Opine I will

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

Archive for the month “July, 2016”

New York Regents Spin, Spin, Spin.

Today , New York State Education Department Released their  Spring 2016 Grades 3-8 ELA and Math Assessment Results. As we all know, when a public entity releases anything on a Friday afternoon, it deserves a little extra scrutiny. There is a reason they released it late today, they hoped to get away with a scam PR stunt.

Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa said in this press release,

“… it’s not possible to make direct comparisons of this year’s results to past years…”.

Yet, that’s exactly what they do in this release even though the press release states,

“While the content of the 2016 tests and last year’s tests are comparable and similarly rigorous, it is not possible to make direct comparisons of the 2016 results to prior years’ results because of changes to the tests this year. The 2016 results are valid and reliable indicators of student proficiency in the tested grades and subjects.”

Chart after chart goes on to compare test scores with percentage increases in each category. So what should we believe, their words or their charts?

NYSED goes on to make baseless assumptions about the students who refused the tests. Someone please explain this assumption:

Historically, SED only tracked the number of students not tested for an invalid, unknown reason. These students are categorized as “not tested” students.

What is an invalid unknown reason? It may be unknown to NYSED but does that make it invalid?

Their most egregious assumption is to state that they know what those who refused the test would have scored.

In addition, the 2016 test refusal students were much more likely to be from low-need or average-need districts; more likely to have scored at Level 1 and Level 2 in 2015 if they took the tests; less likely to be economically disadvantaged; less likely to be a student with a disability; and much less likely to be English Language Learners.

NYSED would be wise to listen to Joe Friday, ” Just the facts ma’am, just the facts please. just the facts

Here are some real facts..

  • Teachers are being forced to teach to the test
  • The arts are taking a back seat to test prep
  • More students are opting out
  • The data in invalid
  •  State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia’s listening tour, was all about parents listening to her.
  • More resources are being diverted towards test prep
  • 9 1/2 hours of testing is abusive to all students
  • Children are becoming increasingly stressed about test score
  • The tests measure NOTHING!

So my message to the Board of Regents:

Cut the spin, deal with the real issues, pass a permanent end to these tests, and develop real standards with teachers that honor the diversity of our state.

 

 

Independence?

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On this 4th of July it is appropriate to quote our Declaration of Independence in response to those that want to undermine our public schools.

“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes;”

To paraphrase from the Declaration,

On this Independence Day it’s time to declare that our public education system will no longer be subjected to a long train of abuses and usurpations, under a design to reduce it under absolute Despotism, it is our right, it is our duty, to throw off such forces, and to provide new Guards for future security of our schools!

Dane Ravitch shared a leaked draft of the 2016 Democratic Party Platform. While there are many Planks that I strongly agree with, I must say that I am quite disappointed with the Planks on education. One would think that since the AFT and the NEA jumped on Hillary Clinton’s bandwagon with a way to early endorsement, education would be at the forefront of this Platform.

Unfortunately, this platform’s Plank on Early Childhood, Pre-K, and K-12 is  nothing more than rhetoric used to fill up a page in a meaningless statement. Much like Clinton’s promise to close every school that is below average, it actually puts our public schools at risk.

Let me first state that the Republican Party is in shambles and I will not support Trump or his Party. That said, I post the following in hopes that enough of us will speak out and demand real change.

When the Democratic Party declares that they will ensure there are great schools in every zip code and that the Federal Government will continue to play a critical role, it should send shivers up our collective spines. Just what does this mean?

Will the Party hand over control  of our schools over to John King to allow him to systematically wrest control away from local communities, much like he did in New York?

When bureaucrats tout high standards as a paradigm to success, we should be questioning whose standards? Just what are those standards and should the standards be the same for every child and every community in our diverse nation? Common Core is a failure and it appears the Democrats are doubling down on this miserable social experiment.

The Party Platform also states, “We will hold schools, districts, communities, and states  accountable for raising achievement levels for all students—particularly low-income students,  students of color, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities.” Does this mean the Party will continue the disaster of high stakes testing? Just what does accountability mean? Is this what Hillary meant when she said we should close every below average school? Simple math tells us below average means the bottom 50%. Is this the Party’s plan?

The Party’s  Plank also throw support behind charter schools. It claims increased transparency. Just what does that mean? Increased transparency does not mean total transparency. It does not mean that they will be held to the same standards as public schools. It does not mean that they will prevent charters from hand picking students, weeding out those with special needs, and hijacking space and resources from public schools.

They refuse to state that if they actually supported public schools and public school teachers there would not be any market for charter schools. Until we have true campaign finance reform, hedge funds  will continue to drive the Party’s Planks on education.

The bottom line, the AFT’s and NEA’s way to early endorsement resulted in a lackadaisical rhetoric   filled  platform that double down on the reformers agenda which will make us more dependent on false promises.

On this Independence Day it’s time to declare that our public education system will no longer be subjected to a long train of abuses and usurpations, under a design to reduce it under absolute Despotism, it is our right, it is our duty, to throw off such forces, and to provide new Guards for future security of our schools.

Let your voiced be heard, demand changes and take back our Party. Declare our independence from those working to destroy our nation’s future.

 

 

 

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