Wednesday, April 30, 2014
As a bone thrown to parents fed up with the miseducative and abusive testing practices, Cuomo signed a law earlier this year to limit test prep everywhere except charter schools, even as he and the Legislature doubled down on the rotted Common Core as the next testing delivery system for the predatory test industry led by Pearson. The question now becomes how do policymakers break the habit of these hooked users of this new e-cigarette of the toxic testing business. It will certainly take more than unmonitored statutes of sweet sounding words by New York City's new Chancellor of Schools.
Story in the Times by Al Baker has details of the habit hardest to break.
26 Teachers and Staff of International High School at Prospect
Heights refuse to give NYC ELA Performance Assessment Test
WHEN: Thursday, May 1, 2014, 7:45-8:20am,
WHERE: International High School at Prospect Heights, 883 Classon
Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11225
WHAT: Teachers will hold a press conference to announce their
refusal to administer the NYC ELA Performance Assessment. 26
teachers and staff at Prospect Heights International High School are
refusing to administer a new assessment that is part of the new
teacher evaluation system pushed by Bloomberg’s DOE and the UFT last
spring. 50% of parents have opted their children out of the test.
The high school serves almost exclusively recently arrived English
WHY: The test was constructed and formatted without any thought for
the 14% of New York City students for whom English is not their
first language. The level of English used in the pre-test
administered in the Fall was so far above the level of our beginner
ELLs that it provided little to no information about our students’
language proficiency or the level of their academic skills.
Furthermore, the test was a traumatic and demoralizing experience
for students. Many students, after asking for help that teachers
were not allowed to give, simply put their heads down for the
duration. Some students even cried.
Teachers at Prospect Heights are drawing a line with this test.
Standardized, high stakes test dominate our schools, distort our
curriculum and make our students feel like failures. This test
serves no purpose for the students, and ultimately only hurts them.
26 Teachers have signed a letter to Chancellor Farina declaring that
they will not give the exam. The letter expresses gratitude for
Farina’s immediate turn around of the DOE’s attitude toward
teachers, and asks that the Chancellor reconsider the use of the NYC
ELA Performance Assessment with English Language Learners.
WHO: Teachers and support staff from the International High School
at Prospect Heights.
RSVP: This event is open to press and coverage is welcome.
The International High School at Prospect Heights is a public high
school located in Brooklyn, NY. Read their letter to Chancellor
Farina at www.standupoptout.wordpress.com
Some of the International High Schools in NYC are part of the Performance Standards Consortium and are not required to give the Math Regents exam; instead, students graduate by performance tasks -see http://www.performance assessment.org.
Norm Scott from NY added: MOREista and Change the Staker Jia Lee and 2 teachers from her elementary school also refused to give the tests. The Nation reported about their -->"open letter from a group of “Teachers of Conscience” at the Earth School <http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/04/04/teachers-refuse-to-administer-standardized-tests/>, an elementary school in Manhattan. Accompanied by a philosophical position paper detailing principles of a progressive education <http://teachersofconscience.wordpress.com/position-paper/>, the teachers declared their opposition to English language exams for third-to-eight graders." As did Valerie Strauss in the Washington Post. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/04/04/teachers-refuse-to-administer-standardized-tests/>
Rosie and Emily Giles are active MOREistas. See video <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1a9Gg37nC3A&feature=share&list=UU9iVb99ewF1omA6LbPUWEOg&index=1> of Rosie at the Change the Stakes rally last week where in an off the cuff interview she elucidates the thinking of more and more teachers. Much of the test flux has come from elementary schools so it is important that this is coming from high school - there is a chain of international schools here in NYC that are linked and at some point this may spread.
"Bill Gates's foundation pays educators to pose alternatives to union orthodoxies regarding seniority and test scores." "Two other Gates-financed groups, Educators for Excellence and Teach Plus, have helped amplify the voices of newer teachers as an alternative to the official views of the unions. Last summer, members of several such groups had a meeting at the foundation’s offices in Washington." — New York Times
Although it's being debated vigorously in United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), let's leave the discussion about UTLA online voting aside momentarily. Let's even ignore the all too transparent reasons why Teach Plus—a member of the nonprofit industrial complex (NPIC)—is pushing for it, and is willing to host dinners and drinks at four different restaurants.* Instead, why don't the online voting petition wielding UTLA members ask their Teach Plus "allies" some important questions. Here are a few of my questions for these supposedly unaligned teachers to ask the Teach Plus cadre as conversation starters:
How do you feel about being associated with an organization that was intimately involved with this tragic incident?
Often the decisions about which teachers will stay and which will go are made by new principals who may be very good, but don't know the old staff. "We had several good teachers asked to leave," said Heather Gorman, a fourth-grade teacher who will be staying at Blackstone Elementary here, where 38 of 50 teachers were removed. "Including my sister who's been a special-ed teacher 22 years."
How do you feel about Teach Plus' founder, Celine Coggins', close ties with the fringe-right The Hoover Institution at Stanford University? Coggins is also on the advisory board of the dubious National Council for Teaching Quality (NCTQ) along with folks like Rick Hess, Joel Klein, Michelle Rhee, Eric Hanushek, and Stefanie Sanford. NCTQ is funded in part by the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Searle Freedom Trust, and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.
How do you feel about receiving the majority of your funding from Bill Gates, a plutocrat who also funds the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), The Discovery Institute (which actively advocates teaching creationism), invests in Monsanto, and for-profit prison companies?
How do you feel about your organization receiving large sums from the right-wing NewSchools Venture Fund, led by reactionary Ted Mitchell, whose role in the wholesale privatization of California schools earned him a spot in billionaire Forbes' Top Education "Disruptors" list?
While we can all agree that this language: "Teach Plus, with its teacher members, is focused on developing innovative policy solutions in the following areas: measuring teacher effectiveness; improving performance evaluation systems" is a euphemism for using widely discredited "value added methodologies," what is Teach Plus' current stance on this issue now that the American Statistical Association has just released a very important document on Value Added Methodologies?
That's probably enough questions to get the party started. I hope the free dinners are worth hearing the answers.
* These aren't cheap restaurants either. We held our wedding reception at "El Cholo" Koreatown. It's a nice place by my humble, working class standards.