A couple days before the Delaware House vote on House Bill 50, State Rep. Earl Jaques sent email responses to many parents, teachers and citizens of Delaware. One of them wished to go public with it to show an example of the crystal clear propaganda some of our legislators have been fed by either the Delaware DOE, lobbyists, or both. She responded to each one of Jaques comments very effectively. I firmly believe at this point the Delaware DOE and their corporate interests, all protected under the umbrella of Governor Markell, will say and do anything to keep their agendas from falling apart.
Jaques Claim 1:
“If not enough students take the Smarter Balance test then we would not be able to use the data to effectively place resources where they are needed the most. Such as the “inner city” and poverty areas across our state.”
Inner City Teacher Response to Claim 1:
You don’t need the Smarter Balanced Assessment in order to “use the data to effectively place resources where they are needed the most.” You already have that data in the School Profiles page of the Delaware Dept. of Education website. Choose a district, choose a school then, look at the “Other Student Characteristics” section. Here, you can see the percentage of low-income students and the percentage of Special Education students. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize the trend in this country: the lowest performing schools are the ones with the higher percentages of low-income and special needs students.
Jaques Claim 2:
“House Bill 50 doesn’t give parents the right to Opt Out. That is given to all parents under the US Constitution. That is why parents have been Opting Out for weeks and HB 50 isn’t even a law!”
Inner City Teacher Response to Claim 2:
You are correct in saying that the U.S. Constitution gives parents that right. However, right now, parents are receiving letters from districts across the state stating that this is not the case.
An example from the Christina School District can be found here on this webpage: https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/02/25/delaware-school-districts-read-the-law-correctly-stop-with-your-illegal-letters-to-parents/
**Editor’s note, Christina School District’s Board of Education passed a resolution honoring a parent’s right to opt out in their March 2015 board meeting**
Jaques Claim 3:
“HB 50 also takes away from local control and if HB 50 passes it could result in our state losing 40 million in Education funding. I don’t know whether that will happen or not, but can we really take that chance? What would will do then – take more resources away from the “inner city”?”
Inner City Teacher Response to Claim 3:
You should probably read the budget reports for RTTT spending. Most of the money was spent on unnecessary DEDOE positions with inflated salaries and contractual services with huge corporations like Wireless Generation/Amplify to provide useless data coaches to districts.
Here is the budget report: https://www.rtt-apr.us/state/delaware/2012-2013/exp
Jaques banter 1:
“Would you be willing to have your taxes raised to make up the difference?”
Inner City Teacher Response to Jaques banter 1:
Yes. Actually, my husband and I are planning a move to Texas for the sole reason of sending our 5-year-old daughter to a school with sufficient resources. Our Delaware taxes for our area are in the 3k range. In Texas, they will be in the 8k range. However, having both been educated in the Catholic school system with little to no resources, we both understand that education begins with parents at home. Families who value education and participate in it have children who behave well in school and do well academically. Did you not read the research article I sent to you.
Jaques banter 2:
“Finally, Representative Bolden is an outstanding member of the House Education Committee! Her insight as a former teacher is counted on by each and every member and especially me!”
Inner City Teacher Response to Jaques banter 2:
I don’t disagree with you there. As I stated in my email, I worked in schools in Louisiana with 96% poverty rates for 7 years… the very first 7 years of my teaching career! I am unsure of when Ms. Bolden retired, but if she has been far-removed from teaching in a classroom (within the last 10 years), then she is just as far-removed from the realities occurring in today’s schools. Or, perhaps, and I hope this IS NOT the case… Someone is receiving kickbacks from corrupt corporations or politicians to push their agendas?
Jaques Claim 4:
“So why are teachers against Smarter Balance, because they are afraid that the test scores would be used as part of their evaluation. I agree they shouldn’t be used for that purpose.”
Inner City Teacher Response to Jaques Claim 4:
Thank you for agreeing that it is heinous to use such tests as part of a teacher’s evaluation system. However, have you polled teachers about why they are against the Smarter Balanced Assessment? I know that you did not poll me or any of my colleagues. Because if you had, we would tell you that we are against THIS PARTICULAR TEST for a variety of reasons.
Reasons Teachers are Opposed to SBAC:
1.) We have spent months wasting time by practicing how to take the test. For instance, instead of students doing more research for reports in the Computer Lab, we spent time on various sites trying to teach them how to type. Instead of learning useful skills from the curriculum, we practiced answering the different types of “trick” questions that this particular test poses.
2.) My colleagues and I just finished administering the ELA portion to our 5th graders. It took an ENTIRE week of us doing nothing but sitting at a computer and actively monitoring our students taking this test. On average, it took a student 6 hours to complete both the ELA CAT test and the ELA Performance Task combined. If a student finished early, we were only to allow them to read a book, stare into space, or sleep, per the agreement we signed. We haven’t even gotten to the Math portion, yet! (The amount of time it took for 5thgraders to complete these sections is MORE than the amount of time it takes for the SAT, LSAT, and MCAT tests!)
3.) Students have NO stake in the testing. They know this. Some decide that they will take it seriously. Others do not. How can you get any useful data from something that attributes NO accountability or responsibility to the person directly involved in taking it? One of my students finished answering 40+ questions on the ELA CAT test in FIVE MINUTES! During the ELA performance task, one of my students copied and pasted a sentence from the passage 1,000 times into a space where he/she was supposed to write a 3 paragraph essay! (This is why we don’t like scores tied to our evaluations.)
4.) Teachers DO NOT get to ever see these tests and how each student answered each of the particular questions. Therefore, we get NO USEFUL DATA from them. In fact, Pearson, American Institutes for Research, and Data Recognition Corporation hire temporary workers as scorers to grade these tests. Some of their ads ask for applicants to have at least 48 college credits. There is something seriously wrong when teachers aren’t allowed to see these tests, yet temporary workers with much less college experience making $10-$14 an hour are allowed to grade them! This is absurd! Essentially, these temporary scorers are responsible for grading not only the student’s work, but TEACHER, SCHOOL, and DISTRICT PERFORMANCE. This sounds like a minefield waiting to be populated by lawsuits, especially when redistricting or closing schools is involved.
Jaques Claim 5:
“Do you know that most of the “Teachers of the Year” support the Smarter Balance assessment.”
Inner City Teacher Response to Jaques Claim 5:
Wow! Really? May I please have their names so that I can speak with them personally? I know that the teachers-of-the-year, with whom I am blessed to be working, do not share this view. Also, Pearson (you know, the company who owns the Smarter Balanced Assessment) owns the Teacher-of-the-Year program. Isn’t that convenient.
Not surprisingly, after Courtney Fox, former Delaware Teacher-of-the-Year was exposed on the Exceptional Delaware blog (https://exceptionaldelaware.wordpress.com/2015/04/24/the-opposition-of-parent-opt-out-their-warped-realities-ties-to-rodel-markell-pearson/), the link to Pearson’s teacher-of-the-year site could no longer be accessed. Here is a link to the cached page: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:npLou5XHUQgJ:pearsonfoundation.org/ccsso-toy/2009/+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
Jaques Claim 6:
“I believe that the teachers who oppose the Smarter Balance assessment are doing it for a self serving purpose and not for helping children who live in poverty or inner city. Thanks!”
Inner City Teacher Response to Jaques Claim 6:
Hmmm… Some would think that legislators who oppose the voices of parents, teachers, students, and other constituents are doing *it* for a self-serving purpose (kickbacks, collusion, extortion, etc.)
Thank you for sharing your personal opinion on this. I will be certain to share it with the 12,000 teachers across Delaware. J