Sunday, March 8, 2015

54 Documents!! Anonymous Georgia Teacher - Badass Teachers Association

Badass Teachers Association:



54 Documents!!

Anonymous Georgia Teacher **this is a Facebook post blogged with permission - it has not been edited.





  "What type of alternative assessments do other states have? I teach in Georgia and we have an alternative assessment (portfolios) for students with significant cognitive disabilities (which I teach). I just finished my portfolios today and it was wretched. Basically its doesn't assess how the kids do, but rather how well the teachers can type up reports. The basic rundown for the portfolio and how ridiculous it is:

The state provides approved standards (ELA and Math are Common Core standards) and then the teachers chose two ELA standards (1 reading/1 writing/speaking&listening), two Math standards (1 numbers/1 geometry or measurement), and one of each science and social studies.

Now for each standard selected (6) - we have to create or find 4 work samples. (two 'baseline" before lessons and two "achievement" to show growth)- That's 24 work samples per student (which can also other things such as observation write-ups, or captioned photos of a student doing a task).

Next, you have to write an entry sheet for each standard describing the 4 tasks and the standard they align to.

Now we are up to 30 documents per student.

And finally, an annotation sheet for each work sample (the state makes this optional but my district Badass Teachers Association:

What I learned taking the Smarter Balanced (SBAC) test | Seattle Education

What I learned taking the Smarter Balanced (SBAC) test | Seattle Education:

What I learned taking the Smarter Balanced (SBAC) test

kids
It was created for imaginary children who exist only in the minds of the people who made the tests. These imaginary third through fifth graders are perfectly willing and able to sit still and focus for forty-five minutes, type, problem-solve random computer glitches, and effortlessly switch between two or more open windows at the same time. They can easily resist the temptation to just switch tabs on their browser and do something fun instead. Also, they have access to imaginary huge monitors.
I’m a parent with two kids in a Seattle elementary public school, facing the upcoming Smarter Balanced state tests. A week or so ago, our principal gave an informational session on them. Here’s a little of what I learned, and some first impressions.
Full disclosure: I had already made up my mind to opt my kids out, so I’m not what you would call an unbiased observer. On the other hand, I’m not categorically opposed to the Common Core, or standardized testing either. They have potential, if done well and not misused for high-stakes purposes. This test fails on both counts.
First, some of the basics. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) is a suite of computer-based tests that will replace the state MSP test in math and English language arts for third through eighth grade. (The MSP will still be given for science.) It won’t replace the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test, which is still given to some grades, but additional interim tests might replace it.
Twenty-five states are going to be giving this test for the first time. It was piloted last What I learned taking the Smarter Balanced (SBAC) test | Seattle Education:

An Open Letter to All School Boards in the State of Louisiana - Badass Teachers Association

Badass Teachers Association:

An Open Letter to All School Boards in the State of Louisiana

By James D. Kirylo



 Parents all over the state of Louisiana are choosing to opt out their children from PARCC testing, and there are a variety of reasons for this grassroots movement, some of which I will mention here:

• PARCC is indicative of a deformed system that is led by a multi-billion dollar testing industrial complex in which schools are now testing centers as opposed to learning centers.

• The language of so called "school reform" is shaped by ratings, scores, and inanimate objects as opposed to children, engagement, inspiration, and connection.

• Standardized testing has extraordinarily narrowed the curriculum, steering teachers to become simple functionaries in which virtually the entire academic year is one that is laced with teaching to the tests.

• The arts in all its forms, physical education, the fostering of creativity, and play have greatly been minimized.

• Young children are unnecessarily under great stress, fearful, dealing with bouts of panic, crying spells, apathy, sleeplessness, and depression, playing havoc on their self-worth and motivation.

• Parents are under great suspicion as to where student data will be stored, what it will be used for, who will examine it, and who will have access to it, particularly in the cyber world in which we live.

• The most negatively affected by this system of obsessive standardized testing are the poor.

The above are only some reasons why scores of parents in Louisiana are opting out. In light of this avalanche of parental concern, therefore, it would seem that school boards all over the state would listen and engage in a collaborative conversation with their constituency. However, outside a handful of individual board members, school boards appear to respond with a heavy hand, as what is happening in Tangipahoa Parish.

Instead of considering the value of the voices of parents who desire their children to be opted out, the Tangipahoa Parish School Board has not only summarily dismissed their voices, but has also responded to their concerns in a coercive manner if those parents follow through with opting out. Consider the following:

• Threatening children and schools with zeroes or “Fs” and emphasizing how teacher evaluation will be negatively impacted is a bullying tactic and a use of power that is laced with arrogant ignorance.

• Telling parents who opt out to not send their child to school until 12:30 on the day of the test, and intimidating them on how it may negatively impact the attendance requirement for the school year is retaliatory. Even more insidious, it Badass Teachers Association:

Common Core Kindergarten Reading—A Disservice to Children!

Common Core Kindergarten Reading—A Disservice to Children!:




Welcome-Aboard-The-Kindergarten-Express-Bulletin-Board

Common Core Kindergarten Reading—A Disservice to Children!


An article in U.S. News and World Report written by Robert Pondiscio, a journalist turned fifth grade teacher for a while (how he became a teacher is unclear), is entitled,“No Time to Lose” and “Early Reading Isn’t a Threat to Kindergarten, Nor is Common Core.” Pondiscio is now a senior advisor to a charter school named Democracy Prep Public School, in Harlem, and executive director of CitizenshipFirst, a group emphasizing the teaching of civics. He is not a reading specialist that I know of.
Pondiscio was also vice-president for the Core Knowledge Foundation, an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization founded in 1986 by E.D. Hirsch, Jr. Hirsch is considered the father of the Common Core. You can learn more about him and the group in the link above.
Of course, Pondiscio likes Common Core, though he acknowledges he understands why some might question it. But he believes children should be learning to read in kindergarten. The use of the title words No Time to Lose presents an element of emergency to scare Americans into thinking they need to accept the changes being foisted upon their children.
Pondiscio makes a serious mistake, however, in this article, criticizing a paper done byDefending the Early Years (DEY) and The Alliance for Childhood entitled“Reading Instruction in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose.”  Both are well-respected, well-known, early childhood advocacy groups, run by experts with serious credentials in the area of early childhood education. The paper, authored Common Core Kindergarten Reading—A Disservice to Children!:

Kindergarten has changed: Less time for play, more time for standardized tests.

Kindergarten has changed: Less time for play, more time for standardized tests.:



Welcome to Kindergarten. Take This Test. And This One.






One of the first times New Orleans kindergarten teacher Molly Mansel gave her class a computer-based standardized test last fall, the 30 5-year-olds didn’t know how to take it. The children, raised in the era of the mighty touchscreen, were instructed to use a computer mouse to take the test. Instead, they kept trying to swipe the laptop screens like they were iPhones.
Recent research out of the University of Virginia shows that contemporary kindergarten teachers spend much more time teaching academic skills—skills that are often tested—than they did 15 years ago. And they spend significantly less time on dramatic play and art. A look inside Mansel’s classroom at Sylvanie Williams Elementary School offers a view of what these changes actually look like on the ground.
Mansel’s students started taking tests just three weeks into the 2014–15 school year. They began with a state-required early childhood exam in August, which covered everything from basic math to letter identification. Mansel estimates that it took between four and five weeks for the teachers to test all 58 kindergarten students—and that was with the help of the prekindergarten team. The test requires an adult to sit individually with each student, reading questions and asking them to perform various tasks. The test is 11 pages long and “it’s very time-consuming,” according to Mansel, who is 24 and in her third year of teaching (her first in kindergarten).
The rest of the demanding testing schedule involves repeated administrations of two different school-mandated tests. The first, Measures of Academic Progress, or MAP, is used to measure how students are doing compared with their peers nationally—and to evaluate teachers’ performance. The students take the test in both reading and math three times a year. They have about an hour to complete the test, and slower test takers are pulled from class to finish.
The second test, called Strategic Teaching and Evaluation of Progress, or STEP, is a literacy assessment that measures and ranks children’s progress as they learn letters, words, sentences, and, eventually, how to read. Mansel gives the test individually to students four times throughout the year. It takes several days to administer as Mansel progresses through a series of tasks: asking the students to write their names, to point to uppercase and lowercase versions of letters, and to identify words thatKindergarten has changed: Less time for play, more time for standardized tests.:

Rahm: Red-light cameras being pulled from 25 more intersections | ‪#‎Chuy2015‬ ‪#‎imwithchuy‬

Rahm: Red-light cameras being pulled from 25 more intersections | Chicago:



Rahm: Red-light cameras being pulled from 25 more intersections



Mayor Rahm Emanuel has ordered the removal of 50 red-light cameras at 25 more Chicago intersections where the number of accidents has fallen, apparently determined to put out a political fire that could burn him in the April 7 runoff.
The red-light cameras at the 25 intersections haven’t been taken down yet, but they stopped spewing out $100 tickets at 12:01 a.m. Friday.
That will leave Chicago with 302 red-light cameras at 149 intersections — a 20 percent reduction in what’s been the nation’s largest red-light camera program.
Roughly 72 percent of Chicago’s red-light camera intersections already have countdown signals that avert the need for drivers to slam on the brakes to avoid getting nailed, sometimes at the risk of causing a rear-end collision.
The latest cameras to be removed were chosen using the same safety standard applied two years ago to get rid of 32 red-light cameras at 16 other intersections: no more than one “right-angle crash” in 2013 and a “total crash rate” of less than 1 accident per million vehicles a year.
The crash rate is calculated by dividing annual crashes by average daily traffic counts.
To restore public confidence in the $70-million-a-year program, Emanuel is speeding the timetable for installation of countdown signals at the 42 red-light intersections that still don’t have them. Instead of the end of this year, the work is to be completed by June 1.
The mayor also has agreed to get behind one of the major red-light camera reforms championed by two influential aldermen by requiring a public hearing in the affected community before cameras are removed, added or relocated.
If the City Council approves, the reform will be applied to the 50 cameras now targeted for removal. If nearby residents prefer to keep those cameras, they will turned back on, and ticketing will begin again.
Two years ago, Emanuel announced plans to take down red-light cameras at 18 intersections where accidents had been reduced, only to keep cameras at two of those intersections at the behest of area residents.
The timing of the announcement — as speed cameras were about to start churning out $35 and $100 tickets — made it look like Emanuel was throwing drivers a bone.
Now, Emanuel’s timing looks even more political.
Mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia has promised to remove all of Chicago’s red-light cameras on his first day in office, though he hasn’t said how he would replace the $70 million in yearly revenue they bring the city.
Garcia has said that ending what he called the “red-light ripoff” is about “being honest with Chicagoans that the budget isn’t going to be balanced on their backs.”
Millionaire businessman Willie Wilson, who got 25 percent of the black vote in the mayor’s race Feb. 24, also has made red-light cameras a factor in his upcoming decision on whom to endorse in the runoff next month between Emanuel and Garcia.
Emanuel inherited the red-light camera program from former Mayor Richard M. Daley and has had nothing but headaches from it ever since.
The mayor fired the Arizona contractor at the center of a $2 million bribery scandal and replaced Redflex Traffic Systems with Xerox State & Local Solutions Traffic Solutions.
When a Chicago Tribune investigation questioned the legitimacy of thousands of $100 tickets, Emanuel asked Inspector General Joe Ferguson to conduct an exhaustive review of the program. Last Rahm: Red-light cameras being pulled from 25 more intersections | Chicago:





Here is a prime example of why the Common Core is just plain wrong - Wait What?

Here is a prime example of why the Common Core is just plain wrong - Wait What?:



Here is a prime example of why the Common Core is just plain wrong






 As has been noted here on at Wait, What? on a regular basis, there is nothing inherently wrong with seeking to improve academic standards and phasing in greater expectations for our children’s educational achievement.

While the fundamental concept of local control remains critically important, there isn’t even anything wrong with seek to align standards across political boundaries so that all of the nation’s children are provided with the knowledge and skills necessary to live their lives to the fullest and be capable of becoming active participants in our egalitarian society.
What is unproductive, even immoral, is to promote the notion that we can increase academic achievement without recognizing that the greatest barriers to academic success are poverty, language challenges and a failure to provide the extra or special educational services that individual child need to grow and prosper.
The Corporate Education Reform Industry and its allies like Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, along with Governors including Connecticut Democrat Dannel Malloy, New York Democrat Andrew Cuomo and former Florida Republican Governor Jeb Bush, would have us believe that the Common Core and the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Testing Scheme will produce a better educated citizenry, or at least one that will be more “college and career ready.”
But of course, the more we learn about the Common Core and its related Common Core Testing System the clearer it gets that the path they are promoting is leading us quickly and steadily away from what our children need and deserve in order to be prepared to face the challenges of today’s world.
The nation’s leading public education advocate, Diane Ravitch, along with a host of teachers, parents, academics and public education advocates have been heroic in their efforts to push back the Corporate Education Reform Industry and its truly Un-American political agenda.
Today Diane Ravitch posted a series of article on her blog that highlight the very problem associated with the Common Core and Common Core Testing.  If you don’t read Diane’s blog you are missing out.  It can be found at http://dianeravitch.net/.
In one post Diane reports on a piece by fellow education blogger Peter Greene whoresponds to the Common Core’s requirement that:
“All students must demonstrate the ability to read emergent reader texts with purpose and understanding by the last day of kindergarten.”
Peter Greene takes on the Common Core proponents by saying
“There is a world of difference between saying, “It’s a good idea for children to proceed as quickly as they can toward reading skills” and “All students must demonstrate the ability to read emergent reader texts with purpose and understanding by the last day of kindergarten.”
“The development of reading skills, like the development of speech, height, weight, hair and potty training, is a developmental landmark that each child will reach on his or her own schedule.
“We would like all children to grow up to be tall and strong. It does not 
Here is a prime example of why the Common Core is just plain wrong - Wait What?:

Schools Matter: Education Commission of the States (ECS) Is Funded by Waltons, Gates, and Lumina

Schools Matter: Education Commission of the States (ECS) Is Funded by Waltons, Gates, and Lumina:



Education Commission of the States (ECS) Is Funded by Waltons, Gates, and Lumina

Peggy Robertson from United Opt Out posted to her blog this morning on the subject of co-optation, and she provided a great example.  

An outfit called ECS is circulating an "opt out" guide, and many unwary readers are being steered into this status quo corporate reform group. This bit of info is tucked into p. 21 of their 2013 Annual Report. 


Read Peg's post.  It's important.
www.unitedoptout.com 

The Teaching Brain and the Science Behind Great Teaching | Getting Smart

The Teaching Brain and the Science Behind Great Teaching | Getting Smart:

The Teaching Brain and the Science Behind Great Teaching


Screenshot 2015-03-03 14.27.26


 I recently read The Teaching Brain: An Evolutionary Trait at the Heart of Educationby Vanessa Rodriguez with Michelle Fitzpatrick. As a former teacher, I was interested to learn more about the science behind great teaching. The book seeks to answer the question, “What is teaching?” and makes the assertion that teacher quality is so important and yet sometimes misunderstood. So, do we know the science behind what makes great teaching?

High quality teaching isn’t about quick fixes or making sure teachers have a set number of skills. Good teaching isn’t about skills on a checklist. (Good learning isn’t just being able to cross items off a checklist either).
The authors draw on the science of human development and define teaching as “a cognitive skills that develops in people over time.” As a former teacher, I know all too well that good teachers get better over time. I think back to my first year of teaching and wish I knew then what I know now.
My favorite part of the book was the teacher interviews. The book is full of great interviews with teachers from Pre-K through high school. They talked about positive interactions with students and relationships as being key to their teaching: “Teachers realized that they form relational bonds with their students that are essential to the learning and teaching that happens in their classroom.” One teacher said, “It’s back to that connection piece…I want children to know when they walk in the door, I’m authentically happy to see them. And it matters that they came to school, and it matters that we’re going to spend this time together.”
Another teacher spoke about how it was important to her to be authentically who she was in front of her students. For example, she took time off after her father died, then came back and told her students, “I might cry, and I want you to know that’s it’s okay if you see me crying.” It’s important for teachers to be human in front of their students, and to model this for their students.
Some scientific truths about teaching:
Teaching is a meta-cognitive process. It’s not only that teachers are effective in their interactions with students, but they are aware of their interactions. So, how teachers interact with students is important, AND equally important is theawareness of how those interactions take place. The authors write:
Expert teachers use meta-cognitition- being aware of their level of awareness- to understand how they are thinking about what their students are thinking. An expert teacher is engaging in meta-emotional thinking when she is aware of how she is feeling about her own teaching actions and how she feels about her student’s feedback to those actions.
Teaching is collaborative. Teachers and learners share knowledge, responsibility, and work.  Effective teachers not only teach, they also act as coaches. This “type of collaboration was described as making decisions together as part of the bargain of teaching and learning.”
Teachers should tap into the “power” of group dynamics. It’s important for teachers to find flow in their work and help create synergy among and between students. Teachers who can do this value peer teaching and group dynamics- and see group dynamics as a powerful agent of good teaching. One teacher said:
I feel like that’s a huge responsibility that these kids bring who they are, so it’s my job to find that synergy, and that means I have to spend a lot of time getting to know each one, one-on-one, and then when I put them in a group…The Teaching Brain and the Science Behind Great Teaching | Getting Smart:

Florida repeatedly warned about an untested test for students | Miami Herald Miami Herald

Florida repeatedly warned about an untested test for students | Miami Herald Miami Herald:



Florida repeatedly warned about an untested test for students



When students from Key West to Pensacola tried to log on to the state’s new and supposedly improved tests for the first time last week, all the dire predictions of school leaders, teachers unions and parents came true.
"Catastrophic meltdown," was how the superintendent of Florida's largest school district, Miami-Dade’s Alberto Carvalho, characterized the rollout of the computerized tests.
With slow and sporadic performance lasting for much of the week, the Florida Department of Education came under criticism for its handling of the debacle. The problems — echoing the glitch-marred ObamaCare website debut — also emboldened critics who have consistently complained that the state is moving too fast in implementing new assessments.
Large districts, like the ones in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties, are particularly concerned that a second round of testing in April could prove more disastrous. More students will be taking math tests that require even more computing power to create number lines and drag-and-drop items on the screen.

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article12980819.html#storylink=cpy“I’m worried that if we can’t deploy what we consider a much simpler computer platform, then what will happen in April?” said Gisela Feild, Miami-Dade’s administrative director of assessment, research and data analysis. “It’s exponential, in terms of what the system will have to provide for.”
State education leaders did not respond to multiple requests for comment but the department has blamed the ongoing technical problems on the test provider American Institutes for Research, which Commissioner Pam Stewartrevealed late last week was still tinkering on the eve of the first tests.
“What happened was AIR did an update to their system the day before testing began,” Stewart explained to a Florida House of Representatives education committee. “Admittedly that was the wrong timing and it caused them some issues with data retrieval.”
In an email to the Miami Herald, the company took “full responsibility” for the issues.
“Once we were able to identify the problem, we promptly resolved it and we are pleased that Florida remains on track to complete testing during the initial two-week window,” a company spokesman wrote.
For critics, the stumbling beginning was far from surprising. From the start, they’ve warned that the state’s process of adopting new, tougher education standards — and the standardized tests to go along with them — was rushed and mired in politics.
Florida had initially planned to use assessments being developed by the  Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers — based on the controversial “Common Core” standards. But in 2013, amid protests from Tea Party groups about federal overreach in education, Gov. Rick Scott ordered Florida to withdraw from the multi-state consortium and create its own tests.
That process to replace the old Florida Comprehensive Assessment TestFlorida repeatedly warned about an untested test for students | Miami Herald Miami Herald:

Related




Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/education/article12980819.html#storylink=cpy



The 1 percent’s white privilege con: Elites hold “conversations” about race, while resegregating our schools - Salon.com

The 1 percent’s white privilege con: Elites hold “conversations” about race, while resegregating our schools - Salon.com:



The 1 percent’s white privilege con: Elites hold “conversations” about race, while resegregating our schools

The white privilege conversation is good business and P.R. for the wealthy. But look more closely at their actions





Facebook can be a weird place on Martin Luther King Day. Some of my friends post famous passages from MLK’s speeches. Others post statistics on racial inequality. Still others, mostly white parents, post photographs of their children assembled in auditoriums and schoolyards. These are always hopeful images, the next generation stirring toward interracial harmony. Except for one thing: nearly everyone in the photos is … white.
In her public school this year, my first-grade daughter learned that Daisy Bates helped integrate the Little Rock schools. She knows that Ella Baker, someone I’d never heard of till I went to college, was part of the civil rights movement. Meanwhile, her school has a combined black and Latino population of 15 percent, down from nearly 30 percent just seven years ago.
In school, white children are taught to be conscious of race and racism in a way I never was when I was as a kid in the 1970s. Yet they go to schools that are in some respectsmore segregated now than they were in the 1970s. In 1972, under Richard Nixon, 36 percent of black students in the South attended white-majority schools. By 2011, under Barack Obama, that number had plummeted to 23 percent. In every region of the country, a higher percentage of black students go to nearly all-minority schools than was the case in 1988. The same is true of Latino students in the South, the West and the Midwest.
Microsoft Word recognizes the word “desegregate.” It doesn’t recognize “resegregate.”
The way we live now is not reflected in the way we talk. Or type.
Maybe this gap between our words and deeds is a sign of vitality and promise. Shouldn’t our language always be one step ahead of our actions? Shouldn’t our children learn concepts in school that challenge realities they see in society? Maybe. Or maybe we’re forcing children to talk about inequities in school that we wouldn’t dare touch, much less transform, in society at large.


In 1959, Dissent published an article by the German-Jewish émigré philosopher Hannah Arendt. A criticism of desegregation and a defense of states’ rights, “Reflections on Little Rock” was controversial, offensive and wrong-headed in almost every way. But one point—beyond the immediate question of integration, about which she was wrong—Arendt got it right. Why, she wondered, do we “burden children, black and white, with the working out of a problem which adults for generations have confessed themselves unable to solve?” It’s an age-old dream, she acknowledged in a reply to her critics, that “one can change the world by educating the children in the spirit of the future.” But doesn’t that dream just shift “the burden of responsibility from the shoulders of adults to those of children”?
In the United States, we often try to solve political and economic questions through our schools rather than in society. Instead of confronting social inequality with mass political action and state redistribution, we prefer to educate poor children to wealth. Education can involve some redistribution: making sure, for example, that black, Latino and working-class students have comparable resources, facilities and teachers as white or wealthy students. But one need only compare the facilities at the Park Slope school my daughter attends with those of an elementary school in East New York—or take a walk around James Hall at Brooklyn College, where I teach political science, and then take a walk around the halls at Yale, where I studied political science—to see we’re a long way from even that minimal redistribution.
Sometimes, our self-deception can be downright funny. Two weekends ago, the New York Times profiled a group of fancy private schools in New York City where wealthy, white and privileged students learn that they are…wealthy, white and privileged. There’s even an annual “White Privilege Conference,” which is being held this year at Dalton School (tuition: $41,350). More and more private schools, according to the Times, “select students to attend” that conference. These students are so select (and these schools so selective) that they have to be selected to attend a conference on their selectedness.
You’d think that if the parents and teachers of these masters of the universe were truly concerned about racial and class privilege they’d simply abolish private schools. Or lobby for better state and federal laws, and more liberal courts, to reintegrate the public schools: after all, in 1988, even after two terms of Ronald Reagan, even after two decades of a Republican near-monopoly on the White House, racial integration was at an all-time high. That’s how strong the laws and court orders were.
Or schools could organize workshops to teach students how to lead a mass movement that would divest private schools of federal tax benefits, such as the Coverdell Education Savings Account, or state-level tax benefits, which are even more generous to the wealthy.
The advantages of such a movement would be many. Students would learn, firsthand, that race or race privilege is indeed constructed—a term often bandied about but not always understood—not merely by words and symbols but by laws, taxes, wealth and institutions. In confronting the defenders of these privileges, which might include their parents, teachers, principals and even themselves, students would see, in a concrete way, just how invested people can be in their privilege. And, who knows, they might even win.
But that, of course, is what private school leaders don’t want. They want a conversation, not a confrontation, about privilege. They want to change words, not worlds. So why talk The 1 percent’s white privilege con: Elites hold “conversations” about race, while resegregating our schools - Salon.com:

Penn researcher uses Twitter to gague #CommonCore debates - The Daily Pennsylvanian

The Daily Pennsylvanian :: Penn researcher uses Twitter to gague #CommonCore debates:

Penn researcher uses Twitter to gague #CommonCore debates



LeBrun: Charter schools' Zero Option - Times Union

LeBrun: Charter schools' Zero Option - Times Union:



LeBrun: Charter schools' Zero Option




Shutting the doors on Albany's Brighter Choice middle schools for boys and girls for failing to meet academic and financial expectations seems to be the only choice.
After all, the charter school mantra is a very narrow definition of public school success: live by the data, die by the data.
And a blizzard of data and audits presented on Friday to the State University of New York Charter Schools Committee by the Charter Schools Institute, which was acting as prosecutor, left little doubt.
The State University is the issuing agent for the charters in question, and renewing those charters was on the table.
Institute Executive Director Susie Miller Barkersaid, ''renewing these two schools would send the message that SUNY trustees accept the status quo,'' and went on to enumerate the benchmarks the schools had failed to achieve.
But a stout defense was raised by the charter schools in an effort to stay open, a startling and impassioned one.
It was about the last argument you'd expect to hear from charter schools, 180 degrees from what we've heard in the past from Albany's well-established mini-charter movement embodied in the work of Tom Carroll's Brighter Choice Foundation.
Brighter Choice school board President Martha Snyder, while acknowledging the data spoke against them, argued that these two schools, side by side on upper Elk Street, were meeting the needs of a largely underserved population in the Albany community by offering a safe and secure learning experience.
Brighter Choice Boys Middle School Principal Marcus Puccioni, in pleading for a temporary charter extension, said the schools had been ''thrown a curve ball'' by the inept Common Core rollout and needed time to adjust. The data, said Puccioni, didn't tell the whole story.
''Our process and tools may not look like other, larger systems, but we're not in this to replicate the McDonaldization of education,'' he said.
In short, the argument for the defense sounds remarkably similar to what traditional public schools in challenging environments like Albany's have been claiming for years, while being smugly put down by charter proponents as irrelevant.
Unsurprisingly, the SUNY charter committee on Friday voted against renewing the middle school charters.
A grim-faced Snyder, the Brighter Choice board president, made it clear the battle isn't over. She did not elaborate.
I have a sneaking suspicion that money and financing at stake over bricks and mortar are as much of a motivator for keeping those charters alive as is serving the community. Regardless, about 440 students after this academic year may well have to find an alternative school.
Students, and parents, who had put their hopes in charters, Brighter Choice in particular, now find themselves associated with failed schools as defined by the Charter School Institute.
It was five years ago that Brighter Choice got into the middle-school business, with fanfare and swagger.
The same year Albany's first charter school, New Covenant, one of the first in the state, finally gasped its last after 11 years of teetering. The failure of New Covenant was devastating to the city's minority community, which had invested heart and soul in it.
The leaders of Brighter Choice at the time coldly wrote off New Covenant as exactly the way LeBrun: Charter schools' Zero Option - Times Union:

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