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!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

"nea hearts arne" or "WTF? are you crazy!!!"

New Business Item 36 called for the removal of Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education. Despite several well-informed speeches in support of this NBI, it was defeated. It is a mystery to me how a room full of educators, all of us victims of Duncan's horrific education policies, could continue to support Arne Duncan. His policies are harming our nation's non-elite children and the majority vote seems to send a message that that's OK with the majority of teachers. WTF? Either there's not much critical thinking going on among the delegation, or people are just plain stupid.  Here's what I had to say...

ATeacherAnon addressing 10,000 delegates at the NEA RA 2013
My name is *ATeacherAnon* from California. I am a proud member of the Badass Teachers Association. I am speaking as an individual in support of NBI 36.

As CEO of Chicago Public Schools, Arne Duncan instituted policies that were harmful to the city's children. In Chicago, he instituted school turnarounds, firing the staff and turning schools into charter schools managed by for-profit management companies.

He closed neighborhood schools, forcing children to walk through the communities of rival gang members and attend schools along with those gang members. This policy resulted in increased violence, including murder.

Arne supports charter schools, as well as the highly unqualified Teach For Awhile program which sends recent college graduates with 5 weeks of training into schools serving our neediest children.

He supports evaluating teachers by test scores.

He supports high stakes testing.

He reveres truth-challenged Michelle Rhee yet doesn't support public school teachers.
(See Rhode Island and New Orleans)

Race to the Top and Son of Race to the Top are nothing more than bribery schemes. Education is not a competition. Bribing financially strapped districts to adopt expensive, bad ideas is unconscionable.

And non-educator Arne Duncan, along with Bill Gates's former staffers, have been working diligently to impose Duncan's failed Chicago strategies on our nation's public school children.

As Secretary of Education, Arne totally sucks... And not in a good way.

We need a lifelong educator as our Secretary of Education.

Support NBI 36

Monday, July 22, 2013

nea ra 2013 - in opposition to nbi a

I tried, but the delegation voted to support spreading the Corporate Core propaganda.  Here's what I said:

My name is ATeacherAnon from California and this is my first RA.  I am speaking as an individual.

I strongly oppose NEA’s support of the Corporate-, Privatizer-, Education Deformer-, Bill Gates-driven Common Core State Standards, which were NOT developed by real, certificated CLASSROOM teachers or child development experts.

Nationally renowned early childhood expert Dr. Nancy Carlsson Paige's research told us that out of the 135 people who developed the K-3 standards, there were NO classroom teachers or child development experts among them,  resulting in standards that are not developmentally appropriate.

Dr. Stephan Krashen predicts that the CCSS will increase testing twentyfold.

I predict that that our already narrow, boring curricula will continue to be so. I predict that we will continue to ignore the needs of the whole child. I predict that we will continue to waste months of instructional time on test prep and testing.

As our class sizes continue to grow, precious dollars will be used to buy technology to serve the Corporate Core. I've read the Finnish national education standards. They do not look at all like the Common Core.

My professional conscience leads me to support real, classroom teacher-driven change, not corporate driven change.  We are burning out and stressing out kids. Kids have become disengaged from learning.

I oppose having my union dues spent to support the CCSS and spread Corporate Core propaganda to our students, families, and colleagues.

I urge you to oppose support for the implementation of these expensive, unproven set of standards.

I urge you, instead to support real, classroom teacher-driven change that will address the individual needs of all of our children.

Haven't we learned anything from NCLB?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

turning high-stakes testing on its head...

 The following is dedicated to the tireless efforts of Peggy Robertson and the founding members of United Opt Out National....

Be sure to color in the bubbles carefully. Take your time. Read the questions thoroughly.
When you are done checking your answers, turn your test upside down and wait patiently.
 Thank you for doing your best on this totally fucked up stupid invalid important exam.

Continue reading to learn:
How to opt out in California

Division 1.  California Department of Education
Chapter 2.  Pupils

Subchapter 3.75.  Standardized Testing and Reporting Program

Article 2. Standards-Based Achievement Tests, Alternate Assessments,
and Any Primary Language Test

§ 852. Pupil Exemptions.

            A parent or guardian may submit to the school a written request to excuse his or her child from any or all parts of any test provided pursuant to Education Code section 60640. If a parent or guardian submits an exemption request after testing has begun, any test(s) completed before the request is submitted will be scored and the results reported to the parent or guardian and included in the pupil’s records. A school district and its employees may discuss the STAR Program with parents and may inform parents of the availability of exemptions under Education Code section 60615. The school district and its employees shall not solicit or encourage any written exemption request on behalf of any child or group of children.
NOTE: Authority cited: Sections 33031 and 60605, Education Code. Reference: Sections 60605, 60607, 60615, 60640 and 60641, Education Code. 

For learning how to opt out in other states, please visit United Opt Out National by clicking here.

Occupy the DOE 2.0, The Battle for Public Schools 
United Opt Out founders lead public education activists in a march 
to the White House to tell President Obama,
 "Our kids are more than a test score!"

Stephen Krashen and @ATeacherAnon
at the White House  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

in honor of michelle rhee and her soon to be released memoir. the 3rd edition of michelle rhee - a glossarhee

Rheeality an existence devoid of facts
Rheeally:  used to express surprise, interest or doubt as in “RUFKM?”  Serheeously!
Rheeap to obtain employment, wealth or stature through the efforts and/or contributions of sugar daddy billionaires
Rheecall: to cancel, take back, or revoke – sort of – a lie one has told
Rheecipient: an individual receiving kudos or monetary prizes based on false data
Rheecommendation:  a suggestion made by a highly unqualified person
Rheedact: to delete factual information from written or oral communication because said information does not support the rheetoric
Rheeduce: to diminish the status of professional public educators
Rheedundant: to rheepeat talking points endlessly in order to avoid questions whose answers would not support a particular rheeality
Rheefer: an herb smoked by corporate education deformers, often used to come up with the ridiculous shit they rheegurgitate incessantly
Rheeform drastic change imposed by clueless people and unsupported by peer-reviewed research or facts
Rheeformer an education deformer committed to imposing drastic change while willfully ignoring input from experts
Rheefudiate: to refuse to be challenged when telling lies, regardless of evidence
Rheefund: bonuses forced to be returned by rheecipients of rheewards based on excessive rheerasures
Rheefurbish: to attempt to repair the status and reputation of one caught in a lie
Rheegret:  sadness felt by a rheeformer when caught in a lie and/or cheating
Rheegurgitate to spew out nonsense; usually done by education deformers
Rheehearse: to practice and repeat key phrases or sound bites for later public performance; e.g. status quo; dramatically change; change the trajectory; put adult interests ahead of students; rheesearch shows; a teacher’s value-added; I don't give a crap.
Rheeinstate: to call back teachers fired based on criteria that violated contract
Rheeinvent:  to spin shamelessly in order to aggrandize one’s self
Rheeism a lie
Rheelay:  to receive and pass on misinformation and/or lies
Rheelinquish: to give up one’s throne due to the anger of the constituency
Rheeluctant: unwilling or disinclined to deal with facts
Rheemail:  an electronic communication generated by an education rheeformer
Rheemember:  to rheecall alleged facts based on hearsay
Rheemove to fire without cause; to fire and replace with cheap, unqualified labor
Rheepeal:  in tandem with complicit union leaders, to make invalid contractual protections, denying educators of important rights
Rheepeat:  stating a lie over and over in an attempt to create a truth
Rheephrase: to express a lie in a different way, especially with the purpose of inciting fear or deflecting truth when confronted with facts
Rheeplace: to change a wrong answer to a right answer; provide or find a substitute for an ousted quack or fraud
Rheeplay:  to play back a section of a rheecording in order to watch and/or hear one’s self again and again and again
Rheeply:  an answer most likely untrue
Rheeprehensible: see Michelle Rhee
Rheerase a strategy employed to raise test scores
Rheerasure the outcome as a rheesult of rheerasing.
Rheesearch a billionaire-funded investigation initiated to support a predetermined outcome
Rheesign to leave a job after 3 years
Rheesist: to vigorously deny facts
Rheespond: to answer a question with a lie
Rheespect: a positive feeling of esteem or deference given to public education deformers, Teach for America, or those determining education policy with no background in education whatsoever
Rheestateto state again the same lie in a new form
Rheesult an outcome obtained through questionable, unethical, illegal, or immoral means; a fake outcome
Rheesumé:  a page full of lies
Rheetaliate:  to seek revenge in an especially evil manner
Rheetard a devotee of Michelle Rhee; a member of the Michelle Rhee Fan Club
Rheetell to change one’s story multiple times; back peddle
Rheetire: to be forcefully driven from one’s position or occupation under a cloak of controversy
Rheetoric: sh!t spewed by Michelle Rhee and other like-minded deformer idiots (See Duncan, Gates, Broad, Kopp, Guggenheim, Oprah, and most of the cast of Waiting for Superman)
Rheetract:  to quickly take back or disavow incorrectly marked test answers or verifiable statements of intentional misinformation
Rheeturn: to elect, or rheeelect, legislators favorable to corporate deformer agendas, usually Republicans or Neo-Liberal Democrats
Rheeverse: acting, operating, or arranged in a manner contrary to proven effective public education policies
Rheeview:  to examine facts then willfully and intentionally dismiss them
Rheevile:  to criticize in an abusive or angrily insulting manner, often involving the word crap or crappy
Rheevise:  to prepare a newly rheerased, edited version of what rheelly was; to intentionally change or modify in order to mislead
Rheevision:  an illegally altered final draft or new version of existing material
Rheevoke: in high-stakes testing, a revoke is a violation of important rules serious enough to render the results invalid. A rheevoke is a violation ranked in seriousness equal to overt cheating, a major offense that is not accidental.
Rheeview: to look over, study, examine facts again then choose to ignore them
Rheevolution: an attack on public education orchestrated by the corporate education deformers.
Rheeward:  a monetary prize based on bogus test scores
Rheewrite:  to write something again in order to embellish or falsify an existing document
Unrheedeemable:  not capable of being cured or reformed due to vicious, destructive actions taken in the name of corporate ed deform
Unrheesonablehaving unsound judgment; unfair and insensible; often in regard to education policy

Saturday, October 13, 2012

dear president obama...

Dear Readers,

Please join the October 17 Campaign for Our Public Schools by writing a letter to President Obama! For more information, please go to Diane Ravitch's blog.

Here's my letter.... 

Dear President Obama,

I am a teacher and a parent writing to you about my deep concerns regarding your administration’s education policies.  When I voted for you in 2008, I did so hoping desperately for change. I hoped that we would finally have healthcare for all.  I hoped that Wall Street would be held accountable.  I hoped that campaign reform would happen. And I hoped that the toxic education policies brought by the Bush administration, NCLB, would finally end.  You were my hope for all of those changes.  Needless to say, I am deeply disappointed.

NCLB policies have harmed an entire generation of children.  Those policies have  turned our schools into test prep factories. We no longer honor or teach the whole child; our curriculum has been narrowed to Language Arts and Math.  All. Day. Long. NCLB affected not only our most poverty-ridden schools, but also our more affluent ones, due to the impossible growth model mandated by NCLB. It is nearly impossible to find a public school today that has not turned into a test prep factory focusing on one, problematic, time-consuming, standardized test given near the end of the school year.  That one score determines the fate of schools, teachers, and students across the nation.  And you’re okay with that.

Your policies have made George W. look like public education’s best friend.  Race to the Top (RTTT) has been nothing more that a bribery scheme to force cash-strapped states to adopt and implement your administration’s unsound, punitive education policies, policies that do nothing to help our students, especially those children living in abject poverty. Rather than give money to our most poverty stricken schools, you’re awarding money to states that have capitulated to your Secretary of Education’s demands.  Sadly, the awarded money will not even cover the costs of the changes you have mandated in order to be in compliance and none of that money will end up in the classroom.  None. Of. It.

And then there’s Arne Duncan. That you appointed a basketball player as your Secretary of Education was insulting to teachers everywhere.  That you have supported him in his efforts to force our nation’s schools to implement his failed education policies imposed during his tenure, as CEO of Chicago Public Schools, is unfathomable.  You’re from Chicago, Mr. President.  You’re clearly a very smart guy.  I don’t believe for a moment that you are unaware of those well-documented failures.  So I have to ask you, Is your endgame the planned failure and dismantling of our nation’s public schools?  Because that is what it is looking like to me.

  • Mandate that schools implement failed policies.
  • Close schools and disrupt communities. 
  • Push out veteran teachers to make room for untrained, temporary Teach For America short timers.
  • Support large class sizes
  • Charterize our public schools and use our tax dollars to help your hedge fund buddies amass profits made at the expense our nation’s children even though you know that few charter schools do any better than public schools despite their ability to game their student population
  • Continue with the test and punish agenda

So I have to ask you, Mr. President:

  • Your daughters’ class sizes are 13:1.  Why is it okay for my daughters to be in classes with 36 students?
  • Your daughters’ enjoy a rich, well-rounded curriculum.  Why is it okay for my daughters to spend their days on worksheets, test prep and testing, studying only Language Arts and Math?
  • Your daughters are not given a scripted curriculum.  Why is it okay for my daughters to be subjected to a boring, irrelevant, low-level, yet often developmentally inappropriate, scripted curriculum?
  • Your daughters will not be subjected to the Common Core Standards, another product NOT developed by educators or child development experts.  Why is it okay to subject other children to this possibly illegal idiocy? I guess like David Coleman, you don’t ‘give a sh!t’ what I, an actual, highly-qualified,  veteran educator, have to say.
  • Your daughters don’t have any untrained, temporary Teach For America corps members as teachers.  Why is it okay for other children to have unqualified, temporary TFA teachers?
  • Your daughters are not labeled based on one test score.  Why is it okay for my daughters to be labeled by a test score? (And I don’t care if the label is Advanced!)
  • Your daughters aren’t subjected to high-stakes testing.  Why is it okay for my daughters to be subjected to high-stakes testing that robs them of receiving the education they deserve?

For me, I don’t have to worry about the affects of your education policies on my highly gifted daughters any longer.  They chose to drop out of school.  Their education stopped meeting their needs so they opted out completely.  I allowed them to make that choice because I could not defend the system that had been imposed on them by the Bush-Obama education policies.

But I worry about the 4 and 5 year olds I teach every day. Your policies affect my students in harmful ways that can have long-term effects.   I am expected to deliver a scripted, developmentally inappropriate curriculum, have them complete worksheets, and test them 3 times a year.  Not only do the tests not inform my instruction (I assess my student in authentic ways daily to inform my instruction), my students are robbed of instructional time while stressing out because what I am asking of them is beyond their ability. Weeks are wasted each year due to the 1:1 testing that I am now mandated to administer.  That testing has become more important than teaching should cause you great concern, but that is what your policies have created.  It’s all about the data now, whether or not the data collected has any value at all.  And speaking of the stress some children experience when being required to take these inappropriate tests, I have to ask you, Mr. President, have you ever had the joy of cleaning up a test that a distressed child has thrown up on it?

I hold Secretary Duncan accountable for the bad education he is forcing on my students.  I hold you accountable as well, Mr. President, because the buck stops with you.  You both should be ashamed about imposing your bad policies on my students, while protecting your children from these abuses.  Thanks to NCLB and NCLB, The Sequel – RTTT, all I can say is sh!t is really @#$%&* up!!  Don’t count on my vote this time around.


A Teacher Anon

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

more stupid sh!t arne says...

“We have so many great teachers, but we haven’t listened. And teachers are so nice they haven’t demanded a seat at the policy table…"
US Secretary of Education

O.M.F.G! D.E.L.U.S.I.O.N.A.L.  (Except for the "we haven't listened" part.)