Every Child Deserves a Great Education

Archive for the ‘Oregon’

Portland Pearson Protest — Photo Archive 0

Posted on June 24, 2015 by dmayer

Shemanski Park,  June 23, 2015 — 11 A.M. to 1 P.M.

About 100 people attended a rally organized by Oregon Badass Teachers to protest Pearson, a corporation whose name has become synonymous with high stakes testing. Many attending belonged to organizations that fought to pass legislation that would make it easier for parents to opt their children out of such tests. Stand for Children opposed the bill with saber-rattling threats urging the governor to veto it. Kathleen Hagans Jeskey, event organizer, announced during the march that Governor Kate Brown had just signed the Opt-Out bill into law drawing ecstatic cheers from the crowd.

Protesters, adults and children alike, took the stage to attest (no pun intended) to the horrors of high stakes tests in their lives. Johnny-Moneybags-Pearson literally offered kids money with strings attached — to no art, no music, no library, and so on. They weren’t having any of it.

Bill Gates surprised the crowd by arriving from Seattle, Washington in the Opt-Out Bus. He graciously posed for photos with members of the group causing some to wonder, “Does he finally realize the harm Common Core high stakes testing is doing to America’s children?” We can only hope.

All in all, it was a good day for Oregon’s children.

Related stories:

Badass Teachers protest Common Core testing at conference in downtown Portland

Protesting Pearson @ Teacher Talks Truth

Governor showed courage in signing test opt-out bill (OPINION)

Click on any photo to view the entire archive.


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Common Core at the Learning Store? 0

Posted on May 19, 2015 by dmayer

So I walk into the learning store to see what’s available for parents to purchase in their attempt to assuage the dreaded Common Core beast that has entered into the lives of their children, uninvited. As a teacher I had frequented the store and spent considerable time and way too much of my paycheck there. As a retired teacher, I sometimes buy games and flashcards to tutor struggling students. I have to admit it. The #2 Ticonderogas, the scented fluorescent markers, legos, scores of smiley-face stickers, laminated posters hot off the press, paints and puzzles, more legos . . . I love that store.

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I chat with the sales clerk. I want to know about how parent resources have changed since Common Core State Standards and high stakes testing have become the driving force in our public schools. I refer to Arne Duncan’s assessment of suburban moms, the very parents who frequent her store:

It turns out that many suburban and middle-class parents have issues when those reforms are extended to the schools that educate their children. This has been taken as a sign that these parents are ignorant or selfish. As U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has put it, “Pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who – all of a sudden – their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary.”

I offer up some more facts about the test, and she listens patiently. “Although some parents are beginning to opt-out their children from high stakes standardized tests, others are hunkering down for the challenge believing that their children will defiantly beat the odds — as only one-third of students are predicted to pass the SBAC or PARCC,” I explain. She nods and sighs deeply.

“Parents come in and ask for books to help their kids with Common Core and the tests, and I direct them to these shelves,” she says as she gestures. She directs me to shelves of books displaying  Common Core icons on the cover. I browse the math selection.

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I expect to find booklets rich in worksheets and answer keys delineating the 108 steps required to solve a Common Core fourth grade word problem as demonstrated by this Arkansas mom.

Instead I find the same standard content from the same familiar publishers. There are no convoluted word problems with 108 steps that can just as easily be calculated in two.  Confused, I ask the sales clerk what had changed in the new booklets the store is now selling as Common Core material.

She grins sheepishly, shrugs a little, and says, “The Common Core icon on the cover.”  She timidly bites her lip and hurries away to help other customers offering no further explanation.

I get it. This store isn’t in the business of selling out kids by providing the ridiculous CCSS resources that make a mockery of learning. They aren’t betraying families with children who need a little boost to learn math. On the other hand, it’s deceptive to market math materials as Common Core relevant when clearly they are not. It must confuse parents who are trying to figure out what all the fuss is about.  They miss the opportunity to find out just how convoluted Common Core math really is.

Immediately, I see the predicament the store had been forced into by an education system that no longer makes sense. Selling education materials should not present a moral dilemma to shop keepers promoting the joy of learning. UGH!

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Chalkboard Project — Shilling for the Oregon Education Investment Board 0

Posted on April 02, 2015 by dmayer

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CLASS is a project of the Chalkboard Project also know as Foundations for a Better Oregon.

Whenever the topic turns to education in Oregon, the mention of the Chalkboard Project is sure to enter the conversation. Time and again ex-Governor Kitzhaber has invited  “expert” testimony from the Chalkboard Project to enlighten members of the Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB) on research and policy. The Governor always promptly exited the room when public testimony, conflicting or otherwise, was given . . . always.

The Chalkboard Project is a perfect example of the nationwide transformation that JoAnne Barkan writes about in Got Dough? How Billionaires Rule Our Schools in Dissent magazine:

The cost of K–12 public schooling in the United States comes to well over $500 billion per year. So, how much influence could anyone in the private sector exert by controlling just a few billion dollars of that immense sum? Decisive influence, it turns out. A few billion dollars in private foundation money, strategically invested every year for a decade, has sufficed to define the national debate on education; sustain a crusade for a set of mostly ill-conceived reforms; and determine public policy at the local, state, and national levels. In the domain of venture philanthropy—where donors decide what social transformation they want to engineer and then design and fund projects to implement their vision—investing in education yields great bang for the buck.

Foundations for a Better Oregon, a group of charitable organizations whose combined assets total over three billion dollars (that’s billion with a “b”) concocted the Chalkboard Project to become a player in the education reform scheme and have garnered unprecedented influence at a bargain basement price — about $21 million of theirs and $12 million of ours (taxes) as of 2013. These foundations came together to form the Chalkboard Project:

If Chalkboard was created by foundations to support education reform, one might wonder why in the past several years Chalkboard has been awarded millions in government grants. While it was originally supported entirely by the foundations and other charitable funders, in 2010 it received its first government grant of about $112,000 or about 7% of its $1.6  million in revenue. Over the next few years (after the creation of the OEIB) revenue from government grants skyrocketed to nearly $5 million annually or 70% of its revenue. In less than a decade, the Chalkboard Project has gone from being funded primarily by foundations to receiving  the majority of its revenue from the state.  It has also gained optimal influence over education policy in Oregon. You might ask why Chalkboard’s founding foundations, worth over $3 billion collectively, need government funding that could be much better spent by k-12 school districts? Good question.

According to information gleaned from scrutinizing 990s filed with the IRS, Foundations for a Better Oregon (a.k.a The Chalkboard Project) was founded in 2004 with a $150,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and some small change from others. One thing that foundations have championed is paying unqualified (out of field) people relatively large sums to act as CEOs to create their vision. This is not only true for Chalkboard, but for many other reform organizations as well. Sue Hildick has been the president since its founding, and although Chalkboard has several staff members, Sue and one other person are paid the lion’s share in salaries.  Sue pays herself $228,717 a year; Dan Jamison makes $170,949 and the other salaries and wages of $443,969 appear to be divvied up among the remaining 11 employees.  That’s 47% for the top two execs and 53% for everyone else. Funny thing. Since 2009, when the foundations were paying the bills, Sue was paid about $130,000 a year, but when the government — you and me– started paying most of the bills, her compensation rose about $100,000 to nearly $230,000 as of 2013. It’s good to be queen.

Chalkboard president Sue Hildick, who has no education credentials, enjoys the enviable position of providing counsel on matters that affect kids and families, teachers, and schools on a daily basis. Why Hildick? Is she an education wunderkind? Does she possess knowledge about teaching and learning that will make Oregon schools the best in the nation — as Chalkboard’s  mission states? Should Oregonians trust her to do what is best for our children? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding NO! Here’s why.

Chalkboard is one of those organizations cited in the Barkan article, one that wants to project its vision onto us. Nevermind that its vision may not be our vision. With a little of its own money and a lot of ours, it has envisioned a dream education for us. So, does Chalkboard share our vision?  Not if it isn’t advocating for the Quality Education Model (QEM). Not if it isn’t demanding that public school programs be fully and equitably funded. Not if it isn’t led by an engaged educator who can relate to the needs of teachers and students. We don’t need a bunch of filthy rich foundations telling us how to educate our kids and teachers.

So, where do our Chalkboard tax dollars go? It’s hard to say. None of the money seems to reach the classroom. No books or librarians in the budget. No music or art. There seems to be a lot of polling, marketing, lobbying, branding, and consulting going on. Listed on its website are these partners annotated here with the type of business each operates.

  • DHM Research — opinion polling
  • ECONorthwest — economic consulting
  • Mambo Media — marketing and media
  • NW Public Affairs — lobbyists
  • Quinn Thomas Public Affairs — lobbyists
  • Squishy Media — website development
  • Leopold Ketel — branding agency
  • Kira Higgs Consulting –thought leader with no education experience. What the?
  • Education First — founding partner is from the Gates Foundation, other staff are Broadies, TFAers, etc., few have real education credentials; services mimic the memes of STEM, College and Career Ready, Teacher Leaders

A quick look at its IRS 990s raises multiple red flags. Troubling. Here are some:

  1. Foundations for a Better Oregon should identify itself as doing business as the Chalkboard Project.
  2. The organization was founded by six charitable organizations (plus Gates) dedicated to making sure Oregon has the best schools in the country. Since 2011, (the year OEIB was created) well over half its budget has come from government grants instead of from the foundations. You might say the government (OEIB) is now the seventh foundation in the Chalkboard Project
  3. The conflicts of interest among board members are ubiquitous.
  4. The salary paid to two employees is nearly half the entire amount paid out to all other employees.
  5. The travel budget seems high compared to the number of employees. Where is everybody going?
  6. Conference fees (expense) seem high compared to the number of employees. Which conferences?
  7. The “Other” line item expense is nearly a million dollars in some recent years yet unaccounted for on the form.  Where did all that money go?
  8. There is no rhyme nor reason as to the amounts granted to school districts. For example, in 2012 and 2013 Salem-Keiser school district received over a $1 million in grants annually while Portland Public Schools received only $10,000. And why did the  governor’s office receive a $35,000 CLASS grant in 2011 and another grant for $75,000 in 2012? Head scratch.
  9. Expenses for consultants and lobbyists seem to be a sizable part of the business especially when compared to amounts paid out to most school districts.
  10. Since 2011, up to 70% of Chalkboard’s funding has come from government grants. Face palm.

The Chalkboard Project is only a tiny sliver of the education reform pie. It was created to marginalize education professionals and give businesses and foundations the means to control the teaching profession and public schools in Oregon. Chalkboard wields tremendous power in this state. It seems to be accountable to no one. To some, Chalkboard may even have the appearance of a slush fund with so much of its expenses either questionable or unaccounted for. As disturbing as that is, of much greater concern should be the OEIB’s power to act as a charitable foundation with our taxes, to ignore conflicts of interest, to cherry-pick who benefits and who does not, while holding all to the same standard. It’s unconscionable. Time to say no more of our tax dollars for Chalkboard. (Sorry Sue, you may have to take a pay cut.) Time to wave a not-so-fond farewell to the OEIB.



Opt Out PDX — Photo Essay 0

Posted on February 15, 2015 by dmayer

Parents with their kids in tow flocked to Play Date PDX Sunday evening to learn how to opt their students out of high stakes standardized testing. The kid-friendly venue provided a pleasant atmosphere to share information about the worrisome test their children will be subjected to this year.

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In December of 2013 the Oregon Department of Education said the new tests are needed primarily because Oregon’s current tests, known as OAKS, don’t cover the skills schools must impart under the Common Core State Standards that Oregon mandated schools cover by 2014-15. But parents and teachers say not so fast. Members of Oregon Save Our Schools, headed by the Opt Out of High Stakes Testing Committee chaired by LuAnne DeMarco, organized the event to share information about the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium or SBAC (referred to as s-bac) and how parents may request that their children not be required to take the test.

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Quintessential primary teacher Emily Crum objects to the new tests for several reasons. In states where the SBAC has already been given, two-thirds of students failed. Similar results have already been projected for Oregon students. Too much time is spent preparing for tests that are developmentally inappropriate for children. The tests take away valuable teaching time and leave little time for kids to be kids. Emily asked families to create  posters citing their reasons for opting out of the test. You may view the posters here.

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Elizabeth Thiel (left) gave testimony before the state legislature this past week explaining why she opposed the test as a teacher and a parent. Listen to Elizabeth’s fabulous speech here.

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More than 90 people came to receive information and resources to support their decision to opt out. You can find that information and opt out forms here.

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Many parents are finding out more about the dark side of high stakes testing and are not willing to simply follow the order of the task masters who are not acting in the best interest of children. Read here why one mother and educator will be opting her children out of the SBAC.

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Oregon is not alone in questioning the efficacy of the new tests that supposedly align to the Common Core State Standards. Fair Test and United Opt Out are promoting resistance to the tests nationwide.

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Jesse Hagopian, teacher and editor of More than a Score, happened to be in town and stopped by to talk with parents about his experiences in Washington state and how the Opt Out movement is affecting teachers nationwide.

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Ultimately, the question becomes, “What kind of school experience do we want for our children?” Do we want schools with rich curriculum and exciting experiences, a place where teachers and children want to learn and work and play?  Yes. We have the power to opt out of standardized testing!

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Why the IPS School Board election matters to Oregon 0

Posted on November 19, 2014 by dmayer

Most of my school days as a student and as a public school teacher were spent in Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS). These days Indianapolis seems determined to sell out its public schools. So, when I heard Stand for Children (SfC), a repressive education reform group based in Oregon (where I now live), was pouring large sums into the campaigns of three particular school board candidates, I paid attention. Why would SfC care about a school board election 2,000 miles away? Why should Oregonians think the goals of SfC in Indiana are any different for our state?

Perhaps, foreshadowing the IPS results, glossy brochures and pamphlets barraged voters at the mailbox in the final days leading up to the election. All three elected candidates, Mary Ann Sullivan, Kelly Bentley, and LaNier Echols, were endorsed by Stand for Children as well as other funders with deep pockets. SfC, in turn, receives much of its funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Over $100,000 was donated to the candidates who support for-profit charter schools, high stakes testing, and non-licensed school staff  like Teach for America and Teach Plus. Incumbent opponents raised only about $6,000 among the three of them, and while that may sound dismal in comparison to the outside corporate support, it had previously been the norm.

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Photo credit: Matthew Mayer

The ousted incumbents are current IPS board president Annie Roof, Samantha Adair-White and Michael Brown, who all had been endorsed by the local teachers’ union.

Brown was a strong supporter of former Superintendent Eugene White, voted against his buyout and has been skeptical of some of the changes the board has embraced since 2012, such as partnerships with charter schools. He said during the campaign that smaller class sizes, quality teachers and more involved parents are the keys to improving IPS.

Maybe Oregon Education Investment Board (OEIB) members, who often consults with SfC on education issues, think Oregonians aren’t aware of its bad behavior in other states. Maybe Governor Kitzhaber and Education CEO Nancy Golden think that parents, students, and community members aren’t aware of SfC’s agenda of privatizing our public schools. They would be wrong. State politicians and the OEIB cannot expect Oregonians to act like ostriches with their heads stuck in the sand on the very important issue of public education. We endorse smaller class sizes, quality teachers and more involved parents just like the ousted IPS board members.

Is SfC planning a coup to disrupt school board election here in Oregon? We’ll know soon enough in April, 2015, when Portland Public School board elections are scheduled.  Attempts on the part of  SfC and other reform funders to influence the outcome of the election will result in active protest. Oregon school boards are not for sale.

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How do I know what a good test looks like? 0

Posted on November 11, 2014 by dmayer

What does a GOOD test look like? Stand for Children has the answer.

Before reviewing the test, a word about the graphic design. Skimming this web page, it is clear that some designs are more legible than others. That’s true for test, too. Many people  think a computer test is “more standardized,” and therefore more fair than an old-fashioned pencil and paper test. That’s a misconception. Differences in the age of the computer, the brand, speed, monitor size, display, sound, and other tech attributes can make a difference in student performance. Some readers may find this page visually difficult to read and understand, just as some kids will find the test format and instructions difficult to read and understand. And, that doesn’t begin to take into consideration the range of dexterity and computer skills kids bring to the test.

On to the test. From the Stand for Children website:


We are finally moving to higher academic standards for our kids.

With those high standards come better tests that measure critical thinking, replacing bad tests that are just rote memorization.

Pop Quiz: Are the new tests better? Come decide for yourself.

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Questions about the tests.

  • Are the higher academic standards referred to above the Common Core State Standards?
  • What are the names of the old tests and the new tests? Is the old test the OAKS? Is the new test the SBAC?
  • In the first 3rd grade math problem, the new test is measuring area, not perimeter. Drag and drop! Drag and drop! Drag and drop! What is the correct answer to the old test problem? Should the question on the old test have been: What is the area? Was this an actual old test question?
  • In the second 3rd grade math problem as in the first, the student is simply asked to answer more problems at once. Dragging and dropping several answers instead of selecting only one answer. No partial credit?
  • Does the 5th grade Reading/Writing test require kids to do more than drag and drop to answer the question?
  • Does drag and drop now equal critical thinking?

Find out more about opting out of high stakes testing:

United Opt Out

Oregon Save Our Schools

Badass Teachers protest the Gates Foundation — Photo Essay 0

Posted on June 29, 2014 by dmayer

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“The Rally to Educate the Gates Foundation” in Seattle, Washington and is sponsored by Badass Teachers Association (WA-BATS), a grassroots group of career educators defending our public education system from private interest groups, on Thursday, June 26, 2014 at Westlake Park, 401 Pine St, Seattle.

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The first 45 minutes of the rally features speakers including Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant and UW Associate Professor Wayne Au.

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Deb Mayer, Catherine Carroll, Kris Alman, Anthony Cody, and Kathleen Jeskey join Washington teachers and activist to bring some badass action to protest the Gates Foundation’s shady involvement in privatizing our public schools. Our schools are not for sale.

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Catherine Carroll wants to teach the whole child. She objects to scripted curriculum, inappropriate standards, fake TFA-type teachers, phony education nonprofits, high-stakes standardized tests, and billionaires scheming to privatize our public schools.

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Parents object to the corporate insistence on RIGOR in the classroom, the emphasis on standardized testing in reading and math at the expense of art, music, P.E. and library.

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The “Corporate Vulture” casts a pall on equitable public schools for all.

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Seattle’s finest escort education advocates from Westlake Park to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

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WA-BATS refuse to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality and refuse to accept tests and evaluations imposed by those who have contempt for authentic teaching and learning.

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WA BATS demand that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation divest from their education agenda which includes: Over Testing, Race To The Top, Teach For America, Ignoring Poverty, Class Size Increases, Charter Schools, Big Data-Piracy or Sharing, Union Busting, Narrowing Curriculum, Ignoring Parent Voice, Value Added Measures, Appointed School Boards, Privatizing Public Schools, Replacing Teachers With Screens, For-profit Business Model Policy, Tying Funding to Test Scores, Outsourcing to Private Vendors, Treating Kids Like Widgets, High Stakes Testing & Common Core State Standards.

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Rally Attendees Say YES TO: Parent & Educator Voice! Creativity! Small Class Sizes! Civics! Science! Music! Art! Drama! Physical Education! Parent Involvement! Libraries! Counselors! Experienced Teachers! Learning Through Play! Project Based Learning! Learning Support Staff! Adequate Compensation! Democratic Governance of Schools! Relevant Educator Training! Less Testing and More Learning! Transparent Decision Making! Equitable Funding For Every Child! Recognizing Each Student’s Potential! Culturally & Developmentally Responsive Curriculum! “

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In 2014 political power resides in monetary wealth and public policy is being determined by the mega-rich not the expert practicioner-in many professions. No one is asking teachers what schools need.

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Among the Speakers at the Gates Foundation site were Susan DuFresne, Co-Author of Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates, Anthony Cody, Living in Dialogue, and Peggy Robertson of United Opt Out.

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Teachers are told that they don’t have high enough expectations for kids. This is ludicrous. Our governing system is becoming undemocratic but worse it IS harming children who need a wholistic classroom experience beyond test scores.

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The Gates Foundation must accept that teachers are more than software; that learning is individualized; and that education is a public endeavor.

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Excellent public schools are the cornerstone of a free society: big money is buying the education agenda. People must stand up to this oligarchical shift and reclaim public schools with the whole child at the center.

Business reformers need to spread their expertise in places where they know what they are talking about. Teachers are experts when it comes to student learning. Ask us what kids need to thrive and learn. We are happy to tell you.

We’re not going to take it anymore!

Anthony Cody at the Educating Gates Rally, Seattle from Schoolhouse Live on Vimeo.

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Thanks to Julianna Dauble, Renton teacher and Rally Organizer, for a great job organizing this event and for help with this commentary.

Common Core Resolution to PPS Board 0

Posted on April 18, 2014 by dmayer

Portland Public School board member Steve Buel presented a resolution citing concerns with the implementation of Common Core $tate $tandards at Wednesday night’s meeting. He called for a three-year moratorium much to the chagrin of presiding member Pam Knowles, but to the delight of a sizable contingent of the audience of parent, teachers, and students. After a verbal skirmish over the rules, Steve was permitted to read the resolution.

The resolution is the result of hundreds of hours of research by concerned members of the community who have noticed the effects of Common Core in New York and Kentucky. Members of Oregon Save Our Schools and Portland Association of Teachers met to flesh out the details of the resolution. Steve Buel and Aaron Smirl drafted the final version presented to the board. They welcome any and all concerned about the implementation of Common Core to use our resolution as a model to call for a moratorium. The text of the resolution:


Whereas, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were developed and promoted by two private membership organizations (The National Governor’s Association and The Council of Chief State School Officers), and by other organizations none of whom are connected with Portland Public Schools, and these organizations received millions of dollars from private third parties, philanthropies, and corporate interests to advocate for and develop CCSS for the benefit of corporations; and

Whereas, the corporate profit motives that drive the CCSS are often in direct conflict with good education and can work to the detriment of the children of Portland Public Schools; and

Whereas, the CCSS were developed and vetted by committees of individuals, almost none of whom were K-12 educators, through a process which was not subject to public scrutiny; and

Whereas, in our own state CCSS were adopted without open and transparent public scrutiny, and with minimal input by Oregon educators; and

Whereas, the implementation of CCSS and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium testing is a substantial financial burden on Portland Public Schools and Portland’s taxpayers; and

Whereas, CCSS have never been piloted, tested, or proven in any arena to increase student learning or prepare students for college, career or citizenship; and

Whereas, the funds spent to implement CCSS could be better used in well known, effective educational methods such as reducing class size, increasing reading support, adding programs such as the arts or CTE and alleviating the impacts of poverty on education; and

Whereas, high-stakes testing narrows the curriculum and emphasizes teaching to the test at the expense of other important educational topics and learning experiences; and

Whereas, there are serious questions about the validity of standardized testing to inform instruction, evaluate teachers or other educators, and measure the value of a specific school’s educational quality; and

Whereas, data collected under high-stakes testing has been shown to be vulnerable to misuse; and

Whereas,  the purpose of education is not solely preparation for college and career, but to educate a populace of critical thinkers who are capable as citizens of shaping a just and equitable society in order to lead good and purpose-filled lives; and

Whereas, top down imposition of the CCSS adversely impacts students of highest need,  underserved students, emerging multilingual students, and special education students; and

Whereas, curricular decisions should be in the hands of classroom and district professionals who understand the context and interests of their students; and

Whereas, the CCSS were developed mostly by non-practitioners, implemented too quickly, were not piloted correctly, and may not reflect the learning needs of many of our students; and

Whereas, significant time, effort, and expense associated with modifying our curricula to the CCSS takes precious resources away from meeting the actual needs of our students; and

Whereas, the Portland School Board and its Superintendent have a responsibility to make decisions which are in the best interests of its students

Be it therefore resolved PPS educators shall use the Common Core State Standards as only one factor among many in educating PPS students and put no more emphasis on these standards than other important educational factors, not listed in the standards, in an effort to make sure PPS students receive a comprehensive and well-rounded education.

Be it resolved district administrators and teachers take into account educational equity in implementing CCSS. This includes, but it not limited to, making sure students in all schools have nearly equal access to the following:

  • A broad range of educational offerings.
  • Access to courses outside of tested subjects which are both considered electives and/or part of a traditional education.
  • Appropriate testing practices which take into account the background of students including underserved students, special education students, ESL students, and poverty factors.
  • Equal testing support at each school where necessary.
  • Field trips, recreational activities, educational projects and other extra-curricular activities.
  • Parent communication regarding testing.
  • Computer access throughout the year.

Be it resolved money spent directly on CCSS shall be clearly identified in PPS budget documents.

Be it resolved money spent on CCSS and testing shall be carefully reviewed during the budget process by a committee which includes strong representation from parents, the community, and Portland Association of Teachers. This shall include money spent on testing materials, additional staff, additional computer equipment, professional development, and curricular materials.

Be it resolved all data generated by district response to CCSS shall meet a high standard of privacy.

Be it resolved CCSS shall not unnecessarily burden teachers with the following:

  • Inordinate amounts of professional development or training to implement the CCSS, both in amount of time spent and in overemphasizing CCSS professional development instead of other forms of professional development or classroom instruction.
  • Mandated use of CCSS curricular materials.
  • CCSS use by educators as a part of teacher evaluation or plans of assistance.
  • Use of Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium testing as part of teacher evaluations unless specifically mandated by state law.
  • Time spent on identifying CCSS use in teacher’s lessons.
  • Required practice testing for district-wide testing.

Be it resolved PPS administration shall convene a committee to assess the validity of CCSS and their use within PPS. This committee will include strong representation from the PAT as well as PPS parents, students and community members. This committee will review and report on the following questions:

  • Are there standards which we believe are incorrect for PPS students?
  • How much of the time spent on teaching to the CCSS could be better spent on other educational endeavors and what guidelines should be developed?
  • How much instructional time should be dedicated to intervention programs and test preparation classes for students who do not meet the CCSS requirements on the SBAC?
  • Are there standards which are developmentally inappropriate?
  • Are there CCSS related decisions which are not helping the education of PPS students?
  • What testing procedures or protocol might create a validity problem for SBAC testing?
  • Is the administration promoting CCSS in a realistic manner, making claims which are backed by peer-reviewed research and experience in other states or locales?
  • What steps should PPS take in order to correct any validity problems?
  • What is the effect of high-stakes testing on children and what can be done to minimize any negative impacts?
  • Are restrictions on children brought about by their scores, or their school’s overall scores on high-stakes testing appropriate? (i.e. missed electives, missed recess, loss of extra-curricular activities)

Be it resolved PPS make a concerted effort to inform parents concerning PPS’s use of CCSS as well as their right to opt out of testing.

Be it resolved inordinate pressure to perform on CCSS testing shall not be placed upon students, teachers or administrators.

Be it resolved pedagogy responding to CCSS shall be based upon well established educational principles which do not include an overemphasis on scripted curriculum, one type of approach to educational problems such close reading or non-fiction, wholesale diminishment of literature, developmentally inappropriate instructional practices, inordinate importance placed on testing, or the narrowing of curriculum.

Be it resolved PPS shall take a legislative position which opposes state and federal mandates which require PPS to use testing to label schools, personnel, or students based on test scores, including the labeling of focus/priority schools and subsequent consequences for these schools.

Be it resolved PPS shall take a legislative position that the state should suspend the implementation of Common Core for a period of at least three years and until this untested mandate has received adequate research and been field-tested.


The schools Portland students demand 0

Posted on January 15, 2014 by dmayer

January 12, 2013 — Hundreds of parents, students, and teachers gathered outside the Portland Public School Board meeting to protest the lack of progress toward a contract with Portland teachers.  PPS has decided to not negotiate class size and teacher work load.  After a rally outside, the rally moved inside where the board was meeting.

When the mic was open for public comment, students began a mic check.  The board immediately adjourned and left ignoring students.  Steve Buel, often a dissenting vote on the board, was the only member who stayed to hear the students’ concerns.  Photos tell the story:

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Students mic check the school board. The board with the exception of Steve Buel, promptly adjourns and leaves, ignoring the student action.

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Tonight at the school board meeting, the Portland Student Union presented “The Schools Portland Students Demand”. This list was compiled by Portland students and outlines what we believe will make our educational experience the most enriching and successful.

1. Class sizes less than 20

2. Proper funding of the arts

3. More time with guidance counselors

4. Student-teacher collaboration in building curriculum

5. Rich, relevant curriculum – not common core

6. Democratic process in the allocation of funds

7. Restorative justice – not suspensions and expulsions

8. Funding for wrap-around programs

9. Support for all teachers

10. No School Closures

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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.


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.