First the Con’s.

1) Your child will not get “a score”.

2) No data about your child will be sold to tele-marketers who could (for a fee) send information which could possibly help augment your child to do better his next year.

3) Your child’s teacher, school, district, will not get rated based on your child’s performance.

4) Your school may not meet the 95% testing rate required by the “OLD” No Child Left Behind Bill to give credibility to its ratings. The current bill states that 95% of a school’s students must take the test for it to have any legitimacy, but states now get to decide how to determine who the 95% gets to be… (One option is to allow parents to opt out prior to a posted deadline absolving them from being included in the pool of test takers.)

5) Opting out isolates the state from being the sole determiner of how your child is performing; forcing that important decision to be determined by a lowly teacher who only has just spent 180 days getting to really know your child.

6) If large numbers of people opt out, then we really won’t know how well schools and districts can perform on standardized tests. We will only be left with ancient methods of determination, such as all previous generations (including those currently serving in the General Assembly and Governor’s office) underwent as they progressed though both their elementary and secondary school systems.

7) Minorities and children of color who opt out will have to be rated by how well they did on classroom, homework, quizzes and teacher developed tests to see if they are ready to be passed to the next level. And teachers do not grade with the cold efficiency of a computer.

8) Testing companies will be cut off from large sources of income. To develop this test, $100 million inside Delaware was spent alone on all upgrades required. Loss of this income will hurt some fly-by-night companies currently located outside Delaware in right-to- work states causing them possibly to fold.

9) Think tanks like the Fordham Institute will be the laughing stock of all other think tanks if not all parents require their children to take the test as required.

10) Opting out skews the data. It becomes meaningless to use it because it no longer represents a real reflection of reality.

11) Legislators receiving kickbacks and underhanded payments from educational corporations and lobbyists, will have to find another source of external income, if the opt-out movement completely destroys the testing consortium’s ability to deliver decent product those tests get termed by their state legislatures.

=====

So you see, there are considerable concerns behind the movement to opt out ones child. One should be very careful before doing so because heavens, we can’t have our legislators lose external income, now, can we?

Therefore it is important that we also look at the pro’s, for this is a big decision for each parent and should not be taken lightly. The only way one can make a proper judgment over what is the best future course for your child, is to look at both side, ask yourself how this course affects your child’s future and then make a smart, balanced assessment.

So here are the pro’s for opting out….

1) Your child will not get “a score”. In certain situation, this can be very advantageous to your child. If all the scores from his peers are low, he gets the benefit of doubt and is assumed to be smarter than the rest because their is no data on him proving he isn’t. Therefore he is privy to every opportunity given to the elite of that school, because for all intents and purposes, he as an anomaly is better than those who performed negatively. Opt-outers get the better teachers, better courses, and better opportunities.

Why is getting no score a good thing? The answer is the test. You can take your child’s test here. The test is designed to discourage, demoralize and dishonor you son or daughter. You can see from the example that no real world skills are involved in its being taken.. It is all about knowing tricks, both verbal and mathematics. Instead of learning principles which one can apply across any discipline or any subject, ones learns a plethora of little tiny tricks such as this second grade one: “when subtracting eleven from a number, just subtract 10 first, then subtract one more.” Although simple in a one case scenario, it complicates later tasks involving multiple steps because instead of using one system to subtract all numbers, one if forced to use 10, one each for each number 1-10. Try it here: 4403 – 1211 = ……..

As everyone knows being put in a pool of potential selectees is fine if one is to be selected for a prize, therefore being picked is good. If one is being selected for a punishment however, being picked to be selected, is bad. The Smarter Balanced Test is more of a punishment than a prize. So not getting a score becomes more advantageous than getting a negative one.

2) No data about your child or his parents, will be sold to telemarketers who will cease at nothing to get you to buy their product. “No” is not an answer they understand. Opting-out is your only insurance that your dinners will not be interrupted, since private education companies were granted exemption status from the no-call lists you may have thought were a sufficient barrier. Furthermore prying eyes will not be able to discern the political, religious, or emotional leanings of his parent from his data he is forced to enter when taking the test.

3) Your child’s teacher, school, district, will not get rated based on your child’s performance on this standardized test. Standardized tests rating schools are a relatively new phenomenon. Everyone over age 25 went to school without them. We really don’t need them to determine if a school is working effectively or not. True they can provide some clarity, if the tests are handled in a proper manner. Such as having everyone run a mile around the school track will also determine who your best mile-distance runners are. However, rating a school by that method would be silly. And that is the whole argument behind rating a school by its Smarter Balanced scores. Just as not everyone is physically prepared to run a 4 minute mile, neither is everyone entering the school system at the kindergarten level on track to be college or career ready. Yet corporate reformers are using this very guideline to rank schools. If you are in a fat district your schools’ mile times are low. If you are in an exercising district, you’re ranked well and receive adulation and rewards for it. How well you were coached or taught, has no relevance to the equation. It is not measured on how well you improved, only how fast your tested mile-run was. Had Earl Jacques been rated by a physical program such as this, there is no way he’d graduate to meet proper credentials to be elected legislator from the 27th district, even if his constituents are brain dead from living so close to Cecil County.

4) Your school may not meet the 95% testing rate required by the “OLD” No Child Left Behind Bill to give credibility to its ratings. That is one of the founding principles of opting out. Parents who took the trial tests, realized this test was a stupid pile of crap (to express it politely).  Rating good teachers and good schools by a stupid pile of crap was not responsible adult behavior. Therefore if a parent could cause that stupid pile of crap to be ignored, they would be doing society, themselves, and their children a huge favor.   As we saw with the Priority School debacle put forth last year by Delaware’s DOE, if you have a good school that has low scores, you get kicked out, it gets privatized, and suddenly, your school is a crap-ass charter that can’t do anything right and closes mid-year. as did Delaware MET.  Preventing that from happening by keeping the test scores below 95% is a good thing… a very good thing.

Other tests are credible.. This one isn’t.  (Did you take it yet?)  Common Core and its tests are complete nonsense, difficult for adults to comprehend, impossible for children to follow, and the whole program needs to be shut down forcing us to return to tried and true ways of teaching that brought American society to the high level it is today. Parents who can muster more than 5% of their peers to also opt out, need to do exactly that…..

5) Opting out isolates the state from being the sole determiner of how your child is performing; leaving that important decision to be determined by a lowly teacher who only has just spent 180 days getting to really know your child.  Most parents prefer this.  A teacher knows what your child is missing. They know it very early and do not need to wait after a year to find out after that child has moved out of their class and up a grade. They know and can work with that child to grasp what they don’t know.  Everyone over age 18 was rated by a teacher.  No one in Delaware was held back due to their DSTP, or their DCAS.  If held back it was because their teacher felt they did not have sufficient building blocks to assemble concepts required of the next grade.  PSAT details now show that the United States provides the best educational results across every level of income in the entire world…. (the results showing we are behind were skewed; our affluent beat their affluent; they did not test their poor, whereas we did which of course pulls our average scores down)…

At stake is who in America is responsible for the education of your child? The parent?  The child?  The state?  If the state wants one thing and the parent wants another, who wins?  That is what this battle is over: who is the ultimate decider?  Are we a government for, of and by the people?  Or….. are we people put here simply for the privilege of our government?

This very fundamental American right and concept is  truly at stake here. If opting out is forbidden as 27th District’s Earl Jacques is wont to do, the Constitution of the United States becomes weakened by this precedent. The state (Federal Government) has become more important than any of the people making up this nation. Instead of government being an institution that supports its people’s right to earn their livelihood, it becomes the sole reason for these people’s existence. It becomes their king in essence, 240 years after we threw off that yoke in our Declaration of Independence.   We now must do this thing (Smarter Balanced Assessment)  because our King has decreed we must do this thing. Even though it hurts our children’s development. Failure to comply results in punishment.

Gone is our chance to decide what is best for our child.  Whether as parents we decide to let our child take or not take the test, should be decided upon the quality of the test, not a governor’s intransigence.  If these tests were good, there would be no controversy. But far too many parents have taken the test themselves and know this test is horrific for their child.

In a true America, shouldn’t they have the right and responsibility to raise their child correctly despite a well intentioned government getting it horribly wrong?  That at its core, is what Opt-Out is all about…  It is about Americans doing what is best for them, over what is best for their elected officials who made a big huge mistake initially backing a wrong program…

6) If large numbers of people opt out, then we really won’t know how well they can perform on standardized tests. ..Originally with Common Core there was supposed to be one test for all America.. Four states opted out.. therefore there would be five different tests. Then two consortia were formed, PARRC and the Smarter Balanced. There were then 6. Minnesota only took the ELA; they used their own math. So their were now seven standards.  Indiana dropped out, creating the eighth.  South Carolina created the ninth.  Oklahoma is creating the tenth. Most other states decided to create their own tests.  there are at least 26 different tests in effect. The new ESEA allows all states to make the determination over what they want to use as their assessment. We are back to every state testing to their own standards.  Score comparison this past year between Delaware and Ohio and Massachusetts and California is pointless.

Secondly, there are tricks to scoring well on standardized tests.  Those who take the SAT a second time invariably see a jump in scores because of knowledge gained from their past experience. This would not happen if the tests strictly measured ability. In fact, there are businesses who excel at teaching students “HOW” to take the SAT, citing the benefits their programs give those children in higher scores.  Scores not based on what they know, but based on their strategy in how they take the test.   Those not schooled in such principles rest at a disadvantage. This obviously is not a fair assessment.

However, sitting in a classroom for 180 days in front of the same teacher, does give an assessment that comes close to the mark of actual ability. Therefore opting out and ruining the results for all who didn’t, by dropping schools’ threshold below 95% is a valid way to remove at least the importance placed on standardized testing from our schools.  It is actually a good thing if we do not know how well schools do on standardized tests. It puts them in the same boat as all those students matriculating before state testing became the law of the land…. Instead of focusing on their “public” image, schools  get to return their focus on each of the individual students passing through.

7) Minorities and children of color who opt out will have to be rated by how well they did on classroom, homework, quizzes and teacher developed tests to see if they are ready to be passed to the next level.  No more will their fate be determined by a standardized test written in a foreign language.  Whereas no one has any difficulty understanding the back and forth dialogue in the movie Straight Outta Compton, for someone growing up in an urban environment it is hard to pass a test written in Midwestern English dialect with a sentence structure very different from English learned in minority households. The correct answer should be: “so what if we can’t speak Midwestern.”  If a top selling movie can use dialect and have instant auditory recognition across all segments of American society, this type of dialogue is sufficient for communication in mainstream America. One understands it; it is useful; it gets a point across.  But measuring ones ability to speak as a Midwestern white person of Norwegian/Swedish ancestry and using that as the one single sole determiner of ones English ability, is not very well thought out. There is an valid argument for it even being racist.  Whereas everyone knows blacks and Hispanics have endearing accents, those charms are dismissed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment. “No! You must talk like a white person. and not like a southern white person or a northern, or a western, but as a Midwestern person in order to score well on our ELA tests… ”
Of course. that is totally ridiculous. It is a flaw readily seen by  simply reversing the concept and imagining if we tested all America’s students using the Urban Dictionary as the source of all ELA definitions.  Our morally astute rural Midwesterners, instead of leading the pack would be pulling up its bottom. It is one thing to demand that English be spoken so that we have a nation that can understand each other. But to specify exactly how that English will be assessed for your individual score, when top selling movies make it obvious that for the purpose of communication a standard the equivalent of the King’s English is irrelevant, means this test is flawed.  It is actually unAmerican, because it imposes false standards which prevent all people from having an equal opportunity.

Point being, a teacher can effectively understand and pass a child who is smart, witty, engaging yet uses different dialect to their full advantage.  A computer gives them a score of 150 out of 800 possible on their ELA.

8) Testing companies will be cut off from large sources of income. This is money that prior to testing was spent on educating our students. Recently estimated at $1.7 billion across the US, that essentially averages out to $65 dollars extra spendable on each student…  Whereas we might be jaded at shrugging our shoulders over the cost of a meal at a casual dining chain restaurant, its impact on education can be readily seen if we simply look at its aggregate in one classroom of 20 students… $1300 dollars extra to be spent on that elementary grade’s classroom ( or $216 for each of 6 high school classrooms.)

Although DC moguls will be heart strung to see high priced career employees receive pick slips, one has to ask how can that money be better spent?  A) for drinking alcoholic beverages along Wisconsin Avenue in Georgetown? Or B) on children across America struggling to learn in schools struggling to fund themselves?  I may have a bleeding heart but I’ll side with the children every day.  Hopefully you will too and opt out your child to make this happen.

9) Think tanks like the Fordham Institute will be the laughing stock.  

And this is a bad thing?

10) Opting out skews the data.  If all special ed students opt out our score aggregate will be higher. If all minorities opt out, our scores will also be higher. If all affluent children opt out, our scores will be lower.  If lots of people opt out, taking the test becomes a useless exercise having no purpose at all. Apparently those insisting on maintaining these tests think we need more proof that test scores are determined by by the upbringing children have before they enter the school system.. If they enter respectful of knowledge they do well; if they enter dismissive of knowledge, they don’t.  But most of us believe the data from last year illuminated the problem rather well across all states, across all districts, across both private, charter and public education… High standard test scores are not affected by teaching skills. Over and over and over we saw they ran opposite to the amount of children listed as free lunch… Very few, your school had high scores.  Very many, your school had low scores.  it was ubiquitous across every category.  If there was an anomaly, it was accompanied by multiple erasures on the hard-copy tests.

So whereas opting out may skew the data from an aggregate of tests, poverty itself skews ones educational ability entirely.  It is impossible to isolate poverty from influencing education unless you first insist that there be no poor in America, that everyone has a livable wage and can work if not for an employer at least from home.  If we are going to raise our educational levels it must start with raising our nation’s standard of living.  If any good came out of the the Common Core testing regime, it is that we finally have evidence to show that without a doubt, the crises of education rests solely on the crises of having those living in poverty…… There is no doubt over the connection; there is only left, the avoidance of mentioning the real issue.

That said, there are many options.  The best one so far is that instead of insisting on high standard assessments, we focus on seriously letting no child fall behind.  That means we put more teachers in classrooms; that means a mandatory 11:1 student/teacher ratio in k-5 and 9th grade in any school with over a 50% poverty level.  That means abolishing the idea that all children enter school equal, and focus instead on making sure all children get the best possible opportunity to grow and develop during their 13 years of compulsory education.  In challenges like these, investing in human capital is better than trusting machines.  We need to realize this,  and empower human beings to solve it one pupil at a time.  Your opting out, will help make this happen.

11) Legislators receiving kickbacks and underhanded payments from educational corporations and lobbyists, will have to find another source of external income.  

They will cry. wring their hands, and wear sack cloth.

Screw them. Vote them out for they sold out your kids future to line their own pockets.

There is no reason for insisting on NOT allowing parents to opt out their children from standards assessments , ….except that they are somehow on the take, and doing so will somehow interfere with their personal accumulation of income.

Any politician who is against opting out… has a personal angle funneling your child’s misfortune directly into their or their friends billowing pockets.

THERE

IS

NO

OTHER

VALID

REASON

FOR

DISALLOWING

PARENTS

TO

OPT

OUT.

===

Period.

 

 

 

I love Hillary. I think she’d make a great president.  But we are at a crossroads where the direction we take, will determine our future for years to come.

And in those times, personal attributes pale compared to the strength of ideas.

Here is a comparison of Twitter feeds of Bernie Sanders versus Hillary… One is serious about the issues; the other is addressing it like a high school election.

Simply read through them.  One is passionate about ideas; the other is trying to blow smoke.  See if you can tell which is which….

BERNIE SANDERS

Calling voters is one of highest impact things you can do to help our campaign. Can I count you in? http://bernie.to/PhoneBank

One in five Americans today cannot afford to fill the prescriptions their doctors write for them. That’s totally crazy.

We need to end voter suppression, and make it easier for people to vote, not harder.

I believe strongly we can protect our people without undermining our constitutional rights. I worry we’re moving to an Orwellian society.

Tonight, 3,200 said loudly and clearly to Adelson and his billionaire friends: You can’t have it all! #BernieInVegas http://bernie.to/WhatHappensInVegas

Nevada DNC Member Erin Bilbray Endorses Sanders for President

I do not represent the interests of the billionaire class or corporate America. I represent you. #BernieInVegas

#BernieInVegas laying out the sobering facts behind the costs of war: thousands dead, many more thousands with PTSD and inadequate care.

Over the last 8 months, over 2.3 million individual contributions have come into our campaign. From close to 1 million people

“When police officer breaks the law he/she must be held accountable” #BernieInVegas #FeelTheBern

One in five Americans today cannot afford to fill the prescriptions their doctors write for them. That’s totally crazy.

We need to end voter suppression, and make it easier for people to vote, not harder.

#BernieInVegas laying out the sobering facts behind the costs of war: thousands dead, many more thousands with PTSD and inadequate care.

“Instead of firing teachers, we should be hiring teachers.”

This campaign is not about fear. This campaign is not about Trump. This campaign is about PPL power #BernieInVegas

With your support we’re going to win here in Nevada. #BernieInVegas

The 15 richest Americans acquired more wealth in two years than the bottom 100 million people combined. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kkyjwqkNIOI&feature=youtu.be

“Bernie understands how pharmaceutical companies and major medical companies are ripping us off.” – Mari Cordes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94yoGhVuOUc

New @BernieSanders ads highlight inequality http://politi.co/1OhNaqQ | Getty

We must fully restore cuts to military pensions that were insisted upon by Republicans in the last budget deal.

The fact that on any given night there are fifty thousand homeless veterans on the street is a national disgrace.

We have an obligation to provide the best quality care to those who have put their lives on the line to defend us.

I will do everything I can to expand benefits for people who desperately need them. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCQKU3sZo3g&feature=youtu.be

This campaign is about demanding we create an economy that works for all of us not just a handful of billionaires. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C9LQ4hUmRUU&feature=youtu.be …..

We win when people come together. We win when we reject division,

It is a national disgrace that the United States is the only major country that does not guarantee health care to all people as a right.

“We cannot continue to scapegoat undocumented people… the discussion we need to have is how we pass comprehensive reform.” @BernieSanders

When Republicans talk about family values, they’re talking about defunding Planned Parenthood. #BernieInReno

The truth is, the insurance companies and the drug companies are bribing the United States Congress.

If I were elected president, the foxes would no longer guard the henhouse. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/23/opinion/bernie-sanders-to-rein-in-wall-street-fix-the-fed.html?_r=1

“Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

The greed of corporate America is destroying our economy. You have to take them on.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkSDctzd7_k

I’m running for president because a handful of billionaires and wealthy families are trying to buy elections just to make themselves richer.

We cannot turn our backs on that essential element of who we are as a nation

Merry Christmas!

I’m running for president because the middle class is disappearing and more than half of new income is going to the top 1 percent.

HILLARY CLINTON:

It’s time we treat diseases like Alzheimer’s with the seriousness they deserve.

Little feminists, moms, love stories—some of the most heartwarming campaign moments of 2015: http://hrc.io/1OiIG3f

Apply to join fellow Instagrammers for an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at a Las Vegas campaign event! → http://hrc.io/1NSC2Nx

We should treat the caretakers who serve 11 million Americans with serious medical needs like the heroes they are. http://hrc.io/1JcW6gU

Parades and yellow ribbons aren’t enough. Our veterans deserve world-class health care, benefits, and opportunities. http://hrc.io/1Ptk1Ka

Hillary Clinton visited a town of 996 people in Iowa. Here’s how three high schoolers made it happen: http://hrc.io/1RNSCUN

Alzheimer’s, and the families that care for them. http://hrc.io/1mKI3Fe

An Iowa fifth grader asked: “What are you going to do about all this bullying?”

Hot peppers and selfies: 48 hours on the campaign trail. http://hrc.io/1mIluRL

This dad is doing everything he can to make this country a better place for his daughters. Read his letter to them: http://hrc.io/1On8tTF

Wishing everyone the best this Kwanzaa. To all celebrating—Bill and I send you our warmest wishes. -H

“If you would like help with your campaign, I am available and I would work for candy.” http://hrc.io/1NQqomr

Captain Khan saved the lives of his entire unit when he bravely stepped forward to investigate a suspicious vehicle.

Can’t think of a better day than one with family, food, and the best gift of all: a new grandchild on the way! Merry Christmas. -H

Merry Christmas!

American families like progress a lot. But the grinches in GOPville? It seems they do not. http://hrc.io/1U79S57

For the families of 5.4 million Americans, a cure for Alzheimer’s can’t come soon enough. http://hrc.io/1My27Q5

A win for voting rights in Virginia. No one should have to wait hours to exercise their right to vote. http://hrc.io/1NMueNo

———

It is pretty obvious.. The difference between Bernie and Hillary is as great as the difference between Franklin Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover.

 

Here is a teachers idea of how Common Core should be taught… ie, close reading of a text…

It is broken down into three readings… Reading one, Reading two, and Reading three.  To show grownups what this does to the joy of reading, another  Nancy Bailey (no relation to George) last year took the classic The Night Before Christmas, and after each paragraph, inserted the criteria required to teach in Common Core.

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

STOP!

The First Reading

What is the main idea?
Summarize the passage I just read.
Do you have questions about what I read?
What did you hear?
What is this about?

The Second Reading

What text structures and text features were used?
What is the author’s purpose?
How does the author feel about the subject?
Why did the author use particular words and phrases?

The Third reading

What Inferences can you make?
How does the author support key points?
How does this relate to other texts you’ve read?
How does this relate to your life?
How does the author support key points?

——

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

STOP!

The First Reading

What is the main idea?
Summarize what I just read.
Do you have questions about what I read?
What did you hear?
What is this about?

The Second Reading

What text structures and text features were used?
What is the author’s purpose?
How does the author feel about the subject?
Why did the author use particular words and phrases?

The Third reading

What Inferences can you make?
How does the author support key points?
How does this relate to other texts you’ve read?
How does this relate to your life?
How does the author support key points?

=====

She ruins the entire poem.

Now, besides the irritability of having to stop one’s train of thought every stanza… look at some of the required discussion questions..

What is the main idea?….  Answer… Everyone was asleep… Do we really need to dissect a poem to infinity and beyond to understand that it is about late night when everyone is tired and going to sleep?

Duh.  Really how much more can we learn about everyone being asleep, something obviously heard and understood at first reading, by discussing it excessively in class?  Does this make children smarter and able to read better at some future point? Or does it teach them to play video games all day at home and not read at all?  Obviously it does the latter.

Another question:  what text structures and text features are used?  Excuse me… what is a ….. text structure…   How in hell have I been able to read and write my entire life without knowing what a…. “text structure” is?  Oh, of course I can guess… by saying the too obvious…

“Excuse me, teacher, is it the structure of the text?”

“Why very good kavips, you nailed it exactly… The text structure is the structure of the text”….

“Ma’am?”

“Why yes little kavips.”

“So how is this text structured, can we see it?  What supports what, like on a bridge?  You know how the bottom holds up the top?  So where is the structure in this?”

“I’m sorry, little kavips… no one knows… You see English is a living language changing every day, and if there was structure that was too tight, it couldn’t change… ”

“But what IS the structure, can you explain it to me?”

“No. it is unexplainable. It IS after all, Common Core”

====

In the old days we used to diagram sentences.  That was visual and real and very helpful in understanding adverbs and participial phrases.  We don’t do that any more… All we get is one teacher’s goofy definition of structure she pulls of the top of her head since it is never explained, which is different from all other teacher’s definitions of structure.. So much for “one” curriculum.

—-

Whereas this curriculum may have a place in some specialized field of literary English criticism, perhaps Harvard…  the intellectual movement that Common Core’s ELA forces on children, “only focus on the text”, was debunked as a critical movement back in 1949.. The world has moved on…

All but David Coleman, the founder of Common Core.

Dare you. Read the poem all the way through, answer every question. (No adult will, but yet we thrust it on our children because they have no power of complaint) … then, opt out your child so Common Core disappears after this year and your children again can learn that learning about what is cool, is fun.

In the meantime, next year (2016) pay attention to our General Assembly.

Look for a:

Bill to replace the Smarter Balanced Assessment

Bill to replace Common Core  curriculum with Delaware’s own standards.

Bill to fund Charter School by line items in state budgets and not allow them to steal money from good public schools and bad.

Bill to minimize Standard test results to only 5% weight on a teachers evaluation, making it a factor of no consequence except in borderline cases.

Bill to raise taxes only on  the top 1% of the state’s revenue earners, to be used to fill in budget gaps looming so large they call loudly for drastic cuts, all unnecessary if taxes just get raised on the top one percent…

 

 

 

 

We’ve all heard the myth, and many of us may have once believed it….

“Damn teachers unions are the biggest problem with education; they allow bad teachers to stay in position, not be fired, and the good teachers have to quit or go to other opportunities… This lowers teaching quality.”

If someone says it forcefully we nod in agreement because in our job site, we know of people who probably should be replaced by someone younger and with more energy. So without thinking, we take it as truth….. and echo:  yea! Those damn lazy teachers unions….

If we gave it any thought, there might be some initial questions popping up in our heads…

For one, why do states with strong union laws have much brighter children than states who boast of their non-union environment?  Its true. Massachusetts and Minnesota are two of the top, the South is almost all at the bottom.

For two, we must question why would teachers who were trashed and paid less, be able to teach better than teachers who were rewarded by their strong union’s negotiating power, and financially comfortable?

For three, we have to look at who with plenty of teachers to choose from, would give job security and tenure  to bad teachers, while the good teachers got fired early and sent on their way?

So.

When “thought” gets applied toward this myth, it “pokes holes in it real quick”.

But really it always got chalked up to one person’s theory versus another… If you didn’t like unions,  you supported the anti-union clause because there was no evidence to prove you wrong.  If you didn’t like bosses, you supported the solidarity of union membership and there was no evidence to prove you wrong… And the argument went back and forth…

Guess what?

An exhaustive comprehensive study was done on one third of the nation’s teachers and their evidence shows that strong unions increase the quality of teachers, and right to work policies, decrease the quality of teachers… 

They studied data from schools, districts, and states in union areas and compared them to other schools, districts, and states in right to work areas. And the data fell right in line with what common sense as shown in the three questions above, would predict…..

They also found out why.  Here is what happens in a strong unionized district.

The data confirms that, compared to districts with weak unionism, districts with strong unionism dismiss more low-quality teachers and retain more high-quality teachers. The empirical analysis shows that this dynamic of teacher turnover in highly unionized districts raises average teacher quality and improves student achievement.

Recently events allowed a test of this hypothesis.  Four states changed from mandatory collective bargaining to right to work.  Wisconsin, Indiana, Idaho, and Tennessee. If there was no effect by unions, their scores, their graduation rates, their teacher attrition, their overall teacher quality, would stay the same.

They didn’t.  All four dropped downward since they barred collective bargaining showing that in the real world this myth has nothing backing it.

Strong union schools have higher salaries than weak union schools. Strong union districts have lower teacher attrition than weak union districts, but actually have more firings for quality reasons, than schools in non-union states, who can’t afford to fire teachers because of their higher attrition rate. They struggle to get enough teachers in their schools as it is.

Likewise the percentage of teachers entering the educational profession through an “alternative certification program”(emergency-only help) is much lower in strong union areas, and much higher in strong right to work areas.

When packaged together, the empirical evidence aligns with the hypothesis that children in strong union areas, receive better teaching than in areas of less union activity….

We always knew it; now we can prove it.

 

 

 

I was recently reminded of this because I just saw Charter Schools in Washington state have their state funding cut off today.  They are scrambling to find alternative sources among private donors…

We should revisit exactly why the Supreme Court in Washington decided Charter Schools do not belong in public education, and must be defunded at once.

Washington’s Supreme Court ruled Charters were unconstitutional because the state’s high court ruled that charter schools do not qualify as “common” schools—basically, public schools—in part because they are not governed by voter-elected school boards, but rather by appointed boards.

Without that designation, charter schools weren’t eligible for the funding they expected to get, and the court reasoned that voters would never have approved the creation of charter schools in a 2012 ballot initiative if there was no money to pay for them…

Let me explain why this is different from hiring a private construction company to build a road.  In that case the population tax money goes into a general fund.  We elect representatives whose job it is to decide how to spend those public funds.  Therefore indirectly due to our hiring of the legislator, we have input on how our money is spent. Which basically is the argument for independence outlined in the Declaration of Independence.  We were taxed without representation.

Charters differ because they are funded per student.  That means public money follows the student away from public schools to private schools.

This obviously hurts public schools.

If Republicans wanted to start a Corrupt Moral Values Charter School to obfuscate truisms from sheltered public,  they would get public funding, they would get approval, they would recruit students from among the sheltered public, and with each student they would receive public funds.

But the taxpayer who pays that money for his own school, has some of that taken away and sent to the private charter school. That money loses their right to impact how it gets spent because a private board then decides how it is allotted. Which is about as un-American as it gets.

Therefore Charter Schools are unconstitutional... as long as they are funded as currently.  But if they were funded by a line item in the state’s budget, then like any other government outlay, we would have imput through our elected representative…..

 

Many people don’t have a clue about what education entails. To them, simple appeals may be deemed to have some merit.

But in reality, simple solutions even in our own lives, which are often offered at the drop of a hat by our own relatives,  are way too simplistic to work….  Beware of the same in education.

If anyone says any of these following three things, they are not to be trusted. They cause more harm than good.

Merit pay for teachers. Judging teachers’ merit—and pay—based on their students’ test scores is a particularly meritless notion that resurfaces regularly…. Simply put, all it does is it reward mediocre teachers who luck into teaching at affluent neighborhood schools, and terminates excellent teachers who got the short stick by being in a poverty school…  The test scores are based on affluence only.. Lots of nurturing as a child = higher scores; hardships as a child = low scores.

A three-year experiment by the National Center on Performance Incentives at Vanderbilt University spent more than $1.7 million to give bonuses to selected teachers in Nashville, Tenn., schools, and found, overall, that students of teachers who didn’t get the money performed as well as students of teachers who did.

A similar three-year program in New York City—a beloved initiative of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg—spent $56 million in group bonuses, but was halted in 2011, after outside researchers found that it had had no effect on student performance. Texas dropped its merit-pay program in 2013.

Since no one becomes a teacher to get rich, it would be logical to assume that educators would not be strongly motivated by a financial incentive. But people for whom money is the ultimate reward—a description that fits much of the Wall Street/hedge fund “school reform” crowd—just won’t believe the truth, even when it is before their eyes.

Scapegoating teachers for schools’ poor performance. It is an prime axiom of the reform movement that teachers are the prime cause whenever a school is struggling, and that it is vital to get rid of a stubborn cadre of veteran instructors who have tenures and can’t be fired or won’t leave. Anyone associated with Rodel has directly swallowed this harmful axiom.  The first step of our six turnaround schools was to be the firing of all teachers and only rehiring 50%…  Calmer heads prevailed fortunately.

Studies show one doesn’t need to fire teachers in a low scoring school. They flee on their own.  Personnel records show priority schools from 2010 to 2015, just five years, have on the average only 20% of their original staff remaining.  The others fled to other schools in that same area. Meaning that the newest teachers are thrown to the wolves first, and given assignments in inner city schools where teachers of experience are most needed.  Again, the myth that test scores determine teaching ability, leads policy sharply to towards the wrong result.

The irrepressible fictions of the charter movement. No myth in the modern school reform narrative is more pervasive than the idea that charter schools have somehow solved the riddle of public schools and poor children.  Even in Delaware where the Charter bubble only recently resurfaced under the political protection by the Markell camp,  there are still people scratching their heads over how can it be that Charters cannot even come close to performing as well as the same public schools these people have spent their lives disparaging.

Charters nationwide do not have significantly better test scores than public schools with similar populations. Charters in New York City—now 10 percent of the school population, thanks to Mayor Bloomberg’s devotion to their cause—overall score below the citywide average in reading.

The more “successful” a charter school, the more likely it can be found to employ some or all of the following tactics:

Enrolling significantly fewer of the highest-need students than neighborhood public schools, including the homeless, English-language learners, and those with the most serious physical and learning disabilities.

 Forcing struggling students to leave. A recent New York Times investigation found that one Success Academy charter school in Brooklyn had a “got to go” list of students the principal was determined to get rid of; what’s more, as such students leave—by expulsion, counseling out as bad “fits,” or because the family is moving—some charters refuse to admit new children to replace them, a strategy that keeps scores up.

Adjusting the definition of “poor.” While charter students tend to be poor, a close analysis reveals that in many successful charters a significant percentage of students are significantly less poor than the local average. Given the importance of family income in determining test scores, this gives them a marked statistical advantage over their peers in standardized testing.

70 percent of the public school students in New York City are poor under federal guidelines. Tens of thousands of them are reading and doing math at levels equal to or exceeding those in charter schools. The only secret that charter schools seem to have discovered is how to charm the wealthy and well-connected, and how to promote themselves to people who would rather embrace myth that makes them feel good, than carefully weigh the facts.

The next time you hear anyone use these axioms, whether it be the House Educational Committee, a Rodel press engagement, an editorial in the News Journal, or a governor on the Rick Jensen show……. challenge them… Say “that’s not true. That goes against Common Sense.  Show us the proof that what we know is a myth, is really true…  Where after 30 years of corporate reform in education, is the proof of your side?”

We have the proof for our side.

 

YOU MUST RESIDE IN THE 27TH REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICT.

Battle Ground XXVII

Whether you register as a Republican or Democrat, your incumbent has been considerably weakened last year and this.

Here is what you will have behind you.

Financial resources of the Delaware PTA organization, consisting of parents and teachers from North Claymont to Southern Fenwick Island who deeply care for all children and want them to learn, not jump through meaningless hoops that curtail their development.

Backing from the DSEA teachers’ union, including financial resources and unlimited manpower…

Additional backing from regional teachers unions, such as the Red Clay and Christina local collections who would bend earth and water to replace Earl Jacques with someone who actually cares about kids.

National publicity and financial support from anti-Common Core affiliations sprouting up across America, including some well known like the BadAss Teachers association, and Diane Ravitch, who follow Delaware’s actions through its excellent blogs.

The power of hundreds of thousands of holy prayers rising upwards and a few financial resources from parents absolutely incensed over how the Smarter Balance Assessments manipulates their child to feel stupid when they aren’t,  and who read widely of how almost every other states is running away from Common Core but yet see this incumbent using his leadership position solely to block each, all and every reform.

Support from all the significant editorialists and newscasters in this state, who will give you unlimited access to get your message out. That would include BOTH Rick Jensen and Al Mascitti on WDEL who would do so, because you are fighting a common enemy: corporate interference into public education. .

Here are your incumbent’s crimes……

Authored and pushed forward a charter bill (HB165) which removes $21 million of your dollars our of your school district and gives it to charters scattered all over the state.

Refused to allow the Opt Out Bill out of his committee though it had 52 of 62 (82%) of our General Assembly supporting it.

Called parents pussys because they were afraid of a “little” old test.

Consistently votes for those rights and financial concerns of international corporations over any concerns from people living on Cann Ave.. his own street.

Is personally responsible for the Smarter Balanced Assessment being given to your children.

But the main crime despite all these horrible issues,  is that as chair of the House Educational Committee, he had multiple chances to act to return Delaware to a much better test, and did nothing….

The fact he does nothing in his leadership position, is the prime reason he needs to be kicked out.  We need someone who does SOMETHING!

Voters in the 27th have lately been ill served. Especially if they have children.  No other candidate anywhere in this state can garner this much support so early on. Not even our Representatives in Washington!

Please hear our calls.

Run, run, run….. Voters in the 27th are desperate for any, any other option, regardless of party affiliation…  We will support Democrats who run against him.  We will support Republicans who run against him…. We will support Independents who run against him..

If you are a mom or dad… please, please, please run.  It is really not hard to do at all.  Again, all the experts above can guide you through the process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

STATE ACTION
Florida:

Florida adopted more than 100 revisions to the Common Core State Standards to adapt them to Florida learners following a large-scale review and series of public hearings.

Indiana:

Indiana became the first state to withdraw from the Common Core consortium in 2014 and adopted new standards for ELA and Mathematics validated by state education stakeholders.

Oklahoma:

Oklahoma became the second state to withdraw from the Common Core consortium in 2014 and adopted new standards for ELA and Mathematics validated by state education stakeholders.

South Carolina:

South Carolina became the third state to withdraw from the Common Core consortium in 2014 and adopted new standards for ELA and Mathematics validated by state education stakeholders.

Louisiana:

The Louisiana Governor and legislature enacted legislation to direct the
Education Commissioner to review and develop new standards from 2015-
2016.20 The Education Commissioner also conducted an online survey to gather public feedback on specific standards.

Maine:

The Maine Education Commissioner created a 24-member panel in 2014 to
engage the public, evaluate, and make recommendations on the Common Core Standards.

New Jersey

The New Jersey Governor appointed a committee to review the Common Core Standards and make recommendations regarding revisions before January 2016. The State Education Commissioner also conducted a public online survey to gather public input on specific standards.

North Carolina:

The North Carolina legislature created a committee to review the Common Core Standards, gather public input, and make recommendations to the legislature before December 2015.

Oklahoma:

Oklahoma enacted legislation to repeal the Common Core Standards and revert to its previous Oklahoma standards. School districts retain the option to teach to the Common Core or the Oklahoma standards.25

Pennsylvania:

The Pennsylvania Governor ordered a delay in the implementation of the
Pennsylvania Common Core Standards in 2013 in order for the State to conduct a review and make modifications.26 Approved revisions to the PA Core Standards went into effect on March 1, 2014.

Tennessee:

The Tennessee Governor appointed a committee in 2014 to review the Common Core Standards, gather gather public input, and make recommendations before January 2016.

New York:

Governor’s task force recommends Common Core be scrapped and new state standards be compiled by professional educators and that educational corporations be completely shut out from the process.

====

Delaware

The lemmings follow their educational leaders over the cliff obviously hypnotized by the personal magnetism and scintillating personalities of both Dave Sokala and Earl Jacques.…..

 

New York which had tremendous amounts of kids opting out … Their findings are:

  • The State’s original process to adopt the more than 1,500 Common Core Standards failed to include meaningful input by educators and was not done in a sufficiently open and transparent manner.
  • The Common Core Standards may not be age-appropriate in early grades including K-2.
  • The Common Core Standards do not adequately address unique student populations, such as English Language Learners and Students with Disabilities.
  • The Standards are too rigid and need to be adaptable with more local school district and educator input.
  • There was not enough time for teachers to develop curriculum aligned to the Common Core because much of the sample curriculum resources were not available until after the Common Core Standards were already adopted in schools.
  • The State-provided curriculum created by the State Education Department (SED) is complicated and difficult to use.
  • There is widespread belief that the curriculum does not allow for local district input, lacks breadth, and is too one-size-fits-all.
  • There was a lack of State Education Department (SED) transparency and of parent, educator, and other stakeholder engagement in the development of the Common Core-aligned tests by the corporation hired by SED…..
  • There are concerns that students are spending too much time preparing for and taking tests and that teachers were only “teaching to the test.”
  • The Common Core tests do not properly account for Students with Disabilities and create unnecessary duplicative testing for English Language Learners

 

The Task Force recommends that the Common Core Standards should be revised to reflect the particular needs and priorities of New York State, and to address the serious barriers to successful implementation that have been identified by the Task Force. The Task Force makes the following 21 recommendations to properly implement a new system:

 

  1. Adopt high quality New York education standards with input from local districts, educators, and parents through an open and transparent process.
  2. Modify early grade standards so they are age-appropriate.
  3. Ensure that standards accommodate flexibility that allows educators to meet the needs of unique student populations, including Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners.
  4. Ensure standards do not lead to the narrowing of curriculum or diminish the love of reading and joy of learning.
  5. Establish a transparent and open process by which New York standards are periodically reviewed by educators and content area experts.
  6. Ensure educators and local school districts have the flexibility to develop and tailor curriculum to the new standards.
  7. Release updated and improved sample curriculum resources.
  8. Launch a digital platform that enables teachers, including pre-service teachers, and teacher educators, to share resources with other teachers across the state.
  9. Create ongoing professional development opportunities for teachers, teacher educators, and administrators on the revised State standards.
  10. Involve educators, parents, and other education stakeholders in the creation and periodic review of all State standards-aligned exams and other State assessments.
  11. Gather student feedback on the quality of the new tests.
  12. Provide ongoing transparency to parents, educators, and local districts on the quality and content of all tests, including, but not limited to publishing the test questions.
  13. Reduce the number of days and shorten the duration for standards-aligned State standardized tests.
  14. Provide teachers with the flexibility and support to use authentic formative assessments to measure student learning.
  15. Undertake a formal review to determine whether to transition to untimed tests for existing and new State standardized tests aligned to the standards.
  16. Provide flexibility for assessments of Students with Disabilities
  17. Protect and enforce testing accommodations for Students with disabilities.
  18. Explore alternative options to assess the most severely disabled students.
  19. Prevent students from being mandated into Academic Intervention Services based on a single test.
  20. Eliminate double testing for English Language Learners.
  21. Until the new system is fully phased in, the results from assessments aligned to the current Common Core Standards, as well as the updated standards, shall only be advisory and not be used to evaluate the performance of individual teachers or students….

The Task Force finds the following steps should be taken to properly implement a new system for the nearly 700 school districts and 5,000 schools and more than 200,000 teachers and 2.65 million students in the state:

• A comprehensive review of the more than 1,500 standards in Common Core in an open and transparent manner with significant input by educators, parents, local districts and other education stakeholders, with careful consideration of the appropriateness of these standards in early childhood, and for Students with Disabilities and English Language Learners.

• After the comprehensive review of the Common Core Standards, there must be modification, elimination, or creation of standards to form rigorous New York-specific standards.

• Thereafter, the new standards must be reviewed in an open and transparent manner before adoption.

• After the standards are finalized, the State must engage educators to create and disseminate sample curriculum units.

• The State sample curricula must allow time to be modified by the 700 local school districts and 200,000 teachers in order to ease the transition to updated standards while ensuring that local educators have the flexibility to tailor instruction to the needs of their students.

• Adequate time must be allotted for the State to train local administrators and teacher educators on the new standards and develop their capacity in order to lead a seamless transition to the new system.

• Sufficient time for the State and local school districts to help educators unpack and understand the new standards, design curriculum to meet local needs, and adapt instruction.

• A parent engagement process at the local school district level about the new standards, local curriculum, and assessments.

• An overhaul of the current testing system, including reducing the duration and frequency of test days and increasing test transparency to help students, teachers, and parents understand results and use these to inform instruction and support student learning.

• The creation of new assessments aligned with the new standards that incorporate significant involvement of and input from teachers, teacher educators, local districts, and other education stakeholders….

=====

If Delaware had a similar task force, these would be it’s recommendations as well.  However, that we do not have.

We need one, and considering the recalcitrance from the executive branch, the legislative branch needs to step up and become the parent here…..  The spoiled  child needs put in his place.

 

 

Lavelle said he’ll use the attorney general’s feedback to determine whether there are loopholes regarding theft of public funds and whether state laws need to be changed.”

Of course there are loopholes in the law… It is called Chapter 5 in Title 14… subheading… “Charter Schools”…

If you give schools total freedom to control all their money and disallow any oversight by anyone, then whatever they do with it,  is legal…  You gave them the freedom to do that.. Below is the quote:

To that end, this chapter offers members of the community a charter to organize and run independent public schools, free of most state and school district rules and regulations governing public education, as long as they meet the requirements of this chapter, and particularly the obligation to meet measurable standards of student performance. Schools established under this chapter shall be known as “charter schools.”

continued…..

Consistent with its charter and the provisions of its certificate of incorporation, bylaws or membership agreements, the board of directors of a charter school or schools shall, as to each charter that the board holds, have the power to:

(2) Determine its own budget and operating procedures;

Meaning if any charter feels it needs to have a Mercedes for its head honcho in order to compete with Tower Hill or Sanford, it can do so.

Though what these operators did was immoral and a theft of public funds for private use, they did not break the law… because the law is so poorly written it allows this……

Which is why, we need to fund charters only with line items in the state budget, for then different rules apply and we can try in court and punish those who unlike these… “actually” broke a law….

Title 14, Chapter 5, is very specific: stating that Charters can use the funds anyway they wish and laws preventing such, imposed on public school s by their districts, do not apply to them…..

Which is why it is rather funny that Greg Lavelle said this…. as a charter supporter….  He apparently doesn’t know that is what a charter is.

 

 

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