Thursday, December 18, 2014

THE GRINCHES WHO STOLE KINDERGARTEN
BY:  MATT PRESTBURY



Kindergarten went from play-based
To four or five high stakes
Test to determine
Whether a teacher is working
To make a six year old child work force ready
Soon as you finish one test there's four more ready
Waiting in the wings
We forsaking other things
Things that used to matter like social development
Now character betterment's been deemed irrelevant
No time for raising kids to be compassionate
Only time for raising kids to be competitive
No time to let kids be artists any more
Only time for pushing kids to raise composite scores
Five and six year old kids
Turned test guinea pigs
Many follow along at the behest of big wigs
Who don't know the first things
About what our kids need
Who think the children succeed
By staring at the screens
On tablets and laptops
With Lexia and Dreambox
We need a mass exodus
Where we're saying that we're not
Taking anymore
Our kids are more than just a score
I want em writing on the board
And building with Legos on the floor
I want em learning many marvelous things
I want em feeling the joy that being an artist brings
Painting pictures of cars or plucking guitar strings
I want em to build with blocks
And pretend to be cops
Locking up bad guys
Like I did when I was five
I don't need my kindergartners posing as fourth graders
Sitting here knowing Algebra, reading the Isis Papers
They ain't about to go out and pledge Zeta Phi Beta
So why I need em college ready? They got time for that later
Keep all your antics, your gimmicks and your data
Building airplanes in the sky, I'm building something much greater
Imaginative, collaborative, conscious human beings
Leaders who love learning and look forward to seeing
Their teachers in the morning and being lovingly greeted
Happy to come each day cause their lovingly treated
I just wish we could give em all they deserve
Without the pressure of data collectors getting on our nerves
I wanna teach how I see fit in my own manner
Let me out of this straight jacket call common core standards
Let me teach em how to become some real difference makers
Not teach em how to become indifferent test takers
Before reform breaks us
All
THE BADASS TEACHERS ASSOCIATION OPEN LETTER TO SECRETARY DUNCAN AND MICHAEL YUDIN REGARDING SPECIAL EDUCATION 


Dear Secretary Duncan and Mr. Yudin,
Per our discussion in September we are submitting some mid-term testimonials to you regarding the treatment and programming of children with disabilities around the country. What you will read is a letter that was gleaned from direct testimony provided by Special Education teachers and parents who have children with disabilities. They have concerns with the lack of funding, inappropriate testing/assessment of their students/children, and loss of Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) access for their students/children with disabilities. Under current education policies, students with disabilities are expected to be challenged to excel within the general curriculum. Special education students are held to the same academic standards outlined for all students by age in each grade level. That means that students with even the most severe cognitive disabilities are expected to be taught and learn to “retain the rigor and high expectations of the Common Core State Standards” and are tested on the same without due regard to the extent, nature and actual classification of students with disabilities.
Children with disabilities have unique learning needs. Teachers and parents must be given control of their programming growth and education. Psychologists along with the Teachers, Therapists and Parents currently work as a team to establish reachable goals for a child. Each IEP must be unique and closely adjusted yearly to meet the actual needs of each individual child. There’s even less room for remediation for students who need individual support which is hallmark component of the IEP classification. How students with disabilities will receive the support they need is a grave concern for educators. The consequence is that special needs students are suffering great harm in our schools at an alarming rate. If parents and officials really knew what was going in our schools and why, they would be appalled and outraged. 
Students with disabilities are being over tested and tested beyond their capabilities. Teachers from around the country are reporting this at an alarming rate. What is the USDOE plans for the vast amounts of kids in high school that can't graduate because they can't pass these tests? When students are forced to take a test for 7 hours to evaluate a teacher it is abusive. Detailed and timely test results are NOT returned to educators/districts to help students. Students are being judged and labeled by a test that is, in many cases, several grade levels above what they are capable of doing. The IDEA intended for students to be supported with the general population AT grade level, the legislation never intended that students with disabilities would have to compete with the general population above and beyond their grade level. Moreover, restricting students to curricula that is far beyond their cognitive capacities substantially lowers achievement and puts these students in an unfair disadvantage that intended IEP supports simply cannot be expected to remediate. How does this not violate the student’s rights under IDEA?  For example, the Smarter Balanced has multiple step directions that students find difficult to follow, which eventually frustrates the children, and they shut down. Students with an IQ of 60 are expected to take the PARCC with only minor modifications like extended time. How can any responsible education system subject a child to a series of expectations that 5 or 10 IQ point less would qualify them for a completely different assessment? Children with severe disabilities are forced to take tests on computers when they have NO computer skills. One teacher reports, “My experience administering district benchmark English Language Arts Common Core test to a 2nd grade boy with severe autism: The test was required to be completed online and he did not possess adequate computer skills. I was instructed to sit with him, read the questions (the text he was unable to read as it was several grade levels above his reading level) and enter the answer he dictated. I tried to keep it light, and let him sit at my desk with me in front of my computer where he felt comfortable. As we began, it wasn't more than 2 minutes when he started banging his head on my desk. I immediately truncated the test as he punched me, ran around the room, punched a paraprofessional, punched another student and then writhed on the floor banging his head. I used a bean bag to protect his head as he screamed and cried. It took about 20 minutes for him to calm down, after which he fell asleep on the floor for the rest of the day. This was heartbreaking to me and I felt like a monster. I sent a report to my administrators refusing to test him or any other student in my multiple disabilities class. I called his mother immediately to let her know what happened. The irony is, that this boy had skills and could read. This was not the appropriate test for him. According to my assessments, he was showing growth and improvement in all areas. According to the standardized test, he was a failure.”
Teachers are reporting that children with disabilities are being forced to sit through extensive testing and as a result are self- injuring (hitting themselves, pulling out hair, scratching their faces). Many are being forced into homeschooling and psychiatric facilities. It has been reported that third and fourth grade children wet their pants, soil themselves, and vomit on test days. Teachers are also reporting that useful evaluation tools such as KABC2 and WIAT, which have been used as benchmarks to test for learning disabilities and to test for gifted children, will be replaced by testing that will not be used to inform placement for children.

The IDEA requirement that all students receive a free APPROPRIATE education is being undermined by the insistence that all children learn the same grade level curricula at the same rate and time. In some schools, teachers are being told what IEP goals should and shouldn’t state. Which begs the question, is it appropriate to mandate what IEP goals should and shouldn’t state? As per IDEA, IEP goals are to be individualized learning goals that will enable a student to work towards grade level standards. But, that is NOT what is happening in classrooms across this country at all.
We must support teachers who work daily with our students with disabilities. Their major concerns are that children with disabilities are having needed services cut, being pushed into grade level classes they are not prepared to go into, they are being held back in grade level in some reported cases twice, and that one standardized test does not gauge the growth of a child with disabilities. Perhaps their largest concern is that the testing required of children with disabilities is abusive and educationally unsound. Teachers of Special Education must have autonomy in their classroom and program designs. They must have caseloads numbers that are appropriate and workable (many are reporting up to 90 caseloads). They must be given training so that they can be on top of the latest technology and research they can use to help their children. Teachers of Special Education must be respected and trusted to prepare their children for whatever life course that they, the parent, school psychologist, and child lay out. Teachers are being mandated to instruct students using inappropriate methods and strategies that do not meet their needs. Teachers are told to disregard formative and informal classroom assessment results that should inform instruction. Teachers are forbidden from using research and evidence-based teaching practices because they are supposedly not aligned with the Common Core. The structure and demands of Common Core curriculum tasks and tests focus on the specific executive functioning skills that are a challenge for many students due to neurologically-based disabilities, specific learning disabilities, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Medical, psychological and educational research seems to have been discarded and is no longer considered valid! The fact that national education policy is being governed by non-educators, while the professional expertise of the medical and education community are ignored borders on malpractice!
Let teachers use specially-designed instruction, as they were trained in their university special education programs. Teachers are the people, special educators, who have be entrusted to provide specially-designed instruction, as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Federal law trumps policy or regulations!
What do BATs Want? 
-->Special Education Teachers, Parents who have students with disabilities, and Students with disabilities must be included in any and all policy making regarding Special Education programming, testing, and law.
-->Growth and progress of our students with disabilities must not be based on one test score. It needs to be a multidimensional growth that the teacher, parent, student, and district create together. The end result of this program will be the preparation of the child for independent living this could be via college, directly to a job, and/or independent living to the greatest degree possible. It is unrealistic to assume that EVERY child will be able to live as a fully independent adult- some illnesses and disorders are so severe that it is simply magical thinking to deny that impact.
-->Direct statement from the USDOE with a guarantee they are NOT trying to eliminate Special Education in our public schools or usurp IDEA/FAPE
-->The ability for districts to have fully funded special education programs that are autonomous from federal overreach
-->A committee made up of Special Educators, parents of children with disabilities, developmental specialists, medical doctors, and special education administrators to investigate the testing abuses of special education children that teachers are reporting as an epidemic around the country.
-->VAM ratings on the basis of inappropriate tests are especially punitive to teachers who teach our most severely disabled children. There is already evidence that applications to teacher education programs are way down, especially those leading to certification in teaching students with disabilities. Teachers of children receiving special education services and the parents are justifiably concerned that soon there will be no qualified and experienced teachers with the expertise to work with this needy population of children.
Thank you
The Badass Teachers Association

Monday, December 15, 2014

Toxic Testing My Kindergarten Tot – or Daddy Don’t Play That

BY:  Steven Singer
Originally posted on his blog:  https://gadflyonthewallblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/15/toxic-testing-my-kindergarten-tot-or-daddy-dont-play-that/
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We were late.
At least it felt that way as my wife dragged me through elementary school hallways.
Racing past me were walls of multicolored palm print turkeys. Was it my imagination or did their googly eyes seem somewhat disapproving of my lateness and attire?
It’s my first parent-teacher night, I almost protested.
At least, it was my first as a parent and not as a teacher.
I was used to sitting on the other side of the table, notes organized in a neat little pile.


“Oh, you’re Jimmy’s father? So GLAAAD you could make it.”


But tonight I wasn’t Mr. Singer, teacher extraordinaire.
I was just a daddy. And Mommy was pulling my arm free from its socket trying to get us to the classroom on time.
There was just so much to see, frankly. I had never realized before how little of the school parents usually get to observe. At the district where I teach, I know my building like a second skin. But we don’t live where I work.
As parents, we’re invited into the auditorium, gymnasium, offices, and athletic fields. But we rarely get a peek at the inside of a classroom. You know? The place where our children spend most of their days!
“Oh my God! Is that her music lab? It looks amazing! Honey, take a look at all the instruments…”
But she just gave me the Eyes of Death. It was time to go.
We arrived at my daughter’s classroom exactly on time, thank you very much.
The teacher met us at the door wearing a Disney print dress beneath a wide smile. Hands shaken, greeting given, she immediately ushered us into seats.
They were miniature toddler seats – perfect for Kindergarten butts, a bit condensed for mine. But they held up heroically.
I already had met the teacher during an open house at the beginning of the year. She seemed an excellent educator and my little sweetheart loved her.
However, being in the parent’s seat listening to her presentation was both enlightening and bizarre.
It was surreal to sit there and listen to a report about this child’s academic life as if I had no idea what she was like. After all, I was her first teacher. I taught her to walk and use the potty. Even today she refuses to touch her homework unless I’m there to help.
Yes, she has homework almost every night. In Kindergarten, yes. After a full day in school, too.
When I was in her grade, my mother would usually walk me home at noon for a nice lunch and an afternoon of play. My daughter, on the other hand, eats in the cafeteria. For free! All the students get free lunches regardless of parental income. And then they return to class for a full afternoon of study.
She loves it, though. One of her favorite parts of the day is lunch. She might not tell me what story the teacher read to the class, but she’ll always tell me what she ate for lunch.
Spoiler: it’s usually chicken.
Anyway, her teacher was sitting across the table from us giving a full report on our daughter’s daily activities. It was mostly positive but being a teacher, myself, I could pick up on a few euphemisms.
“Oh! You’re daughter is very vocal!”
Translation: she won’t shut up.
“She is so independent!”
Read: defiant.
But I know my little girl. The teacher wasn’t telling me anything new.
I really enjoyed the personal stories. 

Apparently my little one sometimes uses her feminine whiles to get the boys to take out her pencil or open her book for her.
Little scamp!
I loved the story where my sweetheart darling child asked the teacher to take her home after school. Not home to my house, either. Home to the teacher’s house.
“Mommy and Daddy won’t mind,” she allegedly said.
We all had a good laugh about that one.
And then out came the standardized test scores.
That’s right. In Kindergarten!
I guess I should have expected it. Somewhere in my thick brain I knew standardized testing had trickled down all the way to Kindergarten. But it was so early in the year. I hadn’t expected it to happen yet. I had vague thoughts about opting her out of all that nonsense.
Many schools try to keep it a secret but your kids don’t have to participate in standardized testing. You can choose to opt them out under a religious exemption. All it takes usually is a visit to the principal and a request in writing.
But it was too late. My daughter’s scores were here already.
So I looked at them.
In my mind, my little girl is pretty advanced. After all, she’s literate. And, yes, I’m proud of that fact.
While most of her classmates are still fine-tuning the alphabet, my baby can already read a “Biscuit the Puppy” book from start to finish. And she can write, too. Just the other day she wrote me a note saying that she “LOVES DADDA.” The A’s looked a bit like H’s but I got the message.
However, when we looked at the test sheet, most of her scores were in the proficient range – a few advanced. The teacher said that unless my girl was reading chapter books at this age, she couldn’t score much above proficient.
That’s Common Core for you. They call it “rigor.” You’re at the head of the class and you’re only okay. This girl has had three years of preschool, we read with her everyday, practice writing, math, arts and crafts, etc. But the standardized test scores say, “Eh. You’re alright. Nothing special.”
It’s a good thing she’s too young to get these scores, herself. She’d be crushed.
Don’t mistake any of this for objectivity. I’m not a teacher here. I’m a daddy and daddy’s aren’t objective at all.
The teacher must have seen the look on my face. She conspiratorially let us in on her doubts about testing kids at this young age. She told us how she split up the testing period to fit the kids’ attention spans, and how it just sapped their energy and bored them, anyway.
I felt horrible. Here I am, Mr. Anti-Corporate Education Reform Blogger Guy, but my precious baby is losing time with blocks and “Clifford: the Big Red Dog” in favor of fill-in-the-bubble testing designed to make her prestigious achievements look small and mundane.
I should have known. While she was testing in her school, I was probably in my own classroom proctoring the middle school version of the same darn test. It’s one of many practice tests kids take before the real thing.
I wanted to ask the teacher to tell me more, to tell me if she supported opting my daughter out of future tests. But the look on her face didn’t invite further questions.
It’s a difficult situation. Most teachers hate the toxic testing regime. They know that multiple choice bubble tests are a terrible indicator of content knowledge – not to mention developmentally inappropriate for children my daughter’s age. But Wall Street hedge fund managers seeking to make a quick buck lobby politicians who put pressure on superintendents who order administrators to force teachers to do things under the guise of education that are really just about corporate profits. And if teachers in the workplace are too vocally against this scheme, they put a target on their backs.
I didn’t want to do that to my daughter’s teacher. I trust her. I know she’s a good teacher, I know my daughter loves her and I know where she’s coming from even without her vocalizing it.
Anyway, the meeting was quickly over. With a laugh and a smile, the teacher ushered us out the door so she could begin her next conference.
How many times have I been on that side of things – talking to parents about their kids? At least several hundred times. Almost definitely more.
But I left that meeting with a new sense of purpose.  I would opt my daughter out of her next standardized test. I would not allow the testing machine to feed on my precious child’s data.
I would listen to her teacher and my own misgivings.
Parent-teacher conferences were over. But it’s way past time to arrange a conference with the principal.
I grabbed my wife’s hand and pulled her after me.
10 Things BATs Know about Common Core

INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT
BATs continue their fight against the CCSS.  We do not believe in a “one-size” fits all standard for education and we do not believe in a top down federal approach to control education for profit.  BATs fight the CCSS for a variety of reasons but specifically we know that the CCSS doesn’t make up good education and will not fix, nor lower, our child poverty rate.  This document hopes to clear up a few things:  1. Dispel some of the myths about the CCSS as superior set of educational standards.  2. Give readers a clear vision of what these standards look like from the lens of the practitioners who teach our most vulnerable children – those in poverty.  3.  Finally it hopes to set a course for BATs  to advocate strongly for our children who live in poverty, who must be forced to overcome it without the supports and resources they need in our schools.  BATs are committed to raise their voice to advocate for an educational system that helps to provide some relief to children who suffer from the trauma of poverty.  WE use the word “some relief” in this missive because schools and teachers cannot eradicate poverty and we feel the government must begin to acknowledge that children in poverty don’t succeed in school because of poverty.   Poverty will follow children no matter where you want to send them to school via a charter or a voucher.  Poverty will follow a child no matter who teaches them – TFA or a highly qualified teacher.  BATs are firmly committed to  expose that CC, charters, vouchers, or TFA will not eradicate poverty and corporate reformers attempts to divert the conversation away from child poverty is nothing short of abuse.

BATS DEBUNK THE CCSS

1. THE GOAL IS COLLEGE AND CAREER READY FOR ALL STUDENTS
A. The CCSS has never been subjected to any research studies linking them to readiness of any kind.
B. Standard #1 reads “entry-level college” which could mean a 2 year community college or vocational school.
C. All children are not or will not be “College and Career Ready” for many different reasons.
D. The expense of implementing and assessing of the CCSS causes electives such as art, music, and sports to be cut from schools which prevents students from discovering future interests and talents.
E. Review the types of Common Core work children are doing--how does it reflect what they need to know for the workplace?  The CCSS does not even live up to its stated goals to teach real world skills needed for the workplace.
F. Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institute predicted that the CCSS would have little to no effect on academic achievement.  He noted that from 2003-2009 states with good standards raised their NAEP scores by roughly the same margin as the states with bad standards.
G. The way that the CCSS is designed is that if a child is chronically transient, they will be behind regardless--even more so with a curriculum two grade levels above a developmentally appropriate one!

(3,5)

2. STATES LED THE EFFORT TO DEVELOP COMMON CORE, NOT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
A.  The groups that created the CCSS--Achieve and The National Governors Association--received funding from The Gates Foundation, and created the CCSS with almost no input from teachers.  The only educational experts were board members from publishing companies who will benefit financially from the implementation of CCSS. Teachers learned about the CCSS after they were written.
B.  A check of one’s State Board of Education meeting minutes will show that states were forced to adopt the standards in order to apply for Federal Race to The Top Funds.
C. States signed onto the CCSS before the standards were completed and unveiled.
E. Many states and districts are already withdrawing from CCSS for financial and other reasons.
F. Race to the Top had a $5 billion dollar price tag.  Arne Duncan set the conditions for the “race.”  To be eligible, states had to agree to adopt the CCSS and tests.
G. Billionaire entrepreneurs entered the education market due to the $5 billion which was up for grabs.  Consultants and vendors offered services to  districts, and publishing companies hurried to align their products with CCSS.  For example, Denver spent 35% of its budget on consultants instead of students, teachers, or schools.
H. The Gates Foundation supported the creation, evaluations, and promotion of the CCSS.
I. States had to agree to Arne Duncan’s conditions to receive a waiver from NCLB, and one of those conditions was to accept CCSS .
(3,6)
3. THE CCSS ARE NOT CURRICULUM AND DO NOT TELL TEACHERS HOW TO TEACH
A. This is true, but the standards were written without the creation of materials, so some states like New York have created “modules” that are curriculum and script teachers.
B. The mandated (expensive and error-riddled) tests that accompany the CCSS will be the de facto curriculum.  What is tested is what will be taught.
C. Due to its heavy reliance on testing, schools will feel the need to implement curriculum aligned with the CCSS.  Many school districts have neither the time nor the funding to develop these aligned curriculums.  The companies that have had the largest input into the CCSS, do have curriculum designed to be aligned to the tests.  While the CCSS doesn’t directly tell schools what they need to teach, it does make it difficult for students to do well on the test unless they’ve had a curriculum aligned with the test.
(7)
4. BETTER STANDARDS CALL FOR BETTER ASSESSMENTS
A. Students are tested without regard to accommodations as legally mandated by IEP’s.
B. No modifications or adjustments are made for students with disabilities or English Language Learners.
C. Teachers are not allowed to see the assessments in order to diagnose children and to further their instruction of them and the class.
D. Assessments will be moved to computer assessments.  Children will be required to do this without keyboarding skills and little contact time with the teacher.  Prolonged computer use can lead to vision problems and carpel tunnel syndrome.
E. The claim that CCSS assessments are better than other standardized tests is fallacious.  For example, they were tested in 2013 in NYS and 70% of children failed them.
F. CCSS Assessments like PARCC/SBAC do not take into account the special issues of rural schools, many of which do not have enough computers or server space for the information.  MANY SCHOOLS WILL BE FORCED INTO MAKING DIFFICULT BUDGET CUTS IN ORDER TO AFFORD TO THESE TESTS!
G. National standards and tests have been purposely designed to create a national marketplace for more curriculum and testing products, not to better public education.  This reveals a disingenuous agenda.
(3)


5. THE CCSS FOCUSES ON 21ST CENTURY SKILLS
A. The implementation of Common Core has already begun to eliminate vocational and technical education in many districts and states.  These massive cuts restrict our students’ options to explore 21st century careers.
B. The cost to implement and assess the CCSS has caused huge cuts in music, art, and hands-on science. Research overwhelmingly validates the positive effects of music and the arts for improving learning, social skills, and, ironically, test scores.  Cutting hands-on science makes no sense given the importance being placed on STEM.
C. Problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity are skills needed for the challenges of the 21st century, but they won’t be taught because they aren’t part of the CCSS assessments.
D. As the world changes rapidly, our students must be taught to be flexible in how they think.  The CCSS emphasizes rote memorization and teaching to the bubble/computer tests instead of preparing them for the future.
(8)

6. THE CCSS CREATE CONSISTENT LEARNING GOALS FOR ALL STUDENTS REGARDLESS OF WHERE THEY LIVE OR GO TO SCHOOL
A.  A check with the Department of Education in one’s state will show the percentage of children    affected by transiency.  Does this percentage warrant a standardized curriculum for all children?
B. Public school students are a highly diverse group which includes many different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and learning difficulties. This tremendous range of needs and accommodations must be considered.  No single education plan (especially one designed by mostly non-educators) is capable of meeting the needs of all children across the U.S.
C. The way that the CCSS is designed is that if a child is chronically transient, they will be behind regardless--even more so with a curriculum two grade levels above a developmentally appropriate one!

7. CCSS ARE ALIGNED TO COLLEGE AND WORKPLACE EXPECTATIONS
Research the authors of the CCSS to determine if they are authentic leaders in higher education. Google their curriculum vitae to determine the breadth and depth of their contributions to research and literature on domain-specific knowledge as it relates to future success.  What are their contributions towards ensuring a free public education for all children?

8. CCSS ARE BENCHMARKED AGAINST ACADEMIC STANDARDS FROM THE WORLD’S TOP-PERFORMING COUNTRIES
A. The CCSS was not benchmarked against other countries’ standards.  CCSS were created in a “top down” approach with no regard for the primary grades.  Many countries do not set standards for their youngest learners.
B. If states are satisfied with their existing standards, why would communities want anything different? For example, Maryland’s schools are excellent, so why would they be forced to change their standards?
C. The world’s top performing countries don’t place much, if any, emphasis on testing.  Finland has one of the best education systems in the world, and it relies on teacher autonomy and less testing in order to achieve this.  These tests are nothing more than the precursor for national standardized testing. They are culturally biased; incapable of measuring non-verbal learning or complex thought, and will ultimately cost more than they’re worth.
(1,2)

9. The CCSS CALL FOR CHANGES IN LEARNING FOR ELA AND MATH
A. Students are not being asked to explain their thinking; they are having strategies forced upon them, and they are being tested on test strategy not thinking skills.
B. The CCSS math places students an average of two years behind math programs that exist currently.  In a technological society, having less access to higher forms of math is detrimental to student advancement post high school, and places them behind for college expectations.
C. The CCSS in math is so lacking, that the only mathematician on the CCSS validation committee refused to sign off on them.
D. School districts’ budgets will be stretched so tight, there will have to be program cuts in order to buy the materials and equipment needed to teach and assess the CCSS.  The economic burden on districts will be to the detriment of programs that kids need and love.
E. The companies that had the greatest input in designing CCSS will be the ones selling the textbooks and presenting (for hefty fees paid by taxpayers) at teacher training seminars.
F. Standards call for changes in testing, which means changes in learning opportunities.  Most important to the CCSS are testing outcomes; therefore, learning will be restricted to what is tested.
(9)

10. CCSS DELVE DEEPER INTO CORE CONCEPTS
A. The CCSS places more emphasis on reading informational texts (government pamphlets, heater instructions, and technical manuals) than on classical literature.
B. The CCSS presents historical text out of context (or with no context); therefore, students will not gain a broad understanding of the text.
C. The CCSS gives historical text isolated from the event in history from which it came.  It is a shallow reading, a reading that doesn’t encourage students to question what the author may have meant, a reading that doesn’t teach them how to recognize symbolism, motivation or multiple meanings, and takes the flavor out of the text
D. The CCSS insistence on reading in isolation does not encourage students to develop life-long love of reading, which is critical for developing higher-level thinking and analytical skills.

BAT TEACHERS TEACHING KIDS IN POVERTY USING CC – All of the teachers who responded teach in high poverty districts – here is their experience with Common Core.

  1.  Since CC  has been implemented in our school I cannot run our music program
  2. Since CC no seat time can be lost for students to participate in choral groups, getting string and band lessons started was delayed
  3. I cannot jump into the CC lessons via EngageNY because my students are so far behind
  4. My students already feel inadequate and now they are more frustrated.  They often ask, “Why do we have to keep taking all these tests.”
  5. All the data that has come with CC, testing, and new reform, and the entering of that data by teachers, has taken me away from the kids.
  6. Instead of thinking how to make lessons fun and interesting for kids, I have to think of how it applies to CC – shouldn’t education be about kids?
  7. EngageNY Math modules are impossible to finish with students who come to us behind in their academic ability to do math.  We don’t have the materials required to teach and we have no time to remediate if the kids need time.
  8. We are expected to get our students on or above grade level but they come to us below grade level.
  9. I have students who are attending school for the first time in their lives and can’t read the language nor write it
  10. My average class size is 30-35 students and I have a complete lack of resources to teach CC to kids who are working behind grade level
  11. I have students who are 15 years old and in their first year of high school – they can’t read or write English but are expected to deal with “complex text” in CC
  12. I am teaching, demonstrating, acting out vocabulary for our core reading stories.  For most of my students the higher thinking activities are not where they are academically
  13. CC expects projects but students are unable to work at home
  14. CC packs my schedule with math computer lab, language computer lab, writing program, word study that we do not have time to work on projects
  15. CC has caused me to miss out on creative learning opportunities due to testing, testing, testing to the CC
  16. My students hate school because they are frustrated and bored; CC has turned them off.
  17. I cannot teach the 2B modules for 3rd grade ELA because I have none of the books.  2B was supposed to be out in November and is still not out.
  18. My kids find the math confusing and the tests don’t test what they expect us to teach.  The kids take the tests after working so hard to learn the concepts, fail the tests, and get frustrated.
  19. I have been a teacher in a high poverty district for 13 years, I have never seen anything like what my kids have had to endure this year under CC and NCLB waivers
  20. We have spent the first 2 ½ months of school testing – the kids are already burnt out
  21. I have a class of 27 students.  5 parents are incarcerated, 3 students are homeless, 4 have no winter clothing, 21 are on free/reduced lunch –they have bigger issues to worry about other than being “college and career ready.”
  22. Since implementing CC I have noticed an increase in anxious and aggressive behavior – Students are chewing the erasers and metal off their pencils and eating it.  They are chewing on their pants, shirts, and sleeves and making holes in them.  They are using pens and markers to write on themselves.
  23. Since implementing CC I have noticed an increase in suicidal statements; why? Because we are giving them 8 different learning targets each day.  We’ve cut recess and crammed more kids into the cafeteria for lunch to maximize learning time.  We are making them self-regulate with a gazillion transitions and center activities while we test and re-teach and differentiate.
  24. What does text complexity level mean, and who gets to decide?  There is a huge body of research that confirms teaching children at frustration reading levels are harmful.
  25. The cancelled art in my school because it cut into test prep.
  26. The CC is too much for children never exposed to early childhood classes
  27. They removed all the blocks, housekeeping, playdoh, puzzles, and art centers from my 1st grade classroom
  28. The curriculum for my 1st grade class is similar to 2nd and 3rd grade – my students feign illness, act irrational as a direct result of the testing and Common Core.
  29. Here is what I can’t do anymore – plays, celebrations, holidays, show and tell, student-led learning, performance assessments, service learning, class meetings, gardens, and arts.
  30. CC is not the answer to urban education.  I struggle teaching my third graders the basics they need.  My students come to me far behind.  I feel like I am teaching far over their heads
  31. Students I teach don’t get the abstract, they get the concrete.  Explaining multiplication and division to students who are still counting on their fingers is very difficult.  Getting them to see the connections between reading and writing is very difficult
  32. I find the math EngageNY math modules poorly crafted and inappropriate for the age I teach.  It is causing my students so much stress.


Concluding Statement
The CCSS will not be the magic wand that will end child poverty in this nation.  BATs know this and will fight the hoax that it will.  Child poverty will not end with vouchers, charters, and CCSS.  Poverty will follow all children to these places.  It has already been seen that increased charters, voucher systems, and increase of TFA in our poverty communities DOES NOT ERASE the effect that the trauma of poverty has on children and their education.  Child poverty rates continue to increase and by accepting that CCSS, Vouchers, and Charters will cure child poverty we are absolving the government to do something about it. 
That being said, BATs and other warriors that fight the corporate takeover of our public schools needs to think what will happen when we do defeat corporate “reform?” What will schools look like that educate our most vulnerable children – those in poverty.  Child poverty will not magically end with the defeat of CC, Charters, Vouchers, or TFA – BATs will commit their voices to making sure that the government be held accountable for not addressing that this is the main reason why children don’t succeed in school. BATs will commit their voices towards the fight that schools in poverty communities must be reworked to meet the distinct needs of all their children.  BATs will commit their voices to make all schools a respite from poverty for children and to hold those accountable who continue to dismiss it as the leading factor of why children don’t succeed in school.

References
1.        http://www. Washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/what-the-us-cant-learn-from-finalnd-about-ed-reform/2012/04/16/gIQAGIvVMT_blot.html

2.       BATs – Oral History

3.       Ravitch, Diane; Reign of Error

4.       www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/executive-summary.PDF











NY Principal and NY BAT Tim Farley Throws Hat in the Ring for NYS Ed. Commish!

December 14, 2014
New York State Education Department
Attention: Merryl Tisch, Chancellor
89 Washington Avenue
Board of Regents, Room 110 EB
Albany, New York 12234
E-mail: RegentsOffice@nysed.gov
Dear Chancellor Tisch,
Please consider this letter as my application for the recently vacated position, State Education Commissioner of New York. I am currently in my 23rd year in education and I am currently an Elementary/Middle School Principal in grades 4-8. The reason for my application is that I feel that I can offer you and the Board of Regents a new direction that I feel is desperately needed.
If appointed as the next Commissioner, my first priority would be to travel to every part of the state (Long Island, NYC, Hudson Valley, Central NY, Western NY, Northern NY) to apologize to the students and educators for the failed policies that have been put in place over the past several years.
I would tell the students that we failed to live up to the promises of making sure they were college and career ready and for not providing adequate resources to do so. I would apologize for forcing developmentally inappropriate tests on them without properly phasing them in. I would apologize for designing the tests and their outcomes so that 70% would fail.
As for the educators, I would apologize to them for not valuing their input and for implementing a harsh and invalid system of measuring their effectiveness via student test scores on tests the students were ill-prepared to take. I would beg for their forgiveness and ask that they join me and the State Education Department in making the necessary changes to our educational system – as partners.
At the conclusion of the apology tour, I would immediately get to work on fixing our schools. The areas that I would focus on are the NYS standards, APPR, testing for accountability purposes, and data sharing. These areas are all impacted by the federal Race to the Top program and NCLB.
Having high standards is paramount to a sound educational experience. The Common Core standards had little to no teacher input and as Commissioner, I would stop its implementation immediately. There would need to be a one to two year “hold harmless” period in which students, teachers, and school districts would not have their designation changed. During that time period, I would lead a blue ribbon panel of education experts to create standards that are age and grade appropriate, taking into consideration students with disabilities, ELL students, and academically gifted students. Under my leadership, we would adopt the best standards in the nation.
Race to the Top requires states to measure teacher effectiveness in part on students’ performance on standardized testing. As Commissioner, I would work closely and collaboratively with the US Department of Education, Teachers Unions, teachers, and testing experts to develop a system of accountability that all parties could agree to. The testing associated with APPR would be limited in its length to meet the minimum of what is required by Federal law.
As for the data sharing (or “longitudinal data systems”) required under RTTT, I would try to compel the Board of Regents to boycott that aspect of the law. Sharing students’ personally identifiable information with third party vendors is a violation of our duties as educators to protect our students. Data-driven instruction is a powerful tool for educators, but we can never risk their sensitive data while attempting to improve instructional outcomes.
I realize that you are likely looking for a candidate who is supportive of the Regents Reform Agenda. If that is the case, then I am not the candidate for you. If however, you are looking for a leader who will give you open and honest feedback, then I would make an ideal candidate. I have a long track record of working collaboratively with parents and teachers to create an optimal learning experience for students.
I look forward to hearing from you and for the opportunity to share with you in person, my vision in moving our state forward in educating our students to be truly prepared as lifelong learners.
Sincerely,
Tim Farley

Here is Tim speaking at a rally on Long Island, New York
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jUXT0Br-MM