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The cost of KIPP 0

Posted on April 06, 2014 by dmayer

Bipartisan charter school legislation introduced in the House will allow states to “receive grants to develop and expand high-quality charter schools under a new bipartisan bill recently introduced in the House. The legislation—co-authored by House Education Committee Chairman John Kline (R-MN) and ranking Democrat George Miller (CA)—would allow states to use federal funds to grow and replicate existing high-quality charter schools. Previously, federal charter school funding could only be used to open new schools.”

The fact that this is bipartisan legislation should raise red flags immediately since Republican and Democrats can’t seem to agree on anything of substance. But when little kids, teachers, and families are the target, Congress can get their act together. Big money speaks to both sides of the aisle on the topic of education.

According to ASCD:

Another provision of the bill would allow charter management organizations (such as KIPP and Uncommon Schools) to receive grants to open new schools, even if the organizations are located in states that do not receive federal charter school funding.

Is KIPP a high quality charter network? You be the judge.

Is public school for sale? This is the topic of Bill Moyer’s recent interview with Diane Ravitch. On this week’s Moyers & Company, she explains, ”I think what’s at stake is the future of American public education. I believe it is one of the foundation stones of our democracy. So, an attack on public education is an attack on democracy.”  She has become the nation’s fiercest opponent of charter schools and the movement to privatize our public schools. While Ravitch gives an overall view of the public school crisis, it seems prudent to look at the most revered charter school network, up-close and personal — KIPP.  What is KIPP like? How much has it cost students, parents, teachers, communities, the country and our democracy? Let’s take a look at KIPP.

KIPP celebrates its 20th anniversary this year (2014). KIPP, the Knowledge Is Power Program, is a national network of 141 charter schools now serving over 50,000 students. For comparison, think of a school district the about the size of Seattle Public Schools spread out across the country.  In the early 2000′s, with virtually no track record for excellence, KIPP gained national attention when it was praised by then Secretary of Education under George W. Bush, Rod Paige. Charter schools were clearly on the agenda, and KIPP was chosen to be the flagship charter management organization. KIPP Foundation was formed to support KIPP schools shortly thereafter. KIPP has been thriving off private charity and public dollars ever since. In addition to the per pupil expenditure provided by the government to all public schools, KIPP schools receive millions more in public support.

Now may be the opportune time to reflect on the darling charter school network of the reform movement. As KIPP leads the charge to the tipping point that will signal victory to the billionaire bullies on a quest to privatize our public schools, shouldn’t we ask hard questions about KIPP? Are we sacrificing the quality of life of poor minority children in order to promote an education regime we wouldn’t want for our own children? Are we pouring millions of dollars into a school network that cheats children out of childhood? If KIPP is the model to which all schools should aspire, will millions more be invested into all other public schools?  What is the moral and financial cost of KIPP?

A Little Background on KIPP

This is a chant students are required to repeat in unison at KIPP. What lesson are they learning?

Knowledge is power
Power is money
And I want it.

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Ready for a field trip kids?  Pile in!

Shamelessly promoting KIPP schools in Work Hard. Be Nice, author Jay Mathews regales us with tales about how co-founders Michael Feinberg and David Levin, originally Teach for America corps members, began their careers by lying about their credentials to get  teaching jobs. Soon, they courted low-income Hispanic parents to enroll children in their two KIPP classrooms by promising “field lessons” to students. When Levin and Feinberg finally did take their students on a field trip at the end of the school year, half of them were transported to an amusement park in a U-Haul type van – that’s right, the kind of truck that has no windows or seats; the kind of truck used to move furniture. The two faux teachers hadn’t raised enough money for transportation so they stuffed students into a moving van and trucked them to the park.

While professional teachers would likely have lost their licenses for such outrageous conduct, Levin and Feinberg suffered no consequences. Their blatant disregard for what is best for students is a tradition that continues at KIPP today, even as it is hailed as a model school and receives millions and millions of foundation and tax dollars to scale-up the program. Is KIPP worth the cost?

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A Bargain for KIPPsters?

Before examining the financial cost of KIPP, spending a moment to assess the toll exacted on its students may be warranted. A day in the life of a KIPP student (KIPPster) has been well documented. For example, in Outliers Malcolm Gladwell tells the story in a chapter called “Marita’s Bargain,” explaining that poor kids need longer school days accompanied by hours of homework, Saturday school, and year-round school in order to succeed. Many rich people agree with Gladwell’s assessment that KIPP is a bargain for kids living in poverty . (I have written about Gladwell’s view on KIPP in an open letter to President Obama.) Privileged people seem to have peculiar and perplexing perspectives on what is best for underprivileged minority children.  From Outliers about a young KIPP student:

She had the hours of a lawyer trying to make partner, or a medical resident. All that was missing were the dark circles under her eyes and a steaming cup of coffee, except that she was too young for either.

Marita’s life is not the life of a typical twelve-year-old. Nor is it what we would necessarily wish for a twelve-year-old. Children, we like to believe, should have time to play and dream and sleep. Marita has responsibilities . . . Her community does not give her what she needs. So what does she have to do? Give up her evenings and weekends and friends – all the elements of her old world – and replace them with KIPP. . .

It should be noted that neither Levin or Feinberg, nor co-conspirators Richard Barth (KIPP Foundation) and his wife Wendy Kopp (Teach for America), who supply KIPP with leaders and teachers, send their kids to the neighborhood KIPP school. Perhaps their lottery numbers just never came up. Or, could they prefer that their own children have time to “play and dream and sleep”?

Among other troubling features of KIPP are its preferences for apartheid as demonstrated by segregating poor black and brown children into separate schools, for totalitarian corporate governance, and for implacable treatment of teachers, but these are topics for another discussion.

To say that the KIPP philosophy is amoral would be an understatement. To say that KIPP management has no sense of what is best for children would be euphemistic. To say that most KIPP staffers are not educators would be the truth. KIPP has created 50,000 “Marita’s” this year, many as young as six years old — that’s 50,000 stolen childhoods. Is that too dear a price to charge children for what should be their right to a free and equitable education? If the billionaire bullies, who are perpetuating this farcical charter scheme, had to compensate poor children for the misery they’ve caused them, they’d all be paupers.

KIPP by the Numbers

What about the money? What does Kipp do with all those millions of extra dollars that traditional schools do without? An examination of KIPP 990s submitted to the Internal Revenue Service reveals some puzzling answers while posing some interesting questions.

Assets

  • KIPP Foundation, headed by Richard Barth, became a tax exempt corporation in 2007 and has amassed net assets of more than $31 million.
  • KIPP NYC, David Levin’s enclave of charter schools in New York City has accumulated nearly $18 million in net assets.
  • KIPP, Inc., Michael Feinberg’s charter empire in Houston, Texas has net assets of over $22 million.

Not to mention assets belonging to the hundred or so other KIPP schools. Much of KIPP’s assets come from the generosity of Uncle Sam — that is, you and me. For example, KIPP Foundation was awarded a $50 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education in 2010. That’s in addition to other government grants and to the millions KIPP gets in per pupil expenditures each year. KIPP also receives millions from private charitable foundations. Except for the fact that it is supported by government funds and some quirky governance rules made specifically for charter schools, KIPP is a private corporation. It is called a public school only because some elite politicians and businessmen say it is. Assets that would normally be owned by the public have fallen prey to private organizations like KIPP that are formed, not with the altruistic ideal of a great education for kids, but with the greedy aspirations of acquiring more wealth for their already wealthy benefactors. If KIPP is indeed a public school, as its originators proclaim, who owns it? How and why have its assets grown so substantially in a relatively short period of time? Why isn’t more of the wealth spent on supporting its students instead of its management? Has Seattle Public Schools (or any other school district) accumulated assets so quickly?

Salaries and Such

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Michael Feinberg, David Levin, Wendy Kopp, and Richard Barth are collectively paid nearly $2 million annually for their contributions to KIPP. 

  • Michael Feinberg works 30 hours a week for KIPP Foundation at San Francisco for $196,117; 50 hours at KIPP, Inc. in Houston for $216,865 for a total of 80 hours and  $412,982 annually.
  • David Levin works 30 works hours a week at KIPP Foundation in San Francisco for $175,000; 50 hours at KIPP New York City for $243,189; 5 hours at Uncommon Knowledge and Achievement for $50,000 NYC; and an unspecified amount at Relay Graduate School of Education NYC for a total of  85 hours+ and $468,189+ annually.
  • Wendy Kopp works for Teach for America (also Teach for All, Teach for China, and Broad Center for Management of School Systems) supplying uncertified corps members to serve as teachers at KIPP for which she is compensated $468,452 annually.  KIPP schools would not be sustainable without the overworked, underpaid faux teachers provided by TFA. Wendy’s a busy girl and extremely well-compansated for having zero education credentials.
  • Richard Barth works 60 hours a week at KIPP Foundation in San Francisco (while living in New York) and is compensated $374,868 annually. He, too, has zero education credentials.

All are members of various other education organization boards that promote the reform agenda. One might wonder when they sleep. One might also wonder if the commute from their homes in New York City and Houston to the KIPP Foundation in San Francisco is a regular one for Richard, Mike, and Dave. Or, do they just phone it in? Barth, Levin, and Feinberg aren’t the only ones at KIPP taking home big, fat pay checks. Many KIPP employees make more than $100,000 a year, but sadly, only a piddling are teachers. And, what are all those $25,000 donations to individuals all about? Does Seattle Public Schools pay their staff comparably?

Travel

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Disney Swan and Dolphin Hotel (top) and Red Rock Hotel and Casino have served as accommodations for KIPP teachers and leaders during training times.

Over the past six years, since receiving tax-exempt status, KIPP Foundation has spent nearly $16 million on travel.  You are probably thinking, “WOW!  That’s more than $300 per KIPPster!  They can go on several great trips doing field lessons each year.  And, they can travel in real buses, trains, and planes.” Sadly, that is not the case.  Millions of dollars are spent each year accommodating KIPP faux teachers and leaders at exclusive resorts:  Opryland Hotel and the Disney Swan and Dolphin Hotel in 2012; Rio Suite Hotel and Casino in 2011; Marriott in 2010; Hyatt in 2009; Scottsdale Fairmont, Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas, Chicago Hilton in 2008; and Marriott, Palmer House, Fairmont, and Red Rock Casino in 2007.

Consulting 

In recent years, KIPP Foundation has hired Mathematica Policy Research for consulting and research purposes.  In the world of education reform, Mathematica provides the best research money can buy. KIPP started out small offering only a half-million-dollar contract in 2009 and then another in 2010. They upped the ante to a million in 2011 and sprung for a whopping $3,000,000 contract in 2012. From the KIPP website:

In 2013, Mathematica released the second report from their multi-year study of KIPP middle schools. This report represents the most rigorous and in-depth research on KIPP to date. The report stated that the magnitude of KIPP’s achievement impacts is substantial.

Surprised?

KIPP also pays out millions in consulting fees which are usually neatly hidden away on their tax returns as “Other” expenses. According to 2007 KIPP Foundation 990s here and here, David Levin was being paid a six-figure salary as co-founder of KIPP Foundation, another six-figure salary for consulting with KIPP Foundation, and yet another six-figure salary for acting as superintendent of KIPP schools in New York City. Nice work if you can get it, especially for the man who grades students on character. In 2008, form 990 was changed to merge the five highest paid professional contractors with other contractors. Since other contracts for construction, technology, and, apparently, travel are usually higher than professional fees, it’s difficult to say whether the practice of consulting for your own organization continues or how widespread it is.

KIPP Foundation does give grants to its schools. After all, its mission is to support KIPP schools. Often times, funding provided to the schools goes to pay consultants as well. It is taxing to figure out how much of the KIPP budget is spent on consulting, but it is safe to say that it is much more than is spent directly on KIPPsters.

Audit Anyone?

As Diane Ravitch points out in the interview, charter schools market themselves as public schools when they depend on tax dollars for support, but claim to be private corporations when an audit looms near, often escaping scrutiny. Nevertheless, not all KIPP schools have escaped as some audits have revealed. David Levin has had an aversion to audits since 2007 when the New York Daily News reported that an audit showed his charter had spent $68,000 on staff retreats.

A Bronx charter school spent nearly $68,000 on “staff development” retreats in the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, a scathing new audit shows.

Although officials at the KIPP Academy Charter School insist the trips were educational and paid for by private donations, state Controller Thomas DiNapoli said his office couldn’t verify the claims because of sloppy bookkeeping. DiNapoli questioned why the high-achieving school – part of a national franchise – would splurge on trips to the Caribbean.

“Money intended for education should be spent on education,” DiNapoli said.

KIPP still spends big money on retreats and travel and such, but management takes care to make sure the spendy good times don’t make headlines.

KIPP is only one charter network. There are many, many more, but they all operate in much the same way: declare public schools to be failing; shut them down and replace them with charters; bust teacher’s unions by churning unlicensed teachers in and out every couple of years; teach to the test; test, test, and then test some more; evaluate teachers based on student test scores; collect tons of student data; repeat.

All KIPP schools have not been listed and/or updated on EdWatch – they keep springing up like Starbucks. To glean more information about KIPP through 990s submitted to the IRS, you may first look up the KIPP school you are interested in and then visit  GuideStar or Foundation Center Online to access financial documents.

So, Are Our Public Schools for Sale? 

Now more than ever, our public schools face the ultimate threat that could spell doom. The week following the Moyers-Ravitch interview hailed the United States Supreme Court decision on McCutcheon v. the Federal Elections Commission. Five conservative justices gutted the the already fragile campaign finance law to allow the mighty rich to handsomely bankroll more candidates. In the future schools board elections will likely be fraught with big money allowing the billionaire bullies to fund candidates who will be more than willing to close public schools and replace them with charters. This phenomenon is already happening across the country and gained national attention in 2011 when former President George W. Bush campaigned against Emily Sirota in Denver, Colorado. According to Emily, who entered the race by hosting a pizza picnic and going door-to-door to solicit contributions as she talked to neighbors, she was flabbergasted when money from big oil and big banks flooded into her opponent’s campaign coffer.

So, are our public schools for sale?  At this point, FOR SALE is an euphemistic term. For sale implies that we, the public, have made a decision to sell.  For sale means we own something of value, and we don’t want it anymore so we are willing to sell it; that we will consider all offers and sell to the highest bidder and maybe even make a profit on the deal. Turnarounds and closures resulting in the creation of a charter school do not involve the public in any kind of meaningful discourse. Our public schools are being given away as fast as reformers can shut them down and open a charter in their place. The public collects nothing in return except disillusioned students, displaced teachers, and broken communities. We lose a little bit of democracy each time a transaction is made without public participation. Our public schools are not being sold, the public is being sold out.

Isn’t it time for reformers to recognize that charter schools aren’t working — that the cost is too great. They are harmful to poor, minority children and novice teachers. They are harmful to our democracy. They bleed money away from public schools. Isn’t it time for reformers to take stock and say, “We were wrong. We have no business in education.” Literally.

Below is the dynamic interview with Bill Moyers and Dianne Ravitch plus the web-extra which has even more intriguing information. In closing Bill asks the toughest question, and Diane responds with the bravest answer. Watch the entire interview to know what we’re up against, and then join in Network for Public Education to get involved.

BILL MOYERS: When you were in the Bush administration, Assistant Secretary of Education, you were critical of public schools. You were beginning to say, “We should have choice in education.”

And you were with all those conservative think-tanks for a number of years, thinking through these issues. And then you come out so strongly, having changed your mind. Was there a moment, an experience, an “aha” drama that turned you around?

DIANE RAVITCH: Well, there wasn’t a single moment. And it wasn’t in a flash that it all came to me that it was all wrong. In the early 2000s, after No Child Left Behind was enacted, starting about, well, 2005, 2006, I realized No Child Left Behind’s not working. And, from that point forward all the misgivings I had began to come together. It was a process really of years of saying, “I was wrong.” And in these times, in this society, it is so unusual to have somebody say those three words, “I was wrong.” And, it didn’t happen overnight, but I was wrong, and I’m going to do the best I can for what time remains for me to try to set things right.

Public Schools for Sale? from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.


Web Extra: Public Schools for Sale? from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.

 

NPE asks Congress to hold formal hearings on K-12 testing 0

Posted on March 11, 2014 by dmayer

During the first week of March, 2014, hundreds of educators, parents, and students met for the Network for Public Education Conference in Austin, Texas to address the topic of so-called “education reform” of America’s K-12 public schools. On the last day of the conference, Diane Ravitch, representing all those attending, called on Congress to conduct formal hearings on the misuse of high-stakes testing in our public schools.

From the Network for Public Education website:

The call for Congressional hearings – addressed to Senators Lamar Alexander and Tom Harkin of the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, and Representatives John Kline and George Miller of the House Education and Workforce Committee – states that high-stakes testing in public schools has led to multiple unintended consequences that warrant federal scrutiny. NPE asks Congressional leaders to pursue eleven potential inquiries, including, “Do the tests promote skills our children and our economy need?” and “Are tests being given to children who are too young?”

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If Bill Gates did this one thing, student test scores would soar 0

Posted on February 03, 2014 by dmayer

For decades Bill Gates and his billionaire buddies along with high ranking government officials have been “reforming” our public schools. They have invested hundreds of millions of dollars creating charter and virtual schools, de-professionalizing teaching, manipulating standards and curriculum, eliminating libraries and art, music, and P.E. classes, promoting larger class sizes, and legislating policy initiatives that defund schools. Have these interventions produced higher scores on competitive tests and improved the education experience of students?  No.

Here’s a suggestion for Bill and his buddies who want to reform our public schools: FEED THE CHILDREN. Concentrating on this one thing would cause test scores to soar.

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Feeding students good food without unhealthy additives, preservatives, and fats leads to high achievement.

On January 30, 2014, America learned that, “Up to 40 kids at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City picked up their lunches Tuesday, then watched as the meals were taken and thrown away because of outstanding balances on their accounts — a move that shocked and angered parents.”

Apparently this is not the first time children at that school have been denied food because as school officials pointed out, “The children were given milk and fruit instead of a full lunch — the meal that the school says it gives any child who isn’t able to pay.”

This isn’t the first time a child has been denied food by school officials. Just a few months earlier, according to KTRK the same Dickensian behavior was witnessed in Dickinson (irony noted), Texas, “A 12-year-old Dickinson student’s breakfast was tossed in the trash, because his account was short by just 30 cents.” He didn’t ask for more; he just asked for some.  Even though children in America aren’t forced to work off their debts in poorhouses as English children were centuries ago, many students come from poor houses where scrounging up as little as 30 cents for a meal is often a struggle. As families are faced with food stamps cuts, they must spend more of their income for food at home.

Both schools defended their actions by hiding behind policy. One might wonder how many school districts have such policies and how many children across the nation go hungry each day because they can’t afford to pay for food at school. In this age of education reform, when a student’s fate rests on how high he or she scores on a standardized test, shouldn’t we insist that all students be fed and fed well? The inhumanity of this intervention is undeniable. Shouldn’t any intervention taken on by the school be one that leads to student success instead of failure? Suppose instead of denying students food, schools provided them with nutritious and delicious meals. Wouldn’t that make a difference in student achievement? Yes.

The ideas of Donella Meadows, known for Leverage Points: Places to Intervene in a System, are overlooked in today’s education reform climate. Education reformers prefer to replace the whole system with one of their own liking, one they can ultimately own. Reformers, who are not educators themselves, are prone to believe that scholarship is irrelevant to the education profession. Their process is to ignore tried and true strategies that work, and instead to propose a hodgepodge of punitive initiatives using students, teachers, and even entire schools as guinea pigs while they determine which ideas are most profitable for them.

If sustained high student achievement is in fact the goal of true education reform, feeding children nutritious meals at school might be considered a small shift that could produce big changes. According to Meadows:

Folks who do systems analysis have a great belief in “leverage points.” These are places within a complex system (a corporation, an economy, a living body, a city, an ecosystem) where a small shift in one thing can produce big changes in everything.

Leverage points and interventions are ignored by reformers who insist, without a shred of credible evidence, that teacher quality as measured by student standardized test scores is the sole valid indicator of learning at school. The agenda and policy set by wealthy non-educators and government officials is so narrowly focused on the teacher/test correlation that it eliminates consideration of all other small interventions that might produce huge positive results, the nutrition – hunger/achievement correlation for example.

Fortunately for us, a study measuring the effects of a nutritious diet on student achievement has already been conducted. Before holding-teachers-accountable-for-every-single-ailment-of-our-education-system became fashionable, school districts experimented (in the true sense of the word) to find data to support the hypothesis that poverty and achievement are related. It’s hard to believe that just 30-some short years ago we cared enough about kids to try a jaw-droppingly innovative experiment like this one. Even though it was conducted some three decades ago, the results are every bit as valid today as they were then.

According to the New York Times, the experiment was initiated as a result of a lawsuit filed in 1978:

A settlement has been been reached in a three-year-old class action suit brought by Consumers Union in an effort to force the City of New York to improve the nutritional quality of its school lunch program. In light of the Reagan Administration’s recent proposals to lower the requirements for the national school lunch program and the improvements already made in the city’s program, however, the settlement may be moot.

The suit, based on a 1978 audit conducted by the General Accounting Office, found that 40 percent of the lunches served did not provide adequate amounts of food or the variety required by law.

Elizabeth Cagan, director of the Board of Education’s Office of School Food Service had already joined together with researcher Dr. Stephen Schoenthaler on The Impact of a Low Food Additive and Sucrose Diet on Academic Performance in 803 New York City Public Schools to determined the effects of a healthy diet on student achievement.

In the spring of 1979, New York City’s public schools ranked in the 39th percentile on standardized California Achievement Test scores given nationwide. That means that 61 percent of the nation’s public schools scored higher. They had been in the lower half of the country for years. However, for a few years in the 1980s, these same 803 schools ranked in the upper half of the nation’s schools. They went from 11% below the national average to 5% above it. What happened?

The introduction of policy based on the Feingold diet which lowered sucrose, synthetic food color/flavors, and two preservatives (BHA and BHT) over 4 years in 803 public schools was followed by a 15.7% increase in mean academic percentile ranking above the rest of the nation’s schools who used the same standardized tests. Prior to the 15.7% gain, the standard deviation of the annual change in nation percentile rating had been less than 1%.

All schools and all children showed improvement, but not all children made a 16% improvement. Rather, the lowest achievers improved the most. That bears repeating: the lowest achievers improved more than the mean average of 16%. The children who had not been helped by any other intervention improved the most. Incredible, but true! Literally a recipe for success! (Click here for a clearer image of the graph below.)

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So, what happened next? Why did the high test scores last for only four years? The reforms instituted by Cagan were not preserved. Soon the improvements made in the NYC lunch menu were altered to again include foods with unhealthy sweeteners, flavors, preservatives, food dyes, and fats. Children stopped eating or ate the cheap, poor quality food. Test scores dropped. Cagan’s tenure at NCY Food Services is a testament to the difference one person can make in the lives of millions. That her legacy was not preserved is a travesty for the children of New York City.

So, Bill Gates, and you, too Arne Duncan, I challenge you to a noble experiment. Feed the children. No more harmful sugar additives, flavors, food dyes, preservatives, or fats. None of that genetically modified stuff, either. Feed the children well, and they will achieve more, much more. This must be a nationwide systemic intervention, not a competition where some kids get good food and some kids don’t.  This isn’t The Hunger Games, after all, and besides, we can afford it. Feed all the children well. Then, install safeguards to keep  this fine intervention in place for years to come. Your goal of improving education will be a successful and sustainable one!

Don’t know how to get started? The Feingold Association is an all volunteer organization that offers nutrition education about healthy eating. If you watch nothing else, view the slide show, LET’S DO LUNCH! It seems to have been prepared especially with you in mind. Watch the whole thing — it’s long but worth it. Then, view the videos below. I’m sure you can take it from there. Let me know if you need help. I know of about three million others who will be happy to assist. And, after the Feed the Children Well project is up and running, we have some other suggestions for you.

What does a self-proclaimed, true S.O.B. look like? 0

Posted on October 26, 2013 by dmayer

There is likely someone similar to him driving education policy in your state or school district. Watch as Rob Saxton, Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction in the State of Oregon, as he delivers a message to school administrators encouraging them to threaten teachers who dissent from Common Core.

Saxton:  

Do you know what the description of a great education leader is?  

It’s an S.O.B. with a kindly manner . . . I’m an S.O.B. with a kindly manner . . . You gotta be an S.O.B with a kindly manner.

Credit to Patriot Jason/Don’t Tread on Farms for the video.

What does Betsy Hammond, education writer at the Oregonian report about Saxton’s speech?

Some of his speech wasn’t that pretty. Either directly or using initials, he used some off-color words that a teacher would not use with students as he recounted things that have happened to him.

Hammond neglects Saxton’s statement that Oregon will be required to apply for another waiver in January 2014 identifying another round of focus and priority schools. (Starts at 6:15 mark in video below.)

There is no effort that is more important right now or is getting more attention than this one: our focus on priority schools. The Governor often asks, “When are we going to start to see that we’re making a difference in some of these investments? Where is that likely to happen?”

We need to be able to say to the legislature, “This is where we’re moving up — this investment. And the way we’re going about doing this work is changing outcomes for students.”

We have a new waiver that we need to be applying for this winter. . .(hem-hawing) When I look at the waiver that came from No Child Left Behind, I have to chuckle to myself because of what it required of us in the state. What it required of us was to sort of move away from the requirements of No Child Left Behind were to develop the new report card, work on educator evaluation systems that were already required by 290, and support Title I schools through Focus and Priority process.

What’s not to like? Is that just not like some of the greatest requirements you could ever have?

. . .

Now we need to apply for a new waiver. We’re going to try to go in the second part of the program which will be in January. One of the things they’re asking us in the new waiver is, “How would you identify additional focus and priority schools after the this four year cohort is complete?”

The structure of the ranking system insures that no matter how hard students and teachers work, there will always be focus and priority schools.

Sorry kids.

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In the process of delivering this hour long harangue which included two self-indulgent tales having nothing to do with educating our kids, Saxton quotes Theodore Roosevelt saying people often misquote him.  Then he proceeds to misquote him, “It is not the critic who counts,” he says apparently to bolster the resolve of the administrators he has just bullied into bullying their staffs. The quote is much more fitting to describe the work that teachers and parents do than invoking it to deflect criticism of himself, the OEIB, or the administrators he is encouraging to threaten teachers. Here is the actual quote from a speech remembered as The Man in the Arena delivered in 1910:

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.

You can view the entire video here to judge whether the Oregonian staff is keeping the public well informed on education issues. Watching the entire video will bear this out:  This ego-maniacal guy in charge of educating our kids poses a danger to teachers and students who value real education. Any free thinker can see that. He’s not the type of guy you would want in charge of your own child’s education, let alone the education of every single student in the state. 

Full length video of Rob Saxton – I’m an S.O.B. — Oregon Deputy Super Rob Saxton Threatens Teachers Who Dissent on Common Core & P20W a.k.a. Rob Saxton Keynote Oregon’s Continuous Improvement Network Meeting 10 1 13.

Photo Essay: OSOS invites OBA to “The People’s Table” 0

Posted on October 20, 2013 by dmayer

If there was ever any doubt about the cozy ties between the Oregon Business Alliance and Stand for Children, this event should remove any uncertainty. Stand for Children, once considered a real grassroots education advocacy group, has fallen prey to corporate predators that offer big bucks in exchange for legislative support on education policy. On October 17th, while Stand president Sue Levin was being recognized for her work and leadership throughout the session around PERS and revenue reform in a herculean effort to ensure a bright future for Oregon’s children, Oregon Save our Schools was hosting a dinner of its own. The menu at the people’s table included funding for more teachers, lower class sizes, libraries, art, and music. High-stakes tests were not on the menu.

Everyone is welcome at the people’s table.

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Portland parent Susan Barrett recalls her experience as a member of Stand for Children before realizing she was being used by the organization.
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The People’s Table
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Steve Buel & Duncan Decker address a pro public school crowd at the OBA Statesman Dinner (parody and play)

Ahjamu Umi – Get yourself into a social justice organization

Elijah – Cleveland High School Chapter Member of the Portland Student Union

Emily Crum, teacher and event organizer, invites everyone to join us at the people’s table.

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People’s Table Protest Rally

“Bennett” redefines “reform” 0

Posted on August 02, 2013 by dmayer

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Today I received an e-mail from my mentor, retired Indiana University – Purdue University (IUPUI) Professor of Science Education, Michael Cohen, about his long time nemesis, Tony Bennett, former Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Today Bennett resigned his position as Florida’s education commissioner amid scandal. He is accused of falsifying data to enhance the performance of his favored charter school. Still, professor Cohen is trying to have a sense of humor about it, but it’s tough. He writes:

We now have a new word in the English language.

To Bennett: (usually a verb). Named after Tony Bennett former Superintendent of Public Instruction in Indiana and Florida and also William Bennett (no relation to Tony) who was President Reagan’s Secretary of Education.

Definition: A verb meaning to manipulate data to prove your conclusion regardless of the evidence. Always done with a serious expression, a forceful position, and stated in terms of an emergency of impending catastrophe. Also used as bennetting to describe the process used to fabricate evidence to prove any point you want.

A bennetter is one who bennetts by only selecting data to prove their point and leaves out other critical factors that would contradict their position. Never provides the total picture.

There are many related words such as bennettazation, creating a system that fixes the results to provide only answers you agree with. See also bennettary, bennettology, and many, many more.

He adds with anger and angst that we all share:

But in reality it is a tragedy. Look at all the time wasted, kids and teachers hurt, parents being pushed into worrying they would make the wrong decision, time not spent on real development (rather than reform), schools stigmatized, money wasted, major changes created that cannot be undone, and probably lots of other things I can’t think of right now.

It’s a great example of the old saying, “A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” Bennett used a little knowledge and lots of people followed him – from the State Board of Education and the Educational Roundtable, to school districts, individual schools, and individual teachers, students, and parents. And those who questioned the process (questioned Bennett or any reformers) were discounted as wanting to keep the “Status Quo.” It was a take no prisoners response to any suggestion that Bennett and his ilk might not be exactly correct.

Personally, I am mourning the loss of the Key Learning Community which had so many interesting and unique ways to look at schooling, not the least of which was that a school is a research institution and is always looking at ways to improve the learning and growing environment for students, teachers, and parents.

So we have to learn from this experience and figure how to go forward with real innovations.

Michael

Key Learning Community, where I once taught, is (was) quite possibly the most wonderful public school ever visualized and realized by a small group of innovative teachers. The “reformers” killed it.

(Michael’s comments published with permission.)

No pay from TFA (Teach for America) 0

Posted on April 15, 2013 by dmayer

Summer Institute, the teacher training boot camp that according to Teach for America (TFA) advocates amazingly produces effective teachers in only five weeks, will soon begin for over 5,000 corps members. I interviewed Casey (not the real name), a TFA alum who could hardly wait to finish the two-year commitment and get on with life. I asked Casey to share advice with the upcoming batch of new recruits on how to make the most of the experience. But, Casey wanted to tell a different story.

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Before the first question eschewed from my lips, Casey blurted out, “They didn’t pay us.” Obviously still steamed after more than two years, Casey repeated, “They didn’t pay us for Summer Institute.” This had plainly been on Casey’s mind for some time, so I encouraged the TFAer to continue.

“On campus, before you apply, they promote themselves as one of the top employers of college grads in the nation. They convinced me that after five weeks of training I would be a great teacher, even better than licensed professionals they said. I couldn’t find any other job, so I signed up to work for them. I expected to earn enough money at Summer Institute to pay my expenses to move halfway across the country to my new teaching job. But, they didn’t pay us. I started off borrowing money through a loan plan they had set up for us.”

“I don’t understand. Did they promise to pay you and then renege?” I asked. I had heard a rumor about this from a disgruntled TFAer several years ago, but had dismissed it as an isolated incident.

“It isn’t really clear in the beginning. It’s embarrassing. We’re supposed to be the best and brightest, but many of us didn’t even know we weren’t getting paid for the work we did in the summer. I’m not the only one who thought we were getting paid. Other recruits thought so, too. So, the first thing I would say to new TFA recruits is that you won’t be paid for Summer Institute. So, make sure you have enough money saved up to move to your new job, pay your first and last month’s rent and security deposit, and pay for teaching materials you’ll need when school starts.

“It’s kind of demoralizing,” Casey continued. “Right from the beginning I felt like I was being taken advantage of; that TFA wasn’t straight with us, and it was too late to do anything else. I felt like, ‘What have I gotten myself into? I’m doing all this work for free?’ Maybe TFA makes it clearer to recruits these days, and if they don’t they should. They don’t pay corps members for Summer Institute. Anyway, I started out financially in the hole and spent over a year paying them back.”

As we moved on to other topics, Casey mentioned all the things I had heard before: five weeks of training isn’t nearly enough; Casey was hired to teach another subject but observed only reading and math classes during the summer; corps members felt totally unprepared to manage a classroom, and so on. So, I decided to investigate the claim about not being paid by TFA. How could a sharp young person like Casey have mistakenly thought that corps members would get a paycheck for summer work from Teach for America?

This is what I found out and quite possibly why Casey and others thought they would be paid by Teach for America:

Eleven TFA Summer Institutes will be held June-July, 2013. This sample institute daily schedule delineates a 16.5 hour work day. If corps members are paid a minimum wage of $8.00 an hour, they would make $3,300 during Institute. (16.5 hrs. x 25 days (5 weeks) x $8.00 = $3,300) If they are paid a salary approximating a beginning teacher’s salary, oddly enough, they would make about the same amount, $3,430. ($35,672/52 weeks x 5 weeks = $3,430) According to Casey, several corps members had expected a paycheck of about $3,000 for their work during Summer Institute.

TFA does have a salary and benefits page which clearly states CORPS MEMBERS RECEIVE A FULL SALARY AND COMPREHENSIVE BENEFITS.

As a corps member, you will be a full-time teacher and receive a full salary and the same comprehensive health benefits as other beginning teachers in your school district.

This statement doesn’t address Summer Institute, nor does it say who will pay the teacher’s salary. The information seems to indicate that recruits will receive a salary from Teach for America, but the amount will vary according to the school district.

Casey mentioned that campus recruiters said Teach for America was a top employer of college graduates. In 2011 College Grad.com ranked Teach for America as Number 2 in Best Companies for New Grads.

No. 2 Teach For America; hiring forecast 4,925. Average salary for teachers, $42,451

For years TV, newspapers, magazines, and websites including ABC, CBS, Washington Post, Forbes, Fortune, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Schools.com have promoted Teach for America as a top employer of college grads.

In 2010 TFA boasted about its “top employer” status to win a $50 million grant from the Department of Education (DOE), saying it ranked higher than both Microsoft and Goldman Sachs. Making the same claim in 2011, TFA was granted another $8 million SEED grant by the DOE. In that grant application TFA reported that the organization spent over $43,000 on each recruit placed in the classroom. It’s no wonder that Casey thought some of that money would be paid to corps members. Most likely the officials at the DOE and politicians promoting Teach for America have that impression, too.

Glass Door, a website that lists salaries paid by companies, reports Teach for America as paying corps member and teacher salaries. At this point I was confused myself. According to 2011 IRS form 990, TFA had assets of nearly $300 million dollars and revenue of over $270 million. You might think that an organization with that kind of moola could afford to pay recruits — their lifeblood — a salary.

Next, I called Teach for America and talked to Carrie Rankin, National Communications Director for Teach for America. I explained the claim that a corps member had made about not being paid for Summer Institute, told her I was confused about the policy myself, and asked if she could offer some clarity. She did not act surprised by my query. Neither did she confirm or deny that she had heard this complaint before. She refrained from commenting any further, and said she would send the documentation that is offered to corps members. A few days later I received this e-mail from her. I’m including her contact information here (it wasn’t easy to find) for anyone seeking clarity on this issue.

From: Carrie.Rankin@teachforamerica.org
Subject: Teach For America
Date: April 15, 2013 7:57:47 AM PDT

Deb,

I wanted to follow up on the info you requested last week.

First, you said you were investigating an alleged miscommunication about paying corps members for summer Institute. On our website, we explain that Teach For America covers the costs of Institute, but corps members are not told that they will be paid. Teach For America pays for room and board during Institute, as well as for transportation to and from school sites. Corps members are responsible for all other costs. We do have grant programs available to help corps members cover the cost of travel to and from Institute.

Best,
Carrie

Carrie James Rankin
National Communications Director
Teach For America
617.485.4544

The “documentation” is nothing more than a connection to TFA’s Financing Your Transition page offering INTEREST-FREE TRANSITIONAL LOANS AND GRANTS. It contains no mention of compensation for Summer Institute nor does it specifically say that recruits will not be paid for their summer work.

So, it would seem that Teach for America does not tell recruits they will be paid for their summer work, nor does the organization tell them they will not be paid. The unambiguous thing to do would be to tell recruits upfront that they will not be paid for Summer Institute. TFA should not pretend to be an employer of college grads when, in fact, they are not.

The simple truth is this: Teach for America does not employ a single teacher straight out of college. Zero. Zip. Teach for America does not employ teachers nor does it pay teachers. Teach for America is a recruiting firm. The organization provides minimally trained temps to work in place of professionals, while falsely promoting itself as a top employer of college grads/teachers.

It does seem that Teach for America is coloring reality by promoting itself as an employer instead of a recruiting firm. It is misleading, to say the least. Some might even say it’s dishonest. Certainly it is confusing to recruits who think they are employed by TFA and expect a paycheck. At any rate, the message from Casey to new TFA recruits is this: “Don’t think of Summer Institute as a summer job, and you are employed by Teach for America. TFA doesn’t pay you anything. You can bank on it.”

Erase to the Top — Michelle Rhee’s DC cheating scandal 0

Posted on April 14, 2013 by dmayer

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A memo exposing excessive erasures on high-stakes standardized tests of DC students during Michelle Rhee’s tenure as Chancellor has emerged.

This image was created by a student whose mother is a 7th grade teacher and posted on Susan Ohanian. I can’t imagine a cover more fitting for Michelle Rhee. She was hand-picked by the Billionaire Boys to be Chancellor of Washington, DC Public School, a position for which she was sadly unqualified. It’s no wonder that she would result to cheating or at least a cover-up to prove her worthiness. When she came to Seattle recently to promote her new book and StudentsFirst, our protest wasn’t covered by any news outlet. So, it’s good to see the light of day shining on Rhee’s questionable actions in regard to cheating in DC schools.

In a PBS report, The Education of Michelle Rhee, she is shown ceremoniously bestowing bonuses on principals and teachers at high achieving, or greatly improved, schools. The enormous gains in test scores raise eyebrows and lead to questions of possible cheating.

In an amazing investigative piece, John Merrow exposes the memo that could be Rhee’s smoking gun. Here’s an excerpt on Michelle Rhee’s Reign of Error, but read the entire story at Learning Matters.

Rhee failed to act on evidence of cheating because it undermined her success narrative, according to Merrow. He concludes his lengthy piece with:

This story is bound to remind old Washington hands of Watergate and Senator Howard Baker’s famous question, “What did the President know and when did he know it?” It has a memo that answers an echo of Baker’s question, “What did Michelle know, and when did she know it?” And the entire sordid story recalls the lesson of Watergate lesson, “It’s not the crime; it’s the coverup.”

That Michelle Rhee named her new organization “StudentsFirst” is beyond ironic.

PBS reporter, John Merrow talks further on All In with Chris Hayes, MSNBC (Emphasis mine.):

Chris Hayes: Michelle Rhee is presented with this document. That much we know. At least her deputy for accountablility presents her with it. Presumably she saw it.

John Merrow: I know she saw it. I have a reliable source. We verified this. Incidentally, people are very afraid of Michelle Rhee. A source high in DCPS confirmed the authenticity of this. And, I have been reporting now for 39 years. When I took it to this source’s home, that person was trembling as I presented it to that person. I have never seen anyone quite that scared. The other confirmation came from the DC inspector general. So, we know it is authentic. We know from reliable sources that Chancellor Rhee saw this and talked about it.

Opt Out Resources 0

Posted on March 17, 2013 by dmayer

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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.

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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.”