"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, January 27, 2012

GUEST BLOG: IDOE–Shrinking State Power to Expose Your Tender Underbelly (UPDATE)

IDOE–Shrinking State Power to Expose Your Tender Underbelly (UPDATE)

by Douglas Storm

[UPDATE in the body of the text]

Indiana is at the forefront of a concerted and aggressive drive to weaken state power.  That sounds good to so many of us, especially those who believe there is a libertarian with a good heart out there.  But here’s the trick.  The agents of the state of the terms of Mitch Daniels (at least) have worked to make the State itself an onerous body that commits one bad act after another.  The government that hates government is in charge of the government.  In turn, the people hate the state as well and scream for liberty and freedom and so approve of the measures the state offers for “choice” such as voucher systems and selling public schools to corporate charter groups.

All this does is diminish the capacity of the state as a protector against unequal wealth and power.  While we scream about the .01% owning the world and screwing us we are letting our state sell us to those very folks and we are thanking them for it.

An example of the way this is happening:

Today a memo went out to all Indiana Public School District administrators.  The memo, titled “Assessment Opt Out Guidance” was authored by the State General Counsel Matt Voors and sent out under the Office of the Chief for Assessment (a chief for change!), Wes Bruce.

The gist, don’t let parents opt their children out of state assessment tests.  However, as the memo makes clear, the state has no policy on this particular option.  Oddly, the lawyers treat this as if that alone creates the impetus to not allow it.  Anyway, as there is no way to make the opting out illegal (currently–one assumes we should look for legislation asap) the tactic suggested by the state is to threaten parents, teachers and school communities with untoward ramifications.  We can’t stop you, they say, but we’re going to make your life as hard for you as we can if you do this.

Here is the full text.
M E M O R A N D U M 
TO:                 Indiana Superintendents and Principals
FROM:           Wes Bruce, Chief Assessment Officer
Matt Voors, General Counsel
DATE:           January 25, 2011
TOPIC:          Assessment Opt Out Guidance
In recent weeks, we have had several inquiries from schools and corporations about  parents who have requested—or in some cases demanded—to opt out their students from participating in state assessments (ISTEP+, IMAST, IREAD-3, ECAs, LAS Links) . There are several social media sites that are promoting the idea of opting out in Indiana.  These sites imply that parents may opt out  their children from state testing.  Indiana law has no such provision.
The following are points you may want to discuss with parents considering opting out their students:
  • Test scores provide a valid measure of how well students have mastered grade level standards.
  •  ISTEP+ test scores allow us to estimate how much students have grown each school year     by comparing the achievement patterns of students with very similar patterns of content mastery.
  •  At the high school level, opting out denies students the opportunities guaranteed to them by law to demonstrate the needed mastery of Algebra I and/or English 10 required to earn  a high school diploma.
Below you will find our policy on the topic of opting out of state assessments, as well as important reminders for parents and for schools.
Indiana Standardized Testing Policy Regarding Opt-out and Absences
Unless a student falls within the very narrow exemptions for homebound instruction and/or medical necessity, Ind. Code  20-32-2 provides that all students enrolled in an Indiana-accredited school are required to participate in state assessments.  Indiana does not have an opt-out policy.  If a student is absent on the scheduled testing days but attends school on any other days in the test window, the school shall test the student as a “make up.”
Parent Reminders
Parents should be reminded of Indiana’s Compulsory School Attendance Laws, Ind. Code 20-33-2.  Specifically, section 28 of the compulsory school attendance chapter provides that it is unlawful for a parent to fail, neglect, or refuse to send the parent’s child to school for the full term, and section 27 of the statute provides that it is unlawful for a parent to fail to ensure that his/her student attends school as required under the compulsory school attendance chapter and establishes the process of initiating an action against a parent for violation.   Finally, section 44 provides that violation of the compulsory school attendance chapter is a Class B Misdemeanor.   Any absence by a student on scheduled testing dates for the purpose of avoiding testing constitutes an unexcused absence and may constitute a violation of the compulsory school attendance laws.
School Reminders
Schools should be mindful that student participation in state assessments is part of the calculation for A-F category designations. Moreover, lack of participation by any subgroup may have particular negative consequences for accountability calculations.
For additional information, please contact the Office of Assessment at
UPDATE: This number in the document goes to FSSA, Revenue Recovery, NOT the Office of Assessment.  One is unsure how to respond to this.  If intentional it seems somewhat obscene as a prank.  Either way, here is the Office of Assessment Chief’s contact information off the IDOE site:
ph: 317-232-9050
fx: 317-233-2196
email: wbruce@doe.in.gov
Let me suggest you call them in order to GIVE THEM additional information, not to get it.  Unless the question is Where do you get off?

So, let’s recap: Opt Out and the school suffers, high school kids will have their diplomas withheld, parents can be thrown in jail for 60 days or fined $1k if they trespass the truancy laws.

Nice.  That’s called the Bully Policy.  But we expect nothing less from Indiana Government.  Teachers, may I suggest when you give your mandatory anti-bullying workshops that you use the state as an example of the biggest bully (well next to the Military, the Banks and the federal government that serves them).

Yesterday, we received a newsletter from our school about the upcoming testing schedule.  Among the Facts the Gradgrinds sent us was this:
The IREAD 3rd grade test is new this year.  We’ve not seen the assessment piece and do not know what the cut scores will be.  X discussed this at the family literacy night.  3rd graders who do not pass this test will be retained.  They can be retained for up to two years.
What happens after those two years if they don’t pass?  Is it like unemployment stats?  You know they remove from the numbers anyone who’s “stopped” looking for work.  (That keeps the stats lower than they are in reality, don’t you know–so that 9% unemployment is really close to 22%.)

More coercion.  The primary goal of any of this is simply to amass data as a weapon.

The state is now corrupt in all ways and has only one intention–disbanding all public accountability.  In what they must feel is a clever ruse they “pretend” testing and “measurable” assessment  is about accountability.  Rather, it’s a chance to weaken the ability of the state to protect its citizens.  All the policy behind the education reforms create assessment standards that will automatically Fail as many as 1/3 of public schools.  The state will “take-over” these schools and then sell them to corporations.  Then corporations will be allowed to be, well, corporations.  They will write the very rules that govern them and the state will passively approve.

This is the Corporate plan.  The state that cannot protect its citizens–cannot fund its programs–will willingly sell itself to the corporation.  Laws have already been passed to protect private property and not people so that one will not even be able to bring civil charges against these actions.   The men and women in positions of power in the state now are not your representatives.  They are servants of corporate power and they are destroying your one protection against the coercion of wealth and property (we call this a “market ideology”).  The state’s agents are selling the state’s power out from under us.

This is and was a Long Con and it is nearing its end.

All of this puts me in mind of this scene in Blade Runner:
Leon: I kinda get nervous when I take tests.
Holden: Don’t move.
Leon: Sorry.
He tries to move, but finally his lips can’t help a sheepish smile.
Leon: I already had an I.Q. test this year… but I don’t think I ever had a…
Holden: Reaction time is a factor in this so please pay attention. Answer as quickly as you can.
Leon: Uh… sure…
Holden: One one eight seven at Hunterwasser…
Leon: Oh… that’s the hotel.
Holden: What?
Leon: Where I live.
Holden: Nice place?
Leon: Huh? Sure. Yeah. I guess. Is that…part of the test?
Holden smiles a patronizing smile.
Holden: Warming you up, that’s all.
Leon: Oh. it’s not fancy or anything.
Holden: You’re in a desert, walking along in the sand when…
Leon: Is this the test now?
Holden: Yes. You’re in a desert, walking along in the sand when all of a sudden you look down and see a…
Leon: What one?
It was a timid interruption, hardly audible.
Holden: What?
Leon: What desert?
Holden: Doesn’t make any difference what desert… its completely hypothetical.
Leon: But how come I’d be there?
Holden: Maybe you’re fed up, maybe you want to be by yourself…who knows. So you look down and see a tortoise. It’s crawling toward you…
Leon: A tortoise. What’s that?
Holden: Know what a turtle is?
Leon: Of course.
Holden: Same thing.
Leon: I never seen a turtle.
He sees Holden’s patience is wearing thin.
Leon: But I understand what you mean.
Holden: You reach down and flip the tortoise over on its back, Leon.
Keeping an eye on his subject, Holden notes the dials in the Voight-Kampff. One of the needles quivers slightly.
Leon: You make up these questions, Mr. Holden, or do they write ‘em down for you?
Disregarding the question, Holden continues, picking up the pace.
Holden: The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over. But it can’t. Not with out your help. But you’re not helping.
Leon’s upper lip is quivering.
Leon: Whatya means, I’m not helping?
Holden: I mean you’re not helping! Why is that, Leon?
Holden looks hard at Leon, a hard piercing look. Leon is flushed with anger, breathing hard, it’s a bad moment, he might erupt. Suddenly Holden grins disarmingly.
Holden: They’re just questions, Leon. In answer to your query, they’re written down for me. It’s a test designed to provoke an emotional response.
Sure, Leon’s a replicant, a creature made by man, a lesser being (oh, wait) and he’s about to blow away Holden (the only recourse here available to the outlaw–the outsider to the law–the one the law turns out) and he’s definitely creepy, but the test will find him out and then he’s doomed…

No comments:

Post a Comment