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…unless you are Bernie Sanders, which makes him even more amazing than he already was… Out-raising Clinton?  Impressive. Not to mention blowing the doors off all feeble Republican efforts.

But I’m riffing on this topic today, so here it goes.

The reason is because a lot of progressive type people as well as far righters rail at their politicians for being what has often been titled “corporate whores”…

Doing whatever corporate donors ask and then getting a few bucks for it…

What most of you don’t realize, is that elected officials really don’t have a choice.  Citizens United changed the playing field so that ignoring BIG money kills you off early.

(Which is why we elect progressive type people and become dismayed to find they too gyrate to corporate philosophies faster than we can find their replacements..)

For new comers to this process, we should say, it was not always this way… There was a time when BIG MONEY was just a player like everyone else.  If they had good ideas, you listened.  If they were a crock, you ignored their pleas…

Citizen’s United changed that playing field by allowing dark money to invade any contest. Prior, one had limits on contributions each which alone would not sway an entire election, plus it had to be publicly disclosed…

Now if someone doesn’t like the “size of your nose”, they can secretly donate unlimited amounts to unseat you…  In local races it may not be effective.  Bryan Townsend (2012) trounced “Big Bucks” Tony Deluca who had paid a lot for slick pieces to land in every district mailbox every day a month before the election… It  sorta pissed people off.

But the threat of big money arising against you, makes you seriously weigh what normally would have been good sense legislation against that potential threat…

For example: do I dare stop this cancer causing power plant in the heart of Newark which will prematurely kill of 15,000 of our citizens over the next 50 years,…. or risk losing the next election due to dark money behind a dark opponent?

That would be a no-brainer right?  Those dead could be your children, right?  But no, it is not a no-brainer because you won’t be around in 50 years.  And if you vote against it, you definitely will have an all out fight to still be employed beginning the next election cycle..

So more than donated money itself, it is the threat of  potential money that has killed off all “pro-people” legislation.

Just like: the threat of getting stopped at a sobriety checkpoint….  chance of a 100 per million… makes you not drink too much before driving. Or getting a ticket from the camera pole, makes you not run a red light and instead sit at the corner for 3 minutes with no cars in sight; or eventually losing your license, makes you choose to pay at tolls instead of sneaking through the EZ Pass lane.

All those ridiculous things we do that defy common sense, we do because of existential threats. With Citizen’s United, the threat is real that if we do not side with corporate against WE, THE PEOPLE, we will lose everything we’ve worked for our entire professional lives….

This is why calling anyone, including Hillary, a corporate whore, is pretty lame… They have no choice really… Sadly it is like name calling a 13 year old who was forced to prostitute.. They could be a concert pianist had events gone differently for them… But we, have forced them into this situation… and as would any 13 year old rapidly figure out, you get killed if you don’t play the game, so you had better play it well because no one is coming to save you….

Unless it is YOU… Are YOU going to vote to end Citizen’s United?….. If not, shut your mouth… You are polluting the air with your breath…

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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 understand many may be confused or not sure if your child is better served by not taking the test.

But when a Blue Ribbon panel is handpicked to decide the Opt-Out issue, and THEY shock their “handlers” by all siding with opting-out is the best for children….  something big is up.

You HAVE to take that seriously.. Just as serious as you do the fact that their viewpoint was dismissed and the preset policy decided long ago, was poured into form and allowed to set….

Politics are not your concern.  Plush post electoral jobs for Markell, Sokola, or Jacques are not your concern.  Your child,…. is your concern….

When a handpicked group of people expected to side with the administration (that’s why they got picked) all flip and say: “no, this test is awful.  We have go allow parents to opt out”…. then that should set off alarm bells.

You may be able to opt out later, but I can’t guarantee it.. If you opt out now, and change your mind later, you can always opt back in.  Even as late as test day…

But opting out now is the smart move because it gives you wider options to do what is best for your child….

Here is all you need to say…..

I __________________, parent of ________________ am opting my child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Please make sure he does not take the Smarter Balanced Assessment this spring….

Love,

Your favorite parent….

 

 

 

“Just wait for the NEAP scores! Just wait for the NAEP scores” we were told.  “We know what we are doing; Just watch them climb; We’re on the right track; don’t upset the applecart” they warned us.,….

We didn’t let it stop us.  We told you the scores would be low because we ourselves were taking the tests and doing the homework assignments as the switch began occurring two years ago….

Math scores for fourth-graders and eighth-graders across the United States finally dropped this year, the first time since the federal government began administering the exams in 1990. Reading scores weren’t much better; eighth-grade scores dropped while fourth-grade performance was stagnant compared with 2013, the last time the test was administered.

FACT:  The greatest Delaware gain ever on the Educational Report Card came about from the policies put in place my the Minner administration.  Since Markell put in his new policies, gains were flat, and are now dropping like rocks to the bottom of the pond.

Stripping those away and going with a corporate curriculum has denied most of Delawares children the better education they were on track to receive…..

….and with todays NAEP’s scores release, the data is now there to prove it….it’s no longer speculation.  It is fact. Common Core is dumbing down children at a faster pace than every before recorded across the history of this test…..

So the irony exist that not only are they calling out your children for being stupid by taking a ridiculous test that not even adults can agree on which answer is right or wrong……  your child actually is not learning because of his involvement in this great experiment:  letting corporations run education and getting rid of teachers…….

This was totally expected.  We would have been very surprised to see any gains…

Here is the NAEP’s ranking of states…. 

NAEP 2015

Light blue is bad.  Delaware is in the company of West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, and Mississippi… Not as in two years ago… sharing the spotlight with PA, NJ, MA, and CT.  (You can notice the aforementioned upper Midwest bias by this map as well)

There is a problem. The states that shed Common Core did well. The states that embraced it did poorly…. That is all you need to know.

Get rid of Common Core and let teachers teach… or we will have our own companies going oversees to get their smarter job applicants…

NAEP Delaware 8th Math

Bottom Feeders NAEP 2015NA#P Delaware Historical

Here is a link to Delaware’s snapshot of the NAEP….. and as you got to it, we will leave you with this quote…..

“I want to be known as the ‘education governor'”………. Jack Markell — State of the State speech

No sustained veto threat threat here…

Earl Jacques

Mike Barbieri

Tim Dukes

Are the three….

Still clueless.

A good sign.

12 people to every clueless one

Voted to allow Parents to opt out…..

Markell and Murphy ,

Are like snow pea pods

On the highway now

In front of a Steam Roller

Bearing down.

Before any of you buy into this Administration’s, Secretary Murphy’s and DOE’s false assertion that they are trying to improve the educational experience for the “high poverty”, “inner-city” schools by offering roughly $200,000 per year to six schools (not a penny of which will actually reach the children) ask yourselves and then ask this Administration why massive funding cuts that eliminated so many programs that were geared to allow for student achievements, improvements and survival were not restored.

It is the height of arrogance and hypocrisy to pretend to create a program helping students avoid the need for collegiate remedial courses when the money necessary to fund “Reading Resource Teachers” (Gov. Minner’s excellent initiative) and “Math Specialists” has been eliminated in public schools to the tune of $12.5 million.

To also promote advisory boards to examine needs of poverty ridden schools and inner-city schools while continuing to deliberately ignore the poverty epidemic in this State and refusing to acknowledge the legitimacy of smaller class sizes, (not bigger and more bloated & higher paid leadership) is unconscionable propaganda that is insensitive to the reality of the plight of the children.

If the DOE wishes to establish a priority, please join me to establish the funding for more class sizes and the funding for it, should be the “high” priority.

The MOU should go into a shredder to save the Department of Education staff further embarrassment.

(abridged version)