Every Child Deserves a Great Education
Home

Archive for March, 2013


Go Away TFA — Oregon HB 2878 0

Posted on March 19, 2013 by dmayer

Oregon may be opening the door for Teach for America, the recruiting service that places non-licensed college graduates in the classrooms of mostly poor, minority children after only five weeks of “training” to serve in place of professional teachers. Maybe or maybe not. This bill is so ambiguous and poorly written that it’s difficult to figure out its purpose. One thing is certain. It calls for Oregonians to trust non-licensed employees to teach their children.
 photo 971f2b03-170e-469e-a96b-d3f5c2e45b10_zps3c005fb2.jpg

Click here for a larger version.

Here’s what the bill means in plain English, section by sub-section:

77th OREGON LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY–2013 Regular Session
House Bill 2878

Sponsored by Representative PARRISH

Not surprisingly, Julie Parrish, District 37 — Tualitin and West Linn –  is supported by Stand for Children, an astroturf organization that has been successful in passing this type of legislation nationwide. Oregon is the only state where SFC operates that does not allow non-licensed teachers in schools. Parrish also pushed for legislation favoring charter schools and tying teacher evaluations to standardized test results.

Parrish on Twitter:

Thank you Oregonian for calling out the thuggish behavior of the OEA. Love my kids’ teachers, their union, not… http://t.co/guPJWc6o2h 02:10:04 PM March 14, 2013

Parrish is definitely anti-union.

SUMMARY

The following summary is not prepared by the sponsors of the measure and is not a part of the body thereof subject to consideration by the Legislative Assembly. It is an editor’s brief statement of the essential features of the measure as introduced. 

Allows person to teach certain courses in schools without being licensed by or registered with Teacher Standards and Practices Commission if certain requirements are met. Specifies restrictions to employment.

Non-licensed people can teach if they meet certain requirements.

A BILL FOR AN ACT

Relating to teacher qualifications.

Be It Enacted by the People of the State of Oregon:
SECTION 1. (1) Notwithstanding ORS 338.135 and 342.173, a person employed by a school district or a public charter school may teach without being licensed by or registered with the
Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) if:

Notwithstanding ORS 338.135 and 342.173 — Notwithstanding means forget about these laws. Not usually a good thing. What laws should we ignore? ORS 338.135 defines among other things employees licensure and registration requirements and collective bargaining rights. ORS 342.173 states the effect of employing unlicensed teacher or administrator by certain districts including penalties and fines for hiring non-licensed teachers. A person employed by a school district or a public charter school may teach without being licensed by or registered with the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission if:

(a) The person is teaching only courses for which the State Board of Education has not adopted academic content standards as required by ORS 329.045;

ORS 329.045 is a revision of common curriculum goals, performance indicators, diploma requirements, essential learning skills and academic content standards. This includes rigorous academic content standards in mathematics, science, English, history, geography, economics, civics, physical education, health, the arts and second languages. This list seems to be fairly inclusive. What courses would the non-licensed teacher be able to teach? Is there a shortage of certified teachers in some courses? What are they? Why not name them in the bill?

I contacted TSPC and asked this question. The response:

I cannot tell you exactly which courses would be allowed to be taught by a non-licensed teacher; but they would be courses for which the Department has not adopted content standards. I can tell you that it will certainly cause confusion unless regulations were clear following passage of the bill.

I highly recommend that you contact the legislative representatives for teachers at the Oregon Education Association regarding this bill.

I’m currently waiting for a response from OEA.

(b) The school district or public charter school follows the instructor appraisal committee procedures adopted by the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission; and  

Follows the instructor appraisal committee procedures? Does this mean that the non-certified teacher will be evaluated like every other teacher?  This is vague.

(c) The person meets the other training or experience requirements established by the State Board of Education and by the district school board of the school district or the public charter school governing body.

Other training or experience requirements? What are the training and experience requirement? Why would we pass a law to allow non-certified people to teach with out even know what the requirements are?

(2) A person who is employed to teach as provided by this section:

(a) Is not eligible to become a member of the Public Employees Retirement System as a result of the employment; and

No PERS for non-licensed employees posing as teachers. Will the employee have any type of retirement plan?

(b) May not become a member of a collective bargaining unit that represents licensed or registered teachers.

Non-licensed employees posing as teachers can not join a union.

(3) No more than 40 percent of the total classroom teaching time at a school may be provided by persons who are teaching as provided by this section.

Whoa! Allows person to teach certain courses in schools without being licensed is a far cry from 40 percent of classroom teaching time provided by non-licensed employees. Does this mean that nearly half of any school faculty may be non-licensed employees posing as teachers.

There are red flags all over this bill. Even if it isn’t a pretext to welcome TFA into Oregon, it is a frightening precedent in regard to retirement restrictions, collective bargaining rights, and faculty composition. This bill is slated for a hearing March 25th. Let your representatives hear from you.

Opt Out Resources 0

Posted on March 17, 2013 by dmayer

United Opt Out photo f613a4d9-0036-4b6f-ba2f-ba8d82d80b02_zpsf93ece1c.jpg

 photo 08d42619-134a-4c80-8c71-184c74597550_zpsd81070c6.jpg

More Opt Out Visuals

 

KBOO Opt Out of Standardized Testing

If you missed the forum, listen in here.

A panel discussion and Q & A on the growing movement of resistance to standardized testing, featuring Jesse Hagopian, leader of the teachers boycott of the MAP test at Seattle’s Garfield High School; Uvia Murillo, a Woodlawn Elementary parent who opted out of the OAKS test for her son; Elizabeth Lehl, a Vernon Elementary teacher; and Alexia Garcia, a Lincoln High student and leader of the Portland Student Union campaign urging students to opt out of the OAKS test. KBOOs Jamie Partridge recorded the forum at Grant High School on March 16, 2013.

 photo 3aa4e959-d062-4e1e-af8a-a1e26b4e4ed6_zps436d38b1.jpg

Why Opt Out?

  • High stakes testing fosters test score-driven education rather than meeting the individual needs of students.
  • The emphasis on testing puts pressure on the child, who learns that it’s not learning that matters but getting a “good” test score.
  • The child who does not pass the first time is identified for intensive coaching, making the child feel different. The extra time devoted to coaching is time the student may lose in enrichment subjects, PE, recess, and other activities that make school enjoyable.
  • The tested subjects become the focus of instruction to boost scores, leading to neglect of useful and enriching subjects such as music, art, shop class, even writing.
  • The tests favor middle class students and disadvantage low-income and minority students and students limited in English proficiency. As a result, disadvantaged students suffer a narrowed curriculum and are denied access to subjects that might engage them in school.
  • Investing money towards testing, new tests, and data collection diverts money away from providing a quality, well-rounded education for all students. That is money that could be used to lower class sizes, provide counselors and aides, and more time for teachers to interact with parents and students.
  • High stakes tests fuel push-outs, drop-outs and the school-to-prison pipeline.
  • Opting out gives parents a say in public education. Top-down mandates from federal and state policies have left the public, and the people most directly impacted – students, teachers, and parents – out of public education policy decisions. Opting out makes your voice heard.

How to Opt Out

  1. Send a letter to your child’s teacher and principal stating you are opting out of state testing for reasons of disability or religious belief. “Religion” can be construed broadly and you do not need to invoke a particular tradition or denomination. Suggest an “alternative learning activity” for your child to do during testing time, such as reading, researching, writing, helping younger students, etc.
  2. You may want to call your district just to verify that they share your understanding. Try to make this process as easy on the school teachers and principals as possible by getting all the most accurate information for your district. There should be a testing coordinator at the district level that can also answer any questions.
  3. If your child is in high school and opting out of the 11th grade OAKS assessment, he or she will need an alternative assessment in order to graduate, such as the ACT, SAT, or a locally scored work sample. Be prepared to state your preferred option. If your child is not in high school, no other alternative assessment is required.
  4. Make sure your child wants to do this. Don’t apply any pressure.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Will opting out cause my school to not receive funding?

By law, all students are entitled to a free, public education. It would be illegal to withhold funding from schools if students opt out.

Won’t test scores be required for college entry?

State test scores such as the OAKS are not required for college entry. Some colleges require SAT or ACT, but over 815 universities across the nation, including several in Oregon, do not require such test scores for admission. View the list at FairTest.

The  Test Administration Manual  from the Oregon Department of Education cites only disabilities or religious beliefs as a basis for opting out. Can I still opt out just because I don’t believe the tests are worthwhile unjust in their use?

Yes. We have checked with local ministers on this. Religion is a set of beliefs. Disagreeing in the use of high stakes testing is a set of beliefs. Additionally, it would be a violation of civil rights to allow some people to opt out due to their beliefs and not others.

Won’t this hurt the ranking of my child’s school?

It can. Schools that do not meet participation targets in all subgroups will have their overall rating lowered by one category. All subgroups with at least 40 students in assessed grades over two years combined must meet the 95% participation target. These subgroups include economically disadvantaged student, students with disabilities, English learners, and seven identified racial or ethnic groups.

Also, according to the new 2012-2013 Oregon Report Card, a school that does not meet participation targets for every subgroup for two years in a row will have their overall rating lowered by two categories and will be reviewed for particular supports and interventions. In 2013-2014, per the new Report Card, a school that does not meet participation targets for every subgroup for three years in a row will have their overall rating lowered by three categories which would result in such schools receiving either a Focus or Priority rating. However, there are no consequences to individual students.

What would it really mean to fall into a Focus or Priority category?

Schools in this category are to receive “interventions” that help students improve achievement. A team would need to examine why participation rate is low. Obviously, this forces an important discussion. Students in Priority and Focus categories based on low test scores receive interventions such as tutoring and closer monitoring of a school. Of course, it would not make sense to apply interventions simply on the basis of participation rates. This may be uncharted territory.

Didn’t receiving an NCLB waiver mean we didn’t have to have such punitive measures?

No. The waiver just renamed the measures. You can read more about that here: http://www.boldapproach.org/policy-blog-templates/stop-nclb-waivers

Won’t this harm my child’s teacher because they have to be evaluated based in part on test scores?

Participation rate should not factor into such evaluations. As a teacher would have proof from families as to their desire to opt out, this decision should not reflect negatively on teachers.

What about the new tests that are coming out, the Smarter Balanced Assessments? Will they be better and take less time and resources and provide better measures of learning?

It is hard to say what the quality will be, but we do know these tests will be more costly. They may take more time if they are given to even more grade levels. In any case, even if they are of “higher quality,” however that is defined, they will still pose the problems we have identified in terms of consequences: lack of application to student learning and narrowing the curriculum to tested subjects.

As parents, students, and educators, we need to voice how our education money in education should be spent. Should it go to more testing? Or should it go to smaller class sizes and programs and services. Find out what others are saying about the Opt Out movement, follow these links:

Do Not Judge, Do Not Condemn

My wife and I have decided not to put all the pressure of carrying out the Bartlbey Project on our son’s shoulders this year. When he is a little older and decides on his own that this is what he wants to do then we will definitely support him. However, we have not given in to the high stakes testing culture. We are going to “opt out” our son from NCLB testing (PSSAs here in Pennsylvania). We have asked other families to join us and some are considering it, but their support or lack of it will not deter us from our decision.

The Little Data Point and the Big Bad Test

This is a story written by Noa Rosinplotz, a sixth-grade student in the District of Columbia public schools. It first appeared on a Facebook page called “Children Left Behind,” a protest site for students and families. Noa sent it to her story, and she also wrote a letter, which follows the story. Students are not widgets; they are not pieces of clay. They don’t like what is being inflicted upon them. Once they become active, everything changes.

Opt Out Bumper Stickers, Yards Signs and Buttons

In January, when nearly all of the teachers at a Seattle high school decided to refuse to give mandated standardized district tests called the Measures of Academy Progress because, they said, the exams don’t evaluate learning and are a waste of time, people took notice. Since that time many other teachers, parents, and students have joined in to support them. They have released the genie from the bottle and it’s not going back in. Today many people are beginning to question the testing craze.

Social Equality Educators (SEE)

We oppose the major initiatives embodied in the Race to the Top (RTTT) program that relies on market-based approaches for our schools. Therefore, we oppose privatizing influence of charter schools that drain desperately needed funds from public schools. We oppose merit pay and other initiatives that seek to define teaching and learning through curriculum narrowing/culturally biased standardized tests.

Oregon Save Our Schools

Jesse Hagopian is a leader in the group Social Equality Educators focused on social justice unionism within the Seattle Teachers Association. He has written many articles on education reform. He co-wrote the chapter “Teachers’ Union and Social Justice” for the book Education and Capitalism Struggles for Learning and Liberation. Jesse teaches social studies in Seattle at Garfield High School and is one of many teachers boycotting the MAP Test.

Portland Student Union

The PPS and Portland Student Unions will be teaming up in organizing an Opt-Out Campaign in which students are encouraged to opt-out of taking their standardized OAKS tests. The Student Unions want to send a strong message against to the standardized testing system as we believe that standardized tests scores are an inaccurate depiction of a student’s knowledge, have an extremely high correlation to a student’s family’s income, have a high correlation with race, are expensive, and in all are taking up class time that we could use learning things that are more applicable to our lives, as well as be developing better relationships with our teachers and peers.

Seattle Education

We now have two levels of learners. Those whose fate is to memorize basic facts and the second set of learners who are learning how to think creatively and critically. The second level of students are for the most part in the private schools or the schools in the wealthier communities. With the re-segregation of our schools into neighborhood schools in Seattle, the line has been drawn quite clearly.

Garfield Teachers on Democracy Now!

Great Schools for America

It would be like a mechanic whose boss has said,” I want you to use the cheaper version of the brakes even though they’re not as good, I want you to use that.” And mechanic finally stood up and said, “You know this is bad for customers, right? You know the breaks are going to give out sooner, and I feel so strongly that that’s the wrong thing to do that I’m not going to turn to my boss and say no.”

United Opt Out National

Members of this site are parents, educators, students and social activists who are dedicated to the elimination of high stakes testing in public education. We use this site to collaborate, exchange ideas, support one another, share information and initiate collective local and national actions to end the reign of fear and terror promoted by the high stakes testing agenda.

Fair Test

The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) works to end the misuses and flaws of standardized testing and to ensure that evaluation of students, teachers and schools is fair, open, valid and educationally beneficial.

Parents Across America

By the way, the third MAP test which is given in the Fall is solely for the use of NWEA. That’s why it’s “optional”.

Rethinking Schools

I walked away from the rest of my class and over to the three computers in the corner of my classroom. Two of my 1st graders, Jasmine and Jayden, sat at their computers with their headphones off, waiting for me to reset their computers to Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) test number 2.

“I got 162,” said Jasmine. “You got 142.”

“You did better than me,” replied Jayden with a frown.

Shelly sat at the third computer. “I don’t wanna do the computer test,” she pleaded. “Do I have to?”

Save Our Schools

Dear Save Our Schools Supporters…

We wish to offer an opportunity to express your support for The Letter of Endorsement of the NYC Field Test Boycott.

We the undersigned, education researchers and scholars from across the United States and abroad, support the New York City families in their decision to boycott the field test from October 23 to 25.

We wish to offer an opportunity to express your support for The Letter of Endorsement of the NYC Field Test Boycott.

We the undersigned, education researchers and scholars from across the United States and abroad, support the New York City families in their decision to boycott the field test from October 23 to 25.

Texas Parents Opt Out of State Tests

In Texas, more than 10,000 people joined a recent rally to protest it. In Seattle, high school teachers launched a boycott over it. And in Los Angeles, school board candidates are arguing over it — a debate considered so crucial to the future of education reform that outside donors have poured millions into the campaigns.

Dr. Yong Zhao

If just 6% of the children per school site were opted out of this grossly over-rated system of assessing students and holding educators accountable, we could begin to have a productive dialogue about more humane and complex systems of assessment and education.

Academicia — Stand Up: The Day the Teachers Said No 0

Posted on March 09, 2013 by dmayer

MAP Test Boycott: The Movie

It would be like a mechanic whose boss has said,” I want you to use the cheaper version of the brakes even though they’re not as good, I want you to use that.” And mechanic finally stood up and said, “You know this is bad for customers, right? You know the breaks are going to give out sooner, and I feel so strongly that that’s the wrong thing to do that I’m not going to turn to my boss and say no.”

Indiana stands against the Common Core 0

Posted on March 07, 2013 by dmayer

Indiana is being lambasted with Common Core commercials produced by the anti-public education group Stand for Children. Why? Hoosiers are wise to state politicians who are privatizing their public schools. The people need more convincing that national standards are a good thing. Enter Stand for Children to get the job done. Thirty-second spots are airing across the state to convince parents, teachers, and community members that Common Core State Standards are essential to providing students with an adequate education. Will indiana residents be able to influence legislators to stop the Common Core?

For years Indiana has had strong state standards supported by Frameworks that assist teachers in delivering the curriculum. To replace decades of work completed by the people of the state with national Common Core standards seems ridiculous to some.

Here are arguments from Indiana educators and parents reduced t “Myths” by Stand for Children. Many of these arguments can be made by any of the 45 states that have signed on to implement the Common Core. Just insert the name of your state for Indiana. Regardless of Stand’s “facts,” the point may be argues that Common Core legislation was ramrodded through state legislatures without adequate discussion or debate, and without public approval.

MYTH 1: COMMON CORE IS AN EFFORT OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO NATIONALIZE EDUCATION AND FORCE STATES TO TEACH ALL STUDENTS THE SAME WAY.
Fact: Common Core is a state-led initiative by governors, state superintendents, and nonprofit agencies to modernize education standards. It is research-based and molded with more than 10,000 comments from the public. The Indiana State Board of Education, to which the General Assembly has given the task of adopting standards, voluntarily adopted the Common Core in 2010. Indiana received no incentives from the federal government for taking this action.

MYTH 2: INDIANA’S STANDARDS WERE JUDGED SUPERIOR TO COMMON CORE, “EVEN BY COMMON CORE SUPPORTERS.”
Fact: While Indiana’s standards are high compared to many other states, children are still leaving school unprepared for what lies ahead. In addition to the students who do not graduate from high school or choose not to attend college, one-third of Indiana students who do attend college require remediation in math or English.The Fordham Institute, one of the organizations often cited praising Indiana’s standards even said some of the Common Core shifts “would benefit Indiana’s already-strong standards,” and the Common Core State Standards are quality standards for the nation.

MYTH 3: STATES MAY NOT ADJUST THE NEW COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS TO MEET THEIR STATE-LEVEL NEEDS.
Fact: Common Core allows states to add standards on top of the Common Core. This is known as the “15% Rule”, due to the amount of standards that can be added. Additionally, Indiana law allows Home Rule, which means school corporations can adopt standards above the state minimum.

MYTH 4: COMMON CORE STANDARDS REPRESENT A NATIONAL CURRICULUM AND IMPLEMENTING 100% OF COMMON CORE MEANS THAT THE STANDARDS TELL TEACHERS PRECISELY HOW THEY MUST TEACH.
Fact: Standards, by definition, are not a curriculum. Common Core defines the “what” rather than the “how” of teaching. Common Core is a set of standards that outline what students should know at a particular grade level in order to be on track to mastering skills and content to be prepared for college and beyond. Curriculum – the map, schedule, and method for teaching standards – will be a decision left up to school corporations and teachers to construct.

MYTH 5: REFERRING TO THE COMMON CORE AS “NATIONAL STANDARDS” IS THE MOST ACCURATE WAY TO DESCRIBE THEM.
Fact: Neither Congress nor the U.S. Department of Education was involved in the development of Common Core, nor have they mandated Common Core adoption. Not all states have chosen to participate. In fact, the Common Core are nationally aligned state standards because they were developed in collaboration between state and education leaders across the country.

MYTH 6: HOOSIER TAXPAYERS WILL END UP PAYING MORE FOR TECHNOLOGY AND CURRICULUM UPDATES UNDER COMMON CORE THAN THEY WOULD HAVE HAD TO UNDER THE INDIANA STANDARDS.
Fact: Indiana currently spends $93.9 million annually on standards-related costs. And the costs of Common Core implementation have varied greatly. At least one estimate said a Common Core transition can save Indiana $23 million. Additionally, Indiana is in a better place than most states because the state allowed districts to make technology investments with textbook funds starting in 2009. (source) This means most – if not all – of Common Core implementation costs can be covered by existing spending.

MYTH 7: “UNDER THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS, STUDENTS MAY GRADUATE FROM HIGH SCHOOL READING AT A 7TH GRADE LEVEL.”
Fact: The fact is that currently there are too many students graduating high school reading at a 7th grade level and even lower. This is a major reason why the Common Core were established in the first place. Common Core standards push students to read at even higher levels earlier in their school careers. For example, the current standard for a 9th grade reading level will become the new standard for a 7th grade reading level under full implementation of the Common Core.

MYTH 8: “UNDER THE COMMON CORE, ‘COLLEGE READINESS’ MEANS PREPARATION FOR A SELECTIVE TWO-YEAR COLLEGE, NOT A UNIVERSITY.”
Fact: An education rooted in the Common Core standards would actually prepare students to enter a university setting having spent the last 12 years building up to the complexity of material they will encounter at higher levels of education. Nowhere in the Common Core initiative or research do the authors define “college readiness” as readiness for a “two-year college” instead of a university.

MYTH 9: INDIANA ONLY CHOSE TO ADOPT COMMON CORE BECAUSE THEY WANTED FEDERAL RACE TO THE TOP (RTTT) STIMULUS FUNDS OR WERE INCENTIVIZED BY THE OPPORTUNITY TO RECEIVE A NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND (NCLB) WAIVER.
Fact: Indiana did not adopt Common Core when it applied for the first round of RTTT funds, and the state did not apply for the second round. Indiana adopted the Common Core on its own terms in August 2010. (source) Indiana also adopted the new standards one year before the NCLB waiver was even an option for states.

MYTH 10: 70% OF THE TEXTS READ IN ENGLISH-LANGUAGE ARTS CLASSES MUST BE INFORMATION-TEXT IN 12TH GRADE, WHICH PREVENTS STUDENTS FROM LEARNING CULTURE THROUGH HIGH QUALITY LITERATURE.
Fact: Common Core standards call for 70% of all texts (not 70% of English Language Arts texts) read in 12th grade to be nonfiction, which includes content area texts, such as science and history. (source) This was done to support literacy instruction in other content areas and underscore the role that all teachers must play in literacy efforts. (source) This will help ensure students are graduating high school adequately prepared to read rigorous college and career-level material, a majority of which are informational texts.

MYTH 11: THE COMMON CORE WILL BE ADOPTED IN PLACE OF ALL INDIANA ACADEMIC STANDARDS IN ALL SUBJECT AREAS.
Fact: The Common Core standards provide new standards for English Language Arts and math only, not social studies, science and technical subjects. Nor will these other subjects be evaluated on the new PARCC assessment test. Current Indiana Academic Standards will be used for these subjects.