On Friday, Rethinking Schools editor Stan Karp delivered a speech “The Trouble with Common Core” to Portland area parents, educators, administrators, elected officials, among others. (See our summer editorial with the same title.)
Watch and share.
Posted in Current events, Curriculum, Testing, tagged Arne Duncan, CCSS, Common Core, corporate education reform, education policy, federal education policy, high-stakes testing, No Child Left Behind, Pearson, privatization, standardized testing, standards, testing on September 23, 2013 | 1 Comment »
Posted in Current events, Testing, tagged corporate ed reform, education policy, evaluation, high-stakes testing, NCLB, No Child Left Behind, privatization, standardized tests on April 29, 2013 | Leave a Comment »
As you are no doubt aware, increasingly powerful corporate interests are attempting to reduce teaching and learning to what’s on a standardized test. We have all seen these tests be used to punish students, discipline teachers, withhold funds from our schools, and even close schools down. However, a movement of parents, students, and teachers has been growing around the country that has been pushing back against these tests and calling for education and assessment that is relevant to students and empowers our youth.
In Seattle, teachers at the school where I teach, Garfield High School, announced in January, 2013 that they would refuse to give the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test, calling it a waste of time and resources. The boycott soon spread to other schools around the city. Our boycott was very successful during the winter testing period.
However, now the Seattle School District is asking us to give the MAP test again for the spring testing session. In response, we are calling for an international day of action in the struggle against flawed tests and in support of the MPA test boycotting teachers on May Day, Wednesday, May 1. We encourage you to participate in the day of action in any way you and your fellow educators feel is appropriate. Please read the call to action below and send us your statements of solidarity.
In struggle for educational justice,
Teacher, Garfield High School
Editorial Associate, Rethinking Schools
Dear educators, parents, and students around the world:
On January 9, 2013, teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle announced a unanimous vote to boycott the district mandated Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test, which they said was not aligned to their curriculum, was a waste of their students’ time and resources, and unfairly targeted the most vulnerable populations. Specifically, Garfield’s teachers expressed their opposition to the fact that English Language Learner students are required to take the MAP test most often, causing them to miss out on vital instructional time in the classroom. In this way, the boycott of the MAP test should be viewed as part of the movement for the rights of immigrants and people from all cultures, nationalities, and linguistic backgrounds to have access to a high quality public education. Garfield High School’s Parent Teacher Student Association and the Associated Student Body Government both voted unanimously to support the teachers’ boycott of the MAP test.
Soon afterwards, several other Seattle schools joined the boycott—Orca, Chief Sealth, Ballard, and Center School. Teachers at those schools were originally threatened with a 10 day suspension without pay, but because of the overwhelming solidarity from parents, teachers, and students from across the country, the Seattle School District backed down and declined to discipline any of the boycotting educators. Since then, several other schools have joined the boycott, a survey of Seattle teachers was conducted that shows overwhelming opposition to the MAP test at every grade level, and the movement for quality assessment has spread throughout the nation.
Now the Seattle teachers need your support again.
The spring offering of the MAP test produces the scores that are supposed to be used in Seattle’s teacher evaluations. For this reason the Seattle School District could take a harsher stance against boycotting teachers this time around.
May Day is traditionally a day of international workers solidarity. What better time to show your support for the teachers who have risked their livelihoods to advocate for quality assessment and for our resources to be used to support learning rather than endless testing?
We, the Seattle MAP test boycotting teachers, pledge our solidarity to teachers around the world who are struggling for an education system that supports and empowers our students with curriculum and assessments that are relevant to their lives. In turn, we ask for your support as we struggle for these very goals.
Possible solidarity actions include:
Furthermore, we, the MAP test boycotting teachers, would very much appreciate being informed about struggles teachers are engaged in around the world. Please let us know if there are any ways we can support your efforts for educational justice.
Seattle MAP Test Boycott Committee
Posted in Current events, Curriculum, tagged Arne Duncan, charter schools, corporate ed reform, education policy, federal education policy, high-stakes testing, NCLB, No Child Left Behind, privatization, public schools on April 26, 2013 | 7 Comments »
By Ann Berlak
For the first time since I can remember some members of the American Educational Research Association (AERA)—the largest association of educators and educational researchers in the world—are taking a public stand at AERA’s annual meeting in San Francisco against the corporatization, standardization and privatization of education.
Sadly, the leadership of AERA has invited Arne Duncan, who represents and supports the technocratic, dehumanizing forces of privatization to speak on Tuesday, April 30, 3:45 p.m. at the Hilton Hotel. This and other actions by the AERA serve to support the dismantling of education as a public good, narrow the possibilities of what it means to research, know, learn and share our understandings, and marginalize and silence voices of dissent.
We are inviting teachers, administrators, students, parents and concerned community members to join those of us at AERA as we make visible our support for public education and democratic empowerment
Here’s how you can get involved:
Contact your friends and colleagues in the Bay area and join our protest. We especially are looking for Oakland and San Francisco parents and teachers to join us in the on-the-ground protest.
Read the statement from AERA members:
As members of the American Educational Research Association we are committed to:
AERA has failed to take a public stance in support of these commitments and has not provided space for meaningful dialogue about how we can enact these commitments. Instead, AERA supports:
Case in point: invited “education researcher’ Secretary Duncan whose policies have led to:
We invite our colleagues, students, and parents to refuse the corporatization of education, build alliances to resist its policies, and join the conversation as we imagine education as the practice of freedom.
Ann Berlak is a regular contributor to Rethinking Schools and most recently wrote ”Coming Soon to Your Favorite Credential Program: National Exit Exams” on the early California version of edTPA in our summer 2010 issue.
A recent Education Week article reported that between 2009 and 2011, 3,700 public schools in the US were closed. Reuters reported that school closings in 2010-11 were up 60% from ten years earlier. The current wave of school closings is part of a bipartisan corporate reform assault on public education, especially in communities serving poor communities of color. The good news is communities are fighting back. The article below tells one such story.
- Stan Karp
by Christina Lewis, Crenshaw High Special Education Teacher; Irvin Alvarado, Crenshaw High Alumni; Alex Caputo-Pearl, Crenshaw High Social Justice Lead Teacher, UTLA Board of Directors, Coalition for Educational Justice Organizer; Eunice Grigsby, Crenshaw High Parent, Crenshaw High Alumna
On October 23, LAUSD Superintendent Deasy announced he intends to reconstitute Crenshaw High School. This scorched earth “reform” that is destructive for students, communities, and employees has been used at Fremont, Clinton, Manual Arts, and more in LAUSD, despite courageous push-backs at those schools.
The Crenshaw school community is determined to fight back. The slogan that permeated the emergency 150-person Crenshaw Town Hall Meeting at the African-American Cultural Center on October 4 crystallizes the struggle — “Keep Crenshaw: Our School, Our Children, Our Community.”
In an attempt to disarm the push back and win public support, Deasy is combining the reconstitution with a full-school magnet conversion. Crenshaw stakeholders are, of course, open to conversations about changes that will improve conditions and outcomes for our students–but those must be collaborative, well-resourced, and must serve all students. That said, it is clear that Deasy’s main objective is not magnet conversion – it is to take top-down control of the school and reconstitute (which means removing all faculty and staff from the school, with an “opportunity to re-apply”).
The school community says NO to any form of reconstitution, and YES to school improvement that includes stakeholders and holds LAUSD accountable for its years of neglect and mismanagement.
In this spirit, teacher, parent, and administrator leaders of Crenshaw’s nationally-recognized Extended Learning Cultural model have been reaching out to Deasy to work in collaboration for over a year and a half. He has not responded. It’s clear that Deasy has cynically set Crenshaw up – persistently ignoring calls to meet when it is about something locally-developed and progressive; later, acting as if nothing is happening at the school, and dropping the reconstitution bomb.
The Extended Learning Cultural model has been developed over the last few years at Crenshaw – a school of approximately 65% African-American students and 35% Latino students, with approximately 80% with free and reduced lunch. The Extended Learning approach is to teach students standards-based material wedded with cognitive skills used in real life efforts to address issues at school, in the community, and with local businesses. Cultural relevance, Positive Behavior Support, parent/community engagement, and collaborative teacher training and excellence are foundations of the program. Students engage in rigorous classroom work, as well as internships, job shadows, leadership experiences, school improvement efforts, and work experiences.
The Extended Learning Cultural model is fundamentally about extending the meaning, space, and time of learning, and extending the school into the community and vice versa. This rooting of learning into a context is essential for students who have been constantly uprooted and destabilized by economic injustice and by a school system that focuses on narrow test-taking rather than cultural relevance. Extended Learning could be enhanced dramatically for our students with LAUSD support. Instead, by threatening it, Deasy is jeopardizing Crenshaw’s progress, outside partnerships, and outside funding.
Moreover, the Extended Learning Cultural model is supported by research – it draws from the Ford Foundation and various progressive academics’ national More and Better Learning Time Initiative, and it has been developed at Crenshaw with USC, the Bradley Foundation, and other nationally-recognized research partners.
In contrast, the research shows that reconstitutions are not good for students. Reconstitutions cut students off from faculty and staff they know, from programs they are involved in, and from the communities surrounding their schools. Districts reconstitute schools in working class communities of color, creating more instability and uprootedness for students who are often our most vulnerable. Reconstitutions are educational racism. For more details, see a brand new study from UC Berkeley and the Annenberg Institute at Brown University.
Extended Learning showed results at Crenshaw in its first year of partial implementation, 2011-2012, after 2 years of planning. Crenshaw dipped on some indicators between 2009 and 2011 when the school had a principal who wasn’t the first choice of the selection committee, who was imposed by LAUSD, and who did not work collaboratively. However, when the school regained focus around Extended Learning in 2011-2012, the data show growth, including:
Yet, Superintendent Deasy wants to disrupt this trajectory of growth and reconstitute Crenshaw. Worse yet, he wants to do this without any consultation with the community, parents, students, alumni, faculty, and staff. Part of his agenda is to curry favor with the national scorched earth “reform” movement. Another part is straight union-busting. He has said many times he doesn’t like the teacher union leaders at Crenshaw – many of the very leaders who have been at the forefront of building the Extended Learning Cultural model, its national connections, and the growth that has come from it.
Not surprisingly, other schools that have been reconstituted in LAUSD have undergone “re-application” and “re-hiring” processes that have been highly suspect – unrepresentative hiring bodies, discrimination against older staff and teachers of color, and discrimination against staff based on political issues.
The Crenshaw school community has a strategy to win the push back against Deasy’s reconstitution and to win support for the Extended Learning Cultural model and other enhancements:
At the moment, the organizing will focus on the two places Deasy needs to go with his destructive plan for approval – the LAUSD School Board and the California Department of Education.
On the latter, Deasy cannot undermine Crenshaw’s plan for its federal School Improvement Grant, SIG, without communicating with Crenshaw’s School Site Council (SSC) and communicating with Sacramento, because the grant is administered by the State. Yet, the Superintendent is moving forward with undermining Crenshaw’s plan for this federal grant – that would bring close to $6 million to resource-starved Crenshaw High – without consulting with the SSC or with school stakeholders, and without a discussion of other monies that could be jeopardized through his destabilizing of the SIG plan. Further, Deasy’s undermining of the federal grant is occurring after only 3 months have passed in Crenshaw’s implementation of its SIG plan – an implementation that has, thus far, met its immediate goals, and has supported some of the Extended Learning Cultural model’s main foundations.
The Crenshaw school community knows that the eyes of the city, state, and nation are watching Crenshaw. If Deasy gets his way at Crenshaw, it further opens the door to these kinds of moves everywhere – including places he’s already attacking locally with similar reconstitution efforts, like LAUSD’s King Middle School, and far more. On the other hand, if Crenshaw is able to organize with school and community to push back on Deasy and to further advance a deep and hopeful educational and racial justice-based reform, its reverberations will be felt incredibly widely.
Arne Duncan and the Chicago Success Story: Myth or Reality?, by Jitu Brown, Eric Gutstein, and Pauline Lipman
Rethinking School Reform: Views from the Classroom, edited by Linda Christensen and Stan Karp. Informed by the experience and passion of teachers who walk daily into real classrooms, Rethinking School Reform examines how various reform efforts promote — or prevent — the kind of teaching that can bring equity and excellence to all our children, and it provides compelling, practical descriptions of what such teaching looks like.
Keeping the Promise? The Debate Over Charter Schools, edited by Leigh Dingerson, Barbara Miner, Bob Peterson, Stephanie Walters. This wide-ranging and thought-provoking collection of essays examines the charter school movement’s founding visions, on-the-ground realities, and untapped potential-within the context of an unswerving commitment to democratic, equitable public schools.
by Stan Karp
The Obama Administration’s approval last week of 10 state applications for waivers from NCLB was another missed opportunity to learn from a decade of policy failure. Instead of changing the disastrous direction of federal education policy, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s waiver process allows states to reproduce some of the worst aspects of NCLB’s “test and punish” approach while continuing to ignore real issues, like reducing concentrated poverty or providing equitable funding and high quality pre-K for all schools.
Most media coverage framed the legally dubious waiver process as giving states “flexibility.” But the waivers gave states—and more importantly schools, students, educators, and parents—no flexibility at all in the area they need it most: relief from the plague of standardized testing. When NCLB was passed in 2002, 19 states gave annual tests in reading and math. Today, under federal mandate, all 50 do and the waivers will mean more testing. As with the Administration’s Race to The Top, states applying for waivers had to commit to implementing another generation of standardized tests based on the “common core” standards that states were also forced to adopt. New Jersey, one of the states getting a waiver, is promising to replace NCLB’s absurd adequate yearly progress (AYP) system with “annual measurable objectives.” It’s a shell game only testing companies will win.
There will be more tests in more subjects, and the tests will be used not only to abuse students, but to rate and impose sanctions on teachers and the schools of education they came from. This is another set of wrong answers to the wrong questions.
The waivers will also turn up the pressure on schools serving the highest need populations. States must identify the 5 percent of schools with the lowest test scores and turn them into charters or “turnarounds” or close them down. Another 10 percent with low graduation rates or wide achievement gaps must be targeted for similar intervention. This is not a school improvement strategy, it’s a blank check to experiment on poor kids and create chaos in our most vulnerable communities.
The absurdity of closing schools and imposing “disruptive reform” on the poorest communities was underscored the same day the waivers were announced when a study was released showing that “the gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income students had grown by about 40 percent since the 1960s, and is now double the testing gap between blacks and whites.” The continued punishing of schools for the inequality that exists all around them is not reform; it’s a cynical political exercise.
It’s also a continuation of the bipartisan corporate ed reform strategy that has reinforced the state-by-state attack on teacher unions and public sector workers across the country. Here’s what my own Governor, Chris “1 percent” Christie—who has made war against public education and teacher unions the centerpiece of his administration—had to say when New Jersey was named one of the 10 waiver states: “The Obama Administration’s approval of our education reform agenda contained in this application confirms that our bold, common sense, and bipartisan reforms are right for New Jersey and shared by the President and Secretary Duncan’s educational vision for the country.”
NCLB is such a bad law it’s not hard to see why 30 more states are considering filing waiver applications this month. But teachers and parents would do better if their states took a pass on the hollow promise of NCLB waivers and lobbied for a different piece of paper: a pink slip for Arne Duncan.