Opine I will

I am an elementary school teacher just trying to do the right thing

Archive for the month “April, 2014”

Cut the head off the serpent called Pearson

Something is seriously wrong, when representatives of the AFT must travel to London to attempt to engage Pearson executives, and board members in order to convince them  to remove “gag orders” preventing educators from expressing concerns about Pearson-developed tests and to meet with educators, parents and other stakeholders to address their concerns regarding these tests.

Let me rephrase that;

 The largest teachers union in the United States, traveled overseas to  ask a foreign corporation to allow a free and open discussion on a product that is forcing a paradigm shift in education in the United States!

We now find ourselves at a crossroads of sort. Will our elected representative continue to allow this foreign corporation to feed our children content that educators and most importantly parents are forbidden to review or even discuss? Just this past week, I was reminded that I can not even discuss the New York State tests with my grade level partners to figure out how we can drive instruction next year. We can not even discuss strategies that worked for us  or did not work in relation to these tests.

Enough is enough! It’s time to cut the head off that serpent that promises better times with a forbidden fruit. 

It seems as though Pearson is in serious financial trouble according to Alan Singer.  

Pearson admits:

Our North American education business faced a tough trading environment throughout 2013, driven by state budget pressures and the transition to the Common Core (affecting our School business) and lower enrollments (affecting Higher Education). The career college sector, in which we have a strong market position, was particularly weak. In addition to these market pressures, our North American margins were further affected by planned investments in learning technologies and related infrastructure, Common Core programs, the launch costs related to major multi-year service-based contracts in higher education, and increased returns provisions.

Pearson also generates  60% of it’s sales from the United States, from it’s Education business and Penguin Random House.

It’s time to boycott.

Throughout our nation’s history, the People have used the boycott to affect needed change. It’s time for us to continue that grand tradition that lies within the bedrock of our democracy.

Boycott anything related to Pearson.

Some may say that others decide what products we must use in our schools and we really have no choice. I say that’s nonsense. Get yourself on decision making committees, get elected to a school board and do whatever you can to say no to Pearson. Vote no to any Pearson product! That also includes products related to Pearson. 

Let elected officials know that if they vote to support this foreign corporation in any way, you will not vote for them.

Not another US penny should be spent on any product from Pearson.

Let’s begin by creating a detailed list of Pearson products, I invite your contributions on the comments section of this page.

 

 

 

 

 

Keep it simple…

We are not going to win this battle against the corporate reformers backing Common Core unless we become unified under a valid banner.

It’s simple.. Common Core Standards and high stakes testing have no pedagogical validity because there are no empirical studies that verifies they actual are capable of results the so called reformers claim. In addition, high stakes testing is a form of institutional abuse that must be halted immediately.

Unfortunately, that important message is being destroyed by some who claim they are against the Common Core.

Read David Brooks opinion piece this past week . He calls it a circus. He describes the Right Wing attacks and misrepresents the Left.

There are groups of all political persuasions that are against the Common Core, high stakes testing and education reform. That said, just because another group may be against something that I am also fighting, they are not considered my ally. You really need to explore the agenda of all groups.

I am against the Common Core and high stakes testing due to pedagogical reasons, while groups on the Right are against it for political reasons. Political arguments are self serving, they reflect a much larger agenda. Calling it Obamacore may feel good to some but it does not help our cause.

In this case these Right Wing groups are pushing a much darker agenda. They look at Common Core as a grand conspiracy by the left, meant to indoctrinate our children while creating a mega database of ammunition that will be used against the masses. I can’t be an ally to that rhetoric.

I have  called out that agenda by posting links on Twitter that demonstrated that their agenda is so far to the Right that all of us should be wary. These groups are against teachers unions, they are against tenure, they support vouchers, they claim liberal teachers are brainwashing their children, and they claim Common Core is a tool to undermine Christian values just to start.

I have been vocal about these groups before, I have shown links to the Heritage Foundation, Freedomworks, the Koch brothers, and other similar groups.  I posted proof that their keynote speakers ally themselves with Glenn Beck and the Cato institute.

I will not ally with any group that is looking for my demise as a public school teacher or as a union member. I won’t risk the war, to save our nation’s important asset, our public schools and teachers, to win any battle.

Don’t kid yourself, these Right wing groups that are fighting education reform, with their not so hidden agendas, will ultimately destroy any chance we have to beat back the reformers. They will undermine the foundation of our cause, And once they erode the very ground that public education stands on, all will be lost.

Case in point…Those of us in New York are doing battle with Democrat Governor Cuomo. The more the Right pushes their agenda, Cuomo digs in deeper ignoring the Democrats in the group appealing to pedagogical senses.

Is this any way to affect change?

It’s time to call these groups out. Expose their true agendas.  Then and only then will we really have a chance to save public education.

Keep it simple.. Common Core Standards and high stakes testing have no pedagogical validity because there are no empirical studies that verifies they actual are capable of results the so called reformers claim. In addition, high stakes testing is a form of institutional abuse that must be halted immediately.

 

Common Core Test Abuse

Today my 5th grade class was subjected to day 1 of a  3 day Common Core exam that according to New York Governor Cuomo will result in “unfair test results.” He even said students must be protected from these results. The legislature took the extraordinary (not really) step of including a bill in their budget proposal that says districts should not use the results of these tests, unless of course they want to.

Confused yet? During last’s night debate ( not really) on the New York State Assembly floor, Assemblyman Graf asked if it was true that they were voting to reduce a 90 minute test to 90 minutes! ( Yes!, Really, 90 minutes!)

Today, Cuomo announced that he needed to look at the impact of Common Core testing on teacher evaluations. ( Yes, he really said that!) Cuomo said Common Core testing has been rolled out too quickly and it is not a fair indicator of student success.

Has the campaign begun??

As Cuomo fiddles, the students in my class are being put through the fire. They sat today trying to decipher ridiculous questions that asked, among other things, relationships between paragraphs, which paragraphs contribute to the structure of a story, and what should have been included in the summary of a story they read.

The read 6 essays, and answered 42 very difficult and abstract questions. The stories had characters with names that would be unfamiliar to 98%  of New Yorkers. They were uninteresting and the students told me later just how  hard they struggled to stay motivated. Observing,  I witnessed students struggle through the first couple then they seem to just skim and randomly select bubbles to fill in. One student said, “This was the worst 90 minutes of the entire year.”

Students wondered if they failed, students were drained and wondered what they would face tomorrow.

My question to the governor,

Why did we abuse New York’s children today?

 

 

 

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