'This “opt-out” movement remains scattered but is growing fast in some parts of the country. Some superintendents in New York are reporting that 60 percent or even 70 percent of their students are refusing to sit for the exams. Some lawmakers, sensing a tipping point, are backing the parents and teachers who complain about standardized testing'.
I like the article below because it addresses lots of issues mirrored here in Baltimore and Maryland with education reform. I attended a public meeting promoting OPT OUT---a very good activism against all of the testing and evaluation policy. OPT OUT is growing across the nation but silence in Baltimore as Maryland pols hear citizens outcry and ignore it. Since cities like Baltimore and Chicago are ground zero for this for-profit charter platform the need to silence becomes paramount. That is what these large number of public school closings and school choice are about. I explained that in Baltimore so many schools have closed to make teachers fearful of protesting and parents fearful of being excluded by school choice from having a place for their children. This is deliberate in Baltimore and it is why OPT OUT in Baltimore has not caught on. Who is hurt most by this testing regime? Children of color and immigrant children. Who are the majority of city students? Children of color and immigrants. How do you push one student population out and another in? Use education policy that is known to discriminate against groups of people. Who is hurt by these education privatization policies----EVERYONE.
So, in cities where the loudest protest against testing should be heard---actions like OPT OUT are silent.
Below you see the same dynamics in cities across the nation as teachers unions, public school staff, and children are all subjected to these privatization policies only meant to dismantle a first world public school system and install a very corporate and autocratic vocational and profit-making school system.
Wonder if Phoenix in this case is the same for-profit higher education corporations known to have committed systemic fraud and allowed to keep it----now 'donating' to promote this K-12 profit charter chain.
Take 5: Phoenix Pact for college, Urban Prep union vote, dirty schools
Here, young men from Urban Prep Academy take part in “college signing day” at Daley Plaza in May 2014. A union vote at the charter will be finalized next week. By Catalyst Chicago Staff
With all the drama at CPS in recent days, a very bright piece of news almost slipped under the radar last week: North Lawndale College Prep has set up an enormous financial endowment to help its graduates pay for out-of-pocket college costs.
More than $18 million has been raised so far to fund the so-called The Phoenix Pact (named after the NLCP mascot). It’s described as a three-way pact as “students commit to graduate with a B average or better and attend a college with a track record of successfully graduating minority students; colleges commit to keeping total loan costs manageable and to ensuring that 50% or more of their minority students earn a degree; and the Phoenix Pact Fund commits to cover any financial gap remaining between the cost of attendance and available financial aid,” according to a press release.
U.S. Department of Education Secretary Arne Duncan, who helped found the school more than a decade ago, was at last week’s announcement. “If you guys can start to prove there’s not just one amazing young person or one amazing teacher but systemically dozens of dozens of young people every single year (who) can graduate, and cannot just go to college but graduate from college on the back end, you start to let the nation know what’s possible,” he said, according to a WBEZ story. "If you can create a model, the national implications are pretty big.”
Catalyst wrote about how unexpected out-of-pocket costs can make the already precarious college path already more challenging for low-income Chicago grads in our Winter Issue.
2. Speaking of college access ... New data raises concern about diversity on Illinois campuses. Statistics recently presented to the Illinois Board of Higher Education show that black enrollment in Illinois public universities has fallen in recent years, according to a story from WUIS/NPR Illinois. The flagship, highly regarded University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has the lowest percentage of African-American enrollment at 5.5 percent last year. Overall, the number of black undergrads in public and community colleges fell from 82,633 to 78,217 in 2013, according to the story. Schools with the highest black enrollment tend to be those with less-demanding academic reputations.
Why the decline? Money of course is one issue. State funding for Monetary Award Program (MAP) grants, which are based on financial needs, has fallen; now, only about half of applicants receive any MAP funds. Interestingly, the story also notes that private, for-profit schools have targeted students in the black community. But there are deeper issues at play and, as the story rightly points out, a student’s college experience depends heavily on the quality of their K-12 schooling---which in turn depends on where they grew up. “So zip code can influence both whether and where a student goes to college,” the article states.
3. Unionized charters … The majority of teachers at Urban Prep Academies voted on Wednesday in favor of joining the Chicago Alliance of Charter Teachers & Staff (ChiACTS). However, that tally is not final because there are enough contested votes that could throw off the election. A total of 56 teachers voted in favor of unionizing and 36 voted against; the National Labor Relations Board will decide within a week whether to count any of the additional 21 votes cast by employees whose union eligibility has been questioned. (These include some academic counselors and department chairs.)
Still, organizers say they are confident that even if those ballots are counted, at least one will be a “yes” vote, which is all they would need to ensure a majority. As it stands, only 60 percent of teachers voted in favor of unionizing, the lowest percentage yet at any of the 29 schools organized by ChiACTS. Administrators for the charter network declined to comment until after the election results are finalized.
Meanwhile, teachers at North Lawndale College Prep who have also announced a union drive remain in conversations about what process to use in order to recognize a union and have not, at the moment, made any plans to have a vote.
4. Dirty schools … If you’ve talked with any CPS principal or teacher in recent months, chances are you’ve heard complaints about how schools have gotten dirtier since the district privatized janitorial services. This week Clarice Berry of the Chicago Principals & Administrators Association told WTTW’s Chicago Tonight that she thinks interim CEO Jesse Ruiz should fire Chief Administrative Officer Tim Cawley over the controversial contract. (The same contract that’s already cost the district millions of additional dollars in cost overruns due to someone in central office miscalculating the number of schools that needed to be cleaned.)
“He shouldn’t step down,” Berry told WTTW. “He should be fired. He shouldn’t be left off the hook.”
In an interview with Catalyst earlier this week, she said the Aramark deal is more troublesome than the $20-million, no-bid contract with SUPES Academy for principal training that’s sparked an FBI corruption probe and forced CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett to resign last week. “Everybody is up and arms about this $20 million contract,” Berry says. “But what head is going to roll over this one?”
Meanwhile, the Chicago Reader’s Ben Joravsky reports that teachers at Oriole Elementary filed -- and just this week lost -- a union grievance in to compel CPS to hire more janitors. The grievance said teachers were "performing the daily duties of a custodian," including "sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms and disinfecting play areas,” according to the story. Joravsky says a hearing officer ruled against the teachers “on the grounds that ‘there was no evidence’ that Aramark or the board ‘were contacted and made aware of the issues at Oriole’ before the grievance was filed. Had they been aware, they'd have cleaned it up pronto, the ruling concludes.”
5. Looming pension payment ... Mayor Rahm Emanuel was able to get state lawmakers to pass a bill that allows Chicago to defer some of its payments to the police and fire pensions, but wasn't able to do the same with the teachers pensions. Earlier this week, when asked by the Chicago Tribune, Emanuel declined to say whether he thinks CPS will be able to make the $634 million teacher pension payment due at the end of June.
"There is a financial challenge, and my whole goal is to now work with the state and make sure that the financial challenges do not undermine the hard work that our teachers, our principals, our parents and our students are doing academically at CPS," Emanuel told reporters, sidestepping the question.
Chicago Teachers Union Vice President Jesse Sharkey told Catalyst earlier this week that the lack of clarity from Springfield on the budget has created very basic questions here in Chicago "about whether schools will have enough money to operate" next fall. That's especially the case because of the strange accounting trick the school district pulled last year that now leaves the next fiscal year with two fewer months of revenue.
The district has already asked for what would effectively be 7-percent pay cuts for teachers during contract negotiations, which are expected to last for months past the June 30 expiration of the current labor contract. "We've continued to meet and there has been some progress on all of the issues," Sharkey says. "But the big overarching issues, the economics of the thing, that's very hard to negotiate when everything is so murky about what's in the future."
Since all of the testing and evaluations are geared to shake out old school public teachers and transition student populations in cities---and since the majority of teachers and students in cities are people of color from the communities that are targeted for gentrification----the people most invested in these fights would be city teachers and parents but as I said-----policies like closing public schools and school choice work to silence these groups in cities like Baltimore. We see in the article below this one where Chicago ----a city with much larger civil rights activism has been fighting all the way and OPT OUT is exploding in Chicago while in other cities OPT OUT is made a dirty word.
I listened to a Baltimore teacher speech at the OPT OUT meeting about being made fearful of speaking at a PTO meeting at her school about OPT OUT. It seems the PTO leader wanted to provide wrong information on this activism by calling OPT OUT illegal and refusing to allow any talk of these actions. Meanwhile, in other cities PTA meetings are where all this talk happens. Again, in Baltimore PTOs replaced PTAs because PTOs are a non-profit corporation controlled by a leader that sets rules----whereas PTAs are parents associations led by parents that say and do what they want. Baltimore again is controlling speech with PTOs and telling parents an action is illegal when it is not. SEE THE DIFFERENCE.
Who leads in working against OPT OUT and Common Core actions and protect education privatization efforts -----civil rights groups like THE NAACP now controlled by corporate leadership.
OPT OUT NEWS: Saucedo teachers to boycott the ISAT!
Explosion of resistance to ISAT testing program now includes entire schools voting to boycott the extinct testing program
George N. Schmidt - February 25, 2014
On the morning of February 25, 2014, teachers and other staff at Maria Saucedo elementary school on Chicago's southwest side voted to boycott the ISAT. The teachers have informed the public that they will not participate in the testing program, which is scheduled to begin next week. The vote, which means that no teachers at the school will administer the test, was the first of what will become several, according to organizers of the Opt Out movement. The ISAT (Illinois State Achievement Tests) program has become more controversial this year than ever before.
Sarah Chambers, a teacher at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy Elementary School in Chicago, announced at a February 25, 2014 press conference (above) that the teachers at the school had voted that morning to boycott the ISAT testing program. Substance photo by John Kugler.The boycott, expected to be the first of many, was announced to the public at a well attended press conference at the end of the school day in the bitter cold in front of the school.
The unprecedented Chicago resistance to the March 2014 ISAT testing program grew explosively during the final days of February. It was often supplemented with hourly reports of individual families and students deciding to opt out of the Illinois testing program, which is on its final year. Meetings and communications across the city have been building the ISAT opt out in every type of school, from the gifted and magnet schools to the hundreds of regular public schools. The charter schools have not become involved in the Opt Out movement. On the morning of February 25, the Chicago Tribune reported that a parent group, More than A Score, has been building opt out among parents across the city in coalition with other groups that have grown in opposition to so-called "standardized testing."
The Chicago Opt Out movement against the ISAT is being organized by an informal coalition of parent, community, and teacher groups, including More Than A Score, Raise Your Hand, Parents 4 Teachers, the Caucus Of Rank and file Educators (CORE), PURE, and many others. Substance has supported Opt Out since 1998, when reporting on the evils of the eugenics based testing programs of Chicago Public Schools became clear.
Although the nation has seen previous Opt Out movements at individual schools for the past three years, including those at Garfield High School in Seattle and Castle Bridge Elementary School in New York City, the Chicago movement of 2012 is the most extensive by far. It reflects the organizing that has been taking place in Chicago against the tyranny of testing, as many have dubbed it, since the late 20th Century, and the growing movements that have been built since the election of CORE to lead the Chicago Teachers Union in 2010.
PRESS RELEASE FROM THE CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION
CTU SUPPORTS TEACHER BOYCOTT OF LOW-STAKES ISAT
CHICAGO – The Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) supports teachers and parents at Maria Saucedo Scholastic Academy who announced today their intent to boycott the Illinois State Achievement Test (ISAT). Teachers have collected more than 300 opt-out letters and the student council voted to encourage all students to opt out of the exam. Should these courageous educators face disciplinary charges by the district, CTU vowed to mount a strong defense of this collective action.
Saucedo’s action stance against the ISAT could spark a teacher and parent-led movement to “opt-out” throughout the Chicago Public Schools system.
“The Saucedo educators have taken a bold step in refusing to administer a test that is of no use to students and will be junked by the district next year,” said CTU Vice President Jesse Sharkey. “Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett has already said the ISAT will not be used for selective enrollment, and therefore this serves no purpose other than to give students another standardized test. We know that parents all over the city are opting their children out of this unnecessary test, and we commend them for doing what is in the best interests of their children.”
The ‘low stakes’ test is expected to be administered over the course of eight days in all elementary schools starting March 3rd. Formerly used to help qualify 7th grade students for selective enrollment high schools. The district recently issued a memorandum to teachers stressing the value of “rigorous, high-quality assessments,” in measuring student progress. The ISAT, however, is not aligned to any CPS curriculum, and in Chicago, it is no longer used to measure student progress, school performance, promotion, or for any other purpose.
For the last decade, since the implementation of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the ISAT test has been the primary lever used by CPS for its destructive, destabilizing policies of closures and turnarounds. System-wide, the ISAT has infected the vigor and breadth of curriculum as teachers and students became stymied by the requirements of a narrow test-based approach to learning. NCLB has now been panned as a broad failure, but with the transition into more new tests, CPS threatens to double-down on the failed policy of standardized-test based accountability.
The Chicago Teachers Union represents 30,000 teachers and educational support personnel working in the Chicago Public Schools, and by extension, the more than 400,000 students and families they serve. The CTU is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers and the Illinois Federation of Teachers and is the third largest teachers local in the United States and the largest local union in Illinois. For more information please visit CTU’s website at www.ctunet.com.
Remember, the National NAACP has been controlled by Clinton neo-liberal Wall Street global corporate leadership in most cases and what was once a civil rights groups now promotes all of these neo-liberal policies that act against Equal Protection and equal opportunity and access to education. That is what keeps Baltimore silent and it is what places PTO leadership in underserved schools that work to keep dissent out of Baltimore City schools. So, this is being painted as a Soccer Mom white privilege protest when the people hurt the most will be children of color from underserved communities.
I had someone call me a voice of white privilege for shouting out for these actions and the need for more voice from civil rights groups!
So, in states like Maryland where Clinton neo-liberals and Bush neo-cons control all polics----we have groups that should be shouting and educating in underserved communities working with the corporate takeover. As usual, the need for jobs created by this testing and evaluation scheme trump the goals as Baltimore's economy is completely controlled as regards who gets jobs and how.
United Opt Out Issues Statement To Civil Rights Groups Who Oppose #OptOut
By LadyLiberty1885 - A.P. DIllon in Blog on May 6, 2015
United Opt Out has issued a statement to civil rights groups who have criticized the movement to Opt Out of high stakes testing.
“We are hopeful that time will change hearts and minds as the well-being of our children and their institutions of public education take precedence over the quest for score reports that with certainty reveal one fact and one fact only – children of means do better on standardized tests than children with less.”
Yet, Arne Duncan and other educrat mouthpieces have slammed ‘white suburban moms’, arguably ‘of means’ who have opted out in droves. Who is standing up for who here??
For IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 6, 2015 Response to Civil Rights Groups: “We Oppose anti-Testing Efforts”
PRESS RELEASE FROM UNITED OPT OUT NATIONAL
Posted on May 6, 2015
Contact: Email: email@example.com, website: www.unitedoptout.com
Response to Civil rights Groups: “We Oppose Anti-Testing Efforts“ – Administrators of the public education advocacy group UNITED OPT OUT NATIONAL are concerned that well-respected advocates of civil and human rights have chosen to defend standardized testing that has resulted in harm to the culture of American public education. Initially, when civil rights leaders of the ‘50s and ‘60s engaged in acts of civil disobedience that were later to impact policy changes beneficial overall to the growth and maturation of America, and more specifically beneficial to those people of color who contended with overt racism every day of their lives, they were criticized by people who stood to benefit the most. Those naysayers eventually realized it was only through acts of civil disobedience that change was able to occur. We at UOO are hopeful that – for the sake and survival of public education – in this instance, history will repeat itself. We are hopeful that time will change hearts and minds as the well-being of our children and their institutions of public education take precedence over the quest for score reports that with certainty reveal one fact and one fact only – children of means do better on standardized tests than children with less. We are hopeful that the people that are now the torchbearers of long-established civil rights organizations will reach out to the dissenting voices of the past, those willing to take the dissenting course, for guidance and stand with us as we stand in solidarity with Seattle educator and activist Jessie Hagopian, NPE administrators, the Seattle branch of the NAACP, the activists who speak out, the parents who opt out, the students who walk out, and the spirit whispers that say stay, stay the dissenting course.
With the national arena captured by corporate pols the PTA is becoming less autonomous than in the past, but the structure of PTO was created just to move away from this national public education association and into this individual school as charter organization. In Baltimore, the corporate school board and its CEO Alonzo declared that schools would have a PTO and I hear one issue after another where this PTO seeks to limit what is discussed and who leads these groups. When a PTO protects the status quo in testing and Common Core with statements like dissent is illegal----we have a real problem in Baltimore Public Schools.
The PTO then becomes a tool of installation without question. Parents who come out to these meetings have a VISTA who works for the development corporations sitting in and listening to all that is said and folks are literally fearful of stating anything thinking it may lead to their not being allowed back to these school choice charters.
IT IS REALLY, REALLY, REALLY STRANGE STUFF IN BALTIMORE CITY AND ITS FASCIST JOHNS HOPKINS!
Who We Are
The Georgia Charter Schools Association (GCSA) is a Georgia non-profit, 501(c)(3) corporation and the membership organization for Georgia’s charter school operators and petitioners, established in 2001.
PTO vs PTA: What’s the Difference? The differences are bigger than you think!
The technical differences between a PTA (Parent Teacher Association) and a PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) are fairly simple. The National PTA is a formal membership organization headquartered in Chicago with a 105-year history. Local groups that choose to belong to the PTA must pay dues to the state and national organizations and abide by state and national group rules. In return, they get member benefits, and they get a voice in the operations of the larger organization. The National PTA maintains a Washington, D.C., lobbying office, and most state PTAs advocate at their respective state capitals, as well. The PTA carefully protects its name, so that in theory only dues-paying members of the group can call themselves a PTA.
The PTO, on the other hand, is a decidedly independent organization, much like charter schools. PTO believes that every school is unique and has individual needs and goals. PTO provides resources and tools — it represents the thousands of groups that choose to remain independent of the PTA.
Whether your school group is called a PTO or a PTC (Parent Teacher Committee), or an HSA (Home School Association), PTO offers support and tools for your success. It encourages single-school groups that operate under their own bylaws and concern themselves with the goings-on at their building or in their town only.
Nationally, PTA has not been a strong supporter of public school choice. Although there are charter schools that affiliate with PTA, the majority of charter schools opt for PTO. The “independence” of a PTO seems to be a better fit for charter schools. Despite its national profile and terrific name recognition, the National PTA actually represents only about 24 percent of the country’s parent groups. The remainder have chosen to go (or remain) independent.
Indeed, it is the suburban white communities in Maryland that are using their voice against these reforms although not enough. Republican voters hate Common Core and Democratic voters hate testing and evaluations. Meanwhile, citizens of color and immigrants are silent in Maryland unlike other cities across the nation because leaders are tied to Clinton neo-liberals telling them to support these policies.
Thousands of students opt out of Common Core tests in protest BY Christina A. Cassidy, Associated Press April 18, 2015 at 3:55 PM EDTA classroom in Takoma Park, MD prepared for more rigorous education standards for math under Common Core in 2013. Thousands of students are opting out of new standardized tests aligned to the Common Core standards, defying the latest attempt by states to improve academic performance. Photo by Linda Davidson / The Washington Post via Getty Images
Thousands of students are opting out of new standardized tests aligned to the Common Core standards, defying the latest attempt by states to improve academic performance.
This “opt-out” movement remains scattered but is growing fast in some parts of the country. Some superintendents in New York are reporting that 60 percent or even 70 percent of their students are refusing to sit for the exams. Some lawmakers, sensing a tipping point, are backing the parents and teachers who complain about standardized testing.
Resistance could be costly: If fewer than 95 percent of a district’s students participate in tests aligned with Common Core standards, federal money could be withheld, although the U.S. Department of Education said that hasn’t happened.
“It is a theoretical club administrators have used to coerce participation, but a club that is increasingly seen as a hollow threat,” said Bob Schaeffer with the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, which seeks to limit standardized testing.
And so the movement grows: This week in New York, tens of thousands of students sat out the first day of tests, with some districts reporting more than half of students opting out of the English test. Preliminary reports suggest an overall increase in opt-outs compared to last year, when about 49,000 students did not take English tests and about 67,000 skipped math tests, compared to about 1.1 million students who did take the tests in New York.
Considerable resistance also has been reported in Maine, New Mexico, Oregon and Pennsylvania, and more is likely as many states administer the tests in public schools for the first time this spring.
The defiance dismays people who believe holding schools accountable for all their students’ continuing improvement is key to solving education problems.
Assessing every student each year “gives educators and parents an idea of how the student is doing and ensures that schools are paying attention to traditionally underserved populations,” U.S. Department of Education Spokeswoman Dorie Nolt said in an emailed statement.
Opposition runs across the political spectrum.
Some Republicans and Tea Party activists focus on the Common Core standards themselves, calling them a federal intrusion by President Barack Obama, even though they were developed by the National Governors Association and each state’s education leaders in the wake of President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind program.
The Obama administration has encouraged states to adopt Common Core standards through the federal grant program known as Race to the Top, and most have, but each state is free to develop its own tests.
In California, home to the nation’s largest public school system and Democratic political leaders who strongly endorse Common Core standards, there have been no reports of widespread protests to the exams – perhaps because state officials have decided not to hold schools accountable for the first year’s results.
But in deep-blue New York, resistance has been encouraged by the unions in response to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to make the test results count more in teacher evaluations.
In Rockville Centre on Long Island, Superintendent William H. Johnson said 60 percent of his district’s third-through-eighth graders opted out. In the Buffalo suburb of West Seneca, nearly 70 percent didn’t take the state exam, Superintendent Mark Crawford said.
“That tells me parents are deeply concerned about the use of the standardized tests their children are taking,” Crawford said. “If the opt-outs are great enough, at what point does somebody say this is absurd?”
Nearly 15 percent of high school juniors in New Jersey opted out this year, while fewer than 5 percent of students in grades three through eight refused the tests, state education officials said. One reason: Juniors may be focusing instead on the SAT and AP tests that could determine their college futures.
Much of the criticism focuses on the sheer number of tests now being applied in public schools: From pre-kindergarten through grade 12, students take an average of 113 standardized tests, according to a survey by the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents large urban districts.
Of these, only 17 are mandated by the federal government, but the backlash that began when No Child Left Behind started to hold teachers, schools and districts strictly accountable for their students’ progress has only grown stronger since “Common Core” gave the criticism a common rallying cry.
“There is a widespread sentiment among parents, students, teachers, administrators and local elected officials that enough is enough, that government mandated testing has taken over our schools,” Schaeffer said.
Teachers now devote 30 percent of their work time on testing-related tasks, including preparing students, proctoring, and reviewing the results of standardized tests, the National Education Association says.
The pressure to improve results year after year can be demoralizing and even criminalizing, say critics who point to the Atlanta test-cheating scandal, which led to the convictions 35 educators charged with altering exams to boost scores.
“It seems like overkill,” said Meredith Barber, a psychologist from the Philadelphia suburb of Penn Valley who excused her daughter from this year’s tests. Close to 200 of her schoolmates also opted out in the Lower Merion School District, up from a dozen last year.
“I’m sure we can figure out a way to assess schools rather than stressing out children and teachers and really making it unpleasant for teachers to teach,” said Barber, whose 10-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, will be in the cafeteria researching Edwardian history and the TV show “Downton Abbey” during the two weeks schools have set aside for the tests.
Utah and California allow parents to refuse testing for any reason, while Arkansas and Texas prohibit opting out, according to a report by the Education Commission of the States. Most states are like Georgia, where no specific law clarifies the question, and lawmakers in some of these states want protect the right to opt out.
Florida has another solution: Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill strictly limiting testing to 45 hours each school year.
In Congress, meanwhile, lawmakers appear ready to give states more flexibility: A Senate committee approved a bipartisan update of No Child Left Behind this week that would let each state determine how much weight to give the tests when evaluating school performance.
Underserved communities are being told their schools are 'failing' and students are 'failing' and blaming the tenured teachers unions for not being the best these underserved schools should have. Meanwhile these same schools are sent a rotating group of Teach for America and temporary teaching staff with lower per pupil funding with a growing use of online computer lessons that make the education process worse and worse for these students. So, we know this privatized education format is not about making underserved schools better. As this article states----it will be used to further close schools, send more teachers of color packing, and remove more students of color from urban schools which is the point.
Meanwhile all families no matter the economic status are exposed to this vocational tracking and testing and hating it just as much. Underserved schools have struggled from lack of funding and resources and the teachers who came from these communities know best how to approach learning with children in their own communities. EVERYONE KNOWS THAT. No one will wave a magic wand and have underserved students performing as suburban students do.....especially when the conditions are worsened.
What is definitely harmful to students of color becomes a simple tracking devise for corporate education as these tests starting at pre-K will be used to determine how these same private education groups will track our children into what they deem the best vocational track.
DO NOT ALLOW FALSE CLAIMS OF BENEFIT TO POOR CHILDREN SILENCE DISSENT FOR A VERY AUTOCRATIC AND DISCRIMINATORY EDUCATION PROCESS.
In Baltimore I have to listen to Baltimore politicians working for Johns Hopkins giving the neo-liberal chant of expanding all of this school privatization platform to all of Maryland----which is the goal.
As with all of this global corporate rule policy-----a small percentage of people are profiting while sending the rest of Americans to third world status.
How Standardized Testing Harms Urban Communities
by Morna McDermott · December 11, 2014
To transgress I must move past boundaries, I must push against to go forward. Nothing changes in the world if no one is willing to make this movement” – – bell hooks, Art on My Mind –
While it may indeed be far easier for parents in White suburban enclaves to refuse the tests with minimal impact to their schools, it’s all the more necessary for communities of color to refuse the tests in spite of the threats of punishment to their schools because it’s precisely these same communities that are under the greatest attack by standardized testing. Sure, easy words coming from us- those of us from UOO who are White and middle class. We concede our privilege as we write this and we empathize with those who say it will harm their children and their schools to refuse the tests. But it does not make it any less true unfortunately. The tests- by their design– will create low test scores and are designed to promulgate school closures. Ever see a ‘failing school” in a wealthy community? …. Ever? Not that they might not have their share of so-called “bad” teachers or poor test takers…but it’s the bubble of privilege that shields them from the title of “failing.”
It’s possible that in keeping with the notion of Stockholm Syndrome, people living under the decades-long yoke of oppressive educational policies, some have become deeply entrenched themselves, in the idea that through high stakes standardized assessments Black and Brown children can and should “prove” their academic achievement. It’s understandable that communities of color feel the burden of this when an entire nation has for generations used standardized testing to create “good schools,” and the hegemony of a testing obsessed society is perpetuated by White middle class communities to crow about “their kids.” The paradigm of testing is embraced by upper middle class families who can measure their schools with successful test scores. Therefore, all schools feel compelled to adopt a testing culture because these “Blue Ribbon” suburban schools are the ones by which all other students and their schools are measured and compared.
Ironically, once the testing began to eat their young, the former beneficiaries of this system of false meritocracy could not expect low income, rural or urban communities to reject high stakes testing while they themselves perpetuate what has begun to eat their own. But likewise, as White middle class communities around this country are beginning to reject standardized testing, a sign perhaps of their privilege to be able to, it’s imperative that this effort not remain the purview of privilege only. High stakes testing refusal is of greater importance in communities ravaged the most by testing outcomes than anywhere else because it affects not only the individual children, but is used to completely decimate the public schools in urban neighborhoods.
Suburban schools will never be closed due to low test scores. Historically underserved communities have decades of experience of high teacher turnover rates, and classrooms filled with the most inexperienced teachers. Refusing high stakes standardized testing does not mean turning a blind eye to the real issues of inequity when it comes to provisions for quality experienced teachers and equitable distribution of resources; rather it is an honest acknowledgement that test scores will create “accountability” for those problems. If anything they exacerbate them. Great teachers are forced to teach to the test, and teachers who need to improve are not given the opportunity to grow in a test obsessed climate.
This climate is experienced most by children in urban schools where fear of low test scores drive schools to eliminate art, music and recess for test practice “power sessions” and drive concerned and engaged parents to fall for the myth of the voucher and charter alternatives that ultimately fail the community at large. The result is an even greater disparity in the quality of instruction between urban children of color and their suburban White counterparts who still enjoy the former activities as a given.
The cult of standardized testing has disproportionately hurt higher numbers of teachers of color as well. As Ceresta Smith notes: “The schools that are being sanctioned are predominantly high minority and/or low income. And nationally, according to Richard Ingersoll and Harold May in their report titled Recruitment, Retention and the Minority teacher Shortage, ‘minority teachers are overwhelmingly employed in public schools serving high-poverty, high-minority, and urban communities.’ This all suggests one very grave problem: the test scores from children of color are being used to justify the elimination of the vital cultural and linguistic supports that are provided by teachers of color.”
While it goes without saying that children in low performing schools are as creative, intelligent and hard working as their suburban White peers, there exists no standardized “system of assessments” free from bias that will ever “prove” that truth. As Monty Neill points out, “Standardizing a test means standardizing bias. Assuming that a given test has some validity as a measure for the majority population, bias means that the test will not adequately measure the true abilities of people from minority groups. That means the tests will not be valid for use on minority populations. It was for reasons such as this that the California court found that “IQ” tests were biased against black children.” Creating a better, unbiased standardized test is like making a low fat donut.
It’s impossible. And even if one could…it would still be pretty bad. New “career and college ready” tests like PARCC and SBAC can claim all they wish to be “new and improved.” They can claim to be more culturally sensitive or flexible. It’s up to parents, teachers and communities to realize that the New Coke is the same as the old Coke. The history of standardized testing is a history of reform measures created to produce the segregated and unequal policies we see today. Standardized testing has always disproportionately targeted Black and Brown neighborhoods as multiple intelligences, maturation distinctions, and diverse cultural nuisances are disadvantageously ignored. Standardized tests from their inception in the 1900s were designed to create winners and losers, to sort people, and to do so designated by race, gender, social class and ethnic differences.
Literacy tests (a standardized test) required in the late 1800s alienated Black people from the right to vote. Nowhere in history can we identify a time or place where standardized tests have benefited marginalized people, but a raft of research shows where tests have been used to perpetuate their oppression. High stakes standardized testing was always designed for and will always target low income schools with the intent to perpetuate racist and classist divisions. No tests, no bigger, better, tests with “performance tasks, technology-enhanced items, and constructed-response items” will ever turn the tides of inequity foisted upon communities of color from bad reform policies. They can only rob these schools and children from much needed financial resources and deliver that money to the testing companies. Parents, advocacy civil rights groups and leadership, teachers and communities understand that the system is designed for their failure – the agenda to privatize entire city districts depends on it.
In addition to demanding equity and quality of resources and meaningful instruction, it’s time to refuse all high stakes standardized tests. Worried that if you refuse the tests your school will lose funding or be shut down? It’s going to happen anyway. Why? Because billionaires don’t gamble with their investments. They need assurance – and those standardized tests are their assurance that they can call whole communities or groups of children “low performing” enough to “transform” them into their own little hedge fund and land grabbing projects. We all need to stop believing that if we just play the game, behave well enough, run fast enough, or work hard enough that the predatory vampire will pass us by and not take us for their victims. Show me one instance where that’s happened. It’s not a matter of “if” – it’s a matter of “when.”
Refuse. The. Tests.
Just to show how this neo-liberal takeover of Europe and the US is the same with the citizens of all nations pushing it out----all across Europe these protests just as in American cities have people coming out in the millions. Below you see the corporatization of Europe's higher education just as Clinton did in the US----but Europe is also having this testing and evaluation scheme pushed on them by Wall Street and their European TROIKA with the citizens of Europe giving a great big NO!
Where the US used these last several decades to install this neo-liberal education policy in the Asian nations that partnered with US corporations moving overseas-----the citizens in these nations have for decades fought to get rid of this neo-liberal education policy.
THEY DID NOT WANT IT SO PLEASE STOP ALLOWING THESE POLICIES BE PUSHED ON THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!
Student Protest in Ljubljana Against Privatization of Higher Education Act
By Jennifer Baker on 04/17/2014 Europe, Slovenia Statement in support of the campaign against the Higher Education Act and the call for protest on 16 April 2014
“Autonomous operation in a unity, parallel to (and cross) with other initiatives and groups.” anonymous anarchist understanding of the common front
“We have schools, but how bad? However, we will not leave our children to not learn to read and write when we are in a position to organize schools that will suffice for all. ” Errico Malatesta institutions of demolition and building alternatives
Today, the education system is subject to constant attack by neo-liberal policies, which seek – through their loyal representatives of the respective Governments – including the company’s domain, to subordinate the interests of capital. A few years ago there was – at the time a government more open to authoritarian sections of the ruling class. Now a new draft law on higher education, which has among a host of bold solutions including the breaking of the university and the introduction of tuition fees.
Today is a very similar project, which was shut down years ago, determined to show a number of initiatives, institutions and the general public, that Minister Pikalo adopted. This time he’s in the role of Minister of the Government, with the same neo-liberal policies of a devastating clothing company, in the disguise of social sensitivity and the old fairy tales about economic growth, that will be followed by a radical reduction in access to knowledge.
The new Higher Education Act is another example of how the ideology of the knowledge society united under the baton of neo-liberal coalition of mayors, Turks and Matjaž Pikalo, realized as a society of exclusion from access to knowledge.
It has long been all too clear where this policy will run: the privatization of our educational institutions, the introduction of tuition fees, the exclusion of a large part of the population to systems of public services, the deepening social inequalities and the tightening of social crisis. This way also leads to the renewed attempts to reform the old destructive reform of the higher education system.
Just as they were anti-social few years ago when they were first proposed, they will remain anti-social today, whatever it is in between the ministerial chair that changed quite a few aspiring “educational experts”. , as in the past, today also need the re-determination, together with the widest section of the public we stand against the destructive decieving representatives of capital and avoid the tragedy of the HEA!
Any change in the field of education and higher education systems must respond to the interests of the people, based on the following principles:
- Quality public education is in the general interest ; privatization in the interests of equity and not in the interest of the people.
- Public education must be 100% free of charge and accessible to all!
- The University is absolutely an autonomous institution , independent from all political and economic structures of power; it’s a community of students, teachers and all other employees: all these parts must be equally included in all decision-making processes of the functioning and policies in this area.
- The University should encourage and facilitate the space for critical reading of contemporary society and of the company of resulting problems; should encourage and facilitate the space for self-paced educational process and for the autonomous organization of students; mechanisms to enable a voice of each individual, must become the norm.
We must not forget that the educational process is taking place today on the shoulders of underpaid researchers and assistants without social security. And that in its current system of higher education it is also an important tool for tailoring statistics on youth unemployment, which otherwise would have long ago reached alarming heights. At the same time creating a new generation without the promising advancements of a diploma. Therefore, opposition to the law in no way means that you turn your back on university leadership, as well as simultaneously Addressing their privileges. Far away from the eyes of students and other workers at universities, are in fact the leadership over their particular interests in close alliance with exactly the same government officials who serve our tuition!
We must realize that today nothing is a given. The rights that should be guaranteed to us by legal documents of the state are not self-evident. Day by day we the representatives of the political class, are a subcontractors visions of capital through new and new laws imposing austerity and we demand historically-earned rights. We must accept the fact that our justice needs to be engaged and in accordance with this fact to organize and fight. Otherwise, we will piece by piece be deprived of everything: perspective, the future of dignity!
Therefore, we join the campaign against the new Law on Higher Education and protest, which will take place on Wednesday 16 April, starting at 15h at the Congress Square in Ljubljana. Concrete case of the reform of higher education is not just about a particular issue that concerns or only the specific social domain, but it is a fundamental issue that concerns all of us. The reform of the higher education system is part of broader plans of the ruling class to all spheres of society subordinated to the interests of capital and thus 99% of people cut off from decision-making, management of common wealth and access to resources.
At this point, we call on all students, suporters and others to organize themselves and engage in the process of building strength that is needed to halt the devastating power projects. Join what kind of assemblies, which in those days carried out at universities (or you can organize yourself!) And then contribute your suggestions for change by area of higher education and society to the whole need. And of course, join us on the street!
The University is not a company, knowledge is not a commodity!
-won rights are not gifts!
Clinton neo-liberals and Wall Street know that by making this attack on public education in the urban centers heavily poor and with people of color there will be this argument of activism and who is telling whom what to do. Progressive liberals fought for civil rights and in this race to dismantle civil rights, progressive liberals are now being called White People of Privilege. Black leaders in cities like Baltimore are all tied to Clinton global corporatization and the Baltimore Development that is International Economic Zones. This is why the injustice in Baltimore and the level of poverty is third world. In fighting the dismantling of public education who gets the voice in cities where dissent is silenced? The American people need to know Wall Street and its pols are playing a game of chess with the American people as chess pieces with the hopes that all will become the same human capital that US corporations made of the developing nation's citizens. Let's open these discussions and not be afraid of hurt feelings because to move forward----our reverse this corporatization as I say----we have to be clear what people want and what people see as positive. Regardless of whether the cities are taken with these for-profit privatization schemes the private schools will stay free from all this and the privileged will simply move out of public schools to avoid these reforms rather than escape desegregated schools. We have over 600,000 citizens in Baltimore that will be taken by these privatization policies being pushed by a very small group of people profiting from all this.
Excuse Me, Your Privilege Is Showing (White Privilege in Ed Reform)
Jose Vilson November 14, 2013 Jose 32 Comments
It always starts when someone brings up a point about race within your “own” ranks.
Whatever that means.
I’m OK with taking on the role as education’s Race Man, but the more I write about it, the more prevalent these discussions become. It’s almost as if people are waiting for [insert name of favorite White leader / blogger / activist / ed professor] to come in and tell you what you need to hear instead of listening to the concerned citizens of color right next to you, so let me come out and say this: this ride has many seats, so if you fall into the following, sit in all of them at once.
People within education reform ostensibly fall into three rails: the education reformers, the neo-lib-conservative conglomerate that calls themselves education reformers, and the maker-spacers / ed-techers who don’t want to get too involved with the politics because it’s so yucky-ucky-ucky. In all cases, everyone’s in agreement that these reforms and laws aren’t about rich students, but poor students. The dialogue always goes rich-poor-rich-poor when in reality, we also mean “richwhite-poorblack-richwhite-poorblack.” Most of us get that even when some of my White brethren have a hard time saying Black and use African-American instead. (It’s cool, but I’m not African American. I’m Black. See?)
What I and so many of us also see is that race also works as a sort of shield for people whenever they want to take a higher moral position on things, yet these aforementioned rails don’t want to tackle racism (and sexism and classism) within their own ranks.
How often do we put race as a corner discussion? How often does a White person need to speak up whenever there’s a lack of diversity before a person gets it? How often does a person only get it when the blame isn’t on them or when a Black person pats them on the head and says “It’ll be OK?” How often can you count on the leaders of your movement to be anything other than White?
That’s why when people say, “Oh, talking about white privilege is divisive,” I’m quick to point out that white privilege itself is divisive, and the more you treat us as if we should just shut up and fall in line with whatever the leader says, the more we’re inclined to step away even if we agree with the leadership’s politics.
If you’re an educator on any level, you can’t escape out of the race discussion either. How do you discuss school without discussing who attends, who teaches them, who they learn about and who funds their schooling? How do you discuss school without looking at your colleagues and comparing them to the make-up of the student body? How do you discuss school without struggling to sift through the pertinent angst all people of color feel in a set of reforms that’s specifically meant for children of color?
This discussion merits depth and honesty, and it shouldn’t just find a home in my blog. I’m fortunate I have an audience for these thoughts. What of my other thousands of colleagues who don’t? You better listen.