Thursday, March 30, 2017

Educators: Are You Complicit?

By:  Chris Cerrone

Dear NYS Educators,

Did you attempt to bribe, coerce, or scare your students into "opting in" to this week's NYS ELA Assessment?  

If so, you are complicit in the attacks on your students, profession, and our public schools. Many parents across NYS are disappointed in the educators who offered candy, treats, pizza and even field days or trips, to the students who would be taking the ELA Assessment.  Others made false claims to scare children that your school would lose funding or students would not be prepared for the high school Regents Exams or SAT. 

Are you complicit in harming the education of your students?
As a fellow educator, I find it difficult to understand how those in my profession cannot see how the current NYS Assessment system is a flawed measure of student achievement and hurts our children.

  • Have you read the questions and passages, that are often confusing and many times have arguably more than one correct answer?
  • How about most of the assessments containing reading passages that are often 2 grade reading levels above your students' grade?
  • Do we really need 3 days of testing for 90 minutes for each subject? (or far beyond as a result of "untimed" testing)
  • Do you see students break down in tears or banging their heads on their desk as they encounter age-inappropriate tasks on the state assessments?
  • The vague assessment results come months later and do not provide detailed information to educators about your students. ( In the case of teachers, often your former students)
  • Are you aware that NYSED sets cut and proficiency at inappropriate levels that set up our students for failure?
  • Do you want your students' education to be limited to ELA and math skills?  Many elementary school classrooms focus primarily on the "tested" subjects of ELA and math, ignoring or reducing instruction in history, science, and the arts.  (Not necessarily blaming elementary teachers as many school leaders set classroom schedules that over-emphasize ELA and math)  
  • Does preparing for a test limit the opportunities for your students to take on critical thinking and creative tasks?
  • Are student behavior or attention-spans an issue because children are not given enough recess or free-play time?

Are you complicit in the attacks on your profession?
Do you fail to understand that the NYS Assessment system continues to be tied to your evaluation despite the brief moratorium?  

  • The 3012-d law still exists. The same system designed to falsely fail two-thirds of New York's students is being used toblame you for manufactured crisis of low test scores? 

  • Could you be fired, denied tenure, or placed on an "improvement plan" as a result of poor student performance on flawed assessments?

  • Do you realize that parents who have their children boycott the state assessments are not only protecting their kids but also educators?  A friend and fellow advocate I know famously has proclaimed at several forums and rallies that "she will not allow her children to be used as a weapon against their teachers". 

Are you complicit in the attacks on our public schools?
 Cuomo, Trump, DeVos, and other public figures like to falsely label our public schools as "failures".  How do they try to justify this propaganda--- THE TEST?  Low test scores, failing schools and inept teachers.  

The test is the weapon.  If you support the current assessment system, you support attacks on students, educators and schools. If our public schools are to survive, we need all hands on deck to defend our local educational institutions.  It is time to shed the fear, ignorance or compliance that drive your complicity to the almighty flawed assessments.  

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