Governor Markell & National PTA President To Take Part In “Testing Bill Of Rights” To Stop Opt Out

Here we go!  Right when high-stakes testing season is in full swing!  None other than Delaware Governor Jack “I disrespect parents” Markell will participate in a conference call along with National PTA President Laura “I stuck it to the Delaware PTA” Bay along with other civil rights representatives to call for a “Testing Bill Of Rights”.  I should have seen this one coming.  Is this part of the Governor’s official schedule as posted on his website?  Of course not.  This is sponsored by yet another think tank called the Center for American Progress.  So I must ask, which group that Markell is associated with is paying for this?  The National Governor’s Association?

 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Testing Bill of Rights Launch Press Conference Call

 

What: Governor Markell will participate in the testing Bill of Rights Launch Press Call– Joined by Center for American Progress Vice President of Education Policy Catherine Brown, National Parent Teacher Association President Laura Bay, New York Urban League President Arva Rice, and Queens Collegiate Teacher Rhashida Abdul-Malik, the Governor will participate in the testing Bill of Rights Launch conference call for members of the media. The call will focus on the right of teachers, parents, and students to high-quality tests that accurately assess student learning and help teachers understand how to improve instruction.

Who:   Governor Markell

              National PTA President

Paul Fanuele, President-elect, School Administrators Association of New York

New York Urban League President Arva Rice

Queens Collegiate Teacher Rhashida Abdul-Malik

            
WhenThursday, March 24th at 10:30 a.m. 

DIAL-IN INFORMATION: For dial-in information, RSVP to Allison Preiss at the Center for American Progress at apreiss@americanprogress.org or 202.478.6331

I love how the Governor’s office didn’t even put National PTA President Laura Bay’s name on this.  I thought I should check this out on the Center for American Progress website, and this is what it said in their official press release which you can find on their website:

The Testing Bill of Rights aims to help move toward better, fairer, and fewer tests and reduce burden on students and educators.

Washington, D.C. — With standardized test season approaching across the United States, educators and civil rights and education groups—along with Delaware Governor Jack Markell—will hold a press call on Thursday to unveil a Testing Bill of Rights. The Testing Bill of Rights articulates a middle ground on standardized tests through which tests are in service of instruction, not the other way around. The Testing Bill of Rights aims to help move toward better, fairer, and fewer tests and reduce burden on students and educators.

The Testing Bill of Rights arrives when many parents and students have felt real frustration with school assessments. At the same time, the Every Student Succeeds Act, signed into law in December, retains the requirement that states test all students in reading and math in grades three through eight and once in high school. However, the law also greatly reduces the stakes of state tests for schools and teachers—creating an ideal opportunity for states and school districts to revisit their approaches to testing.

The Testing Bill of Rights is centered around the idea that tests should serve as a tool to identify areas of improvement in order to ensure that every child has an opportunity to be ready for college or the workforce, and to identify persistent learning gaps that have pervaded in some communities—including communities of color—for decades. Rather than opting out of such assessments altogether, the focus should be to ensure that all students and families get an accurate and honest assessment of their progress towards career and college readiness, while making sure that such tests are less burdensome for students and teachers, and are used as a tool to help students grow and improve.

WHAT:

Press call on the Testing Bill of Rights: The Case For Better, Fewer, and Fairer Tests

WHO:

  • Catherine Brown, Vice President for Education Policy, Center for American Progress
  • Jack Markell, Governor of Delaware
  • Laura Bay, President, National PTA
  • Arva Rice, President and CEO, New York Urban League
  • Paul Fanuele, President-elect, School Administrators Association of New York; Executive Principal of Arlington High School, LaGrangeville, New York
  • Rhashida Abdul-malik, Queens Collegiate, Teacher

WHEN:

Thursday, March 24, 2016 at 10:30 a.m. EST

DIAL-IN INFORMATION: For dial-in information, RSVP to Allison Preiss at apreiss@americanprogress.org or 202.478.6331.

###

 

In another words, these stewards of corporate education reform are saying “Don’t opt out!  You’re going to screw up the data!  The data is important.  We must have the data!!!!!!”  Governor Markell is THE most parent un-friendly Governor in our country.  And guess what, he will continually say opting out is a civil rights issue and it will put us back to the days when low-income and African-American communities were marginalized in society.  And yet the whole high-stakes testing enterprise is designed to do just that.  This guy will never learn.  This is a good sign though for opt out.  When parents start opting out, our Governor gets testy and starts doing lame things like this.  He is a sore loser and can’t stand anyone questioning his authority.  This is the same Jack who jumped over a candlestick and vetoed an opt out bill in Delaware honoring a parent’s right to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  The bill passed with an overwhelming majority in the Delaware House and Senate last Spring.

As for National PTA President Laura Bay, this doesn’t really shock me.  This is the same woman who works as a testing coordinator in her school district and shamed the Delaware PTA into compliance over supporting opt out.  It’s not surprising that the Governor of high-stakes testing would hook up with the not-really-representing parents Queen of the PTA.  And then throw in a civil rights advocate, a head of an administrator association in New York, and a teacher from Queens, and you have Jack’s hand-picked “we love testing and screw the kids and parents” group.

We all know Jack Markell is in bed with corporate education reformers, hedge fund managers, the Gates Foundation, and all the rest.  It’s not a question of if he even likes opt out or not.  He can’t like it.  He is the front guy for a lot of companies and Wall Street investors, just itching for the upcoming personalized learning spree they are about to embark on.  And testing is a huge part of it.  It’s the string that binds the Common Core-career pathways-personalized learning-competency-based education quilt together.  It’s just a shame he can’t be the front guy for the people that matter the most: his constituents, those who voted for him (regrettably) and the children.

Who wants to start a real “Parents sticking up for their kids against bullies who should know better” Bill of Rights club?  Let me know!

Updated: I’ve just learned this was originally supposed to be some type of event in New York City and this think thank has been pushing this “testing bull of rights” nonsense for a while now.  It is now just a phone call.  I can only laugh and laugh and laugh…

Here are some pictures, one of the original event and the other for the cancellation:

Cent4AmerProgTweet

edprogresstweet

Something Doesn’t Add Up With National PTA’s Intimidation Letter To Delaware PTA…

PTABullying

I was thinking about this a lot the past two days.  Since I posted the National PTA “Comply Or We Will Make You” letter to the Delaware PTA, something didn’t feel quite right.  Was it the absolute absurdity and gall of National PTA, or the timing of it?

The Delaware PTA heavily advocated House Bill 50, the Delaware opt-out legislation that our cowardly weasel of a Governor vetoed last July.  When an attempt  to have our legislators do the right thing and override Markell’s veto, the Delaware PTA staged a rally outside of Legislative Hall in Dover.  This was a month and a half ago.  The very next week, the Delaware PTA announced National PTA would be coming out with a position statement against opt-out very soon.  They did so in the beginning of February.

Let us flash forward to last Wednesday.  The Wilmington Education Improvement Commission has their post-State Board meeting where State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray is grilled and served on a plate by Wilmington school districts and members of the Commission.  State Board Executive Director Donna Johnson is most likely highly embarrassed about the allegation she advised State Board members how to vote on the WEIC plan.  The very next day, President of Delaware PTA Dr. Terri Hodges gets the comply or die letter from Laura Bay, the President of National PTA.  Right before the assessment inventory meeting at the Delaware Department of Education.  Right before.  As she walks into the meeting, handouts are provided to the committee and members of the public.  One of them is the National PTA position statement on assessment and opt-out.  It was a very odd choice for a hand-out.  Especially since it was NEVER discussed at all during the meeting.  Dr. Hodges attended the previous meeting, and I’m sure the DOE knew some type of Delaware PTA representation would attend the meeting.  I’m not coming right out and saying this, but I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this.

Yes, the National PTA did issue the position statement against opt-out.  For what reasons, I absolutely cannot fathom.  But Kilroy’s Delaware did present something very interesting today in regards to National PTA President Laura Bay.  It turns out she is the coördinator for assessment and instruction in her Washington school district.  And she essentially runs National PTA.  But was there some outside influence to have Bay pull a sword on Delaware PTA?

We have January and February of 2016 as two key months with a lot of Delaware PTA/National PTA/State Board of Education/Delaware DOE/WEIC activity.  All involving some very key players in this very bizarre game of Russian Roulette with parental choices.  Add in some referendums, priority schools, and redistricting and we have a huge mess on our hands!

In the backdrop of it all: a very power-hungry Delaware Governor Jack Markell and John King, the very controversial figure at the US Department of Education who is hoping to become the next US Secretary of Education instead of Acting.  Surrounding all of this is the massive tome called the Every Student Succeeds Act.  The mammoth legislation that has not been clearly defined but will in the coming months when the US DOE begins issuing regulations around it.  To make matters more complicated, this will be going on during most state’s testing windows for their state assessments, including the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware.  Also during an election year.

The bridge between Delaware PTA and National PTA has one person on both sides: Yvonne Johnson.  She serves as the Vice-President of Advocacy for Delaware PTA and is a board member of National PTA.  The Governor was not pleased with the Delaware PTA’s defense of House Bill 50 at all.  The Delaware PTA has some choices ahead of them.  Fight, submit, or secede.  None will be easy decisions.  Secession is not an easy thing.  Fighting could result in major issues for them.  Submit will assuredly permanently scar the organization that has made a name for itself over the past year by supporting a parent’s right to opt their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment in Delaware.  Dr. Hodges is not one to surrender quietly.  This will definitely be something to watch over the coming months.  Perhaps a little push is in order…