Dorn Speaks, Bullies, and Threatens, yet Provides No Evidence and Fails to Follow the Law

page1page2aThe above is the press release with Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) Randy Dorn’s statements about assessment opt outs.

SPI Dorn says statewide testing is important. It may be important, but for whom? For the students and parents who won’t see results of an assessment that is not valid and reliable until the late summer or the following school year? For the teachers who no longer have the students in their classroom? Or for SPI Dorn and DSC02792-Bhis standing with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who is also making bullying and threatening noises? Did both of them attend the same professional development session on bullying?

We have had statewide testing for decades and have never seen the number of opt outs we are seeing now. What is different? Is it the assessment? Should decision makers pay attention and take action to effectively address the situation or should they just double down with more bullying, threats, punishment, and consequences?

SPI Dorn says statewide assessments are important because they help ensure finger printall public school students receive a quality education. Great sounding statement. SPI Dorn needs to provide evidence and explain how statewide assessments ensure a quality education and specifically how SBAC ensures this better than previous statewide assessments used in Washington.

SPI Dorn says:

“But the Smarter Balanced tests, with their emphasis on real-world skills, are better than any standardized test our state has administered before.”

Like so many other statements, this sounds nice. Where is the proof that backs it finger printup? Evidence, evidence, evidence—please provide it if you are going to make such statements. There’s not even any proof the Smarter Balanced Assessments are valid and reliable. Is that what makes them better?

SPI Dorn says:

“we are able to see where learning gaps exit and know where to target funds for additional help.”

Show when and where such assessments as SBAC have shown where learnifinger printng gaps exists and how targeting funds have shown successful results in improving student academic achievement. Evidence, evidence, evidence.

Let’s not forget parent rights.   Were parents consulted and involved in the planning and development of the assessments or the policies related to them? If you want to do something with a parent’s child, it is advisable to consult the parent and obtain their consent. This is a missing aspect of the education reform movement, including the use of the Smarter Balanced Assessments.

file000817447890Why are SPI Dorn and OSPI bowing down to the federal government instead of the will of the people in the state of Washington? Since parents were not included in the decision making regarding statewide assessments, opting out is one way the people have of expressing their will. Why is it being ignored?

Instead of paying attention to the will of the people, the system, with SPI Dorn as spokesperson, is threatening and bullying the people into compliance with measures that have become not only unreasonable, but are illegal.

SPI Dorn says:

“If you don’t like the federal law, don’t refuse to have your child take the tests; call your U.S. representative and senators and tell them to change the law.”

Would it make any difference if the laws were changed? Would SPI Dorn adhere to those laws any better than he does existing law? SPI Dorn should comply with federal law and the Constitution of the United States. More than comply, he should be held accountable for not complying. Why is he allowing the federal government to make decisions about education in our state when the Constitution and the 10th wethepeopleAmendment clearly makes it the responsibility of the state and the people, not the federal government? The Race to the Top Assessment Grant awarded to Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium required the development of a valid and reliable assessment. No proof or evidence of SBAC’s validity and reliability exists. NCLB requires the state to administer valid and reliable assessments. By using the SBAC, WA is not in compliance with federal law. Why is SPI Dorn having the state administer an assessment that does not meet the requirement of federal law? The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium is an illegal interstate compact under the Compact Clause of the U. S. Constitution. Why did SPI Dorn commit and allow the state to participate in an illegal interstate compact using taxpayer dollars?

It is legal for parents to opt out of, or refuse, the assessments. Yet when they do, they get bullied and threatened. By making decisions that violate federal law and the U.S. Constitution, SPI Dorn is acting illegally by opting out of or refusing to adhere to federal law and the U.S. Constitution. Where are the sanctions and consequences for violating federal law and the U.S. Constitution? Is this a case where elected officials are exempt from the law?

While SPI Dorn points out academic and monetary consequences in his press release, parents are pointing out the consequences of imposing these assessments on their children by taking action. The consequences of such imposition will be a growing number or parents opting out or refusing to have their children subjected to these assessments.

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Why I Quit My Teaching Job

David Xirau was a math teacher at Weymouth High School (MA) until late January of this year.  Below is the letter he wrote about why he quit his teaching job.  What he expresses in his letter could be expressed by teachers in most any state these days.  How many teachers are we losing to the education reform movement?  How long will it take before citizens reclaim local control of their schools and allow teachers to teach?

     To whom it may concern:

Why am I leaving? Long story short, our current school system and certain administrative practices are not letting me do my job. I cannot work in an environment where only half of my time can be devoted to the art of teaching. I retired from the military to become an educator, and I am compelled to go where I can do this more effectively. Authentic teaching is done free of the restrictive standards, unattainable objectives, and insanely burdensome administrative minutiae that are imposed upon us every day. I became a teacher to serve the kids and the community, not the greedy, idealistic inexperienced administrators, corporate interests, and politicians who are destroying our beloved profession. I find myself each day spinning wheels trying to stay ahead of their game, crunching numbers, while our students’ true education suffers.

Year after year, “they” keep piling more and more tasks onto our plates with no extra compensation and no extra time to execute the tasks properly while none of our old responsibilities are taken away. Shouldn’t this FACT raise a red flag somewhere? Apologies do not solve the problem. Silence won’t make it go away. A real teacher knows that on any given day, every minute counts. With our limited time constraints, we find ourselves cutting corners to make everything fit, making difficult choices: “Do I call the parent of a student who is failing, or do I collect evidence for my evaluation”?

At what point will we break? How much more can we realistically be expected to sustain upon our backs before the stress is reflected in our teaching? In our home life?   In our health?   When our first thought in the morning is, “Sigh…only 10 more years to retirement,” instead of, “I am going to make a difference today,” something is very wrong. Administrative apologists claim they are bearing the weight as well – a curious thing how a $100,000-plus salary can help lighten the load for some people. Please.

What is the real cost of this extra work? Who is paying the price when our minds and energy are devoted to endless testing, development of standards and objectives, rubrics, measurement, results, analysis, DDMs, improvement plans, PLCs, “Smart” goals, evidence collecting, percentages, alignments, core curriculum, cross curriculum, accommodations, modifications, incessant IEP paperwork, meetings, data, data, data, and more data? Read the list again!! Where is the pedagogy?   When do we get to teach?

It has gotten to the point where each of us, literally, needs a secretary and a data analyst just to manage all of the extra work so that we can focus on the kids and perform our traditional duties. At the rate we are going, we will soon need lawyers in our classrooms… I have never worked in a place where so many people are afraid to make a decision or speak their mind for fear of losing their job, or for fear that the school will get sued. This mindset is unhealthy and unproductive.

How does this affect my job? As a result of having to devote more time, energy, and attention to the aforementioned tasks, I have had to turn down students for after-hours tutoring; I have had to decrease my outreach to parents; my planning has suffered; my creativity is limited; and my grading, attention to details, and other essential pedagogical tasks are also taking hits. There is no time to meet with peers to discuss shared courses or to mentor new teachers. I have students with learning disabilities that need my extra time and attention, but I have very little to give. I can no longer perform as much community service as I used to. I can go on, of course….

Many of the things that authentic teaching should be about are being sacrificed because our focus is divided into as many new “21st Century” objectives. I think that we are getting ahead of ourselves with our mission. How can we focus on 21-st Century skills when it is clear that our students have not yet mastered 20-th Century skills? The educational model of the previous century gave us Steve Jobs, Civil Rights, and took us to the moon. Thus far, the present model has only gotten us a lower standing and less respect on the International academic achievement scale. This is the indicator, the evidence, that we are not headed in the right direction. We’re losing track of the basics, trying to get our students to run when they haven’t yet learned to walk.

The business-minded, boilerplate approach to education through standardization, measurement, and analysis, greatly curtails teachers’ most valuable gifts, decreases morale, and as a consequence, affects our students. Our student body’s most prominent quality is its diversity, yet here we are, trying to measure them all by the same yardstick. We are trying to control output when we have no control over the input. It is folly to believe that we can adequately compare results across school years when so much changes every year. What is the control group in this social experiment? Diversity and standardization are not good bedfellows – the terms are oxymoronic at best. Authentic teaching cannot be done with a script.

I guess my decision to throw in the towel boils down to an unwillingness to serve two masters at once. I can either devote my time to teaching or I can help the District produce its precious data – but I can’t do both. I am morally and ethically incapable of doing each task at only 50%. Students need to be taught, not analyzed. They are human beings, not an experiment, not parts of a machine coming off of an assembly line. My students need and deserve my full attention, something I cannot give under the current circumstances.

 

STANDARDIZED Lies, Money, & Civil Rights: How Testing is Ruining Public Education

The community is invited to see a special showing of the movie “Standardized”
http://www.standardizedthefilm.com/

TUESDAY, APRIL 28TH
6:30 P.M.
PIERCE COUNTY SOUTH HILL LIBRARY

Sponsored by The Facebook groups:
Pierce-Thurston County Common Core Concerned Citizens (375+)
Washington State Against Common Core (3000+)

Synopsis:
For decades, standardized testing has been a part of public education. Within the last ten years, however, education reform has promoted even more testing. Test scores, mistakenly viewed as effective assessments of student ability and teacher/school effectiveness, are anything but. STANDARDIZED sheds light on the invalid nature of these tests, the terrible consequences of high-stakes testing, and the big money that’s involved.

Mirror Mirror on the Wall… Beware of Apples Dripping with Common Core Poison

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dayabio:

A Spokane teacher artistically demonstrates the incestuous web of Common Core supporters in Washington state.

Originally posted on DivineSparkIgnites:

Mirror mirror on the wall,

Who is the most deceptive of all?

Snow White

Poison Apple 9

A lovely child I see.

Rags cannot hide her innocent face.

Alas, she is more honest than thee.

Lips red full of questions filled with curiosity.

Hair speckled with creativity.

Skin colored with diversity.

The Evil Queen

Alas!  Who is this evil queen?

Who plots to feed our children apples laced with poison?

Is college and career ready truly the reason?

The Hunter

At first she summoned a kind hearted man,

Who disagreed with the queen’s devious plan.

The hunter loved Snow White, an admiring fan,

He spared her life, cut out a deer’s heart, into the forest she ran.

The Apple

One apple will no longer suffice,

it is masses the Empress must now entice.

Children see shiney and red,

innocently eating the venom they’re fed.

 

One juicy bite lulls parents and educators to sleep…

View original 2,838 more words

Opt out fever catches in eastern Washington!

This has been a big week for the opt out movement in eastern Washington! Both Spokane and the Tri-Cities are experiencing surges in test refusals. Federal law (No Child Left Behind) requires at least 95% participation in state testing (MSP/HSPE, EOCs, and SBAC)  in order for a test sample to be considered valid. In this data-fed system of punishments to schools, teachers, and students, withholding that data by opting out of state testing is the simplest and most effective way to voice your objection and bring that system to a screeching halt.

The Kennewick School District has received 120 documented opt outs, and hundreds more students simply didn’t show up on test day. KSD hopes more students show up to next portion of the exam

Southridge High School in Kennewick is seeing 70% of their students opting out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment! Parents opting students out of state school testing

Opt out fever is catching in Spokane, too, where even teachers are beginning to speak out. Don’t test me

How the state will respond to the opt out movement remains to be seen, but one thing is clear. Parents and teachers want an end to high-stakes testing. Join the movement!

Tri-Cities Wa Citizens Against Common Core on Facebook.

Spokane Wa Against Common Core on Facebook.

Find more information about opting out of state testing here.  You may be asked by your school to turn in a state testing refusal form. Although it’s not required, you can find that form here.

Common Core Revolution

‘The Revolution Band’ from Massachusetts perform “Common Core Revolution”. Original music by The Beatles (duh).
Lyrics:

We say we want a Revolution
Well you know, we all hate Common Core
You tell me it’s a school solution
Well you know, it makes a parent go to war

And when you take away democracy,
Don’t you know that you can count me out!

Well we have to tell the Feds, it’s not all right…

Politicians fear no retribution
Well you know, we’re all going to vote them out
‘Race to The Top’ is no contribution,
Well you know, control and money’s what is what its about

If you want math and tests we really hate,
No art and music makes us really irate

Well we have to tell the Feds, it’s not all right…

You’d have to change the Constitution
Well you know, you just spit on it instead
Teachers have no say in education
Well you know, schools should be state led

But if you go carrying pictures of Bill gates
The 99% better change our fate

Well we have to tell the Feds, it’s not all right…

Open Senate Hearing/Panel on the Common Core

Washington state Senators Pam Roach (R) and Maralyn Chase (D) are sponsored a hearing on Common Core on Thursday, April 2nd at 4:00 p.m. in Olympia. This hearing was well attended.  Panel members presented information about the standards and assessments and parents and community members testified.  Here is a video of the panel presentations.