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!


  1. At risk children tend to be poor test takers. I was an at-risk child and I was a horrible test taker. Using these bubble tests to judge students will crush most of them and I predict this Common Core rank and judge Crap will destroy many lives.

    The drug cartels are going to love this because they will eventually have a much wider market to sell their drugs to as children la bleed as failures due to a bubble test are driven to depression and into the arms of drug dealers and/or to become drug dealers.

    I didn't get accepted to college because of a Test. I was accepted to college without a test because I joined the U.S. Marines after barely graduating from High school and after fighting in Vietnam, it seems that being a combat vet earned me the right to skip the test and go straight to the front of the line when I applied to go to college.

    The GI Bill and this preferential benefit served me well and five years after being honorably discharged from the Marines, I earned my BA in journalism and was on the Dean's List at graduation with a 3.95 GPA in my major.

    But If I had to rely on a bubble test to get into college, I would have never made it. In fact, our daughter who graduated from Stanford last June was accepted to Stanford---not because of a bubble test---due to her GPA, social skills, essay and oral interview. When i called Stanford's admissions office during the application process to find out how important the test score was, I was told it was only one factor in the admissions process and wasn't that crucial.

    If Stanford understands this truth about the flaw of bubble tests, why is it that the White House, Bill Gates and Arne Duncan can't understand this truth---or maybe they do but don't care?

    1. THANK YOU. I know so many now-doing-well, successfully middle-class citizens who also would never have "made it" should their success have depended upon a scholastic test!

  2. WHAT a perfectly lovely statement: In my heart, I believe you are a closet opt outer!! :) :)