Opine I will

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

Archive for the tag “education. education reform. Ratto”

Duncan’s Line in the Sand

Building anything on sand will lead to an eventual collapse. Sand is constantly shifting and provides little foundational support. Yet legislators often make policy decisions based on the shifting sands of political agendas. So, be wary when policy makers declare they are, “drawing a line in the sand”.  That line will often shift or even disappear due to the winds of political donors and lobbyists.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan is about to build upon his education reform agenda and promises to “draw a line in the sand” that will continue abusive high stakes standardized tests in reading and math. Public education in our nation is about to collapse as Duncan’s continues to use tests as a cornerstone of education reform. He just doesn’t understand that when you build anything on sand it is doomed to fail.

Assessing student growth, once provided teachers with the mortar that allowed teachers to build upon lessons that provided what was necessary to help their students grow. Today, assessing student growth, with Common Core tests, has been transformed into a wrecking ball that is destroying teacher’s ability to adapt to the needs of individual students.

Duncan  is about to double down on his wrecking ball strategy as Congress revisits No Child Left Behind (NCLB).   Insisting high stakes tests be performed every year and using these tests to evaluate teachers erodes the foundation of public education in our nation.

I believe standardized tests should be used to drive differentiated instruction for every child in our classrooms. Common Core tests do not do that. They are used to force teachers to get every student walking lock step or else. The or else part is the threat that if a teacher does not get their students marching together in time, then the nation will declare that teacher ineffective and they must be discharged.

I believe teachers should be evaluated every year. The method of these evaluations should be collectively bargained at the local level and the local community should be deciding who should teach their children, not federal or state bureaucrats driven by political agendas.

As Congress revisits NCLB this week, they must abandon the NCLB legislation that was built on sand and is destroying our schools. They must build on the bedrock of our nation, the legacy of our public schools. They must fully fund public education and beat back those who are turning our schools into business ventures.

NCLB, CCSS, and RTTT are nothing more than flimsy acronyms that camouflage the fact that they are policies built on sand. Education should not be a race to the top, our diverse nation is anything but common and our children should not be judged that way, and all children should be allowed to progress individually. Once we get back to those basic principles then we are truly building on firm footing.

End of Year

It’s that time of year when we start seeing end of year lists in review. We become inundated with lists of everything from soup to nuts. Especially nuts this year!

Here is my list of questions,  still unanswered, as 2014 comes to a close. Feel free to provide an answer if you can or pass them along.

  1. Why are graduation rates at historic levels ( high school, college and post secondary) if our public schools are failing?
  2. The stock market is at an all-time high, so why are public schools underfunded?
  3. In New York State and many other states, property values are driven by the quality of the school district, so why is Governor Cuomo tying the hands of local communities to fully fund their local schools?
  4. New York State is no longer in financial trouble, so why does Governor Cuomo continue to use a “robbing Peter to pay Paul” scheme ( Gap Elimination Adjustment) that robs public schools of budgeted school aid?
  5. Why is New York State funding schools below 2009 levels while giving tax breaks to casinos?
  6. Where is the evidence that Common Core State Standards are age appropriate?
  7. Just what does the term “college and career ready” really mean. Especially when it is used to assess kindergarten through 6th grade children?
  8. Why does the New York State Education Chancellor and Governor Cuomo continue to state that our teachers are failing students when 93.8% of all high school graduates ( excluding NYC) are earning a ‘Regent’s Diploma”?
  9. Where is the evidence to support the underlying requirement of the Common Core that all students should be at the same level of understanding at the same time?
  10. Where is the research that supports the current practice of having elementary age children take hour upon hour of tests to measure teacher, administration, and district effectiveness as well as their own level of understanding?
  11. Why is it acceptable to dismantle and hand over our communities’ most important assets ( our schools) to private entrepreneurs?
  12. Why do our legislators do so little for the social needs of our communities while at the same time blaming our schools?
  13. How do states justify reducing the number of teachers while at the same time proclaim all students deserve a good education?
  14. Why have our public school teachers become the nation’s scapegoat for poor public policy?
  15. Why are special needs children being denied special education services?
  16. Just where is the evidence that supports the ideal that Charlotte Danielson and her contrived rubric should be the standard for teacher evaluation?
  17. Why are teachers’ unions unfairly labeled when the evidence shows that where they exist student achievement is higher?
  18. Why has President Obama been silent on high stakes testing since his State of the Union 2 years ago when he said testing should be limited?
  19. When will states be up front and honest and inform their residents that Lotteries do not increase funding for schools?
  20. When will all public sector unions join together and demand in a collective voice, “workers’ rights, pay, benefits and pensions for all”?

My Constitutional Right

A quick update.

If you have been reading my blog, you would know that I have documented my unfortunate encounter with my NYS Assemblywomen Michaelle Solages. I have gathered enough evidence that Solages has used her office to attempt to destroy my career. I know a NYS Assembly Computer was used to impersonate a NYSUT member ( New York State United Teachers) . I know she tracked down where I worked and called my principal. I know that she call the regional office at NYSUT asking them to do something about me. I know my district received an mysterious e-mail that included the same details the message sent from the Assembly computer.

Too many patriots have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the ideals of our nation. Our elected representative, are suppose to represent us not the party line. Our elected representatives are not allowed to abuse the power of their office. When a constituent asks a simple question like I did, an answer is expected. A vendetta is not.

Something I haven’t posted. I called Ms. Solages office the other day and demanded an apology. I also warned them if an apology was not received I would take this further. Yet another opportunity lost by her to do the right thing.

Therefore, my complaint to The New York State Office of the Attorney General’s Public Integrity Bureau has been mailed. I do not do this lightly. I am fully aware that any false statements made by me are punishable by law.

 

How do you grow this? My adventures with APPR.

Here in New York State, we have a new teacher evaluation plan commonly know as APPR.  20-25% of my evaluation is based on a state standardized test. We all know how well those are put together with wonderful stories of pineapples challenging hares to races. I’ve written about that before. 

The next 15-20% is based on two district assessments ( pre and post) that must be approved by the state and the last 60% is based on a combination of observations and evidence provided by me.

Today, I had to administer the district assessment to my 5th grade class and yes, there was a pineapple question! Our district chose the Star Assessments provided by Renaissance Learning.

The question was based on the “Pineapple Poem” yet the answer had nothing to do with pineapples. The question was to pick what the author meant by a sleeping palm tree.  The correct answer was the palm tree was drooping and swaying as it was about to fall asleep! Ever see a drooping palm tree? Do you think it would be too much trouble to include those details in the poem? Does a kid from the Northeast know what a drooping palm tree looks like? Personally all the palm trees I have ever seen, stand majestically up right.

Another question asked them, “How does the rhetorical question in the passage support the author’s purpose to persuade?” My concern is that ‘rhetorical’ is not a typical 5th grade literary term, and that it’s not in the Common Core. These are two of many poorly worded  and very difficult questions my class suffered through.

Since this is a pre-test  you may be thinking what I thought at first. No problem, they do poorly now and I’ll work hard and they’ll do better in the Spring when they take the post test. Growth is in the bag,, yahoo!

Well hold on cowboy! 

Since most questions had only 3 answers to choose from, each question had a 33.3% probability of being correct no matter what the student chose!

Upon review of my class’ scores, my lowest student ,who receives reading support and scored “not proficient” in last Spring’s state exam, turned in one of the highest scores in my class! He was the first one done, obviously not reading the questions. Three other students also scored better than they did on the state exam, one was rated at reading at the 11+ grade level.

So since my evaluation is based on their growth as shown on these exams, it looks like I doomed!

So how do you grow this?

Post Navigation