Promoting Global Citizenship Incompatible with State Law

Under New Hampshire state law, RSA 186:5, our state Board of Education is required to ensure the work of Americanization of students in public schools and "furnishing instruction in the privileges, duties and responsibilities of citizenship, which is hereby declared to be an essential part of public school education."

THE STATE SCHOOL ORGANIZATION


State Board of Education


Section 186:5


    186:5 Powers. – The state board shall have the same powers of management, supervision, and direction over all public schools in this state as the directors of a business corporation have over its business, except as otherwise limited by law. It may make all rules and regulations necessary for the management of its own business and for the conduct of its officers, employees, and agents, and to secure the efficient administration of the public schools and the administration of the work of Americanization, in teaching English to non-English-speaking adults and in furnishing instruction in the privileges, duties, and responsibilities of citizenship, which is hereby declared to be an essential part of public school education. It shall be the duty of school boards and employees of school districts to comply with the rules and regulations of the state board.

Source. 1919, 106:5. 1921, 85, I:5. PL 116:5. RL 134:5.

 

Yet, if you examine the mission statement of our state Boad of Education, it is working to "ensure that every individual acquires the skills and knowledge to succeed in a competitive global economy."  

 

Mission Statement Approved by NH State Board of Education September 14, 2011

The Mission of the New Hampshire State Board of Education is to provide leadership, support, and oversight of the state's education system to ensure that every individual acquires the skills and knowledge to succeed in a competitive global economy and thrive as a 21st century citizen.

 

The Board was not authorized by the state Legislature to create global workers. There is a serious breach, failure to observe the law, between the authority granted by the state Legislature to the state Board of Education. The Board is exercising authority that it was never granted.

Nor is it "the duty of the school boards and employees of the school districts to comply with the rules and regulations of the state board" when those rules and regulations contradict existing law. 

Every elected school board member takes an oath to uphold the constitution and the laws of this state.  Each member must determine for themselves individually when a rule or regulations violates their oath of office to uphold the law and the constitution.

There is a hierarchy of order, whereby the rights of the people precede government and superceed the constitution; the constitution supercedes state law; state law supercedes rules and regulation.  If this hierarchy of order is not respected, there is no legal requirement to impose. 

Rules and regulations must not exceed the authority of state law.  State law must not exceed the authority of the constitution.  The constitution must not trample our rights.

The state Board of Education does not have the authority to promote rules or adopt standards, which exeed its statutory authority.  The state Legislature determined back in 1921 that it was the mission of the state Board of Education to ensure the instruction of public school students "in the responsibilities of citizenship," American citizenship, not global citizenship.

Common Core promotes global citizenship, which is fundamentally incompatible with NH state law and the authority granted to the state Board of Education.

No where in state law does it say that the state Board of Education may create its own authority and proceed to instruct students in opposition to state law.

In "Common Core: Preparing Globally Competent Citizens" Margaret Reed Millar, Senior Program Associate for Standards, Assessment, and Accountability at the Council of Chief State School Officers shares her vision on developing student global competency.

"The adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts and mathematics in 45 states and the District of Columbia offers educators an unprecedented opportunity to marry the skill development and acquisition of core content needed to develop globally competent citizens with the rigorous skills and core content needed to prepare all students for college and careers."

Commissioner Virginia Barry Responds to Charges and Claims her Communication is CONFIDENTIAL

The letter below from the NH Commissioner of Education is marked "confidential."  How is this communication sent by the Commissioner "confidential," when she is acting under the authority of her public office? 

Under the Right to Know citizens can seek to review and inspect such official communications.

Does the Commissioner want to prevent citizens from discussing these issues in the public square?

Notice how many individuals the Commissioner includes in her response to one individual's questions?  Is the purpose to publicly ridicule him so he'll never question the Commissioner again?

Who are these individuals who are deemed worthy of receiving such an important and "confidential"  letter?

"Mark V. Joyce (markjoyce@me.com)" <markjoyce@me.com>,
"Joyce, Mark” <mark@nhsaa.org>,
"Barry, Virginia" <Virginia.Barry@doe.nh.gov>,
"Butler, Patricia” <Patricia.Butler@doe.nh.gov>,
 Vince Merola <vamerola@metrocast.net>,
Bob O’Sullivan <bosullivan@sau16.org>,
Heidi Hanson <hhanson@sau16.org>,
Everett Lamm <elamm@sau16.org>,
Travis Thompson <tthompson@sau16.org>,
Senator Nancy Stiles <nancy.stiles@leg.state.nh.us>,
"Temple, Lori" <Lori.Temple@doe.nh.gov>,
"Barry, Virginia” <Virginia.Barry@doe.nh.gov>,
Stacy Trites <trites@metrocast.net>,
Timothy Eldridge <ets.transportation77@yahoo.com>,
John Widmer <bjwidmer@tds.net>,
Julianne Cardinal <jcardinal@govwentworth.k12.nh.us>,
James B Manning <jbmanningdds@myfairpoint.net>,
Ernest Brown <ebrown@govwentworth.k12.nh.us>,
Diane Carlson <ddrelick@roadrunner.com>,
Conner MacIver <cmaciver@govwentworth.k12.nh.us>,
Charlene Seibel <whatazoo2@gmail.com>,
"Leather, Paul" <Paul.Leather@doe.nh.gov>,
"Gage, Heather" <Heather.Gage@doe.nh.gov>

 

Begin forwarded message:
From: "Hadley, Shirley" <Shirley.Hadley@doe.nh.gov>
Date: April 2, 2014, 3:29:49 PM CDT
To: Ted Comstock <sklesq@me.com>
Cc: "Mark V. Joyce (markjoyce@me.com)" <markjoyce@me.com>, "Joyce, Mark"
<mark@nhsaa.org>, "Barry, Virginia" <Virginia.Barry@doe.nh.gov>, "Butler, Patricia"
<Patricia.Butler@doe.nh.gov>, Vince Merola <vamerola@metrocast.net>, Bob O'Sullivan
<bosullivan@sau16.org>, Heidi Hanson <hhanson@sau16.org>, Everett Lamm
<elamm@sau16.org>, Travis Thompson <tthompson@sau16.org>, Senator Nancy Stiles
<nancy.stiles@leg.state.nh.us>, "Temple, Lori" <Lori.Temple@doe.nh.gov>, "Barry, Virginia"
<Virginia.Barry@doe.nh.gov>, Stacy Trites <trites@metrocast.net>, Timothy Eldridge
<ets.transportation77@yahoo.com>, John Widmer <bjwidmer@tds.net>, Julianne Cardinal
<jcardinal@govwentworth.k12.nh.us>, James B Manning <jbmanningdds@myfairpoint.net>, Ernest
Brown <ebrown@govwentworth.k12.nh.us>, Diane Carlson <ddrelick@roadrunner.com>, Conner
MacIver <cmaciver@govwentworth.k12.nh.us>, Charlene Seibel <whatazoo2@gmail.com>,
"Leather, Paul" <Paul.Leather@doe.nh.gov>, "Gage, Heather" <Heather.Gage@doe.nh.gov>
Subject: ON BEHALF OF COMMISSIONER Re: Commissioner Barry Comments

Good afternoon,

Please see Commissioner Barry's response attached.

Thank you.

Shirley

Shirley Hadley
Administrative Assistant
Deputy Commissioner's Office
NH Dept. of Education
TEL (603) 2713802
Shirley.Hadley@doe.nh.gov
The contents of this message are confidential. Any unauthorized disclosure, reproduction, use or
dissemination (either whole or in part) is prohibited. If you are not the intended recipient of this
message, please notify the sender immediately and delete the message and any attachments from
your system.

 

TDD Access: Relay NH 711
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER- EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES

 

Virginia M. Barry, Ph.D.                                                                                 Paul K. Leather
Commissioner of Education                                                             Deputy Commissioner of Education
Tel. 603-271-3144                                                                                    Tel. 603-271-3801


STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
101 Pleasant Street
Concord, N.H. 03301
FAX 603-271-1953
Citizens Services Line 1-800-339-9900


April 3, 2014

Mr. Ted Comstock
NH School Board Association
25 Triangle Park Drive, Suite 101
Concord, NH 03301
Dear Ted:

I am writing in response to a series of emails you recently sent to my Division of Educational Improvement Director, Heather Gage, in which you ask for clarification on recent statements I made last Friday about the very important role local control plays in New Hampshire education. I am grateful for the opportunity to clarify what I see as a deep and unfortunate misunderstanding.

I did not say, I have never said, nor will I ever say, that New Hampshire should eliminate local control. To quote me as having said that is absolutely inaccurate.

What I did share was that because of my educational leadership journey – from New York , which has a very top-down approach, to New Hampshire, which prioritizes and cherishes local governance – I understand the importance and significance of having high-quality, local policymakers working in partnership with school leaders to develop and implement policies that put students first. This conversation was, as you know, merely a part of a presentation, that explains how the state is interested in providing more flexibility to local districts in developing their own accountability and assessment models. Although we are in only the early stages of these discussions, I find it hard to understand how anyone could misrepresent what I said after hearing me say that I believe the New Hampshire Department of Education should be putting more control in the hands of our districts, not less.

I believe that my actions as commissioner over the last five years support my public statements in support of local control. For example, when my staff and I negotiated the state’s most recent No Child Left Behind waiver, we worked hard to prevent local school districts from being forced to implement an educator evaluation system where at least 50 percent of an individual teacher evaluation must be based on the statewide assessment. I believe that local school districts know best what will move student achievement to higher levels, and I believe the state is here to support them in their efforts on behalf of their communities.

In the future, should you have concerns about statements I’ve made, I encourage you to contact me directly.

Yours sincerely,


Virginia M. Barry, Ph.D.
Commissioner of Education

NH Commissioner of Education Advocates the "Elimination of Local Control"

Below are three emails that were exchanged between the NH School Boards Association Executive Director Ted Comstock and NH Department of Education Director of Educational Improvement Heather Gage.  The topic of discussion was remarks made by the NH Commissioner of Education Virginia Barry during a meeting with 100 NH superintendents in Concord on Friday, March 28th, 2014. 

Ted Comstock was very concerned when he heard the Commissioner of Education say she wanted to "eliminate local control" in New Hampshire, so he emailed Heather Gage to discuss his concerns.

Heather Gage attended this meeting but claims to "have no idea" what Ted Comstock is talking about.  She was more concerned about "a few angry phone calls" the Department  received and admonished Comstock to "correct any inaccuracies" about the Commissioner that he may have inadvertently created.  The Department should correct its own messaging and inaccuracies. If the Department provided a little more transparency for its actions, these problems would never occur.

There were a few polite phone calls to the Commissioner's office seeking to obtain information about the Commissioner's remarks.  Getting this information is very difficult given that the Department claims that it maintains no minutes of these meetings and informs local superintendents that these meetings are "private" meetings. 

How is that? Taxpayers pay the Commissioner's and superintendents'  salaries as well as reimburses them for mileage to and from these meetings, yet these meetings are supposedly "private"?  There is something really wrong about that explanation.

The Department is sitting on at least two Right to Know requests and delaying the release of this information.  The information posted below were released by the NH School Boards Association, not the Department of Education.  The Department is taking its time.

Why would the NH School Boards Association fabricate any information regarding the Commissioner of Education?  It is far more likely that the Commissioner is hiding these emails for as long as possible because she did, in fact, say that she wanted to "eliminate local control" of our public schools.  Judge for yourself. 

Should public servants be mischaracterizing requests for information as "angry phone calls"? 

Should the Commissioner of Education be telling the House Education Committee that the public is "loud" and "misinformed" at every turn, while at the same time opposing efforts to make her Department more transparent to the public?  She opposed HB 1397 which would have allowed legislators to study her Department's implementation of Common Core -- using an extended cabinet of federally-funded regional liaisons not authorized by the legislature.

Does the public have a Right to Know what's going on in their local schools?  Or does the Commissioner have the authority to avoid informing the public and our elected representatives?

 

 

--Original Message--

From: Ted Comstock [mailto:sklesq@me.com]
Sent: Friday, March 28, 2014 3:53 PM
To: Gage, Heather
Cc: Ted Comstock
Subject: Commissioner Barry Comments

 

Hi Heather- I found Commissioner Barry's comments this morning relative to
"eliminating local control" offensive to the long tradition and great sacrifice that locally
elected officials, including school board members, make on a daily basis to set
appropriate policies for the effective functioning of their local school districts. It
seemed odd that at one moment she would denigrate local governance, and in the
next moment , ask for the support of the very local systems that she suggested
should be eliminated. I'm not sure how that works.

I know that you know as a former employee of a state school boards association,
the value that school boards/school board members place on their appropriate role
and service to their communities. And, I also believe that you know how
disappointed that local school board members would be to learn that the chief school
official in the State had made such comments.

So, before we go too far down a bad path here, did she really mean what she said?
Thanks for clarifying

Ted


On Apr 1, 2014, at 10:16 AM, "Gage, Heather" <Heather.Gage@doe.nh.gov> wrote:

Ted,

I have to be honest with you, I have no idea what you are talking about here and I'm
so glad that you have asked me to clarify. The Commissioner has worked tirelessly
to ensure that all of her staff here at the DOE understand the value of local
governance. The fact that she talked about her journey to understand the process
that schools boards use to ensure the best system of education for their students is
just further proof of her commitment. If that wasn't enough, she used her meeting on
Friday to talk about the possibility of a locally driven accountability model for our next
ESEA Flexibility Waiver. Very few other Commissioners around the country are
talking about the value of local governance as much as Commissioner Barry!

My understanding from a few angry calls that I have received is that you have
already communicated your message below with the public. With the clarification I
have provided, I do hope that you will correct any inaccuracies that have been sent
out about her comments. I know that you know as a current director of the NH School
Boards Association that it is very important to communicate accurate messages to
those you serve; something that I value and learned very well during my time at the
AR School Boards Association!

Heather


Heather Gage, Chief of Staff
Division of Educational Improvement, Director
101 Pleasant Street
Concord, NH 033013494
heather.gage@doe.nh.gov
603.271.5992


Begin forwarded message:
From: Ted Comstock <sklesq@me.com>
Date: April 1, 2014, 10:30:20 AM EDT
To: "Gage, Heather" <Heather.Gage@doe.nh.gov>
Cc: "Leather, Paul" <Paul.Leather@doe.nh.gov>, "Mark V. Joyce (
markjoyce@me.com)" <markjoyce@me.com>, "Joyce, Mark" <mark@nhsaa.org>, "Barry, Virginia" <Virginia.Barry@doe.nh.gov>, "Butler, Patricia" <Patricia.Butler@doe.nh.gov>, "Hadley, Shirley <Shirley.Hadley@doe.nh.gov>
Subject: Re: Commissioner Barry Comments

 

Heather- Thank you for your response. The Commissioner said what she said, and there were
many in the room that heard her comment. I actually confirmed at the meeting with several of those in attendance as to what was said, and they all confirmed.

 

Please do not link me to "angry calls" that you may have received. The only people I have communicated with is/are my Board of Directors, as I knew they would be interested and concerned. They are, indeed, concerned and will be considering an appropriate response.
 

Thanks again for your response.
 

Ted


Sent from my iPad
 

Teachers of Conscience: Position Paper

As reported in the Washington Post on April 4, 2014:

Teachers refuse to administer standardized tests by Valerie Strauss

Three NYC teachers refuse to administer standardized tests--neither this year, nor in the future. The post includes their letter to the Powers That Be and their 13 page well-researched (& footnoted) position paper.

This is more than a rejection of Common Core, this is a rejection of standardization. New York City, the home of renown public school teacher and author John Taylor Gatto, is rising up in total opposition to these education reforms.

 

 

Teachers of Conscience: Position Paper

April, 2014

Reforms and the "Thinking Curriculum"

"Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes teh practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to pareticipate in the transformation of their world." 1

- Paulo Friere, Pedagogy Of The Oppressed

     We have patiently taught under the policies of market-based education reforms and have long since concluded tha they constitute a subversion of the democratic ideals of public education.  Policy makers have adopted the reforms of business leaders and economists without consideration for the diverse stakeholders whose participation is necessary for true democratic reform.  We have neglected an imporatnt debate on the purpose and promise of public educaion while students have been subjected to years of experimental and shifting high-stakes tests with no proven correlation between those tests and future academic success. The tests have been routinely flaawed in design and scoring, and do not meaningfully inform classroom instruction.  Test scores have also been misapplied to the evaluation of teachers and schools, creating a climate of sanctions that is misguided and unsupportive.

     In your first speech as Chancellor, you spoke of the importance of critical thinking, or a "thinking curriculum" in education.  We know you to be a proponent of critical pedagogy, part of the progressive education tradition. As teachers, we hold critical thinking and critical literacies in highest regard. As professionals, we resolve to not be passive consumers of education marketing or unthinking implementers of unproven policy reforms.  We believe critical thinking, artistry, and democracy to be among the conerstones of public education. We want creative, "thinking" students who are equipped to be the problem solvers of today and tomorrow; equipped to tackle our most vexing public problems: racial and economic disparity, discrimination, homelessness, hunger, violence, environmental degradation, public health, and all other problems foreseen and unforeseen. We want students to love learning and to be insatiable in their inquiries. However, it is a basic truism of classroom life and sound pedagogy that institutional policies should reflect the values and habits of mind we intend to impart on our students. It becomes incongruous, therefore, to charge our students to think critically and question, while burdening our schools with policies that frustrate teachers' efforts to implement a "thinking curriculum," perpetuation historic inequalities in public education.

The "Crisis of Education" and a Crisis of Pedagogy

     Business leaders and economists have used reductive arguments to identify a "crisis of education" while branding educational success words such as achievement, effectiveness, and performance as synonymous with standardized test scores.2 The majority of education policy decisions are now guided by test scores, making standardized tests an indispensable product. Market-based reforms have been an excellent model of corporate demand creation-branding the disease and selling the cure. Stanford educaiton professor Linda-Darling Hammond described policymakers' mistaken reliance on standardized tests when she wrote, "There is a saying that American students are the most tested, and the least examined, of any in the world. We test students in teh U.S. far more than any other nation, in the mistaken belief that testing produces greater learning." 3

     The narrow pursuit of test results has sidelined education issues of enduring importance such as poverty, equity in school funding, school segregation, healther and physical education, science, the arts, access to early childhood educaiton, class size, and curriculum development.  We have witnessed the erosion of teachers' professional authonomy, a narrowing of curriculum, and classrooms saturated with "test score-raising" instructional practices that betreay our understandings of child development and our commitment to educating for artistry and critical thinking.  And so we are faced with "a crisis of pedagogy" -- teaching in a system that no longers resembles the democratic ideals or tolerates the cdritical thinking and critical decision-making that we hope to impart on the students we teach.

For-Profit Standardized Test as Snake Oil

     The keystone of market-based reforms--highly dependent on the mining and misuse of quantifiable data-- has been the outsourcing of standardized test production to for-profit education corporations. In New York State, a single British-based corporation, Pearson PLC, manages standardized testing for grades 3-8, gifted and talented testing, college-based exams for prospective teachers, and New York State teacher certification exams. Contracts currently held by Pearson include: $32.1 million five-year contract, which began in 2011, for the creation of English Language Arts and Math assessments; $6.2 million three-year contract in 2012 to creat an online educaiton data porta; $1 million five-year contract, which began in 2010 to create and administer field tests; $200,000 contract through the Office of General Services for books and materials. 4

     Pearson's management of testing in New York has resulted in a series of high-profile errors. In 2012, quesitons pertaining to an 8th grade ELA passage about a pineapple and a hare had to be thrown out after they were found to be nonsensical.5 It was also discovered that test questions had been previously used by Pearson in other state exams. In total, 29 questions had to be eliminated from from the tests that year, prompting New York State Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch to comment, "The mistakes that have been revealed are really disturbing. What happens here as result of these mistakes is that it makes the public at large question the efficicacy of the state testing system.6 That same year, 7,000 elementary and middle school students were banned from their graduation ceremonies after they were mistakenly recorded as having failed their state tests. 7

     In 2013, a version of the ELA state test for eighth graders contained a reading passage that was included in test prep materials published by Pearson, giving schools that had purchased those materials an unfair advantage. 8 The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project established a website following the 2013 ELA tests to solicit feedback from teachers. Teachers widely critcized Pearson's interpretation of Common Core standards for the close reading of nonfiction texts.9 Teachers also cited many instances of poorly worded, confusing, and unanswerable questions as well as widespread reports of students running out of time.10 Also, in 2013, Pearson made three errors in scoring tests for gifted and talented programs resulting in 2,700 students being mistakenly told that they were ineligible.11 A month later, a second error was found, qualifying an additional 300 students for seats.12

Aside from testing errors, Pearson has been accused of violating state law. In December, Pearson reached a $7.7 million settlement with the New York State Attorney General's office after it was revealed that its charity, the Pearson Foundation, was used to seek endorsements and donations from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for a series of courses based on Common Core Learning Standards. Pearson intended to sell the courses commercially, profiting from the endorsements.13

Standardization and the Privatiation of Public Education

     The blurring of foundation and corporate purposes has been quite common in the era of market-based education reform. The Broad, Walton, and BIll & Melinda Gates foundations are often cited as teh super-funders of the reforms.14 The Gates Foundation was the primary underwriter for the development of teh Common Core State Standards. National standardization is a primary goal of the reforms because it creates an incentive for private investment. The diversity of the American system of education creates disparate markets and reformers are well-aware of the problems it poses for investment.

     Educational disparity, not standarization, has been a distinguishing characteristic of the American Education system along with the enduring effects of school segregation and inequality. Standards and learning objectives have varied widely by state and even school district. The educational philosophies and specializations of individual schools are similarly diverse, as are the instructional practices of teachers. There is potential strength in a diverse school system that is also able to provide equitable resources and reconcile the ills of school segregation--a school system that can adapt to the diverse needs of communiteis at a local level and innovate. But educational diversity makes the widespread adoption of standardizeed products infeasible. From their inception, Common Core Learning Standards have been heralded as an opportunity for privatization and the standardization of educational products. Bill Gates offered this explanation to the National Conference of State Legislatures in 2009:

When the tests are aligned to the common standards, the curriculum will line up as well--and that will unleash powerful market forces in the service of better teaching. For the first time, there will be a large baase of customers eager to buy products that can help every id learn and every teacher get better. Imagine having the people who create electrifying video games applying their intelligence to online tools that pull kids in and make algebra fun.15

     In a 2011 Op-Ed piece in the Wall Street Journal entitled "The Steve Jobs Model For Education Reform," Rupert Murdoch presented a similar perspective:

Everything we need to do is possible now. But the investments the private sector needs to make will not happen until we have a clear answer to a basic question: What is the core body of knowledge our children need to know?

I don't pretend to be an expert on academic standards. But as a business leader, I do know something about how common standards unlock investment and unleash innovation. For example, once we established standards for MP3 and Wi-Fi, innovators had every incentive to invest their brains and capital in building the very best products compatible with those standards.16

     In all, 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Common Core standards. Such sweeping national alignment on standardization is unprecedented in an educational system built on state and local control. Federal law prohibits the federal government from prescribing curriculum, so its is uncommon that federal policies would succeed in influencing national standardization and curriculum. However, tates eagerly adopted the "voluntary" Common Core standards along with test-centric policies to compete for $4.35 billion in "Race to the Top" federal funding. New York state was awarded the largest portion of the funding at $700 million. Considering that New York City's annual education budget alone is $24.8 billion, the one-time award of $700 million was a small price for the federal government to pay in order to enshrine Common Core standards, data systems, "value-added" teacher evaluations, and test-centric curriculum in our state education laws.

Unlocking Investment: Public Tax Dollars and Private Vendors

     With Common Core standards "voluntarily" endorsed by a large market of 45 states, education corporatoins are "investing" as foretold by Gates and Murdoch. New York State recently spent $28 million in Race to the Top federal taxpayer dollars to have four companies develop Math and English Language Arts curriculum.17 $14 million of the $28 million was awarded to a company called Common Core Inc. to develop Common Core aligned math curriculum.18 The curriculum was incomplete at the state of the 2013-2014 school year. Although the curriculum was designed for New York, its Common Core-based content is applicable to all states that have adopted the standards, making it possible for the company to resell its content to otehr states.19

     The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has taken further steps to make public education, and education tax dollars, accessible to corporations by mining student data. The Gates foundation, with co-sponsorship from the Carnegie foundation, spent $100 million to create InBloom, a cloud database to store student's private data with the hope that it wold become the clearinghouse for mining data across Common Core invested states.20 Nine states, including New York, originally agreed to participate, but amid privacy concerns, all of the states except New York have withdrawn. In November, twelve public school parents filed a lawsuit seeking a restraining order to prevent student data from being uploaded. The State Superior Court heard the case on January 10, 2014.21

Common core Reforms and Skirting Democracy

      Common Core is a privately funded and privately managed initiative, despite being branded as a "state-led effort" involving "content experts, teachers, researchers and others."22 The design and the adoption of the standards lacked adequate public involvement and was not subjected to legislative oversight. Despite claims of college and career readiness, the standards remain experimental--there is no guarantee of future success.23 The most significant flaw in the design process was the exclusion of early childhood education experts. Edward Miller and Nancy Carlsson-Paige reviewed the committees formed to write and review the Common Core standards and found that not a single early childhood teacher or expert was involved.24 They also noted that public comments on the standards were redacted and do not reflect strong objections from early childhood educators and researchers. For example, in 2010, more than 500 early childhood professionals signed the Joint Statement of Early Childhood Health and Educaiton Professionals, which stated:

We have grave concerns about the core standadrs for young children now being written by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The draft standards made public in January conflict with compelling new research in cognitive science, neuroscience, child development, and early childhoood education about how young children learn, what they need to learn, and how best to teach them in kindergarten and the early grades.25

     The statement raised concerns that Common Core would lead to a new series of standardized tests for younger grades, which they characterized as “unreliable and inappropriate.” At the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year, parents at Castle Bridge Elementary school in Washington Heights refused to have their children subjected to a series of new standardized tests based on the Common Core. Parents wrote, “To the city and state Departments of Education: testing K–2 children is not acceptable and developmentally inappropriate, excessive, and destructive.”26

     Castle Bridge’s act of civil disobedience is a logical response to a state Education Department that has proven obstinate to dissenting opinion while, themselves, pursuing policies that skirt the democratic process. Letters have been written, petitions signed, and forums held, but there have been few signs of democratic representation. In reference to a dissent-laden listening tour, State Commission John King concluded, “I think the debate about whether we need higher standards is a settled debate. It is really a question of how do we continue to support people through the implementation.” In other words, the state’s adoption of Common Core."27along with its accompanying tests and curriculum--the Board of Regent’s choice package of “higher” albeit untested standards--is a settled debate, and teachers are expected to be dutiful implementers.

The Voices of Dissent 

     In April of 2013, Veteran teacher Gerald J. Conti, a social studies teacher at Westhill High School in Syracuse, New York, became fed up with playing the role of dutiful implementer and submitted his letter of resignation. In the letter, he cited Common Core and incessant high-stakes testing as creating an “atmosphere of distrust” and a “dramatic and rapid decaying of morale.” He concluded, “After writing all of this I realize that I am not leaving my profession, in truth, it has left me. It no longer exists.”28 In a letter to her 8th grade students, veteran 8th grade teacher, Ruth Ann Dandrea, described the 2012 New York State ELA test as “a test you need to fail.” In characterizing the pedagogical dilemma teachers find themselves in as test administrators, she addressed her students directly: “Continue to question. I applaud you, sample writer: When asked the either/or question, you began your response, “Honestly, I think it is both.” You were right, and you were brave, and the test you were taking was neither.”29

     Another educator, Carol Burris, has been consistent in her dissent from market-based reforms. She is Principal of Southside High School in the Rockville Centre School District and was named Educator of the Year in 2010 and High School Principal of the Year in 2013 by the School Administrators Association of New York State. In response to the outcomes of the 2013 state tests, she and seven of her colleagues wrote an open letter to parents and children of New York State that was co-signed by 545 principals and 3,000 additional supporters. The authors wrote candidly about what is known and unknown about the state testing program.

     Please know that we, your school principals, care about your children and will continue to do everything in our power to fill their school days with learning that is creative, engaging, challenging, rewarding and joyous. We encourage you to dialogue with your child’s teachers so that you have real knowledge of his skills and abilities across all areas. If your child scored poorly on the test, please make sure that he does not internalize feelings of failure. We believe that the failure was not on the part of our children, but rather with the officials of the New York State Education Department. These are the individuals who chose to recklessly implement numerous major initiatives without proper dialogue, public engagement or capacity building. They are the individuals who have failed.30

     That same coalition of principals wrote a scathing critique of the Annual Professional Performance Review legislation (APPR), which based principal and teacher evaluations on student’s test scores using value-added modeling. The letter was signed by 1,539 principals, over one third of all principals in New York State, along with over 6,100 supporters.

We, Principals of New York State schools, concluded that the proposed APPR process is an unproven system that is wasteful of increasingly limited resource. More importantly, it will prove to be deeply demoralizing to educators and harmful to children in our care. Our students are more than the sum of their tests scores, and an overemphasis on test scores will not result in better learning.31

       A group of eight “Teachers of The Year” in New York wrote a separate letter to the Board of Regents, voicing similar concerns:

It is with sadness, pain and frustration that we write this letter. We, the undersigned New York State Teachers of the Year, are deeply concerned about recent changes to the State Education Department’s Annual Professional Performance Review system. These changes, while politically popular, will neither improve schools nor increase student learning; rather, they will cause tangible harm to students and teachers alike.32

     Carol Burris initiated a petition to Governor Cuomo and the state legislature calling for a moratorium on high-stakes testing. The letter received 14,100 signatures.

We, the undersigned, support higher standards that are reasonably designed, implemented with care, and accompanied by the resources schools need to achieve them. The New York State testing program has undermined the implementation of higher standards, by creating a test-driven environment that does not serve our children well. High stakes testing continues to waste precious taxpayer dollars and student learning time. It is time to say, “no more”. 33

     Many educational researches have been highly critical of market-based education reforms. Distinguished education professor Linda Darling-Hammond has authored numerous articles pointing to the harm that reforms have done to the teaching profession, including Value  Added Evaluation Hurts Teaching. She cited studies from the National Research Council, the RAND Corporation, and the Educational Testing Service that recommend against using standardized test scores in the form of value-added modeling to make high-stakes decisions about students, teachers, and principals.34 In April 2013, The Economic Policy Institute released a report titled “Market-oriented education reforms’ rhetoric trumps reality,” which examined reforms in Washington D.C., New York, and Chicago. The authors concluded that reformers in those cities had made false claims regarding rising test scores and had failed to deliver on promises to close the widening achievement gap. They concluded that the practical impact of reforms had, in some cases, undermined stated objectives. 

As discussed in this report, increasing the science, technology, and engineering components of STEM education to produce more engineers and computer programmers is difficult when raising reading and math scores assume such high priority, and thus crowd out other subjects. The same is true of other higher-order critical thinking and creativity required to forge productive workers and good citizens; attaching high stakes to tests that assess basic skills all but guarantees that more complex learning falls by the wayside.35

      The report’s authors wrote that market-oriented reforms are “no match for the complex, poverty-related problems they seek to solve.” They explained that the reforms have harmed students that have historically been marginalized in publics education.

It is students in under-resourced schools, who have lost literature and poetry to vocabulary drills and seen their curricula stripped of art, music, and physical education to make room for increased test preparation, who are most likely to see their schools shuttered when their test scores do not rise quickly enough.

      Diane Ravitch was one of 1,100 professors to sign an open letter to the New York State Board of Regents calling for an end to the state’s over reliance on high-stakes testing. 

As lifelong educators and researchers, from across the State of New York, we strongly oppose New York State’s continued reliance on high stakes standardized testing in public schools as the primary criterion for assessing student achievement, evaluating teacher effectiveness, and determining school quality.38

      In October, 121 children’s book authors and illustrators sent a letter to President Obama expressing their concern over high-stakes testing. Among them, Maya Angelou, Judy Blume, and Jane Yolen:
 
We the undersigned children’s book authors and illustrators write to express our concern for our readers, their parents and teachers. We are alarmed at the negative impact of excessive school testing mandates, including your Administration’s own initiatives, on children’s love of reading and literature. Recent policy changes by your Administration have not lowered the stakes. On the contrary, requirements to evaluate teachers based on student test scores impose more standardized exams and crowd out exploration. 39
 
Education Doublespeak and the Marketing of Common Core Reforms
 
     We have included a few examples of the efforts of parents, teachers, principals, researchers, and authors to enter into a democratic debate on market-based reforms. Appointed education leaders who have traveled the revolving door of private foundations, charter school initiatives, and corporate consultancies, have stifled democratic debate by marketing their reforms with the same tenacity that they have used to divert public funds to the corporate vendors and monied circles that they owe their positions to. The marketing is grounded in doublespeak. Words like success, achievement, rigor, and 21st Century Learning are touted so often by reformers that their substance becomes obscured. In the paradigm of market-based reform, students’ achievement on for-profit bubble tests is the only metric for claiming success. The pathway to so-called “success” is so narrow, therefore, that policymakers, parents, teachers, and principals have been lulled into compliance.

     Policymakers who invest in the data sheets of testing corporations are heralded as paving the way for “21st Century Learning.” Principals who organize their school’s curriculum around testing data will be labeled “bold school leaders” and escape sanctions. Teachers who implement pre-packaged test-centric curriculum and view children through the lens of testing data will keep their jobs. Parents who accept corporations as educational gatekeepers will comply with testing to preserve their child’s chances of promotion or a desired school placement. In such a system, high-stakes tests become a deity of manufactured educational opportunity rather than a tool for fostering teaching, learning, and human development. It is a system dependent on compliance, measured predictability, and public tax dollars for private profit.

The Consequences of a School System That Devalues Teachers
 
     We are acting on our conscience, built on years of experience teaching young people. In reaction to this position paper it is likely that some will characterize or choices as a betrayal of high standards, an endorsement of “watered-down” curricula, or cynically as an attempt to escape teacher evaluations and “accountability.” In a different national climate, the character and credibility of individuals who leveled those charges would be questioned. Regrettably, the denigration of teachers has become commonplace among proponents of market-based reforms, with little forethought as to the regrettable consequences that come to a school system that devalues its teachers. Teachers are motivated and guided daily by students, which is a type of accountability that is seldom understood by policymakers who have not devoted their careers to teaching. We are skilled curriculum developers and it is our ability to create curriculum that is standards based, yet responsive to our students, that distinguishes us as professionals.
 
     Critics may view us as irresponsible for dismissing Common Core tests without proposing an “alternative” to take its place. Parents may ask, ‘But don’t we need a way to know how our students measure up?’ Historically, the use of standardized tests for the purpose of ranking and sorting students has acted to reproduce and normalize inequality rather than challenge it. Standardized testing depends on a reductionist logic that falsely attributes test scores to innate ability or merit on a “level playing field.” The claim that standardized tests can act as a tool or benchmark for addressing inequality contradicts its theoretical underpinnings and historical applications. Nicholas Lemann, Dean of Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, aptly stated, “Tests tend to reproduce, not upend, social hierarchies. Everybody is always looking for the test on which people from different races and classes do the same, but it doesn’t exist.”40
 

     Teachers assess students daily to inform instruction and curriculum design. Without assessment, teachers would be adrift in their relationships with students. There are numerous, more refined assessment tools and observation techniques at our disposal. Some schools use collectively designed Performance Based Assessment Tasks, portfolio-based assessments, roundtable presentations of student work to a panel of judges, or various long-term interdisciplinary assessments to measure students’ strengths, weaknesses, and growth. Schools that use these methods of assessment typically point to their flexibility, authenticity, real-world applicability, and to the high level of student and community buy-in and engagement they elicit as benefits. These types of assessment are particularly valuable in more accurately assessing English Language Learners, students with disabilities, and students with “test anxiety.” It is through flexibility in assessment and our strong relationships with students that we come to know them as learners. The possibility for diverse assessment tools will not diminish with the exclusion of unrefined and misapplied for-profit Common Core tests. In the end, this is not a debate over whether or not students will be assessed, but rather whom policymakers trust with knowing students and planning for their learning. Policymakers can choose to outsource that responsibility to the inept data-factories of education corporations, or support teachers in assessing students in authentic ways and developing quality curricula. Teachers are by no means a panacea for the societal ills that we have outlined in this position paper, but when faced with a classroom of creative and inquisitive minds, one cannot help but feel hopeful that some measure of societal change is possible.

 A Call to Preserve Public Education
 
      We have observed a groundswell of teachers fighting to preserve the dignity of their profession from the damage done by market-based reforms. We now turn to you, Chancellor Carmen Fariña, to see what you are willing to stand for. We have observed a tendency on the part of school leaders and policymakers sympathetic to our position to decry an “obsession with high-stakes testing” yet accept for-profit testing as an inevitability of schooling. We find that position to be unsettling and counterproductive because it denies educators agency in shaping education policy. We are often cautioned to wait, that education fads come and go, and that the “pendulum” will swing the other way. We understand you to be a student of history and as such you know that it is people’s actions rather than the passage of time that brings about change. You were quoted as saying “Life is a series of tests in many ways,” and we believe that the most transformative of those tests will be the ones that test moral courage. We make it our profession to prepare students for those moments that will require them to think critically and take bold action. Maxine Greene defined freedom as “the capacity to surpass the given and look at things as if they could be otherwise.” 41 We are asking you to critically evaluate the given and consider whether or not you will join us in seeing it otherwis
 
 

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1 Friere, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Herder and Herder.

2 Ratvitch, D. (2013, Semptember 15). Diane Ravitch: School privatization is a hoax, "reformers" seek to destroy public schools. Salon. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.salon.com/2013/09/15/diane_ravitch_school_privatization_is_a_hoax_reformers_aim_to_destroy_public_schools/

3 Darling-Hammond, L. (2013, April 10). "Test-and-punish" sabatoges quality of children's education. Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://edpolicy.stanford.edu/blog/entry/753

4 Bakeman, J. (2013, July 29). Watchdog report: One company drives test for teachers and student. WGRZ.com. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://archive.wgrz.com/news/article/221321/37/Watchdog-Report-One-Company-Drives-Tests-for-Students-and-Teachers-in-NY

5 Hartocollis, A. (2012, April 20). When pineapple races hare, students lose, critics of standarized tests say. The New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/21/nyregion/standardized-testing-is-blamed-for-question-about-a-sleeveless-pineapple.html

6 Fleisher, L. (2012, May 9). Test errors draw new criticism. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304203604577394492500145150

7 Gonen, Y. (2012,July 26). 7,000 city students wrongly blocked from attending graduation. New York Post. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://nypost.com/2012/07/26/7000-city-students-wrongly-blocked-from-attending-graduation/

8 Lestch, C. (2013, April 19). Practice material found on upstate exams boost scores, huts city kids' tallies. Daily News. Retrievend Februarry 21, 2014 from:http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/practice-material-found-upstate-exams-article-1.1321448

9 Calkins, L. (2013, June 11). In the wake of ELA exam...Lessons from NYS. Teachers College Reading & Writing Project. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://readingandwritingproject.com/news/2013/06/11/In-the-Wake-of-the-ELA-exam-Lessons-from-NYS.html

10 O'Connor, J. (2013, April 19). New York students struggle to finish common core tests in time allowed. StateImpact. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/2013/04/19/new-york-students-struggle-to-finish-common-core-tests-in-time-allowed/

11 Baker, A. (2013, April 19). More in New York City qualify as gifted after error is fixed. The New York TImes. retrieved February 21, 2014 from: www.nytimes.com/2013/04/20/education/score-corrections-qualify-nearly-2700-more-pupils-for-gifted-programs.html

12 Baker, A. (2013, May 10). New error found in scoring of test for gifted programs. New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/11/education/new-error-found-in-test-scoring-for-gifted-programs.html

13 Hernandez, J. (2013, December 12). Educational publisher's charity, accused of seeking profits, will pay millions. The New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/13/nyregion/educational-publishers-charity-accused-of-seeking-profits-will-pay-millions.html?_r=0

14 Barkan, J. (2011). Got dough? How Billionaires rule our schools. Dissent Magazine. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/got-dough-how-billionaires-rule-our-schools

15 Gates, B. (2009, July 21). Remarks prepared for the national conference of state legislators. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.gatesfoundation.org/media-center/speeches/2009/07/bill-gates-national-conference-of-state-legislatures-ncsl

16 Murdoch, R. (2011, October 15). The Steve Jobs model for education reform. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970203914304576631100415237430

17 Bakeman, J. (2013, November 21). Teachers wait for next chapter of $28.3 million curriculum. Capital. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2013/11/8536421/teachers-wait-next-chapter-283-million-curriculum

18  Burris, C. (2013, November 24). Following Common COre money: Where are millions of dollars going? The Washington Post. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/11/24/following-the-common-core-money-where-are-millions-of-dollars-going/

19 Common Core Eureka Math (2014). Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/Section/id-817670.html

20Lestch, C. (2013, March 13). New York parents furious at program, InBloom, that compiles private student information for companies that contract with it to create teaching tools. New York Daily News. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/student-data-compiling-system-outrages-article-1.1287990

21 Molner, M. (2013, December 27). New York battle over in Bloom, data privacy heading to court. Education Week. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/marketplacek12/2013/12/new_york_battle_over_inBloom_data_privacy_heading_to_court.html

22 Common Core State Standards Initiative (2014) Process. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.corestandards.org/resources/process

23 Ravitch, D. (2013, February 26). Why I oppose common core standards: Ravitch. The Washington Post. Rerieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/02/26/why-i-oppose-common-core-standards-ravitch/

24 Miller, E. & Carlsson-Paige, N. (2013, January 29). A tough critique of common core on early childhood education. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/01/29/a-tough-critique-of-common-core-on-early-childhood-education/

25 Alliance for Childhood (2010, March 2). Joint statement of early childhood health and education professionals on the Common Core standards initiative. http://www.edweek.org/media/ joint_statement_on_core_standards.pdf

26 Ravitch, D. (2013, October 29). Castle Bridge parents speak out against standardized testing. Diane Ravitch’s Blog. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://dianeravitch.net/2013/10/29/castle-bridge-parents-speak-out-against-standardized-testing/

27 Baker, A. (2013, November 17). At forums, New York state education commissioner faces a barrage of complaints. The New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: www.nytimes.com/2013/11/18/nyregion/at-forums-state-education-commissioner-faces-a-barrage-of-complaints.html

28 Conti, J. (2013, April 6) Teacher’s resignation letter ‘My profession...no longer exists’. The Washington Post . Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/06/teachers-resignation-letter-my-professn-no-longer-exists/

29 Dandrea, R. (2012, March 23) ‘A test you need to fail’: A teacher’s open letter to her 8th grade students. Common Dreams. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: https://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/03/23-8

30 Fougner, et al. (2013, November 21). Letter to parents about testing. New York Principals. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.newyorkprincipals.org/letter-to-parents-about-testing

31 New York State Principals (2013). Updated APPR letters with signatories. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.newyorkprincipals.org/waiver-request/updatedapprletterwithsignatories-4

32 Peneston, J. et al. (2011, May 23). Teachers of the year: APPR regulations poison ‘spirit of collaboration’. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.nysut.org/news/nysut-united/issues/2011/ june-2011/teachers-of-the-year--appr-regulations-poison--spirit-of-collaboration-

33 Burris, C. (2012, December 29). Petition to Governor Cuomo and the Legislature to End High Stakes Testing. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://roundtheinkwell.com/2012/12/29/petition-to-the-nys-board-of-regents-against-high-stakes-testing/

34 Darling-Hammond, L. (2012, MArch 5) Value-added evaluation hurts teaching. Education Week Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/03/05/24darlinghammond_ep.h31.html

35 Weiss, E. & Long, D. (2013, April 22). Market-oriented education reforms’ rhetoric trumps reality.
Broader, Bolder Approach to Education. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.boldapproach.org/rhetoric-trumps-reality
 
36 Torre, M. & Gwynne, J. (2013, October). When schools close: Effects on displaced students in Chicago public schools. Consortium On Chicago School Research. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://ccsr.uchicago.edu/sites/default/files/publications/CCSRSchoolClosings-Final.pdf 
 
37 Ravitch, D. (2012, February 28). How to demoralize teachers. Education Week. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/2012/02/how_to_demoralize_teachers.html
 
38 Multiple Signatories (2013) End the reliance on high stakes standardized testing. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.nyclu.org/files/releases/testing_professor_letter.pdf 
 
39 Strauss, V. (2013, October 22). Top authors--including Maya Angelou--urge Obama to curb standardized testing. The Washington Post. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/10/22/top-authors-including-maya-angelou-urge-obama-to-curb-standardized-testing/
 
40 Goldtein, D. (2012, September 19). The schoolmaster. The Atlantic. Retrieved February 21, 2014 from: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/10/the-schoolmaster/309091/?single_page=true
41 Greene, M. (1988). The dialectic of freedom. New York: Teachers College Press.
 
 

April is official, Child Abuse Prevention Month - make no mistake Common Core is child abuse.

This says it all from a parent:

"April is official, Child Abuse Prevention Month - make no mistake Common Core is child abuse.

I was the victim of abuse at the hands of my husband. For years he emotionally and verbally abused me. This may sound strange, but I was relieved the first time he beat me. I finally had something to show others. I finally had something that he couldn’t twist and manipulate; something tangible that he could no longer claim was my imagination. When I look at Common Core assignments, I see them as a... physical manifestation of the abuse that is occurring, right now, across our country, directed squarely at our children. Allow me to explain.

For a decade I was told by my ‘loved one’ that I was stupid and crazy. I was told that the things that I knew in my heart were right, were really wrong. I was told that the things that I felt in my heart were wrong, were really right. If I said “I have an idea!” I was told, “Don’t think!” If I said “I feel like this is wrong”, I was told, “I make all the decisions, this is MY domain!” If I cried after being yelled at for 4 hours, and asked to be allowed to care for our small children, I was told I was crazy - you see my priorities were backwards; my allegiance should be to my husband first, not our children.

It’s been four years since I left him and to this day I cannot speak or think the words “I have an idea” without hearing him yell back “Don’t think!” You see, experiences build roads in our heads; frequently traveled paths are readily available for our minds to grab onto and go…like a parkway or a freeway. Try as I might, I can’t seem to shake this well-worn path. Now I look to the children that I ‘rescued’ and I look to these new Common Core standards and every bell in my head is ringing. I ignored these bells in the past and I vowed NEVER to ignore them again.

When you introduce mathematical concepts that are developmentally inappropriate, then test that child on these concepts and mark them as having failed, how is that not abusive? You are essentially giving them a task they cannot do and then telling them they are stupid. Now do that over and over and over again. Are these the rigorous results we are looking for? Or is this simply abusive?

Once the child fails the test they were meant to fail, tell them that they have to forgo music, chorus, recess, lunch and so on…so that they may receive additional instruction to ‘help’ them with the math they had trouble with. Now notice that they are fidgeting about and recommend that they get tested for ADD or ADHD…I have heard this scenario an uncountable number of times. Now we are telling the child that there is something wrong with them mentally. We are telling them that they are crazy. The adults who pulled them out of recess to improve upon skills they should not possess at their age are not crazy; it’s the child that has the issue.

These poor children are meant to make sense out of poorly worded instructions and answer questions in an overly convoluted and contrived manner. And then they are told what they did was wrong. Children naturally want to please; they want their parents and teachers to be proud of them. Let me tell you from experience, if your hand gets slapped every time you reach out, guess what you learn to do? You stop. You just stop trying. Do you want your children to turn inward? Do you want them to give up? That’s what they will have to do to protect themselves. They will retreat away from their parents and teachers. They will no longer feel safe to take that next step, to reach out, to venture out, and to grow.

This curriculum will cause our children’s minds, hearts and spirits to atrophy. I know you’ve seen signs of it. We have only just begun down this path; imagine what it will look like in 10 years. It took one final, massive beating for me to leave. By then, my brain had been hard wired to except bad as good, good as bad and to believe that I was a small minded, crazy woman who didn’t deserve better. What will our children look like in ten years? Will they be thriving, existing or devolving? What are you willing to do to stop it?

Don’t blindly give your allegiance to someone or something just because they tell you it’s the right thing to do. Listen to your heart. Listen to your instincts, they are sound. It’s when we ignore these warnings that we get into trouble. Our children can’t fix this one, we have to. We have to fight for our children. We have to be a chorus of SCREAMING adults during this election year. We have to be UNRELENTING until this is reversed; the price is far too high to allow this to continue. Don't allow our children to be abused."

Exercises in OPTING-OUT of Smarter Balanced Assessments

Chairman Tom Raffio of the NH Board of Education announced on Wednesday, March 26th that districts will not be given waivers to opt out of the Smarter Balanced Assessments in 2015.  Raffio claims opting out would  jeopardize the state's federal funding.  There is no evidence to support his claim. The wavier to NCLB has been successfully obtained by the state.  It's fear-mongering suggest NH willl lose funding.  Raffio is doing this to obtain compliance.

Apparently Chairman Raffio does not care that teachers, principals, union leaders and school boards believe these assessments are not appropriate for our children.  Our kid's futures have been exchanged for a few pieces of silver.

Manchester, Alton, Londonderry and Dover have asked for waivers from the Smarter Balanced Assessments. Londonderry has been waiting for months on its waiver request.  Other districts are waking up and considering the same.  But the state no longer respects local control.

On Friday, March 28th NH Commissioner of Education Virginia Barry announced that she wants to eliminate local control.  Yes.  She wants to elminiate local control!  Barry said this during a public meeting with about 100 district superintendents and other district administrators from across the state. 

Commissioner Barry needs to immediately reverse her inappropriate remark, or step down from office.  New Hampshire is a local control state.

This is hardly unexpected news given that House Education Chair Mary Giles invited Marc Tucker to speak to legislators last spring and he's advocating for the elimination of local school boards over the next ten years.

Both of these annoucements from Chairman Raffio and Commissioner Barry to eliminate local control in New Hampshire come after the NH House defeated six bills that threatened to delay or stop Common Core and the aligned testing, along with measures to protect student privacy while taking these assessments? Was the timing deliberate? Absolutely.

If parents want to Opt-Out they must Do-It-Themselves.  Thousands of parents are Opting Out of Smarter Balanced Assessments nationwide.

 

Tonight Nashua School Board voted to table a motion by school board member Sandra Ziehm to delay the implementation of Smarter Balanced Assessments for two years.

Members Dottie Oden, Elizabeth Van Twuyver, and David Murotake pledged their support of Sandar Ziehm's motion, but Kim Muise while supporting the measure worried about any legal ramifications to the district because of the vote.  At Murotake's urging, Muise proposed to Table Ziehm's motion and seek a legal opinion before continuing with the vote. The vote was 8-1 with Ziehm in opposition to tabling her motion.

Ziehm believes that a two year delay is needed to prepare students and to acquire the requisite technology and training to use it properly.  She did not want Nashua students to be used as guinea pigs for the testing consortia. Ziehm said the Board of Education has over stepped its authority: these assessments are an unconstitutional unfunded mandate for the districts. Local control is a major concern for Ziehm.

Elizabeth Van Twuyver said that this year's field testing did not use adaptive assessments and did not prepare students adequately for 2015.  Of what value are these assessments when Common Core is not fully implemented? She believes the Department of Education is not listening to the concerns of our teachers.  What recourse do we have other than this motion to delay Smarter Balanced Assessments?

Superintendent Conrad said the disttrict does not have the flexibility to delay these assessments and must administer the Smarter Balanced Assessments in 2015. To do otherwise would risk federal funds.

Conrad does not care that his team of teachers, principals, union leaders and school boards believe these assessments are not appropriate for our student.  Our children's futures have already been exchanged for a few pieces of silver.

Until this issue is resolve, parents must take the initiative to protect their children Opt Out of these assessments.

 

The NH Board of Education adopted the Common Core State Standards  with no public input. There were two public hearings, but no one attended because the public wasn't adequately notified.

 

The NH Department of Education joined the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia with no public input.  There were no public hearings. Commissioner Barry adopted these assessments for New Hampshire school before they were even written!

State law, RSA 193-C:1 requires that parents are involved in the process of developing these standards and assessments:

"Widespread participation in the establishment of a statewide education improvement and assessment program is essential. Consultation with educators at all levels, business people, government officials, community representatives, and parents must occur in the development of educational standards."

Thankfully, parents have the right to opt out their children from these assessments, regardless of the adverse political climate.

Smarter Balanced Measures Knowledge, Skills and Dispositions

Smarter Balanced Assessments will measure your child's knowledge, skills and dispositions.  What exactly does that mean?

http://www.smarterbalanced.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Smarter-Balanced-Math-ALDs.pdf, page 7

What is a dispositional question?

http://www.ccsso.org/Documents/ILN%20Knowledge%20Skills%20and%20Dispositions%20CCR%20Framework%20February%202013.pdf, page 5:

 

Which Dispositional Standards will be measured on the Smarter Balanced Assessments?

http://www.ccsso.org/Documents/ILN%20Knowledge%20Skills%20and%20Dispositions%20CCR%20Framework%20February%202013.pdf, page 6:

Critical thinking, working collaboratively, meta-cognition, self-awareness, creativity, time-goal management, resilience, adaptability, leadership, ethical behavior and civic responsibility, social awareness, empathy, and self-control . . .

http://www.ccsso.org/Documents/ILN%20Knowledge%20Skills%20and%20Dispositions%20CCR%20Framework%20February%202013.pdf, page 4:

 

This leads to a number of questions:

 1  How do you measure a dispositional standard?

  •   What exactly is going to be measured?
  •   How do you measure a bias in a child?
  •   Must children be diagnosed?
  •   Will they be graded by observation or do they have to take a paper and pencil test?
  •   How will performance or behavior be assessed

 2  How is that dispositional standard objectively scored?

  •  What behavior is appropriate and to what degree?
  •  Can government score the attitudes and values of citizens in a pluralistic society?

 3   Who gets to determine what a particular dispositional standard should be? 

  •  What about locally elected school board members?  Will they become obsolete?
  •  Are we talking about a state or government certificate for graduation, or for the workforce?

 4  How will my child be remediated to learn these dispositional standards?

  • What are you going to do with my child to change his values, attitudes, and dispositions in order to graduate?
  • How do you remediate ethical judgment, decision making, interpersonal skills, environmental attitudes, adapting to change? 
  • What techniques will be used?
  • What risks are involved?
  • What justification does the state have to change my child’s attitudes?

 5   What if the parent and the government disagree on how a standard is measured?

  •  Who has the ultimate authority over the child: the parent or the government?
  •  What about privacy?
  • Can parents opt out of a graduation requirement mandated by the government?

Why aren't district superintendents talking about these dispositional issues? Is this information too sensitive for parents to handle? State law requires that all statewide assessments are "objectively scored," RSA 193-C.

When the NH Board of Education members were asked recently how they were going to filter out these non-objective, dispositional questions from the Smarter Balanced Assessments, several Board members asked: "What's a dispositional question look like?"

If parents' right to "review and inspect" these Smarter Balanced Assessments as recognized in state law, RSA 193-C, was followed, perhaps we'd have some dispositional questions to show the state Board. 

Perhaps it's time to OPT-OUT your child from Smarter Balanced Assessments and forget waiting for an explanation which isn't likely to be given to parents anytime soon!


 




 

OPTING-OUT of Smarter Balanced Assessments to Protect your "TEACHERS"

Under NH law each district must adopt a "teacher performance evaluation system."  This was a federal requirement that Rep. Rick Ladd put into legislation in order for the NH Department of Education to obtain its 2013 Waiver to No Child Left Behind, which lasts for two years.  [Who knows what will be required when this Waiver expires.]

Rep. Ladd's legislation, 2013 HB 142 was passed, puting the following language to state law:

School boards shall adopt a teacher performance evaluation system, with the involvement of teachers and principals, for use in the school district. A school board may consider any resources it deems reasonable and appropriate, including any resources that may be provided by the state department of education. In this paragraph, “teacher” shall have the same meaning as in RSA 189:14-a, V.

Looking up the meaning of the work "teacher" in RSA 189:14-a, V:

V. "Teacher'' means any professional employee of any school district whose position requires certification as a professional engaged in teaching. The term "teacher'' shall also include principals, assistant principals, librarians, and guidance counselors.

The federal government wants to tie annual  "teacher" evaluations to student performance on Common Core aligned Smarter Balanced Assessments for Math and English Language Arts.  Will  your "teachers" be considered "effective" if student performance isn't high enough?  Will they  be transferred to another school or fired?

Can anyone tell me why librarians should also be evaluated based upon student scores on these flawed assessments?  Or for that matter, why are history or science teachers being evaluated based upon student scores on these flawed assessments?

When in doubt, parents need to OPT-OUT their children from Smarter Balanced Assessments to protect their "teachers".... which includes all teachers, librarians, guidance counselors, and principals.

Smarter Balanced Assessments: Using Over-the-Ear Headphones can Transmit Lice between Students

Smarter Balanced Assessments are being field tested on students across the country this month.  Many schools will be administering the assessments in an online testing environment.   Each student will use a computer and headphones.

Has anyone considered whether or not it is hygienic to share headphones in schools where head lice is prevalent?

According to city health officials, the Manchester school district typically averages 50 cases of head lice a month. Those numbers are news to parents, thanks to a policy that opts out of informing anyone but those close to the affected student. 

Union Leader, "Manchester parents scratch heads over school lice policy," January 26, 2014

The problem is that over-the-ear headphones could pass along lice. 

The foam covering the headphones could harbor lice. Every minute your child wears the shared headphones would increase his risk of being infected if an infected student previously used those same headphones.

For health reasons parents should refuse to allow their children to wear shared headphones.

Students should bring their own headphones or refuse to be tested.  Parents can opt out their children from Smarter Balanced Assessments, particularly this year (and next) when it's still in the research stage. No individual scores will be returned to students from this year's field testing.

 

Many schools will begin the Smarter Balanced Assessment exams very soon. They are on the computer and students must use a headset to hear the questions. These headsets could pose a greater exposure to head lice.

Does your child's school have enough headsets for each student, or do they store the headsets in plastic baggies after they have been used? With students required to share the equipment, what is the school doing to reduce this risk?

If you're not satisfied with the school's answer, OPT OUT your child from the assessment.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2606080/

Smarter Balanced Assessments are OPTIONAL: Parents May OPT-OUT their Children

No individual student scores will be derived from the the 2014 Smarter Balanced Assessment field tests that are being admininstered in many schools across New Hampshire.  Parents may opt-out their children from these assessments. 

The assessment results are only useful to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium for purposes of testing the validity of questions, determining the readiness of our technology, familiarizing students and educators with computer adaptive testing, and providing guidance for the setting of “cut scores” and performance levels.  Students are being asked to participate in research. 

By taking the assessments, students are unpaid participants in research for the profit of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia.  Students will obtain no individual results.  Students will miss valuable instruction time.  Students will not be paid for their efforts.

The field tests also raise issues of data privacy for parents since all the assessment data will be handed over to the Consortia in real-time and shortly thereafter to the US Department of Education.

Parents of students in these schools should be notified and informed that the Smarter Balanced Assessments are not validated.  School districts should seek informed written consent when their minor children are being asked to participate in research.

Alton School District voted against allowing their students to participate in this research.  Nashua School District decided to send letters to parents, informing them that these assessments are optional.

Smarter Balanced field tests slated for spring; specific dates yet to be determined

Nashua Telegraph, Feb. 4, 2014

In Nashua student and parents have the chance to opt-out [of Smarter Balanced Assessments]. Board of Education member Dottie Oden sought specific wording in a letter to parents to make it clear student participation “is optional for students.” 

Since the district has yet to implement Common Core, Oden said it would be “wrong to subject our students to a test that they have not been fully prepared for.”

Please think twice before allowing your child to participate in research where private information can be disclosed without parental consent.

Keep in mind that the Smarter Balanced Assessments will not be validated by 2015 when ALL students are going to be asked to take them.  NH state law requires that all statewide assessments are "valid," "appropriate," and "objectively scored" in accordance to RSA 193-C.  The Smarter Balanced Assessments fail to meet any of these criteria.

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