Why A New Generation of Teachers is Angry at Self-Styled Education ‘Reformers’

This is an excellent essay at Medium that I learned about from Peter Greene of Curmudgucation. I copy and paste it in its entirety in case you don’t like signing into Medium.

Why New Educators Resent “Reformers”

Let’s consider why so many young educators today are in open rebellion.

How did we lose patience with politicians and policymakers who dominated nearly every education reform debate for more than a generation?

Recall first that both political parties called us “a nation at risk,” fretted endlessly that we “leave no child behind,” and required us to compete in their “race to the top.”

They told us our problems could be solved if we “teach for America,” introduce “disruptive technology,” and ditch the textbook to become “real world,” 21st century, “college and career ready.”

They condemned community public schools for not letting parents “choose,” but promptly mandated a top-down “common core” curriculum. They flooded us with standardized tests guaranteeing “accountability.” They fetishized choice, chopped up high schools, and re-stigmatized racial integration.

They blamed students who lacked “grit,” teachers who sought tenure, and parents who knew too much. They declared school funding isn’t the problem, an elected school board is an obstacle, and philanthropists know best.

They told us the same public schools that once inspired great poetry, art, and music, put us on the moon, and initiated several civil rights movements needed to be split, gutted, or shuttered.

They invented new school names like “Green Renaissance College-Prep Academy for Character, the Arts, and Scientific Careers” and “Hope-Horizon Enterprise Charter Preparatory School for New STEM Futures.” They replaced the district superintendent with the “Chief Educational Officer.”

They published self-fulfilling prophecies connecting zip-coded school ratings, teacher performance scores, and real estate values. They viewed Brown v. Board as skin-deep and sentimental, instead of an essential mandate for democracy.

They implied “critical thinking” was possible without the Humanities, that STEM alone makes us vocationally relevant, and that “coding” should replace recess time. They cut teacher pay, lowered employment qualifications, and peddled the myth anyone can teach.

They celebrated school recycling programs that left consumption unquestioned, gave lip-service to “student-centered civic engagement” while stifling protest, and talked up “multiple intelligences” while defunding the arts.

They instructed critics to look past poverty, inequality, residential segregation, mass incarceration, homelessness, and college debt to focus on a few heartwarming (and yes, legitimate) stories of student resilience and pluck.

They expected us to believe that a lazy public-school teacher whose students fail to make “adequate yearly progress” was endemic but that an administrator bilking an online academy or for-profit charter school was “one bad apple.”

They designed education conferences on “data-driven instruction,” “rigorous assessment,” and “differentiated learning” but showed little patience for studies that correlate student performance with poverty, trauma, a school-to-prison pipeline, and the decimation of community schools.

They promised new classroom technology to bridge the “digital divide” between rich, poor, urban, and rural, while consolidating corporate headquarters in a few elite cities. They advertised now-debunked “value-added” standardized testing for stockholder gain as teacher salaries stagnated.

They preached “cooperative learning” while sending their own kids to private schools. They saw alma mater endowments balloon while donating little to the places most Americans earn degrees. They published op-eds to end affirmative action but still checked the legacy box on college applications.

They were legitimately surprised when thousands of teachers in the reddest, least unionized states walked out of class last year.

Meanwhile……

The No Child Left Behind generation continues to bear the fullest weight of this malpractice, paying a steep price for today’s parallel rise in ignorance and intolerance.

We are the children of the education reformer’s empty promises. We watched the few decide for the many how schools should operate. We saw celebrated new technologies outpace civic capacity and moral imagination. We have reason to doubt.

We are are the inheritors of “alternative facts” and “fake news.” We have watched democratic institutions crumble, conspiracies normalized, and authoritarianism mainstreamed. We have seen climate change denied at the highest levels of government.

We still see too many of our black brothers and sisters targeted by law enforcement. We watched as our neighbor’s promised DACA protections were rescinded and saw the deporters break down their doors. We see basic human rights for our LGBTQ peers refused in the name of “science.”

We have seen the “Southern strategy” deprive rural red state voters of educational opportunity before dividing, exploiting, and dog whistling. We hear climate science mocked and watch women’s freedom erode. We hear mental health discussed only after school shootings.

We’ve seen two endless wars and watched deployed family members and friends miss out on college. Even the battles we don’t see remind us that that bombs inevitably fall on schools. And we know war imposes a deadly opportunity tax on the youngest of civilians and female teachers.

Against this backdrop we recall how reformers caricatured our teachers as overpaid, summer-loving, and entitled. We resent how our hard-working mentors were demoralized and forced into resignation or early retirement.

Our collective experience is precisely why we aren’t ideologues. We know the issues are complex. And unlike the reformers, we don’t claim to have the answers. We simply believe that education can and must be more humane than this. We plan to make it so.

We learned most from the warrior educators who saw through the reform facade. Our heroes breathed life into institutions, energized our classrooms, reminded us what we are worth, and pointed us in new directions. We plan to become these educators too.

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How do Putin’s Russia and Trump’s USA Compare?

A screenwriter whom I knew back in junior high school here in DC, and who, like me, was an anti-war activist back during Vietnam, and with whom I sometimes agree and sometimes disagree, wrote:

Retweeted Doug Henwood (@DougHenwood):

Anyone left of center who took the Russia paranoia seriously, look where it’s taking us. This is extremely bad news. https://t.co/64ZUUe4p9K

I replied as follows (edited by me for clarity and accuracy):

======================================

I cannot find any actual facts in that tweet. (And yes, I followed the link)

On the other hand, here are a few things that I think are objectively true, and a few that are my own opinion:*

the Russian government is… (1) oligarchical,

(2) a kleptocracy on every level,

(3) steals from its own people and rapes its environment for the benefit of a small group of billionaires,

(4) murders, muzzles, or imprisons people who dissent,

(5) supports friendly dictators abroad,

(6) builds and sells military weapons all over the world, and

(7) meddles in the internal affairs of foreign countries.

By contrast, the American government has recently been adjudged by experts (not me) as

(1) an oligarchy that systematically works for the benefit of a small wealthy class of businessmen to thwart the wishes of the majority,

(2) assassinates lots of people (mostly overseas; the murders of black men by police seems to be a local, not an explicitly national, policy),

(3) while the billionaires have been quite successful in breaking labor unions in the US and reducing wages for working people, we have had over time all sorts of vigorous [and sometimes somewhat successful] movements [which are now under hard attack from the current party in power] to preserve the rights of workers, consumers, and the environment,

(4) the US does in fact allow critics [for example, I’ve been to any number of anti-government demonstrations over the past 50 years and have only been arrested a couple of times for it, never beaten up by police; however, there have been plenty of times when the power of the State lined up firmly on the side of corporations to help break labor unions],

(5) supports friendly dictators abroad [of course proclaiming them to be lovers of freedom,

(6) builds and sells more weapons than anybody, and

(7) meddles in foreign elections and so forth [I recently saw a very long list of countries where the US had interfered with internal affairs or overthrew the government since WW1].

There are a couple of differences, though:

In many countries, you can’t get ANYTHING done at any level of government (from the head of state down to dog-catcher) without bribing somebody. That is not (yet) true in the US. However, it looks to me like Trump and his family are working hard to bring the US up to the level where our corruption is even higher than in Russia, China, India, the Philippines, or Nigeria. And 45 has certainly called for beating up protesters like myself, and praised corrupt, murderous foreign dictators like Putin and Duterte. However, there is still a lot more freedom of the press and assembly here than in the four countries I named!

Vive la resistance!

===

* which statements are fact, which are opinion? I type – you decide.

What Randi Weingarten of the AFT gets wrong

I’m going to repost in its entirety this article on Schools Matter about the double game that has been played by Randi Weingarten, the current president of the American Federation of Teachers.

(I remember the racist teachers’ strike of 1968 in New York City…)

======================================================

Weingarten Swaps History for Sophistry

Posted: 13 Aug 2016 06:49 AM PDT

Posted by Mark Naison yesterday.  

Mr. Ahern provides important corrections to Weingarten’s sketchy assessment of AFT’s first hundred years.  I am sorry to see he did not mention AFT’s seminal role in creating TURN in the late 1990s, a traitorous group that could not have been created without financial support from Eli Broad.

Lies My Union President Told Me
Sean Ahern

Letter to the American Educator re AFT President Randy Weingarten’s “Honoring Our Past and Inspiring Our Future” (http://www.aft.org/ae/summer2016/wws)


President Randy Weingarten’s “Honoring Our Past and Inspiring Our Future,” written on the 100th anniversary of the founding of the AFT is an exercise in “perception management.” Weingarten claims that she has “pored over historical documents from our archives” and concluded that the AFT “has been a vehicle to fight for positive change both in public schools and in society.” Further on she states her case even more explicitly:  “For 100 years, the AFT has worked to build power and use it for good.”

As a member of the UFT for the past 17 years, son of a UFT retiree, brother to a former UFT teacher and CSA principal, product of the NYC public school system (1959-1971) and father of three, all of whom graduated from NYC high schools, I proudly count myself as a witness to the last 50 years of UFT/AFT history.  Based on my experience and knowledge I challenge her very one-sided findings for failing to point out major examples of how the AFT has been a hindrance to “positive change both in public schools and in society.”

I do not write to honor Albert Shanker and those who followed the course he took. It is my hope that through a full review of our AFT history, rational and thoughtful working people, acting in their own class interests, will conduct an internal critique, identify the wrong turns, and bravely set a new course for our union. It is my hope that current and future generations will overcome the seemingly willful blindness that is found in Weingarten’s article.

Weingarten’s airbrushed history offers a textbook example of how to frame a narrative by omitting all evidence that contradicts her thesis.  This method is not one of historical inquiry seeking educational enlightenment.  It is the method used by a defense attorney to sway a judge or jury, guilt or innocence aside.

In business and politics this is the method used to win market share, frame political campaigns and control the hearts and minds of the people. 

The sociologist and historian James W. Loewen has critiqued this method when applied to global and US history textbooks in his widely read Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Book Got Wrong (1995, 2008).  It is a method that seeks to produce a generation that is misinformed, politically unaware, and lacking in self-knowledge and self-esteem.  It casts pedagogues as society’s thought police.

There is much in in AFT history that should be critically examined.  When the full story is told it should include honest and in-depth criticism of key positions taken since Albert Shanker ousted his former mentor and colleague David Selden and rose to the Presidency of the AFT over two generations ago.

The 1968 UFT strikes against community control, led by then UFT President Albert Shanker weeks after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., became arguably the longest hate strike in US history and was part and parcel of the “white” backlash and neo conservative/neo liberal counter revolution which we still suffer from today.  I was a high school student at the time in one of the community control districts where progressive teachers and students kept the school open during the strike.

With community control ended decentralization still afforded parents the power to elect local school boards.  Efforts by UFT members to interfere with minority parents voting in the 1973 District 1 school board elections on the Lower East Side were successfully overturned in Federal Court and upheld on appeal.

“In their complaint, filed on September 18, 1973, the Coalition for Education in District One, various unsuccessful candidates at the election and members of minority groups (Black, Hispanic and Chinese) challenged the validity of the election under the Equal Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as amended in 1970, 42 U.S.C. 1971, 1973 et seq.” http://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F2/495/495.F2d.1090.74-1296.74-1204.1017.1018.html

To be cited in violation of the 14th amendment and the 1965 Voting Rights Act hardly constitutes an “honor” to be conferred upon a supposedly liberal northern city and a largely “socialist” union leadership that prided itself on its support for civil rights in the 50’s and early 60’s.  I attended public school in this district from 1959 – 1971.  Weingarten apparently missed this case while she “pored over” the AFT archives.

The median salary for a NYC public school teacher in 2016, discounted for inflation and the extended day, is less than it was in 1973.  Add to that the explosive costs of education and housing and it is fair to conclude that a teacher with 7 years on the job today is worse off than their counterpart was over 40 years ago.  Top salary is now reached after 22 years on the job as opposed to 8 years in 1973. Even those few nearing retirement are just on par with their counterparts of 43 years ago.  I ask President Weingarten the simple question:  Who has the AFT been building “power” for? Surely the salary schedule is in the AFT archives and should figure in any assessment of the AFT’s “power” or lack thereof.

Jerald Podair in his Strike That Changed New York (2002) suggests a causal linkage between the 1968 strike and the decline in power, of both the UFT and the Black community.  Among his most striking and relevant observations is:

“…the Ocean Hill-Brownsville crisis had so damaged the UFT’s standing with black New York that Shanker, even if he had possessed the fire in the belly to attempt a cross-class interracial assault on the champions of fiscal austerity, would have found few friends there.  Black New Yorkers were as angry about the decimated schools as Shanker, but they viewed him, and the union he led, as an enemy…Community control in black neighborhoods was dead, replaced by a decentralization structure that gave the UFT more influence than black parents…the failure of the UFT and black citizens to work together to oppose school service cuts was as predictable as it was tragic.  The union would now cast its lot with the banks.  And the black community, politically marginalized, economically expendable and no longer in control of the language of “community” – would be unable to do anything about it.” (Pp194-195)

In the 1970s Shanker went on to become a leading national opponent of Affirmative Action, submitting a brief on Allan Bakke’s behalf.  The brief, submitted in the name of the AFT, is not mentioned by Weingarten though it is in the Shanker Papers and the AFT Papers that she claims to have “pored over.”

The current wave of “Education reform” was launched with the 1983 publication of A Nation At Risk: The Imperative For Educational Reform towards the end of Reagan’s second term.
For over 30 years the leadership of the AFT has been a partner in this latest wave of “education reform” and thereby maintained their “seat at the table” alongside the “reformers.”  This is a matter of public record.   When questions were raised that strongly contradicted the claims made by “A Nation At Risk” (see the Sandia Report, Bracey, Berliner and Bidell, Emery and Ohanian) the AFT and those closely associated with Shanker (including Diane Ravitch, then Assistant Secretary of Education in the Reagan Administration) chose to ignore and even suppress a devastating critique that potentially could have deflated the bubble of “reform” a generation ago (See http://projectcensored.org/3-the-sandia-report-on-education-a-perfect-lesson-in-censorship/ ).

Comfortably based on the education reformers  bogus critique of the state of public education and its politically motivated remedies, Shanker, Feldman and Weingarten are all on record in support of the “reforms” themselves: high standards for students and teachers, standardized curriculums, high stakes testing for students and teachers (for how else to measure whether the high standards are being met), charter schools (to counter the states monopoly over education and to give parents “choice”) and mayoral control in large urban systems serving predominantly Black, Latino and Asian students which has been the means through which “reform” was foisted upon school communities.

Most recently, the “reformers” and their corporate cabal attempted to hoist the AFT on its own petard.    It was only the death of Supreme Court Justice Scalia that averted a negative ruling in Vergara v California that would have done away with the agency shop. The stay of execution is only temporary, there are more cases to follow.  Is this what Weingarten means by “building power?”  Power for whom?  Power for what?

I challenge president Weingarten to go before any large urban local delegate assembly and defend the AFT’s record over 30 years in support of education “reform.”  Does she have the gall to tell us to our face that school closings, privatization, elimination of sports, the arts, electives, vocational programs, attacks on tenure and seniority, the disappearance of Black and Latino educators, increased segregation, high stakes testing and value added teacher assessments are to be viewed as “collateral damage,” and not the central defining features of a neo conservative/neo liberal, corporate led consensus on the proper role and direction for public education?  She wouldn’t do such a thing, so she redacts the record of AFT collaboration with the “reformers” and then presents herself as a teacher and student advocate.

Teachers and their unions face grave pressures and are in a more defensive posture than they were 50 years ago.  What power?  What positive changes have been brought about?  No doubt Weingarten and her supporters will point to the fact that teachers have a job with benefits and a defined benefit pension plan, a rarity now among US workers.  What is the message here? Do senior teachers shut up and thankfully crawl to the finish line? Do new and mid-career teachers count their lucky stars that they are not suffering the same hardships that the majority of our students, their families and communities face?  Is this then the real meaning of “professionalism;” to divide us from the rest of the working class?   Should the membership cast a blind eye to the AFT’s quisling response to the neo conservative/ neo liberal consensus on education, the U.S. empire and the economy so that at least some of  the so called “professionals,” (most importantly the paid staff and retainers at AFT Inc.) will be spared because the oligarchy has need of an ideological police?

The isolated individual, teacher, parent, student, may opt to save their own skin when no alternative option is in sight, but experience shows that this is a losing proposition for the large majority.  The greatest good for the greatest number comes not from dog eat dog competition, but from collaboration.  Acknowledgement of this historical fact has led working people at important moments to embrace the fundamental credo of solidarity and act accordingly.  Such a moment is upon us.

There is no defending the AFT record of betrayal of this credo and the self-destructive impact it has had on the membership and the communities we serve.  Weingarten simply casts a blind eye over what needs to be understood and corrected. If teachers applied this same method to reflect on our own classroom practice we would never learn a thing.

I urge the American Educator to open its pages to a real discussion of AFT history.  I urge my sister and brother educators to study and reflect upon AFT history.  As William Faulkner wrote, “the past is not over, it’s not even past.”

Peace,
Sean Ahern

Delegate to the UFT Delegate Assembly. Member of the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE) caucus.  August 7, 2016

The Matthew Effect in American Education

(Another old post that never made it out, from August 2014)

What’s all this nonsense about American schools being designed for a “democratic society … united by our education system through common values, comprehensive curriculum … and free K-12 education for every child”? (Per
http://dianeravitch.net/2014/08/17/edward-berger-on-the-tenets-of-education-in-a-democracy/ )

There are many who don’t believe a word of that stuff about equal rights or common values. From well before the American Revolution, it was illegal to teach slaves to read or write. Many of our Founding Fathers owned slaves and most states limited the vote to those who owned property. The US invaded Mexico so that white Texan slaveowners could keep their slaves. A large portion of the nation seceded from the union lest they be unable to further expand slavery into those new territories.

It took a bloody civil war to smash the idea and practice that some people were so inferior that all their labor could be stolen from them and they had no rights even to live as a family or go where they wished. Of course, after the Confederacy was smashed, the war criminals and traitors who led that treacherous rebellion were eventually allowed back into power in the South; corporations in the North were given free reign to profit from the merciless exploitation of “free” laborers from all corners of the globe, while Southern plantation and factory owners were permitted to re-enslave black workers through Jim Crow vagrancy laws. (Please see http://www.slaverybyanothername.com )

Our system is in a constant war between the forces of democracy and the forces of the power elite (or the Ruling Class, or “the 1%”) and those who agree with them.

This is true also in education.

Can anybody doubt that the children of the wealthiest have always received the very best educations, with the best instruction known in the arts, music, foreign languages, sports along with the best in the sciences, writing, math, literature and so on — for the purpose of allowing them to think for themselves? And that the poor and working classes are generally given an education designed to weed them out or to toe the line and be obedient workers, blindly pledging allegiance to a system that basically disenfranchises them?

The “Matthew Effect”, as you can read in Wikipedia, means quite simply, “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.” It comes from Matthew 25:29, and the KJV says “For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken even that which he hath.”

The nation’s billionaire education “reformers” are at it again. They claim that the best type of school for the poor and brown or black kids is one with a few temporary teachers and a lot of profitable computers, all in one room. Or a school where there is nothing but relentless force-feeding of math “facts” and “brief constructed responses” and SLANT in English. And kids who can’t handle this stultifying regime get bounced out back to the regular public schools.

While students at Choate, Chicago Lab School, Phillips Exeter, Sidwell Friends, and so on (where the 1% send their own kids) get the royal treatment.

It’s going to take a huge movement to stop this incredibly unequal treatment. Parents, teachers, students and ordinary citizens, please step up and be counted in that struggle!

Network for Public Education Event in NYC, October 2014

(Another old post that never made it out… From October 2014)

Russ Walsh has what appears to be a concise write up on the NPE event yesterday which I could not attend but tried to follow online.

Here is his post:

http://russonreading.blogspot.com/2014/10/hangin-at-public-education-nation.html

From Mark Naison – Parent Strike!

 This is from Mark Naison, an author and professor at Fordham in NYC — gfb
Mark Naison
July 23 at 4:51pm
What Our Children and Grandchildren Deserve: No Compromise With Current Education Policies

Every post I get from around the country suggests that the attack on teachers, students and public education shows no sign of letting up. Students are being tested more than ever; great teachers are being given low ratings and driven out of the profession; and whole cities are being turned into all charter districts without evidence that this will do anything to empower students, while at the same time funneling profits to consulting firms and real estate developers. While the worst of the attacks are hitting high poverty schools, no districts are immune from the scripting, the micromanagement and the obsession with test results. This nightmare is occurring in states with Republican governors and states with Democratic governors.

Anyone who thinks that the new ECAA legislation being passed by Congress is going to bring relief is being extremely naive. Those who think than any Presidential candidate will make things better is living in Never Never Land. The momentum of current policies on the state and local level is powerful because it is driven by Billionaire dollars. The same people who are controlling the political process in DC are driving privatization and profiteering in public education at the local level.

The only way to fight back against this is civil disobedience. Parent strikes, Student strikes. Teachers strikes. Test Refusal. And innovative tactics to bring the pressure on those who would destroy students lives and teachers careers. Disrupt meetings. Picket peoples houses. Make those who would make students and families pay the price pay a price themselves.

This is why I am very excited about the formation of the group ParentStrike. And the refusal of United Opt Out to compromise at all with ANY federal legislation that uses standardized testing as the basis of school evaluation and uses federal funds to punish schools, school districts and entire states on the basis of test scores.

Now is not the time to compromise. We are already losing badly. It is the time to disrupt. To confuse. To undermine, To resist

Our children and grandchildren deserve better. Much better.

Bob Schaeffer’s Weekly Roundup of Actions Against the Testing Juggernaut

Demonstrating another surge of support for assessment reform as the Spring 2015 testing season nears, this week’s stories about the movement against standardized exam overuse and misuse come from more than 40% of the 50 states. The news is reinforced by several excellent analytic pieces and opinion columns (back issues of these weekly updates are archived at: http://fairtest.org/news/other)

In addition to keeping the heat on state and local policy-makers, now is the time to let your U.S. Senators and Representative know you support a significant reduction in federal testing mandates, an end to test-based consequences for students, teachers or schools and more funding for better forms of assessment. Please make those calls and send your emails today!

Recommendations for Overhauling “No Child Left Behind” From Forum on Educational Accountability
http://www.fairtest.org/fea-recommendations-improving-federal-law-january
Teacher Tells Congress: Federal Testing Mandates Are Wrong
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/01/21/teacher-tells-congress-the-federal-incentives-in-education-are-wrong/
Lawmakers Propose End to Annual Standardized Exam Requirement
http://dianeravitch.net/2015/01/21/a-proposal-to-end-annual-testing/
Listen to What Senator Whitehouse Said About Education Policy
http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/democrats-should-listen-to-what-senator-whitehouse-said-about-education-policy/

Arizona Schools’ Chief Wants New Assessment Ditched
http://www.abc15.com/news/state/arizona-schools-chief-wants-new-assessment-test-gone

Standardized Testing Fixation is Destroying Education in California and Across U.S.
http://www.citywatchla.com/8box-left/8272-wake-up-call-standarized-tests-are-destroying-american-education
Experts Say New Common Core Tests Not Ready to Grade California Schools
http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/social-affairs/20150120/some-experts-say-california-testing-should-not-be-used-to-grade-schools-yet

Colorado Lawmakers Continue Introducing Bills to Limit Testing
http://gazette.com/colorado-lawmakers-continue-introducing-bills-to-limit-testing/article/1544914

Five Florida Counties Sponsor Legislation Allowing Them to Opt Out of State Tests
http://www.nbc-2.com/story/27928046/swfl-school-superintendents-request-more-flexibility-from-state#.VMQmcOFLUZw

Louisiana School Expects Flood of Test Refusals
http://www.theadvertiser.com/story/news/2015/01/26/lpss-receives-first-testing-refusal-more-expected-soon/22346389/

No Maine Law Requires Students to Take a Test
http://www.sunjournal.com/news/columns-analysis/2015/01/25/jaclyn-boyd-government-should-not-dictate-if-child-takes-test/1645210
New Maine Tests Raises School Board Concerns; Some May Ask to Opt Out
http://www.mdislander.com/maine-news/education-news/test-raises-red-flags

Are Maryland Schools Giving Too Many Tests
http://www.wbaltv.com/education/are-school-systems-giving-students-too-many-tests/30866478

“We Are More Than Numbers” — Massachusetts Students’ Video on Testing
https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_oXWSpH_mLrVW9idHpIYXFSZms/edit?pli=1

Michigan Parents Upset By Schools’ Test Opt-Out Policy
http://www.wnem.com/story/27897329/parents-upset-about-standardized-testing-requirements

New Jersey Parents and Voters Want Kids Tested Less: New Poll
http://www.nj.com/education/2015/01/nj_parents_want_kids_tested_less_njea_poll_says.html
Early Results of New Jersey PARCC Testing: Widespread Misery
http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/01/post_111.html#incart_river
New Jersey Commission Calls for Cutback in Time Spent on Testing
http://www.northjersey.com/news/n-j-commission-urges-school-districts-to-reduce-testing-1.1239411

Computer Crashes Mar New Mexico PARCC Test Trial Run
http://www.koat.com/news/glitches-afflict-parcc-test-run/30874602

Long Island, New York Teacher Refuses to Administer Common Core Test, Superintendent Backs Her
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/01/20/teacher-refuses-to-give-common-core-test-to-kids-with-her-superintendents-support/
Why Parents Are Refusing New York’s Common Core Tests
http://www.lohud.com/story/opinion/contributors/2015/01/24/refusing-states-common-core-tests/22217149/
New York Governor Cuomo “Obsessed” With Testing Teachers
http://www.lohud.com/story/opinion/editorials/2015/01/21/gov-cuomo-wrongly-focused-teacher-evaluations/22129435/
Open Letter to NY Gov. Cuomo: My Child Is Not a Test Score
http://www.syracuse.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/01/dear_gov_cuomo_my_child_is_not_a_test_score_your_letters.html

More Tests Won’t Fix North Carolina Schools
http://www.heraldonline.com/2015/01/21/6723890_more-tests-wont-fix-schools.html?rh=1
The Flaw in North Carolina’s School Performance Grades
http://www.heraldsun.com/news/showcase/x2130548298/The-flaw-in-School-Performance-Grades

Some Ohio Students Opt Out of State Tests
http://www.starbeacon.com/news/some-grand-valley-students-opt-out/article_b57390a8-a508-11e4-89a8-2b7b80163bfc.html

Oklahoma High-Stakes Exam Opponents Look to Legislative Session to Cut Testing Overkill
http://www.fox23.com/news/news/local/high-stakes-testing-opponents-look-forward-state-l/njsKd/

Bill Would Expand Oregon Parents’ Right to Excuse Kids From Standardized Tests
http://www.wweek.com/portland/blog-32740-oregon_bill_would_expand_parents_rights_to_excuse_kids_from_standarized_tests.html

Many Students at Pennsylvania School Plan to Opt Out of Tests
http://citypaper.net/news/feltonville-arts-and-sciences-students-posed-to-quit-standardized-tests-en-masse/
Parents Back Teachers Who Explain Pennsylvania Opt-Out Process
http://dianeravitch.net/2015/01/26/philadelphia-warns-teachers-of-disciplinary-actions-if-they-inform-parents-of-opt-out-right/

Many Testing and Accountability Bills in 2015 Texas Legislative Hopper
http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2015/01/testing-and-accountability-bills-in-the-texas-legislative-hopper.html/

Students, Activists Support Utah Teacher Fired for Refusing to Administer Test
http://www.sltrib.com/news/politics/2067279-155/rolly-activists-students-support-utah-teacher

Tacoma, Washington Parents Join Movement to Opt Kids Out of Standardized Testing
http://www.thenewstribune.com/2015/01/24/3599718_tacoma-area-parents-join-movement.html?rh=1

High-Poverty Wisconsin Schools More Likely to Be Labeled “Failing”
http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/education/2015/01/24/impoverished-schools-likely-labeled-failing/22280449/?from=global&sessionKey=&autologin=

A Failing Grade for Test-Based School Report Cards
http://nepc.colorado.edu/newsletter/2015/01/why-school-report-cards-fail

16 States Plus D.C. Require Third-Grade Retention Based on  Test Scores
http://www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/01/16/44/11644.pdf

The Past, Present and Future of High-Stakes Testing
http://www.npr.org/blogs/ed/2015/01/22/377438689/the-past-present-and-future-of-high-stakes-testing

U.S. Addiction to Testing is Ripping the Humanity Out of Education
http://www.alternet.org/education/our-addiction-testing-ripping-humanity-out-education

Teachers Need Tests. . . Just Not Just Those Ones
http://badassteachers.blogspot.com/2015/01/teachers-need-tests.html

Why Everybody Hates Pearson
http://fortune.com/2015/01/21/everybody-hates-pearson/

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office-   (239) 395-6773   fax-  (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468
web-  http://www.fairtest.org

==================

My apologies for not keeping up with this.

Audio Recordings from Ras Baraka’s Fund-Raiser in DC this weekend

I was able to record parts of the remarks of Ras Baraka (a progressive candidate for mayor of Newark, New Jersey)’s remarks at Busboys & Poets this past weekend, and I was going to attempt to share them with you here, but ran into some sort of snag, so I’ll have to give you the links on Google Drive instead.

My recordings are in four unequal parts, and are in iPhone’s ‘voice memo’ format.

The first one is quite short, less than a minute.

The second one is rather long, and is quite a rouser. Among other things, he points out that a victory against racism and oppression in one location encourages others to fight back harder and win.

In the third one, I asked him what his experiences were like as a teacher, building rep, and then principal.

In the fourth one, ‘Teacher Ken” asked him how he managed to bring medical and dental services to the schools under his care.

Let’s see how this works, and please let me know (via ‘comments’) what your experiences are.

nora ras baraka 004

Published in: on March 10, 2014 at 2:42 pm  Comments (1)  
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Teachers at a school in Chicago unanimously vote to boycott a test

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the entire faculty of Saucedo Elementary Academy, with the support of parents, have voted to refuse to administer a standardized test called the ISAT. Most of the parents have apparently already chosen to have their children ‘opt out’ of taking the test. The test administration is supposed to start on Monday, 3/3/14.

Naturally, the superintendent of schools is threatening to fire the teachers and revoke their licenses. From the Sun-Times article:

The teachers refusing to administer the ISAT could face disciplinary action, CPS officials said.

Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey said those teachers could be fired.

“I think it would be outrageous and wrong. . . . The teachers aren’t doing this for any gain. They’re doing this because they want to teach,” he said.

The CTU vowed to “mount a strong defense” if the teachers are disciplined.

Chambers said teachers know this is risky, and there might be consequences from the administration.

“We are not afraid. We’re standing strong for our kids and what is right,” she said.

Boycotters at Saucedo hope the school is a leader in the anti-ISAT movement, which has been gaining momentum in recent days.

This is a big step forward in the move against the top-down deforming of public schools (particularly those for poor children and minorities) into all-test-prep all the time.

Details here, and here. and here is a youtube video!

Published in: on February 28, 2014 at 9:48 am  Comments (1)  
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