Saturday, February 7, 2015

my response to john merrow

In response to What a Difference a Dash Makes! by John Merrow

Dear Mr. Merrow, 

I believe you know EXACTLY what is going on; you are simply too smart and well-informed not to. Serving corporate masters is problematic. The last time you spoke truth to power regarding Michelle Rhee, it appeared you got a spanking from those powers. In my heart, I believe you are a closet opt outer.

The problem, in terms of academic achievement as measured by invalid tests, is poverty. Period. Why that elephant continues to be ignored is obvious. If not ignored, then that would mean politicians would have to do something about it. They would finally have to be serving the people rather than corporations and billionaires.

I think you have been very successful in your life, Mr. Merrow. You did this without being subjected to high-stakes testing. You did this without being subjected to a rigorous (as in death-like) set of standards. You were allowed to be a kid. You were allowed to play. I think you are doing well in the 21st century. Though younger than you, I, too, am a highly successful person not raised in the restrictive environment that children have been subjected to since the standards movement, NCLB, and now CC$$. I actually liked school. Sadly, I cannot say the same for children today.

It is well documented at this point that the CC$$ were not created by classroom teachers or early childhood professionals. David Coleman has stated that he and the others were unqualified to create the Language Arts and Math standards. His hubris allowed him to freely admit that in a presentation that was being filmed. Coleman admits, on film, that he had to go around the country to sell the standards to states. State adopted the standards before they were written. It was all part of the Raise to the Top bribery scheme. This is all very we'll documented, so all the spin to the contrary is complete and utter bullshit.

The idea that the CC$$ are fewer seems like another load to me. I live in California. Additional loads from the CC$$ propaganda machine would include: teacher freedom, and less focus on testing. Yeah, right. Whoever came up with those claims surely must've been smoking something powerful. So that kids will be well-prepared to eventually take the SBAC, in kindergarten I am expected to give 18 district mandated ELA and 14 district mandated Math  tests. Since kindergarten testing is 1:1, that means I am no longer a teacher but a tester, testing kids on things I've been unable to teach because all I'm doing is testing. The rigor the district has insisted on for these kindergarten assessments has resulted in bad tests. Still we are expected to analyze the bad data produced by these bad tests. And so it goes. Teacher voice? Teacher freedom? Maybe in someone's mirage but not in my reality.

Comedy is, however, alive and well in Arne's Circus. Like he actually believes that at-risk kids will remain in school despite the effects of theses standards and high-stakes testing? Feeling like failures as early as age 5 will not incentivize (Arne loves this word!) kids to stay on school. I predict that they will simply drop out sooner in greater droves.

So here we are, forcing the CC$$ on our nation's children without even piloting them to find out if they will work. Even billionaire puppet master, Bill Gates, freely admits on film that it will take ten years before we know if the standards have been successful. But he doesn't care if another generation of our kids fall prey to the reformers. His children will never have to experience this bullshit. What does he have to lose? Nothing. Now what he has to gain is a different $tory. The only winners in this story are the money makers.

Mr. Merrow, the pressure being felt due to the real grassroots movements aligned with United Opt Out has intensified. In California, the State Superintendent od Education, Tom Torlakson, is no longer referring to the CC$$ by that name. He now simply refers to them as 'the standards'.  He and others are finding that the term CC$$ has become toxic. The California Teachers Association is following his lead. But the stink is still there. We will not be fooled.

Poverty matters. Tests don't. If poverty's not going to be addressed in any meaningful way, and sadly I'm not hopeful, then can we just let our kids have happy lives in school? Our kids deserve to experience an engaging, we'll rounded curricula that addresses the whole child. Can we honor children where they are and celebrate where they move from there? Can we teach our children to be good people - to be kind? Can we show them how to get along with each other and work together? Can we teach them how to positively resolve conflicts? Can we teach them to care for others as well as themselves? Can we allow them to be creative and follow their own passions? Can we allow them to question and to listen? Can we encourage them to take risks and value failures? Can we honor the unique gifts that each child possesses? If we can, then were are truly teaching them 21st century skills. It's ironic that those skills, the most important ones, cannot be assessed.

Resist the tests.  Opt out!

Monday, January 5, 2015

better late than never...

Last New Year's Eve I blogged about the glory of entering 2014 AC. Unfortunately, I didn't get around to posting it to my blog. I did, however, include it in the newsletter I wrote for my local association. Ironically, this ended up being my last association newsletter. My president wasn't happy with my post for some reason, so she fired me from my unpaid position as newsletter editor. #whatthef**kever! Sadly, the association newsletter died with this last editorial. Go figure. 
So, here goes... Better late than never... maybe.

10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1…  I don't know about you, but I was soooo ready for 2014 to arrive in all its glory. I had been waiting for this moment for over a decade and...  I. Couldn't. Wait. A new day would soon be dawning and I was waiting in eager anticipation. As the clock struck midnight, a miraculous change could be felt first on the right coast, then in the midwest, soon the left coast felt it with Hawaii ringing in the New Year Miracle last. As it happened, Facebook and Twitter were alive with the sound of music crossing this great land of ours as the shift we had been waiting for occurred. The great day had finally arrived and now All. Children. Are. Proficient. Or. Above. Oh, happy day! 

Surely we would now be bringing back the arts, music, science, social studies, voc. ed., physical education, RECESS, developmentally appropriate curricula and classroom teacher created tests back into the classroom. Surely we would be seeing the end of high-stakes testing, and the test prep to infinity and beyond that goes with it. No longer would we be Teachers as Testers! We would finally return to being Teachers... dare I say it... as Teachers! Can I hear an Amen! 

Data (that four letter word) would no longer be driving instruction. The never-ending analysis of data, created by tests whose questions we were not allowed to see, would end. Our children would no longer be Data Points. They would be children once again! The individual differences of our children would be celebrated and the cruel standardization of our children would cease to be. Deficit-based thinking would be so five minutes ago! No longer would our children be seen as common, but as unique. Children would once again be engaged in the learning process and actually enjoy coming to school. Students, teachers and administrators, finally released from the tyranny of the US Department of Education, could once again enjoy teaching and learning! Oh happy day! When will vacation be over so that we may enjoy this new world?

Happy New Year, y’all. Enjoy all that 2014 has to offer.  #TYNCLB

In 2015 I will continue resisting CC$$ and high-stakes testing. I'm so tired of this sh!t. Srsly!