Archives For standardized testing
by Jia Lee, Chapter Leader, The Earth School
MORE/New Action 2016 Candidate for President of the UFT
Here is the disturbing email that all UFT members received on Tuesday, December 1, a day before the Federal HELP Senate Committee was to vote on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), called Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). UFT President Michael Mulgrew urges us to contact our senators to “Vote Yes” and I can only stare in shock at the screen.
Jia has been a strong advocate for teachers, parents and students, especially on the testing issue in her school, in MORE and in Change the Stakes. Last year she and other teachers at her school declared themselves “teachers of conscience” a form of conscientious objection in relation to the overwhelming negative impact of high stakes testing. In a letter to NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina, they wrote:
Dear Chancellor Carmen Fariña,
We are teachers of public education in the City of New York. We are writing to distance ourselves from a set of policies that have come to be known as market-based education reform. We recognize that there has been a persistent and troubling gulf between the vision of individuals in policymaking and the work of educators, but we see you as someone who has known both positions and might therefore be understanding of our position. We find ourselves at a point in the progress of education reform in which clear acts of conscience will be necessary to preserve the integrity of public education. We can no longer implement policies that seek to transform the broad promises of public education into a narrow obsession with the ranking and sorting of children. We will not distort curriculum in order to encourage students to comply with bubble test thinking. We can no longer, in good conscience, push aside months of instruction to compete in a city-wide ritual of meaningless and academically bankrupt test preparation. We have seen clearly how these reforms undermine teachers’ love for their profession and undermine students’ intrinsic love of learning.
As an act of conscience, we are declining the role of test administrators for the 2014 New York State Common Core Tests. We are acting in solidarity with countless public school teachers who have paved their own paths of resistance and spoken truthfully about the decay of their profession under market-based reforms. These acts of conscience have been necessary because we are accountable to the children we teach and our pedagogy, both of which are dishonored daily by current policies.
Read the full statement here: https://teachersofconscience.wordpress.com
The voice of the classroom teacher will be in extraordinarily capable hands in the person of Jia Lee at the national forum at the US Senate Education Committee hearing.
The Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE-UFT) voted unanimously at our last General Body meeting to propose that the United Federation of Teachers, instead of sitting out this gubernatorial race, endorse the pro-public education platform presented by Howie Hawkins for Governor and Brian Jones for Lieutenant Governor.
MORE prepared to present a resolution at Wednesday’s Delegate Assembly. The UFT leadership, however, did not allow this discussion. Despite being informed in advance that MORE chapter leaders and delegates intended to raise this resolution for debate and voting, UFT leadership called time on the ten-minute new motion period, thus prohibiting this conversation. In fact, though Michael Mulgrew’s President’s Report was longer than 45 minutes, there was no mention of this Governor’s race.
Though UFT and NYSUT leadership remain silent regarding the upcoming Gubernatorial race, we pledge go to the polls and vote for the only public school positive, teacher-and-student friendly candidates in this race. We encourage fellow friends of public education to join us in voting Hawkins/Jones!
Why? Here are just a few of the many reasons:
- Both Andrew Cuomo and Rob Astorino vocally support the privatization of education through the expansion of charter schools. In contrast, the Green Party ticket of Howie Hawkins and Brian Jones opposes charter schools.
- Andrew Cuomo has pushed through an expansion of testing statewide and the punitive linking of test scores to teacher evaluations. The Hawkins/Jones ticket opposes an emphasis on high stakes testing.
- Andrew Cuomo implemented a destructive tax cap that has forced massive layoffs of teachers in upstate districts.
- New York State AFL-CIO and the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) have declined to endorse Cuomo because of his anti-education policies.
- Many of our Union and Education Allies have endorsed the Hawkins/Jones Ticket, including: The Buffalo Teachers Federation, Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association, East Williston Teachers Association, Lakeland Federation of Teachers, Diane Ravitch, the Coalition for Public Education, the Independent Commission on Public Education and three local NYC Democratic clubs.
- Astorino and Cuomo are both millionaires while Hawkins and Jones are both union activists, Hawkins in Teamsters, Jones in the UFT and PSC.
- The Hawkins/Jones platform of a Green New Deal calls for
- equitable funding for all of our schools,
- reduced class sizes across the state,
- support for programs that promote desegregation in our schools,
- an end to zero-tolerance discipline policies driving the school-to-prison pipeline,
- and allowing schools to develop methods of assessment organic to the learning process.
- To learn more, Read their letter to teachers here, and spread the word using the voter guide below.
|MORE/UFT Caucus Pro-Education Positions||Hawkins/ Jones (Green)||Cuomo(Dem.)||Astorino(Rep.)|
|Against the Expansion of Charter Schools||✓|
|Against High Stakes Testing, Against APPR (New teacher evals) / Supports Parents & Students’ Right to Opt Out of High Stakes Tests||✓||✓|
|Against Common Core?||✓||✓|
|Union member or Millionaire Candidates?||Union||Millionaire||Millionaire|
|Fight corporate ed deform by rescinding NY’s Race to the Top application and replacing NYSED commissioner John King||✓||✓|
|Tax Top 5% and Eliminate State Property Tax Cap to Fund Schools||✓|
|Supports unionism, social movements and a $15/hr minimum wage||✓|
Don’t sit this election out, vote for a real change in Education Policy! Vote Hawkins/Jones!
by Julie Cavanagh, special education teacher and ChapterLeader at Public School 15 in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and MORE candidate for President of the UFT. Originally printed in The New York Daily News on August 15, 2014.
Four years ago, a group tied to testing and publishing companies, and bankrolled with Bill and Melinda Gates’ money, brought us the Common Core Learning Standards.
Cash-strapped states that wanted to win federal Race to the Top dollars had to adopt the standards, and more than 40 states, including New York, did so.
Last year, our students were assessed for the first time according to the new standards. State Education Department officials predicted a steep drop, and scores plummeted. This year, small gains were predicted, and that’s what happened, to the astonishment of no one.
Predictions are easy to make when you define what constitutes proficiency.
There will be an attempt from all factions to spin the results: The state will say the reform agenda is working, the city will argue the scores show the need for pre-K, and charter schools will claim they show their importance as high-quality alternatives.
Let’s get off the hamster wheel.
The truth is, these tests were designed to create a narrative of failure, and the trends are not so different from those we saw on the old tests: we are failing our children with special needs, our English language learners, our children who live in poverty, and a disproportionate number of black and Latino pupils.
It is no surprise that the results mirror the struggles and deep flaws in our society. Of course, the goal was never to actually fix our schools — there are no profits in doing that. There are no profits in providing small class sizes, experienced educators and services like counseling, tutoring and family support — proven reforms that would benefit all students.
Instead, the focus is on unproven standards and the tests that supposedly measure our student’s competency — written by the very people who profit from their use.
Watch the video for a sneak peek of the rally and march in front of NYC City Hall to defend public education from destructive, profit-driven corporate “reform”. Endorsed by 30+ parent, teacher, and student groups, including MORE. Featuring some great speakers, including a message from Diane Ravitch!