Education

Testing…testing…does this thing work?

No, I’m not talking about this neglected website. I’m talking about the grueling season that is right now bearing down on many of California’s kids. It’s testing season, folks, the time of year when No. 2 pencils and prison-like lock downs on school campuses reign. It’s the season that helps make Pearson one of the wealthiest companies in the world (read that thing with tissues in hand because you will weep); the season that causes Michelle Rhee, Ben Austin, Rahm Emmanuel, and other like-minded education “reformers” to gleefully piddle in their pants at the idea of closing more “failing” schools. Score one for privatization.

Of course, I’m opting my child out of the tests because I don’t subscribe to child abuse. Tomorrow, while the kids in my daughter’s second grade class spend day one of six bent over Scantron sheets while chomping on prohibited-during-all-other-school hours mint gum, my child will be eating crepes she made while learning about the Greek diva, Maria Callas.

448px-Maria_Callas_(La_Traviata)_2

Like Maria Callas, my poor kid has an overbearing mother, one who simply could not take her girl by the hand and lead her quietly away from bubble answers and into the light of Verdi’s La Traviatta. No, her mother had to create a Shit Storm first by posting her opinion on Facebook. And yes, I’m really missing my CityBeat platform these days, thank you very much.

Anyway. Ruby’s school sent out an email with suggestions on how best to prep our little Social Experiments for the next two weeks of testing. This inspirational missive came after a very lucrative solicitation last week for the aforementioned mint gum. Because some random un-cited research claims it helps kids stay focused and calm…which might be an argument to offer it everyday, no? Ponder that for a moment.

Some of the things the email encouraged parents to do at home were:

  • Ensure your child is at school everyday, and on time!
  • Ensure your child eats a nutritious breakfast, daily.
  • Ask your child to read a bit more than usual this month, or read with your child for longer periods to build stamina.
  • Talk with your child about the tests & the importance of doing his/her best.
  • Encourage your child to think positive thoughts like “I can do this!”
  • Talk with your child about their anxieties & express your confidence in his/her ability.
  • Be sure your child wears comfortable clothing
  • Encourage your child to pay careful attention to test directions and matching the right answers to the right question  

The email included some “other cute ideas” as well:

7_smartwater
“SMART WATER”:  give kids a water bottle each with original smart water, or one with an added label……gives kids the motivation that they can do it!

A special snack each day:

baggie of cheerios with “We’re cheer-ing you on”
baggie of Lucky Charms w/ “Show What you Know, Good Luck”
baggie of pretzels w/ “Don’t let the test “twist” your head”
baggie of popcorn w/ “Poppin’ in to say you’re doing great”
box of raisins w/ “You’re Raisin’ your score”

A special treat to start the morning:
die cut star  with label/ “I’m a Test Takin’ Star” and a starburst candy
a bookmark that says “I’m a Smart Cookie” and a cookie
a bookmark that says “Do your Bear-y Best” and gummybears
a eraser w/ “Erase those fears right outa your head”
business sized card with “Believe, Achieve, Succeed” and a penny

Uh, huh. Yes. Fo’ realz! Our school just did some serious product placement. I’m starting to think that Pearson owns Smart Water, Starburst Chews, gummy bears, mint gum, cookies, all ingredients needed to make cookies (including oatmeal, just to cover the bases), cookie sheets and Teflon®. Bwahahahahahaha!

Some important context here: Our school has an extremely strict stance on food. Students are not allowed to bring treats to school on their birthdays; junk food, candy, sweets of any kind—including gum—are all prohibited in packed lunches; even Valentine’s Day is a no-go. Teachers are allowed to have 3 parties each year, the only time that food is permitted, but all food items must be cleared with the nurse first. Ah, the drudgery of childhood.

no-junk-food

There is value in this policy, sure. I get the allergy angle, and can appreciate the collective effort to protect children from danger. But c’mon. This is excessive. So what if the kids ask each other to Be Mine! with a lollipop or a SweeTart? Who cares if a teacher gives out a piece of licorice at the end of a long day? Whose business is it if I want to put a small sweet in my kid’s lunch box because…well…just because.

But these are the rules, and I go along quietly because these are the rules. Until they aren’t any more. Because what better time than test time to start your PearsonBot’s morning with a special treat of “starburst candy”? What’s better than sending Tommy Test Taker to class with school-sanctioned Ziploc bag of Lucky Charms? LIVE LARGE, KIDDOS! SNAP THAT GUM LIKE NOBODY’S WATCHIN’!

That is, until June 11th and then don’t you show up with that poison on campus or else.

And so—you know me—I went ahead and mentioned this hypocrisy on the school’s Facebook page with the purpose of highlighting how our culture of standardized testing is so big, so important, that we will do ridiculous things in the endless hunt for high test scores. Since January, my kid’s homework packets have included lengthy practice test questions in English despite the fact that, according to the school website, “[i]n grades K-2, students receive academic instruction in French only.“  With such explicit teaching to the test—in direct opposition to their stated curriculum—it can’t be a stretch to think there would be free Jell-O shots at the school entrance if “studies showed” a correlation between reading comprehension and vodka.

My post elicited an angry reaction from parents (rightly so) aaaaand also the admonishment that I shouldn’t have made my thoughts public, that Facebook wasn’t the right place to have this particular conversation. But I disagree. I think it’s as fine a place as any to be having this conversation.

Teaching to the test has officially begun at my daughter’s school.

And by OFFICIALLY, I mean, EXPLICITLY SANCTIONED.

Behold the notice included with the first homework packet that came home following the Christmas break (and again in a more specific letter from the school that followed a few days later):

Dear families: Welcome back! Starting this week we will begin adding a book report (to be completed in French) and English homework. The English homework is to prepare your child for the standardized state tests in June.

To re-cap: Ruby’s school—a magnet school—is an immersion school where kids are enrolled in either Spanish or French. The French program is laid out on the school’s website like this:

Grade
% French
Approx.
No. of minutes
% English
Approx.
No. of minutes
K
100%
360 min.
0%
0
1
100%
360 min.
0%
0
2
100%
360 min.
0%
0
3
60%
215 min.
40%
145 min.
4
5
50%
180 min.
50%
180 min.
6
7
8

French Language Arts-4 hrs a week

History-4 hrs a week

English Language Arts, Math, Science and P.E.

 

Grade

%

Min.

French Subjects

%

Min.

English Subjects

K

100

360

All subject areas

0

0

1

100

360

All subject areas

0

0

2

100

360

All subject areas

0

0

3

60%

215

French Literacy
Science/Health
Math
VAPA

40%

145

Social Studies
Literacy
P.E.

4
5

50%

180

French Literacy
Math
Science/health

50%

180

Social Studies
English Literacy
P.E.

6
7
8

30%

History
French Literacy

70%

250

Math
Science/Health
English Literacy

Notice that there is no English instruction until 3rd grade. None. Instruction is taught 100% in the target language. As is common with immersion programs, children learning a second language often lag behind in their English reading until 4th or 5th grade, at which time they catch up. My child falls into this category, and hoo-boy! is she ever frustrated by it. English reading is in this house is an endeavor that is more nerve-wracking than this:

Like, who here can read with that kind of music in the background? Am I right???

So it is bothersome that homework—which we are already opposed to in this household (thank you, Alfie Kohn)—now includes material that doesn’t coalesce with the stated goal of the school, but rather appeases test zealots. Which is to say, who gives a shit about the kids? Not only is this material above the reading level of many children in 2nd grade at this school, but it is explicitly not designed to cultivate curiosity or to spark a love of reading for any child in any school. Of course, it also comes with those fun and useful multiple-guess questions at the end. This is about data and data manipulation and lying to ourselves and cheating our children. Standardized testing, and the prep for it, is child abuse.

Here, for your thank-God-I’m-not-in-school-any-more reading pleasure, is the first homework assignment to help my seven year old proficient-French-reader prepare for the California Standardized Test in May, which she is not taking. (She is not doing the English test-prep assignments, with the support of our wonderful teacher, but more on that later). If you have the stamina to make it through these zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz passages and the questions that follow, weigh in in the comments on problems you have with any of it. Hint: There were zero drawings included with the homework. Okay, pick up your pencils and GO!

English Homework: Read the selection.  Then answer numbers 1 through 10.

How an Orange Grows

An orange is a sweet and juicy fruit.  A drink of orange juice is like drinking sunshine.  Oranges grow best where there is plenty of sun.  California has many orange trees.

Orange Groves

 Most oranges are grown on farms where there are many orange trees.  The trees are in long rows.  Many orange trees together are called an orange grove. Orange trees have green leaves.  The leaves stay green all year.  In the spring, flowers bloom on the trees.  The trees are white with blossoms.  The blossoms fill the air with a sweet smell.

Blossoms and bees

Orange blossoms are beautiful.  Blossoms make pollen.  Pollen looks like yellow dust.  Bees fly from flower to flower.  They pick up pollen at one flower.  They leave some pollen at another flower.  An orange may start to grow.  Bees are important in an orange grove.

Green oranges!

The blossoms fall to the ground.  A tiny orange begins to form.  It is green and small.  It slowly grows bigger.  It fills with juice.  Seeds grow inside the orange.  Finally, the fruit grows to its full size.  It turns orange.  Then it is ripe.  Ripe oranges are picked carefully.

From the Grove to Your Table

Most oranges are made into orange juice.  Some oranges are sent to stores.  You can but an orange.  Cut it or peel it.  You can squeeze an orange yourself to make juice.  Oranges taste great!

1.  The author uses the FIRST paragraph mostly to

A  tell the reader where oranges grow.
B  let the reader know what the article is about.
C  make the reader want to drink more orange juice.
D  tell the reader a funny story about oranges.

2.  Leaves on an orange tree are

A  white.
B  orange.
C  green.
D  blossoms.

3.  Oranges grow best

A  in sunshine.
B  in the dark.
C  in a lake.
D  on the roof.

4.  Why do the trees look white in the spring?

A  There are no leaves on the trees.
B  Snow is on the trees.
C  Pollen covers the trees.
D  The trees have white flowers.

5.  What color are oranges when they start to grow?

A  green
B  pink
C  orange
D  blue

6.  You need to answer a question about pollen.  Which section should
you read again?

A  Orange Groves
B  Blossoms and Bees
C  Green Oranges!
D  From the Grove to Your Table

7.  Why are bees important in an orange grove?

A  Bees look nice in a grove.
B  Bees can make honey.
C  Bees leave pollen in the blossoms.
D  Bees eat flowers.

8.  When you look at the drawing on page 1, you can learn

A  how a tree grows.
B  where the pollen is in a blossom.
C  what a tree looks like a winter.
D  which bugs like flowers.

9.  What is likely to happen if no bees go to an orange grove?

A  Many new oranges will grow.
B  Oranges will get ripe faster.
C  No oranges will grow.
D  The orange blossoms will not fall off.

10.  The author probably wrote this section

A  just for fun.
B  to get people to buy fruit.
C  to tell readers about oranges.
D  to teach readers how to grow an orange.

“Do not. Kill. Your children’s. Dreams.”

Spike Lee’s grandmother was an art teacher who, for 50 years, taught only black students because of Jim Crow. She put him through college and funded She’s Gotta Have It.

How to make your kid hate math, writing and PE all at the same time

As more and more states fall prey to the veiled bribery of Race To The Top (RTTT), the required implementation of teacher-evaluation-based-on-student-test-scores is already displaying the dangerous symptoms the critics of corporate reform have been warning about. According to a maddening article in the New York Times yesterday—yet another that wastes no time in blaming teachers for the achievement gap (and please, someone needs to smack some sense into Nicholas Kristof)—revision of curriculum is frantic in at least a dozen states.

The Times quickly pointed my attention to the effort taking place at Bearden High School in Knoxville, Tenn., where “physical education teachers are scrambling to incorporate math and writing into activities, since 50 percent of their evaluations will be based on standardized tests, not basketball victories.”

As someone with a degree in Exercise and Nutritional Sciences, I balked at this development. Of course I had to Tweet about about it, and the absurdity kept me up much of the night, an insomnia further fueled by some of the interesting responses to my 140-character scoff. Among them, some ideas to incorporate math:

How many feet are in 2 football fields? Inches? Centimeters? A basketball court? Tennis court? Perimeter of each?

How long does it take to run around the perimeter of a football field if running @10 meters/sec?

How many basketballs would it take, if placed side by side, to fill a basketball court? Tennis balls on tennis court?

Measure each other, then:how high must you jump to touch rim? How high *can* you jump? What’s difference?

some crosscurric is good. Don’t spend all pe time on math but 5-10 min out of an hour not bad idea

This is to say nothing of the writing which should also be incorporated. Perhaps an essay about whether a tennis ball makes any noise when it bounces if nobody is around to see it bounce? Ah, but that is getting into philosophy and there’s no time for that!

One of the more sun-shiney responders (who offered several of the above suggestions) offered this as well:

Racers have to figure out minutes/mile (pace) while training,pace changes on type of run.#important2success

To specific and serious athletes, yes, important to success. But to the average kid in PE class? Hmmmm. I asked him if he had any ideas for third grade MathPE problems. His response?

Sure. How many jumping jacks do they do in a minute if they do one every 2 seconds while warming up?

Critical to success, indeed!

The way I see it, that last problem—or “word sentence,” as Pearson would like us all to know it—is a math problem for a math class. Albeit, one for a creative math teacher whose kids might get up out of their seats to test whether it really does take one minute to do 30 jumping jacks (more if you’re overweight like more than 1/3 of American kids, less if you’re wealthy and your parents can afford after school tennis lessons. Oooh! Do I sense a follow-up math problem to the original problem?). Of course, a third grade teacher might risk being written up for having her students deviate from the all-important worksheet. No jumping jacks in class! Stay in your seats with eyes on the board and quiet hands!

Look, my 6-year old has PE one time each week for a total of 30 minutes. That is one time, for 30 minutes, including the to-and-from-the-classroom time. Every Tuesday at 2:15-ish—after a day of sitting at her desk, then on the carpet, then at her desk, then on the carpet, then back at the desk, then back to the carpet doing math and literacy, math and literacy, math and literacy (not to mention the pathetic district-designed art “class” taught every 6-ish weeks); and after one 15-minute recess at 11:15 ish, and a 30 minute combined lunch and recess, during which my baby usually has to choose between eating or play, since there isn’t enough time for her to do both—she lines up with the other 23 children in her class (slated to be 31 next year) and heads out to PE where she has a smidgen of time to get her pent up ya-yas out. That is her time to exercise her body, the time when running is actually permitted on the playground (for reals).

Where—I respectfully ask certain excessively-upbeat and positive people who think the incorporation of math and writing into PE is an awesome idea—she should do additional math and literacy? Moreover, why? And who does that serve?

We have a very big problem with childhood obesity in this country. And when a child participates in any form of exercise only once a week like many American school children, it can be very hard and not terrifically enjoyable; it can be interpreted as punishment, and is sometimes used as such. Toss in some extra math problems (“gym teacher recently spread playing cards around and had students run to find three that added to 14″) and once more, we are setting our kids up for failure. With rare exposure to (fun) exercise, children tend to develop negative attitudes toward fitness, pervasive and difficult-to-change negative attitudes that have direct impact on their current and future health, both physically and emotionally.

Cross-curriculum teaching can be a good thing. Teaching the whole child is a good thing. But this isn’t about cross-curriculum teaching. And we are a long-ass way away from teaching the whole child, moving ever further from such an ideal. None of this is even about what is best for kids, and advocates of math and writing in PE need to stop pretending that it is.

Like most of what is happening in education right now, this is about power, politics, and money. The kids are simply the collateral damage.

 

 

Breaking the silence

It’s been too long since I’ve posted. But things were crazy. I have many posts coming but for now…I DID IT! I sent this letter today (h/t to unitedoptout.com for the template):

 

February 16, 2012
Bill Kowba
Superintendent of Schools
San Diego Unified School District
4100 Normal Street, Room 2219
San Diego, CA 92103

Dear Mr. Kowba,

Please accept this letter as our request to excuse our daughter, Ruby, from participation in standardized achievement testing as is allowed in §60615 of the California Education Code. This request includes the state mandated assessments of the California Standardized Testing and Reporting assessment program (STAR/CAT 6), which will begin for our daughter in the 2012-2013 school year, as well as the San Diego Unified School District Benchmark Exam program.

We believe such testing to be unjust, counter-productive, and harmful to the education and development of our daughter; we do not see any intrinsic value in our six-year old spending time transcribing her answers from a test sheet to a Scantron. Timed, one-chance tests do not show regard to variables in context or circumstance affecting student performance on the days of testing. This is further underscored by the fact that, as a student of the Language Academy, our child is currently forced to take tests in English, a language she isn’t yet learning to read.

In addition, we do not wish to participate in mandated programs that coerce school districts into compliance with punishments that adversely affect the resources, standing, and operations of our locally controlled pubic schools. The state oversteps its bounds and does a disservice to the public when it ignores professionals in local schools, arbitrarily making educational decisions (funding, status, and otherwise) based solely upon these one-chance tests.

As parents, we resent being held hostage to tests—which cannot be cheap to administer—while simultaneously suffering absurd cuts to our school, cuts that continue to decimate our staff and much-needed resources.

We understand that it is an educator’s professional duty to assess the learning of each student in the classroom and we fully support our teachers, our principal and our staff. This request is not intended to restrict professional assessment (formative or summative) by the classroom teacher to which our child is assigned. On the contrary, we believe our talented teacher is our child’s benchmark, and that she has the skills and training to do what standardized tests cannot.

Best regards,
Aaryn and Sam Belfer
San Diego, CA

cc: [Our Principal]
Mr. John Lee Evans, President, San Diego Unified School District Board of Trustees
Mr. Tom Torlackson, California Superintendent of Public Instruction

What does first grade science look like?

Peg With Pen has a post up today called, “What Does Enrichment Look Like?” It inspired me to put up a post I’d planned to sit on until a later date, which is to say, until I read Peg’s post, I was still worried about pissing off the wrong people. But I’m over that now. So!

Last Friday like every Friday, I helped out in the classroom. One of my jobs that day included prepping the science kits for my daughter’s class, a task that consisted of putting together 24 one-gallon bags, each with a group of objects:

Oh, hell yes, I whipped out my phone and took photos.

The one-gallon bags were purchased by parents, along with sandwich bags and a multitude of other supplies the teacher asked for early in the year. (I used all but four of the one-gallon bags and my husband is, at this minute, at Costco purchasing more to replenish the classroom). The objects—a square piece of fabric, a small piece of electrical wire, a snippet of plastic tubing, a plastic triangle, a screw, a wood cylinder and a popsicle stick—were sent by the district with instructions.

Not only were there instructions about borrowing and returning the materials (excluding, presumably, the one-gallon bags), but there were instructions—very specific instructions—about how to teach this very interesting unit.

“NOTE: This strategy does not require you to write a note for each student.” I don’t know why, but I really love that part.

Thank GOD these instructions exist because teachers couldn’t possibly come up with a lesson plan as compelling, as intriguing or as as curiosity-building as this one. Nor could they be trusted to do so. After all, they’re only teachers. And, too, I bet the children can’t wait to begin “exploring” the very exciting borrowed materials I placed in the one-gallon bags, materials that need to be returned in the “cleanest most complete condition possible.” Have at it kids! Explore allllll you want….just don’t get so much as a greasy little six-year-old fingerprint on any of those items loaned to you.

This unit is destined to inspire a whole slew of future scientists and instill a life-long love of solids.

Reader Feedback

Following my two posts (here and here) on opting out of standardized testing, I have received numerous emails from educators. With permission, I am going to start posting them here, sometimes including whole emails and other times just excerpts. Because these people have much to lose, I’m removing identifying information and changing names to protect the letter writers. These voices are being discounted and demonized. And yet, these are arguably the most important voices for parents and policy makers to be hearing right now.

And so, here you go:

Aaryn,

Just wanted to say thank you so much for what you’re writing about high stakes testing.  I applaud your decision to extricate your kids from it.
I will disclose at the outset that I am a public high school teacher [...].   I appreciate that you’ve done your homework and understand what’s really behind so much of what is called “reform” and “accountability.”
This all plays out in the classroom in ways even more crazy than people suspect.  Here’s one example:   I work for a high school district [redacted] that prohibited novels in the language arts classrooms for several years.  We were told that since the standardized tests were made up of multiple choice questions and short reading passages, time spent reading literature would be time taken away from appropriate test-readiness activities and therefore an inappropriate use of instructional time.  (I was “written up” for teaching The Great Gatsby to high school juniors in defiance of this curriculum mandate)
And all of this takes place while I watch closely the rich humanities curriculum prepared for the children of privilege.  (My wife teaches at [a private school]).   The so-called “achievement gap” is quite small when compared with the “exposure to culture and art” gap that has widened obscenely since NCLB.  If this all continues apace public school kids not exposed to literature at home will read and write only well enough to fill out a credit application so that we can inflate the next wealth-transferring bubble.  (See “College, Inc.” documentary of PBS Frontline)
Thanks again.
Nick Carraway

And now for something a little lighter-ish

What’s up with Up for Ed?

Last month, I attended two different events dedicated to the discussion of public education. They were separate and unrelated, but each event featured one of the two co-founders of a local group called Up for Ed.

Theresea Drew sat on a panel hosted by Voice of San Diego, and Shelli Kurth was one of three attendees hand selected to ask a question during the Michelle Rhee event, the welcoming remarks for which were given by the former leader of the supposedly defunct pro-charter group San Diegans 4 Great Schools. (One of my Twitter followers approached me before the event started, shook my hand and said ominously, “We are in the belly of the beast.” No doubt, I believe what she said was true.) At any rate, when Kurth took the microphone to speak, she identified herself only as a parent (I’d love to know where her children go to school) and not as a founder of Up for Ed, which happened to be a co-sponsor of the event.

I thought this was a curious omission. I mentioned this in my recap of the event, and went a few rounds on Twitter with Up for Ed. Interested to know why Kurth wouldn’t mention her affiliation at the time of her public question to Rhee, and curious about where Up for Ed stands on certain issues that are left unaddressed on it’s website, I emailed Kurth. I wrote:

Your website states as core values, “Great School and Great Teachers, Kids-First Decision Making and Parents as REAL and POWERFUL Stakeholders.” Yet nowhere on your site do you state which reforms you support in order to achieve these core values. You say your in favor of parent empowerment, yet nowhere in your mission statement do you say what that means to your organization. So, I‘m writing you now to try to understand where Up for Ed stands on various issues. I’m curious to know what Up for Ed’s position is on the following:

1. Privatization
2. High stakes testing
3. Teacher assessment using HST
4. School Closings/Conversions of schools to privately run charters
5. Lifting the caps on public funding of charter schools

Also, is Up for Ed affiliated with the Los Angeles group Parent Revolution?
Finally, when Shelli spoke publicly at the Michelle Rhee event last night, she introduced herself as a parent, but did not include that she is a co-founders of Up for Ed, one of the sponsors of Rhee’s listening tour. Why this omission?

I received a response from Up for Ed’s PR person offering a chance to discuss these questions over coffee. Unable to do this until after the holidays, I reiterated that my questions were pretty straightforward, and that I didn’t think they necessitated a face-to-face meeting. Never mind that I’m a journalist; as a parent who might be looking to affiliate with some sort of education reform group, these questions are not unreasonable. Why would they hedge unless there was something to hide?

Long story getting longer, I did receive an email from Kurth filled with platitudes, talking points, and——one of my questions answered. “In regards to the Michelle Rhee event,” Kurth added as a post script, “It was requested that I identify myself simply as a parent.” That passive voice is so forgiving, isn’t it?

I’ve since emailed to ask who requested that Kurth identify herself “simply as a parent.”  Was it the Rhee people? And if not the Rhee people, then who? Was it her people? And who are her people? So far——and not surprisingly——it’s tumbleweeds and crickets from Kurth. And I definitely don’t expect any more answers after I write this, which is okay with me since the evasiveness, combined with what Drew and Kurth are willing to say to other journalists, speaks very loudly indeed.

Please join me for a quick detour, won’t you?

The re-branded and newly named U-T San Diego published a piece yesterday about a tussle between parent groups and the teachers union. There are so many ways to dissect this particular piece of journalism, but the gist is that certain parent organizers—who don’t like unions other than “parent unions”—are unhappy with the way the teacher’s union is depicting the new parent trigger law in their member newsletter.

The union views the parent trigger law as another effort to privatize schools (which it is), and is making sure its members understand its implications. Bill Freeman, president of the San Diego Education Association went so far as to call the parent trigger a “fake democracy.” Which is just, you know, BULLS EYE.

The parent groups interviewed for the article see things another way, however, stating “[t]he parents want union leaders to retract the articles published in their newsletters and issue new communication to members that offer unbiased news about the law.” I suppose that unbiased news about the law and other education reporting should come from…the Doug Manchester owned U-T San Diego?

But enough detour. Can you take a guess at who the parents are in this story? That’s right: Shelli Kurth and Theresa Drew of Up for Ed. Working in conjunction with Parent Revolution (shocker), which answers one of my unanswered questions. And then, too, there was this very important bit that pretty much answers all of my other questions: “Up for Ed organizers received seed money from businessman and charter school advocate Rod Dammeyer, who worked with San Diegans 4 Great Schools and that group’s failed effort put a measure on the next ballot that would allow voters to expand the city school board with appointed members. ” (Bold face type is mine, typos are not.)

The dots are all there. They just need to be connected.

To be clear, I don’t have a problem with Up for Ed’s point of view, other than I think they’re wrong, and I’m going to speak out about it. What I do have a problem with is the lack of transparency that seems to define Up for Ed, San Diegans 4 Great Schools, Parent Revolution and the entire “reform” movement more interested in equivocation and trickery than anything else when it comes to realizing their end goals.

Parents: If you’re going to pick a side, it’s good to know who you’re dealing with.

 

 

Fighting back against mandatory school testing, Part 2

“The bottom line is that standardized testing can continue only with the consent and cooperation of the educators who allow those tests to be distributed in their schools—and the parents who permit their children to take them. If we withhold that consent, if we refuse to cooperate, then the testing process grinds to a halt.”

Alfie Kohn, parent, author and education expert

(photo from Peg With Pen)

Jan. 7 has been declared National Opt Out Day by the grassroots organization United Opt Out National, whose goal is to eliminate high-stakes testing (HST) in public education. With the unreachable goal of 100-percent student proficiency in math and reading by 2014, the bipartisan No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and its component standardized testing will result—in fact is designed to result—in an unprecedented, manufactured event of 100-percent school failure. Education privatizers are salivating like hyenas.

Continue reading here…