the 87th Legislature. 

Universal education, provided and protected by the public, is an expression of God’s Common Good as well as a Texas constitutional mandate.  Our children are counting on us all to advocate for it.

Apoorva Mandavilli is an award-winning science reporter for the New York Times. She is a mother of two children. She lives in Brooklyn. In this article, she thinks through the pros and cons of sending her children back to school. To read the links, open the story. Yesterday, Mayor de Blasio and UFT leader Michael Mulgrew announced that the city’s public schools would open for blended learning on September 21. Orientation will begin September 16. Teachers will report to their buildings on September 8.

All summer, as information about how the coronavirus affects children has trickled in, I’ve been updating a balance sheet in my head. Every study I read, every expert I talked to, was filling in columns on this sheet: reasons for and against sending my children back to school come September.

Into the con column went a study from Chicago that found children carry large amounts of virus in their noses and throats, maybe even more than adults do. Also in the con column: two South Korean studies, flawed as they were, which suggested children can spread the virus to others — and made me wonder whether my sixth-grader, at least, should stay home.

Reports from Europe hinting that it was possible to reopen schools safely dribbled onto the pro side of my ledger. But could we match those countries’ careful precautions, or their low community levels of virus?

I live in Brooklyn, where schools open after Labor Day (if they open this year at all), so my husband and I have had more time than most parents in the nation to make up our minds. We’re also privileged enough to have computers and reliable Wi-Fi for my children to learn remotely.

But as other parents called and texted to ask what I was planning to do, I turned to the real experts: What do we know about the coronavirus and children? And what should parents like me do?

The virus is so new that there are no definitive answers as yet, the experts told me. Dozens of coronavirus studies emerge every day, “but it is not all good literature, and sorting out the wheat from the chaff is challenging,” said Dr. Megan Ranney, an expert in adolescent health at Brown University.

But she and other experts were clear on one thing: Schools should only reopen if the level of virus circulating in the community is low — that is, if less than 5 percent of people tested have a positive result. By that measure, most school districts in the nation cannot reopen without problems.

“The No. 1 factor is what your local transmission is like,” said Helen Jenkins, an expert in infectious diseases and statistics at Boston University. “If you’re in a really hard-hit part of the country, it’s highly likely that somebody coming into the school will be infected at some point.”

On the questions of how often children become infected, how sick they get and how much they contribute to community spread, the answers were far more nuanced.

Fewer children than adults become infected. But childhood infection is not uncommon.

In the early days of the pandemic, there were so few reports of sick children that it was unclear whether they could be infected at all. Researchers guessed even then that younger children could probably catch the coronavirus, but were mostly spared severe symptoms.

That conjecture has proved correct. “There is very clear evidence at this point that kids can get infected,” Dr. Ranney said.

As the pandemic unfolded, it also appeared that younger children were less likely — perhaps only half as likely — to become infected, compared with adults, whereas older children had about the same risk as adults.

But it’s impossible to be sure. In most countries hit hard by the coronavirus, lockdowns and school shutdowns kept young children cloistered at home and away from sources of infection. And when most of those countries opened up, they did so with careful adherence to masks and physical distancing.

Children may turn out to be less at risk of becoming infected, “but not meaningfully different enough that I would take solace in it or use it for decision making,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health.

In the United States, children under age 19 still represent just over 9 percent of all coronavirus cases. But the number of children infected rose sharply this summer to nearly half a million, and the incidence among children has risen much faster than it had been earlier this year.

“And those are just the kids that have been tested,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a former health commissioner of Baltimore. “It’s quite possible that we’re missing many cases of asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic children.”

In the two-week period between Aug. 6 and Aug. 20, for example, the number of children diagnosed in the United States jumped by 74,160, a 21 percent increase.

“Now that we’re doing more community testing, we’re seeing higher proportions of children who are infected,” Dr. Ranney said. “I think that our scientific knowledge on this is going to continue to shift.”

Children do become sick with the virus, but deaths are very rare.

Even with the rising number of infections, the possibility that panics parents the most — that their children could become seriously ill or even die from the virus — is still reassuringly slim.

Children and adolescents up to age 20 (definitions and statistics vary by state) represent less than 0.3 percent of deaths related to the coronavirus, and 21 states have reported no deaths at all among children.

“That remains the silver lining of this pandemic,” Dr. Jha said.

But reports in adults increasingly suggest that death is not the only severe outcome. Many adults seem to have debilitating symptoms for weeks or months after they first fall ill.

“What percentage of kids who are infected have those long-term consequences that we’re increasingly worried about with adults?” Dr. Ranney wondered.

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a mysterious condition that has been linked to the coronavirus, has also been reported in about 700 children and has caused 11 deaths as of Aug. 20. “That’s a very small percentage of children,” Dr. Ranney said. “But growing numbers of kids are getting hospitalized, period.”

Children can spread the virus to others. How often is still unknown.

Transmission has been the most challenging aspect of the coronavirus to discern in children, made even more difficult by the lockdowns that kept them at home.

Because most children are asymptomatic, for example, household surveys and studies that test people with symptoms often miss children who might have seeded infections. And when schools are closed, young children don’t venture out; they tend to catch the virus from adults, rather than the other way around.

To confirm the direction of spread, scientists ideally would genetically sequence viral samples obtained from children to understand where and when they were infected, and whether they passed it on.

New York City has delayed the opening of schools by 10 days to give teachers and principals more time to prepare and to avert a possible teachers’ strike.

Under pressure from schools and advocates, the federal government has agreed to make it easier for schools to feed poor children.

“I keep saying to people, ‘It’s so hard to study transmission — it’s just really, really hard,’” Dr. Jenkins said.

Still, based on studies so far, “I think it still appears that the younger children might be less likely to transmit than older ones, and older ones are probably more similar to adults in that regard,” she said.

Sadly, the high numbers of infected children in the United States may actually provide some real data on this question as schools reopen.

So what’s a parent to do?

That’s a tough one to answer, as parents everywhere now know. So much depends on the particular circumstances of your school district, your immediate community, your family and your child.

“I think it’s a really complex decision, and we need to do everything we can as a society to enable parents to make this type of decision,” Dr. Wen said.

There are some precautions everyone can take — beginning with doing as much outdoors as possible, maintaining physical distance and wearing masks.

“I will not send my children to school or to an indoor activity where the children are not all masked,” Dr. Ranney said.

Even if there is uncertainty about how often children become infected or spread the virus, “when you consider the risk versus benefit, the balance lies in assuming that kids can both get infected and can spread it,” Dr. Ranney said.

For schools, the decision will also come down to having good ventilation — even if that’s just windows that open — small pods that can limit how widely the virus might spread from an infected child, and frequent testing to cut transmission chains.

Teachers and school nurses will also need protective equipment, Dr. Jenkins said: “Good P.P.E. makes all the difference, and school districts must provide that for the teachers at an absolute minimum.”

As long as these right precautions are in place, “it’s better for kids to be in school than outside of school,” Dr. Jha said. “Teachers are reasonably safe in those environments, as well.”

But community transmission is the most important factor in deciding whether children should go back to school, researchers agreed. “We just can’t keep a school free from the coronavirus if the community is a hotbed of infection,” Dr. Wen said.