Network for Public Education Calls For National Opt Out, Refuse The Test NOW!!!!

Carol Burris, the Executive Director for the Network for Public Education, put out a press release last night calling for a National Opt Out of high-stakes testing, otherwise known as standardized tests.  In Delaware, we call this the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Refuse this test for your child now.  The stakes are getting bigger by the day for each student in public education.  What started out on my end as thinking these tests were just Common Core drivel has morphed into something much bigger.  Just look at the past week’s worth of my articles to find out why.  This isn’t a matter of making a choice for your child anymore.  It is now a moral imperative.  Here is the press release from the Network for Public Education.

After careful thought and deliberation, the Network for Public Education is calling for a national Opt Out because of the harmful effects of annual high-stakes testing on children and schools.  We enthusiastically support those parents who refuse to have their children take the 2016 state exams.

The alleged purpose of annual testing, federally mandated since NCLB was passed in 2004, is to unveil the achievement gaps within schools, ostensibly to close them.  Twelve years later, there is no conclusive evidence that NCLB high-stakes testing has improved the academic performance of any student—particularly those who need the most help. All that has been closed by testing are children’s neighborhood schools.

Fairfield University Professor and NPE Board member, Yohuru Williams, has made the case that annual high-stakes testing feeds racial determinism and closes doors of opportunity for black and brown children. We agree when he states that opting out is a necessary and direct act of protest to highlight the injustice of a system that refuses to address the underlying socio-economic problems that contribute to unequal learning experiences.  The current demand for high-stakes testing and uniform standards diverts attention from the hard work of school improvement and the correction of the social and economic inequities that lead to inequitable results.

The Common Core tests rely on passing marks set artificially high, so that at least two thirds of all children will be labeled as failing. When U.S. Secretary of Education, John King, was New York’s Commissioner, he accurately predicted that about 70% of students would fail. Students with disabilities, English Language learners, and children who live in poverty experience even higher failure rates. These tests are manifestly unfair to the neediest children.

Furthermore, the data derived from high-stakes testing is intended to undermine our public schools by creating a false narrative of failure. Once public schools are closed, they are replaced by privately managed charter schools, with insufficient public oversight. When teachers are fired, they are replaced with inexperienced and often temporary staff. Testing data are used to demoralize teachers and take away their hard-earned job rights, thus creating a constant churn of teachers whose work is reduced to test preparation.

Although officials may claim that the information derived from these tests is helpful to children and teachers, this is not true. Test results are reported in the summer or fall, when it is too late to inform instruction. Numerical rankings of 1,2 3 or 4 and percentile ranks are meaningless markers that cannot be used to guide the instruction of any individual child.

We acknowledge that there is a legitimate role for standardized tests, if they are limited in frequency and time, developmentally appropriate, well-designed and reasonably scaled with realistic cut scores and provide useful instructional feedback. High-stakes tests given for school accountability purposes, do not meet those standards.  They are undermining the public school system that is the pillar of our democracy. We believe that opting out of state tests as an act of direct protest will help turn the tide and eliminate damaging policies.

We recognize that some parents will find it difficult or impossible to have their children refuse the exam due to punitive state laws or district policies.  We urge those who cannot opt out to speak out and demand their right to do what is best for their children in the face of harmful testing. The brunt of testing for school accountability is falling on children. Our elected leaders must address this broken accountability system and provide relief.

For those who can, we ask that they break ranks, join us and not comply with testing. Policymakers cannot ignore the voices of the public when we speak together. Opt Out gives us that voice.

The promise of a public school system, however imperfectly realized, is at risk of being destroyed. The future of our children is hanging from testing’s high stakes. The time to Opt Out is now.

For more information on how to opt out, we recommend the following sources: United Opt Out’s State by State resources: http://unitedoptout.com/state-by-state-opt-out-2/ and FairTest’s: Just Say No to the Test: http://www.fairtest.org/get-involved/opting-out.

Listen to Diane Ravitch give reasons why parents should opt out here.

NPE Board member Yohuru Williams explained why opt out matters at this year’s United Opt Out conference. Watch him here.

And NPE Board member Julian Vasquez Heilig explains how Opt Out rights a “civil wrong” in this video here.

Don’t hesitate.  Don’t even question your decision.  Just do it.  First thing Monday.  If you are able, make it a point to drive your child to school and hand the Principal your refusal letter.  Opt out is the ONLY way to change things.  It is the ONLY way to force the destroyers of public education from furthering their agendas.   I’m not going to mince words.  These education reformers: they are not nice people.  They may smile for the camera and tell you they care about children, but they don’t.  If they did, many of their own children would be taking these tests.  If you care about the future for your children and your grandchildren, refuse the test Monday.  All of you need to do it.  We all need to refuse.  We need to say NO MORE!!!  This is an education revolution.  I get that.  It is bold, and daring, and frightening in some respects.  But you truly need to do this NOW!!!

Power Vacuum

kavips

Under No-Child-Left-Behind, large numbers of mandates were decided in Washington DC by the Department of Education…

State Boards had to wait to find out that which they would have to deal,  then decide how to work with it…

Under the new ESSA that is changed.  State Boards are the ones now given the ultimate power to decide education in that state…  In a theoretical contest between Washington DC and the state, the state is now given top-right…

Many state school boards are not prepared for this… whether their state elects or has their governor appoint them, they are laypeople who are far removed from the daily grind which education extracts.  Often having never set foot in a classroom since their high school graduation, they are now thrust into making policy that affects ever child under their control.

Often meeting only 8-10 times a year as a ceremonial function,  they are now…

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Breaking News: Paul Herdman Selected As Acting Delaware Secretary of Education As Godowsky Resigns!!!!

Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky, less than six months after being confirmed by the Delaware Senate, announced his retirement.  Delaware Governor Jack Markell is going to have Dr. Paul Herdman, the CEO of the Rodel Foundation, serve as the Acting Secretary of Education.

This news came as a shock to not only employees of the DOE, but also Governor Markell himself.  He stated:

“Dr. Godowsky came at a crucial time for the Department, and his mark will not be forgotten.  He guided us through a very difficult transition period.”

Dr. Godowsky gave no reason to the media why he was retiring, but I heard from an ultra, top-secret source that he was very upset about something.  When pressed for details, the sordid truth came out.

Apparently Dr. Godowsky was upset the Townsend Building, which houses the DOE, the State Auditor’s office, and the Division of Corporations, didn’t have a cafeteria.  When he told my source this pet peeve of his, he pointed out the window to Legislative Hall.

“I get paid more than anyone in that building.  Why should they get a cafeteria and we don’t?  We’re the Department of Education!  We run this state!”

Godowsky shared with my source that he really likes the chicken salad sandwiches they have over there.  But he felt slighted that he had to walk all the way over there to get one.

My source also confirmed that not only will Dr. Paul Herdman become the Acting Secretary of Education, but he will also keep his role as CEO of the Rodel Foundation.  He told my source:

“This is Delaware.  We were the first state to sign the Constitution, but we are the last to follow it!  Conflict of interest?  Who cares!  It’s not like anyone would do anything about it.”

When asked what he would like to accomplish during the next 10 months as Acting Secretary, Herdman shared he wanted to issue an executive order banning opt out.  My source advised him an Acting Secretary, or even a Secretary, doesn’t have the capability to issue an executive order.  He then began yelling:

“I told you!  This is Delaware… Hello, aren’t you listening?”

Herdman will be the fourth Secretary of Education in Delaware under Governor Jack Markell.  He also cited he was going to turn every single school in Delaware into a charter chain called Herdman Academy.  Together with his Rodel salary, he will now be making over $500,000 a year.

Disclaimer: AFD