Sunday, April 19, 2015

Add Tests and Stir: Education Reform in the 21st Century - The Education Avengers

Add Tests and Stir: Education Reform in the 21st Century - YouTube:

Add Tests and Stir: Education Reform in the 21st Century 

 Published on Apr 10, 2015

Sponsored by the Fairfield University Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions


Thomas Scarice

Wendy Lecker

Jonathan Pelto

Yohuru Williams

The criminalization of public education

The criminalization of public education:

The criminalization of public education

 Two stories grabbed headlines this week.

Those Atlanta school teachers who cheated on tests were sentenced to some pretty heavy prison terms.
By now we've forgotten that one altogether because our very own Barbara Byrd Bennett has gone on on paid leave while under federal investigation for a shocking new conflict of interest story a fishy deal we bloggers have all been writing about for two years but seems to be heretofore unknown by the mainstream Chicago newspapers and radio.
Separated as they are by several states and many years, it’s hard to see how they have anything to do with each other. But they do. And it’s important. To explain it I have to back up a few decades, so bear with me.
Corporate education reform came barreling on to the scene after the Reagan-era Chicken Little report, A Nation At Risk. We were told our students scored terribly on tests, our schools were failing, our teachers were lazy, our unions locked terrible teachers in place forever, and our nation would soon collapse if that perilous status quo wasn't destroyed. So lots and lots of things were done, and have been done for 30 years now.
The fixes that have been applied ever since that report have been drawn from the world of business, along with the language about schools and curriculum. We have CEOs running our school systems and investors who are waiting for returns on their investments. Literally. Those folks who loaned money for Rahm's outrageously titled "universal preschool" are now going to be watching the approximately 2,500 kids it will serve to see if their Kindergarten test scores demonstrate a good return. The highest dollar value per kid will be for not needing special ed.
One of the business theories corporate reformers love is "disruption." They seek to destroy in order to remake. One main target for this process is teacher's unions, the flamekeepers, in this narrative, of the status quo of failure. We all know about the lazy lazy union hogs that are our nation's teachers. We may not know a single such teacher, but we all know the story.
Disruption, breaking unions, establishing appointed boards of ed just like corporate boards in order to keep disagreements and disorder and different ideas from mucking up the works--these are all priorities of the corporate reformers. Privatizing is the next important step because after breaking down the status quo, it's important to put something in its place. I have written about who benefits from the privatizing of schools. You know the answer: the corporations who run the schools. The investment opportunities that benefit the privatizers are considered trusty, can't-fail, and highly profitable. The kids in these schools? They get an education extruded out of a machine, one that is never chosen by any of the corporate managers for their own children.
Common standards and common tests are another piece of the fix. To the corporate reformers the exciting thing about this is the mass-scale market that results from the national standards and tests. Rupert Murdoch, purveyor of edtech gadgets and products through Amplify, famously drooled over the $500B education market potential. Education giant and congressional lobbyist par excellence Pearson now controls almost all Common Core testing, plus test prep, plus curriculum to go with the tests. Apple has been making inroads in selling entire districts iPads, and how exciting that those districts will have to buy new ones in a year or so The criminalization of public education:

The Re-Education of Merryl Tisch By Marla Kilfoyle - Badass Teachers Association

Badass Teachers Association:

The Re-Education of Merryl Tisch

By:  Marla Kilfoyle

 Merryl  Tisch is the Chancellor of the Board of Regents in New York State.  The Board of Regents “ are responsible for the general supervision of all educational activities within the State, presiding over The University and the New York State Education Department”    

Chancellor Tisch has been on the Board of Regents since 1996 and was selected to lead the Board of Regents in 2009.  She has sat on the Board of Regents for close to 20 Years.  “From 1977 to 1984 Chancellor Tisch taught first-graders at New York City’s Ramaz School and the B’nai Jeshurun School. She received a B.A. from Barnard College, an M.A. in Education from New York University, and an Ed.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University.”     

On April 15th Chancellor Tisch agreed to debate Dr. Diane Ravitch on All in With Chris to respond to the historic, and massive, parental test refusal movement that was going in in New York.

The statements made by Chancellor Tisch during that debate were, for lack of a better word, quite perplexing.   Let’s examine a few

  Tisch  claimed

“The intent of the test is to give a snapshot of performance and allow parents to know where their children are at any given point in their educational career as compared to their peers.”

“It is natural for parents to want to know how their kids are doing. And as for the diagnostic nature of these tests and the amount of information that is gleaned from them, school districts report to us all the time that they design curriculum around the results of these tests.”

Parents want a detailed report of how their children did.  One NY parent, who has a child with disabilities, agreed to share their son’s ELA score report with me. Their child received a score of 1 on this test.  Here is what was sent to their home in mid-October (6 months AFTER he took the test) . 

Jacques: Union targets Detroit charters with old enemy

Jacques: Union targets Detroit charters with old enemy:

Jacques: Union targets Detroit charters with old enemy

 A union is targeting Detroit's charter schools in an organizing drive significantly aided by a former enemy.

While most of the state's traditional public schools are unionized, charters have remained largely union free -- only a handful have been organized over the past 20 years. The last one to do so in Detroit was Cesar Chavez Academy in 2013.
But now the American Federation of Teachers — Michigan has found a potent new weapon to break open charters. They've co-opted a number of instructors from Teach for America.
Teach for America, which has about 230 active teachers in its Detroit corps, takes some of the brightest college graduates from around the country and places them for two years in high-poverty urban districts. About 60 percent of the TFA teachers in Detroit work in charter schools.
Until now, Teach for America has been an anathema to the union because it sees its recruits as taking jobs that should go to union teachers.
In an interesting twist, the AFT is using Teach for America members to lead organizing drives at charter schools.
Two charter school districts in Detroit are in the midst of organizing drives led in part by TFA instructors. University YES Academy, which is part of New Urban Learning, has scheduled a union vote for May 6.
Closely behind is U Prep Schools, which includes University Prep Science and Math and University Prep Academy schools—some of the better charter schools in the city. A TFA teacher is reportedly leading the drive to form a union at U Prep, and a dozen other TFA teachers are on board.
The U Prep schools filed their petition to unionize Wednesday, and will schedule a vote in the near future, says Nate Walker, K-12 organizer and policy analyst for AFT-Jacques: Union targets Detroit charters with old enemy:

Charter school company ends relationship with school after teachers announce unionization vote |

Charter school company ends relationship with school after teachers announce unionization vote |

Charter school company ends relationship with school after teachers announce unionization vote

 DETROIT -- The company that manages one of three Detroit charter schools that may form a union has told teachers at the school they're walking away from the school they founded.

In a statement released Friday, Progress Michigan, a liberal advocacy group, announced New Urban Learning will end its relationship with University Yes Academy. Teachers at University Yes Academy will be voting on whether to unionize on May 6.
"I was shocked when they told us they were leaving, and couldn't believe that they would walk away from the school," said Rebecca Kissel, a 6th grade teacher at UYA, in a statement. "Their choice to leave will impact our families, and as far as I know there is no transition plan for next year. This just feels like another attempt to stop us from organizing."
According to Progress Michigan, this isn't the first time New Urban Learning has shown unfair labor practices.
The National Labor Relations Board cited New Urban Learning for violating labor laws earlier this year, including retaliating against teachers who attempted to unionize.
The future of the school will be discussed at a school board meeting at noon Tuesday, but some teachers are concerned because they will be teaching and unable to attend.
"It is extremely frustrating that we can't attend a meeting that will impact the future of our school," said Debra Chen, a 7th grade teacher. "We delivered a request to change the meeting that was signed by a majority of our staff to Bishop Edgar Vann, the Board Chair, and he flat out told us no."
On Wednesday, it was announced teachers at University Yes, University Prep and University Prep Science & Math filed petitions to be represented by Michigan Alliance of Charter Teachers and Staff, or ACTS. Michigan ACTS is an affiliate of American Federation of Teachers of Michigan.
It's rare for charter schools in the state to unionize. There are only six total unionized charter schools in the state out of 306. In Metro Detroit, there are three charter schools that are unionized: The Arts Academy in the Woods, Cesar Chavez Academy and James and Grace Lee Boggs School.
AFT of Michigan represents about 200 charter school teachers.
If University Yes, University Prep and University Prep Science & Math all decide to unionize, they will more than double the number of charter teachers in the union. About 250 teachers would become a part of the union if unionization is approved.
In order to hold such an election, at least 30 percent of teachers must have already supported joining a union.
Teachers from University Prep and University Prep Science & Math filed a petition requesting an election with the National Labor Relations Board on Tuesday, according to Progress Michigan.
A message was left with New Urban Learning seeking comment for this story Friday afternoon.
Kyle Feldscher is the Capitol education and MSU reporter for MLive Media Group. Reach him via email at or follow him on Twitter at@Kyle_Feldscher. Read more stories here.Charter school company ends relationship with school after teachers announce unionization vote |

Evidence of a Corporate Reformer Pretending to be something he isn’t | Crazy Normal - the Classroom Exposé

Evidence of a Corporate Reformer Pretending to be something he isn’t | Crazy Normal - the Classroom Exposé:

Evidence of a Corporate Reformer Pretending to be something he isn’t

If you aren’t aware of the war being waged in the United States by a few billionaire oligarchs to remake the United States into a country that fits what they think, then it’s time to wake up and learn how to discover the signs of oligarch funded propaganda designed to manipulate and fool voters during elections. These billionaires are buying their way into the Republican and Democratic parties, and they are libertarians, neo-liberals, and neo-conservatives—and all of them threaten our freedom and way of life, because to win, they subvert the democratic process protected by the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.
For Instance, for the last few weeks, occasionally, the phone rings, and the call ends up being for one of the candidates running in a special election in California’s State Senate District 7 (where I live) that will be held on May 19.  There are two candidates in this runoff election, and both are Democrats, but I think one of them is a corporate loving, teacher bashing, union hating, corporate reformer pretending to be something he isn’t.
The two candidates are Steve Glazer and Susan Bonilla. Bonilla is in the state legislature and identities herself as an educator. Campaign literature for Glazer claims he is a mayor and a university trustee.
The phone rang a few days ago, and I ended up talking to someone working in Glazer’s campaign, who claimed this was a dirty campaign and inferred that Bonilla was responsible for the dirt and lies. Then this guy went and said that Glazer was running a clean and honest campaign, and I thought, “What?” That’s not what I’ve been seeing.  Maybe he isn’t paying for the dirty flyers being slipped into our mail boxes, but his allies and supporters are doing it for him.

For weeks, a day seldom goes by that one or more two-sided color campaign posters supporting Glazer don’t show up in our mail box. I don’t remember getting many from Bonilla. I have two posters supporting Glazer on my desk from last Thursday (4-9-15) and two more that arrived the following Saturday—all spouting the same claims against Glazer’s opponent. What’s strange, I don’t remember getting any similar material from Bonilla or her supporters bashing Glazer. It’s almost as if she isn’t campaigning, and no one has called me from her campaign.
Back to that phone call from the Glazer’s campaign staff. I replied that I didn’t know much about Bonilla, but said that I suspected that Steve Glazer was a corporate education reformer because it looked like his financial support was coming from that sector.
The Glazer supporter at the other end of the line denied this before he hung up, but SF Gate reported that Glazer is against unions and wants to ban strikes, in addition, he is supported by business-oriented groups, and he supports changes in teacher tenure. That usually means Evidence of a Corporate Reformer Pretending to be something he isn’t | Crazy Normal - the Classroom Exposé:
 Susan Bonilla for Senate 2015

Big Education Ape: Susan Bonilla for Senate 2015

Stories From Current and Former Success Academy Parents -

Stories From Current and Former Success Academy Parents -

Stories From Current and Former Success Academy Parents 

New York City parents share their experiences with the charter school network.

 The parent of a kindergartner said that when her son was sick, he was so upset about not going to school that one day away “felt like 10.” The parent of a second grader said his daughter’s name had appeared in the "red zone" in class newsletters so often that she needed therapy to help improve her self-esteem.

One mother recounted how a teacher called her at 9 p.m. to tell her that her daughter was “a joy to have in class.” Another mother said she was called at home and told that her son would be penalized for wearing mismatched socks.
These parents were all talking about the same charter school network, Success Academy, which is run by Eva S. Moskowitz, a former city councilwoman, and whose demanding methods and exceptional test scores were the subject of aNew York Times article last week. The Times invited parents of current and former Success Academy students to write in about their experiences with the schools. The dozens who did alternately described a learning environment that was a godsend for some children and a grind for others. A sampling of those stories appears below.
  1. Evaristo Barrios
    His son, 5, is in kindergarten at Success Academy Hell's Kitchen.
    I grew up poor, and my parents never had a choice in where to send me to school. So my wife, Mariann, and I knew we wanted to find the very best option for our son Luke. We were lucky to get Luke enrolled at Success Academy, but the transition was not easy. He had to learn to be disciplined, to follow explicit rules and to handle a heavy homework load. He had behavioral infractions early in the year, and we reinforced the school’s high expectations at home. Within two months, his behavior had turned around and he appeared to be getting into the rhythm of the classroom.
    By mid-year, we were still shocked at the workload but also amazed at his progress. Our son now writes out his thoughts in basic English, reads books to us at bedtime and excels at math. He comes home with interesting science facts and explains how the chess pieces move on the board. I know I didn’t do all that in kindergarten.
    When I reflect on my own education, it is clear that my personal and professional successes cannot be credited to my public schools. That credit goes to my parents, who also come from a humble upbringing and never got past sixth grade. They reinforced that school was important, excelling was mandatory and there were no limits to my possibilities if I worked hard. Credit also goes to a handful of teachers who pointed out what wasn’t obvious to me — that I was smart, but I wasn’t making the effort. In short, my parents and a few great teachers helped turn me into a great student by teaching me to believe in myself. I cannot understand the criticisms against Success Academy, which has consistently shown that discipline and effort results in academic excellence. As adults, we are all expected to do our very best, and we expect the same of others. Why would we want our son to be taught in an environment that would expect any less from him?
    Evaristo Barrios, 50, is a management consultant.

  2. José M. Grajales
    His son, 5, is in kindergarten at Success Academy Harlem 3 and his daughter, 8, is a second grader at the same school.
    We started noticing that our son was coming home soaked in urine in September 2014. Our son was born with a congenital kidney reflux so we thought those accidents were related to this condition. We spoke with his urologist, who gave us a letter stating that our son should be allowed to use the bathroom. We provided the letter to Success Academy, but the incidents continued until recently. We think our son might be urinating himself because of limited bathroom breaks at Success. We have contacted the school on several occasions about this issue. Our son has no problems using the bathroom outside of school.
    Our daughter, who has a learning disability, is in second grade at Success Academy. She receives services, like speech therapy, occupational therapy and additional help. Initially our daughter enjoyed going to school. However, after the first few weeks our daughter’s struggles became obvious. Her name was highlighted in a “red” section of the weekly class newsletter for math. She consistently falls into the “red” week after week, and that started to affect her emotional well-being. We placed her in play therapy outside of school because her self-esteem was suffering.
    We feel strongly that our daughter can learn if she was placed in a nurturing and supportive environment where she can be challenged. Our daughter needs to be challenged, not in a punitive and public shaming way but with realistic goals and encouragement.
    I feel that not all children are a good fit for Success Academy. For those who try and try and can never get out of the “red,” Success Academy is not for them, and parents of special needs children should be wary. We are exploring other options for our children, and we are hoping for better options for the next school year.
    José M. Grajales, 40, is a lawyer.

The Philadelphia Inquirer endorses HELEN GYM

In with the new:

Gym says Asian Americans United sparked her involvement: "People [at those groups] pushed my thinking every day. They . . . reminded me that power is the collective enterprise of people who build communities."

While the city's legislators have to work together, Philadelphia City Council is overpopulated by members who reflexively follow Council President Darrell Clarke. Emblematic of this was Council's refusal to hold a public hearing on a $1.87 billion offer for the Philadelphia Gas Works.
Council needs an upheaval to return it to its mission of representing the public. Fortunately, the crowd of candidates seeking five Democratic at-large Council seats includes political newcomers with impressive civic experience and potential.
Though Helen Gym is best known as a fierce advocate for Philadelphia's public schools, she has been an effective activist on a range of issues. Gym, 47, of Logan Square, cofounded the Public School Notebook, which informs and mobilizes parents, and its companion advocacy group, Parents United for Public Education. She is appropriately impatient with the status quo and, provided she maintains some daylight between herself and her union supporters, capable of being an independent Council member in the tradition of David Cohen, Michael Nutter, and John Street.
Trained as an economist, Paul Steinke, 51, of West Philadelphia, would bring an analytical background to Council that could inform legislation on budgets, taxes, and development. Steinke has served as executive director of the University City District, finance director of the Center City District, and manager of the Reading Terminal Market, experience pertinent to a leading role in an evolving Philadelphia. An advocate of shifting the tax burden away from business and wage taxes and toward real estate, Steinke understands the effect of government policies on growth and communities.
Tom Wyatt, 43, told the Editorial Board he wouldn't be a "representative of City Council, but a representative in City Council." A partner at Dilworth Paxson who once taught school in Mississippi, he has been a civic activist in his neighborhood, Passyunk Square. His experience as an executive at American Water Works offers needed insight on utilities in light of Council's notorious PGW flub.
Isaiah Thomas, 30, of East Oak Lane, a charter school dean and basketball coach, returns undaunted from an unsuccessful Council run four years ago. He is a thoughtful and energetic proponent of community causes such as making neighborhoods safer and addressing abusive police tactics.
Four-term Councilman W. Wilson Goode Jr., 49, of West Philadelphia, rises above his fellow incumbents thanks to his steady advocacy for low-income Philadelphians. Last year, voters approved a measure he initiated requiring city subcontractors to pay a living wage. This year, Council passed his bill to give tax credits to companies that create jobs in the city. He has also called for payments in lieu of taxes from large nonprofits and argued forcefully for a reconsideration of tax abatements.
The three other incumbents seeking reelection haven't earned it. Despite her efforts to make amends, Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown's misuse of campaign funds, which brought a record ethics fine, overshadows her legislative achievements. Councilman William Greenlee has been an advocate of progressive causes but seems too comfortable with the worst habits of Council and the Democratic machine. And Councilman Ed Neilson has served without distinction since his electricians' union backers eased him into a Council seat in a special election last year.
The city would be better served by the most promising newcomers in this field. The Inquirer endorses HELEN GYM, PAUL STEINKE, TOM WYATT, ISAIAH THOMAS, and W. WILSON GOODE Jr. for City Council's Democratic at-large seats.


Who is Helen Gym: Why you should know - Democracy For America

Democracy For America - Friends of Helen Gym:


Friends of Helen Gym
Endorsement Applicant
Philadelphia City Council At-Large in PA
P.O. Box 11766
Philadelphia, PA
Twitter: @HelenGym2015
Public Phone Number: 267-223-7769
Public Email:
Primary Election Date: 2015-05-19
General Election Date: 2015-11-03

Who am I?

My parents didn’t have much when I was growing up, so I depended on the public spaces of my community. I learned to read at the public library, swam and did sports at my public recreation center, rode my bike through the public parks, and of course, attended public school. These spaces gave me the kind of opportunities I would have never had otherwise and instilled in me a lasting commitment to the common good and the importance of caring for one another, especially our most vulnerable, through the public spaces of our communities and neighborhoods.
I came to Philadelphia almost 30 years ago, stayed, raised a family and started my teaching career at Lowell Elementary School in Olney. Since then, I have helped build institutions and organizations that empower people and families across the city whose voices need to be heard: I am a founder of a citywide education newspaper, a charter school serving immigrant students and families, and a parents organization that has raised up parent voices and won millions of dollars in new revenue for Philadelphia schools. I’ve helped transform a troubled school culture and climate at South Philadelphia High School, and I’ve won million of dollars in new school funding from the Philadelphia Parking Authority.
I’m a mother, a passionate supporter of our city, and a believer that quality schools can transform our neighborhoods and strengthen our communities.

Why am I running?

I am running because in 2013 when 26 public schools in Philadelphia were shut down, it was a wake up call that we needed stronger voices in our city government advocating for our children's education and the best interests of working families throughout our city.
A lot of candidates will talk to you about education, but few can match my record or experience. I’ve worked for over two decades alongside parents and students and workers to keep the fight alive for our schools and communities. I will address poverty in this city with compassion and attention to equity and results. I understand the connection between democratic governance, ethics and good decision-making. I’m an outsider but one with the skills and experience to secure policy wins that benefit all, not a privileged few. I connect the energy and creativity of newer residents with the lived realities and struggles of the majority of residents, and I am working for a city that is inclusive, interconnected, and seeks racial and economic justice. I’m not afraid to ruffle a few feathers along the way. When it comes to the people and families of this city, Philadelphia needs a champion in their corner.
That’s why I’m running for City Council at-large. I am Philadelphia’s fighter for parents and working families, a vibrant and sustainable public school system and quality neighborhoods for all.

My Goals

Education: I have spent my life fighting to ensure that every child can go to a safe, quality, nurturing school and that public education stays truly public in a city which has become a symbol of the failures of privatization and disinvestment in schools. I have focused on improved funding, multiracial parent organizing and strengthening ethics and transparency in governance. My efforts include: co-founding the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, a nationally recognized independent newspaper that is a go-to source for education news; co-founding Parents United for Public Education as a voice for parents to re-envision the conversation about our schools; helping lead a coalition that stopped the privatization of the Philadelphia School District in 2001 and continuous efforts through today to limit privatization; pressuring a state-controlled Parking Authority to pay millions of dollars in new and recurring revenue owed to our schools; standing beside teachers and school staff for the right to collective bargaining; and filing hundreds of complaints against the Pennsylvania State Department of Education about the condition of schools which helped release $15 million in state funds for schools.
These accomplishments have won national recognition in the battle for public education. I have achieved these victories outside traditional political centers of power. With a seat on City Council, I will use the power of my office to continue this fight. Among my specific goals: increase city funding of schools through smart targeting and use of taxes; improve City oversight of the School District; and use data and the powers of my office to drive a serious public conversation about privatization in public education.
Empowering Communities: I have worked to empower communities, to grow new leaders, and to organize diverse communities to stand up for what is right. When Asian American youth at a local high school were targets of racial harassment and violence, I helped students organize and lead a boycott of their school resulting in a federal civil rights settlement. Five years later, many of those students are leaders in their communities, including one who was named Commissioner of the city’s Human Relations Commission. I’ve helped neighborhood groups in Chinatown organize against massive development projects such as a casino and sports stadium. From educators and youth to immigrants and underserved communities, I intend to use my office to bring those struggles, and those communities, into City Hall.
Increasing Transparency and Accountability: It’s wrong when public business is conducted behind closed doors. As a City Council member I will propose bills to modernize Philadelphia’s campaign finance laws, including requiring strict disclosure of dark money electioneering and ending incumbent-friendly loopholes that allow donation double dipping. Moreover, municipal transparency and accountability will be achieved through “open data.” Philadelphia has made strides in this domain, and I will work to expand our open data efforts. Open data should not be susceptible to the whims of changing administrations. I will support our Board of Ethics to enforce campaign finance and ethics rules, and ensure it has the resources it needs for oversight.

My DFA Values

From Franklin Roosevelt’s call to combat Freedom of Want, to Dr. King’s stand with sanitation workers in Memphis and Cesar Chavez’s organizing of farm workers, to today’s fast food workers organizing for humane wages and benefits, generations of progressives have long understood that security and liberty means more than protection from violence. It means the security to be free from hunger and want, and the liberty to pursue a meaningful and impactful life in our neighborhoods and communities. Municipal government may not have the resources to end poverty and defeat all injustice, but all those with a voice must stand in our long lineage of ancestors demanding dignity, security and equality for all our citizens. These are the values I have stood for all my life, and as an elected official I will continue that fight for true security and equality for all Philadelphia citizens. I’ll work to pass legislation that advances economic justice, and will actively use my bully pulpit to advance causes that have national impact as well as local. There are a number of improvements that we must make as a city and that I will advocate for as a City Councilwoman, including ending the systematic use of stop and frisk and pressuring the District Attorney to end the widespread and abusive use of civil forfeiture. I will also work to rebuild trust of our immigrant communities in the police, which has been damaged by a past history of local collaboration in immigration enforcement.

My Campaign is People Powered!

My path to victory lies in activating the grassroots activists with whom I’ve shared almost two decades of struggle. I am proud to be endorsed by both the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers and the Commonwealth Association of School Administrators (our schools principals’ union), and supported by the American Federation of Teachers at the state and national level. The struggle in Philadelphia is very much centered on schools and education. A broadening network of organizations has come together around the battleground of public education. Many of us helped lead grassroots efforts that ultimately led to the defeat of Republican Governor Tom Corbett, who was the first sitting governor in modern times not to be re-elected to a second term in office. With my strong ties to community organizations citywide, I will continue the momentum from November into May, activating parent, civic and educator entities that recognize the fragility and importance of our schools. Second, I continue to seek the endorsement and assistance of progressive networks like Action United, Philly for Change and Neighborhood Networks as well as activate progressive labor unions.
I come out of the progressive community here in Philadelphia and am one of its many leaders. If I win, it will be from the power of that multi-racial, multi-ethnic community, which crosses neighborhood boundaries and scales economic barriers. With a well-recognized history of activism I am uniquely qualified to not only represent that community, but to win while doing so.Democracy For America - Friends of Helen Gym:

The Opt Out Update: From the Northwest to the “anti-testing tsunami” in New York - Seattle Education

The Opt Out Update: From the Northwest to the “anti-testing tsunami” in New York to Pennsylvania where the hallways and classroom walls are covered with brown paper for three weeks | Seattle Education:

The Opt Out Update: From the Northwest to the “anti-testing tsunami” in New York to Pennsylvania where the hallways and classroom walls are covered with brown paper for three weeks

opt out 4
Update to the update, April 17, 2015:
Jessie Rothenberg, age 8, holds a sign while sitting on her father's shoulders while protesting Gov. Cuomo's education policies in Park Slope, Brooklyn, in March.
Jessie Rothenberg, age 8, holds a sign while sitting on her father’s shoulders while protesting Gov. Cuomo’s education policies in Park Slope, Brooklyn, in March.Thousands of students opt out of state mandated English Language Arts exam as families from Brooklyn to Buffalo boycott tests
It’s an anti-testing tsunami.
Thousands of families across the Empire State said no to standardized testing, boycotting the state-mandated English Language Arts exams which began Tuesday.
While accurate figures were hard to come by, testing opponents, parents groups, and school officials from Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, to Buffalo all agreed the number is likely to far exceed the 60,000 students who refused to take the test last year.
“From what I’m hearing from other superintendents, it could be at least 300,000 students across the state that opted out,” said William Cala, superintendent of Fairport Central School District near Rochester.
Rachel Cohen, mother of a fifth-grader at Public School 261, said she thinks at least 66% of the 817 students in her Boerum Hill school refused to take the English Language Arts test — the first of the exams administered to third-through eighth-graders across New York State this week.
“Essentially I see no diagnostic educational benefit to my child,” she said. “I see no compelling evidence this is a fair and accurate way to assess children or teachers. All this emphasis on testing actually interferes with meaningful learning and assessment.”
Other parents whose kids opted-out echoed Cohen’s complaints that teachers are being forced to “teach to the test” to preserve their jobs — and their kids were being short-changed as a result.
“We’re not against assessment, we believe in meaningful assessment,” said Jody Alperin, whose children are in the second and fifth grade at PS 10 in South Park Slope, Brooklyn. “Test results should not be punitive.”
To read the article in full, go to The Daily News.
There is a lot of opt out activity occurring around the country during this Common Core testing season which begins in earnest in April and continues to June. Practice tests were administered in March taking two to three weeks to for all students to take in each public school here in Seattle and around the country. It’s an inordinate amount of testing which is one of many reasons parents are opting their students out of the Common Core testing.
Starting in Seattle, 200 students and counting have opted out of the Common Core Standards’ SBAC test at Garfield High School and because of the number of students who are opting out, the teachers will not be required to administer the test. More students The Opt Out Update: From the Northwest to the “anti-testing tsunami” in New York to Pennsylvania where the hallways and classroom walls are covered with brown paper for three weeks | Seattle Education:

A step forward in Washington, a step back in New York | Randi Weingarten

A step forward in Washington, a step back in New York | Randi Weingarten:

Common Core: Test refusal pushed by middle class families:

 Something stunning happened this week in Congress. The Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee voted 22-0 to overhaul No Child Left Behind. That's right, policymakers from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) listened to the people they're sworn to represent and found common ground on public education.

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) led the charge. They're the ultimate Odd Couple--he served as President George H. W. Bush's secretary of education; she was known as the "mom in tennis shoes" who entered politics to save her local preschool.
Together, they listened to business leaders, community partners, civil rights activists, parents and educators--including nearly 20,000 AFT members. Overwhelmingly, the message was: Instead of obsessing over test scores, let's give our students what they need to climb the ladder of opportunity and succeed. Schools should be places of learning and joy, not testing and agita. And, let's give our teachers the latitude, supports and resources necessary to do their jobs well.
The outcome is promising: While not perfect--no compromise is--their bill restores the original intent of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, as NCLB was first known, to address poverty and educational inequality with targeted funding for poor children. It moves away from the counterproductive focus on sanctions and high-stakes tests, and ends federalized teacher evaluations and school closings.
Meanwhile, in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is going down a different (albeit well-worn) path, ramming through ideology as part of his budget, ignoring those closest to the classroom.
Across the state, students, teachers, parents and community members pleaded with the governor to listen to their concerns and visit their schools. Sixty public forumswere held. Thousands rallied. But the governor refused to listen. He hasn't visited a public school in his second term. It just seems he won't have an honest conversation about what New York's children and families are facing.
Instead, the governor, who's really too smart to operate in an evidence-free zone, has bought into his hedge fund backers' idea: that the correlation between teachers and their students' test scores is the only thing that matters. We saw this idea play out in NCLB and Race to the Top, where the over-reliance on high-stakes testing may not have been the intention, but it's been the end result.
Pretty much everyone agrees that it hasn't worked. And it's no wonder: As important a role as teachers play, they ultimately account for 10 percent of the variance in test scores, according to economists. But while most policymakers are trying to strike a new balance by addressing the other 90 percent, Gov. Cuomo is doubling down on testing and sanctions.
Thankfully, the state Assembly and some in the state Senate have stuck to their values, fighting for more funding and moving some decisions to the Board of Regents, a board with educational expertise. Still, the governor's actions are just plain wrong. New Yorkers, who, despite their calls to curb sanctions, despite already being put through the ringer with the fixation on high-stakes testing, continue to be ignored.That's why we're seeing so many parents choose to opt their children out of these tests.
I've worked in public education for 30 years--as a teacher, a lawyer and union leader. I've visited hundreds of schools and districts. I've seen leaders from the classroom to the national stage who have been willing to set aside their differences and do the hard work that's necessary to create real, enduring change.
It might be surprising that this kind of leadership is wilting in a state like New York, while blooming in the most unlikely of places: Congress. The U.S. Senate bill represents an important step forward and the most positive development we've seen in public education policy in years--because of both the bill's content and the committee's very intentional move to leave partisanship and politics at the door.
There's no silver bullet when it comes to helping all children achieve. Great public schools are our best shot. But until we have more leaders willing to look past ideology, listen to those closest to the classroom and find common ground, we won't move forward. And, in a welcome change, it's the U.S. Senate that has shown us what's possible.

Big Education Ape Todays News / Archive