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NPE Calls for Hearings on Standardized Test Abuse in Public Schools

Will anyone listen is the question. —TBH


AUSTIN, TX The Network for Public Education (NPE) closed out its first National Conference here with a call for Congressional hearings to investigate the over-emphasis, misapplication, costs, and poor implementation of high-stakes standardized testing in the nation’s K-12 public schools.

In a Closing Keynote address to some 500 attendees, education historian and NYU professor Diane Ravitch, an NPE founder and Board President, accused current education policies mandated by the federal government, such as President Barack Obama’s Race to the Top, of making high-stakes standardized testing “the purpose of education, rather than a measure of education.”

The call for Congressional hearings – addressed to Senators Lamar Alexander and Tom Harkin of the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee, and Representatives John Kline and George Miller of the House Education and Workforce Committee – states that high-stakes testing in public schools has led to multiple unintended consequences that warrant federal scrutiny. NPE asks Congressional leaders to pursue eleven potential inquiries, including, “Do the tests promote skills our children and our economy need?” and “Are tests being given to children who are too young?”

“We have learned some valuable lessons about the unintended costs of test-driven reform over the past decade. Unfortunately, many of our nation’s policies do not reflect this,” stated NPE Executive Director Robin Hiller. “We need Congress to investigate and take steps to correct the systematic overuse of testing in our schools.”

“Our system is being rendered less intelligent by the belief that ‘rigor’ equates to ever more difficult tests,” warned NPE Treasurer Anthony Cody. “True intelligence in the 21st century depends on creativity and problem-solving, and this cannot be packaged into a test. We need to invest in classrooms, in making sure teachers have the small class sizes, resources, and support they need to succeed. We need to stop wasting time and money in the pursuit of test scores.”

About NPE:

The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society. Our mission is to protect, preserve, promote, and strengthen public schools and the education of current and future generations of students. We will accomplish this by networking groups and organizations focused on similar goals in states and districts throughout the nation, share information about what works and what doesn’t work in public education, and endorse and rate candidates for office based on our principles and goals. More specifically, we will support candidates who oppose high-stakes testing, mass school closures, the privatization of our public schools and the outsourcing of its core functions to for-profit corporations, and we will support candidates who work for evidence-based reforms that will improve our schools and the education of our nation’s children.

Press Contact:
Anthony Cody
anthony_cody@hotmail.com
1(510) 917-9231.

PRESS RELEASE: http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org/2014/03/press-release-npe-calls-for-congressional-hearings/

SUMMARY: http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org/2014/03/npe-call-for-congressional-hearings-summary/

FULL TEXT: http://www.networkforpubliceducation.org/2014/03/npe-calls-for-congressional-hearings-full-text/

Feb 9
If you don’t get off your ass, nothing will change. Cornell West

If you don’t get off your ass, nothing will change. Cornell West

(Source: recitethis.com)

And, at the end of the day, for whatever reason, EVERY business goes out of business. EVERY SINGLE ONE. And you say education should follow a business model? —Holt

And, at the end of the day, for whatever reason, EVERY business goes out of business. EVERY SINGLE ONE. And you say education should follow a business model? —Holt

(Source: recitethis.com)

Jan 8

Texans for Education Reform Mobilizes for 2014. Battle of the Billionaires.

Follow the money..I bet a bunch of it leads right back to Jeb Bush.

An education advocacy group that became a lobbying powerhouse during the 2013 legislative session with the backing of Texas tort reform heavyweights is now turning its sights to the upcoming election cycle. Texans for Education Reform, whose legislative package included measures to encourage the growth of online education and charter schools, has formed a political action committee, according to filings with the state ethics commission. The new committee will allow the group, which spent at least $645,000 on a team of 16 lobbyists during its first legislative session, to put some of its resources toward political candidates.

Dec 8

Meet The Nate Silver Of Education. Bruce Baker Will Bring Sanity To Reform Hype | TechCrunch

According to Baker, the cost of living varies by state, so we can’t use national averages of income to compare districts. When states are re-weighted by regional poverty, it’s clear that New Jersey is likely doing pretty well, considering the number of poor students they’re dealing with. The problem is, education is tricky. Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman once quipped that they’d love to evaluate students by yearly improvement, but “children do not develop in nine-month chunks except during gestation.” Unless a study is randomized, rigorously controlled and published in a peer-reviewed journal, arm your bullshit meter if anyone is claiming they’ve found a scalable solution. Until then, follow Baker for his response on hyped-up reform stories. I do.

Click on title to go to article. Here is the blog: http://schoolfinance101.wordpress.com

Henry A. Giroux | When Schools Become Dead Zones of the Imagination: A Critical Pedagogy Manifesto

Click on title to go to article

"Corporate school reform is not simply obsessed with measurements that degrade any viable understanding of the connection between schooling and educating critically engaged citizens. The reform movement is also determined to underfund and disinvest resources for public schooling so that public education can be completely divorced from any democratic notion of governance, teaching and learning. In the eyes of billionaire un-reformers and titans of finance such as Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, the Walton family and Michael Bloomberg, public schools should be transformed, when not privatized, into adjuncts of shopping centers and prisons. 4
Like the dead space of the American mall, the school systems promoted by the un-reformers offer the empty ideological seduction of consumerism as the ultimate form of citizenship and learning. And, adopting the harsh warehousing mentality of prison wardens, the un-reformers endorse and create schools for poor students that punish rather than educate in order to channel disposable populations into the criminal justice system where they can fuel the profits of private prison corporations. The militarization of public schools that Secretary Arnie Duncan so admired and supported while he was the CEO of the Chicago School System was not only a ploy to instill authoritarian discipline practices against students disparagingly labeled as unruly, if not disposable. It was also an attempt to design schools that would break the capacity of students to think critically and render them willing and potential recruits to serve in senseless and deadly wars waged by the American empire. And, if such recruitment efforts failed, then students were quickly put on the conveyor belt of the school-to-prison pipeline. For many poor minority youth in the public schools, prison becomes part of their destiny, just as public schools reinforce their status as second-class citizens. As Michelle Alexander points out, “Instead of schools being a pipeline to opportunity, [they] are feeding our prisons.”

Texas: Publishers refuse to include creationism in science textbooks

Yes! Someone has to take a stand for this nonsense and it is about time the publishers stop kowtowing to these special interest groups. (And yes, in this case, the Christian Right is a special interest group because it does not represent the views of all Christians.)

From the article:
“Materials submitted to the Texas Education Agency and examined by the Texas Freedom Network and university scientists show that publishers are resisting pressure to undermine instruction on evolution in their proposed new high school biology textbooks for public schools.

“This is a very welcome development for everyone who opposes teaching phony science about evolution in our kid’s public schools,” Texas Freedom Network President Kathy Miller said. “Texas parents can applaud these publishers for standing up to pressure from politicians and activists who want to put their personal beliefs ahead of giving Texas students a 21st-century science education.”

Thank you publishers.
Thank you

Speaking of School Accountability…PTA Mom Grades Texas’ Accountability to its Schools

Click on link to go to article.

From the article: 

Texas’ lack of commitment to public education shouldn’t be of surprise if you’re a Texas student, educator, parent, taxpayer, or casual bystander. The state’s indifference has been decades in the making. You’ve seen classes grow larger, budgets grow smaller, and important student programs eliminated. You’ve seen the cost of public education in a growing state ignored by legislators, shifting primary fiscal responsibility from the state to the local communities (and ultimately local property taxpayers). You’ve seen school districts sue Texas time and time again looking for a solution to an issue that has plagued the state for more than a generation. You’ve seen your elected officials sit idly by awaiting the next school finance lawsuit to force them to slap a bandage on the school funding system bleeding out before them.  You’ve seen your elected representatives leave office to become lobbyists for testing companies seeking to make a buck off your kids. You’ve seen it all.”

Textbooks under attack in Texas | NCSE

Ideologues on official state textbook review teams are attacking the treatment of evolution and climate change in science textbooks under consideration in Texas, charged the Texas Freedom Network and the National Center for Science Education in a joint press release issued on September 9, 2013.”Once again culture warriors on the state board are putting Texas at risk of becoming a national laughingstock on science education,” TFN’s president Kathy Miller warned.

As the press release explains, documents obtained by the TFN show ”that reviewers made ideological objections to coverage related to evolution and climate change in textbooks from at least seven publishers, including several of the nation’s biggest publishing houses. Failing to obtain a review panel’s top rating makes it harder for publishers to sell their textbooks to school districts or can even lead the State Board of Education (SBOE) to reject the textbook altogether.”

"The arguments in these reviews are the same discredited claims anti-science activists have pushed for years," commented NCSE’s Joshua Rosenau. Among those claims, various reviewers:

  • called for the inclusion of “‘creation science’ based on Biblical principles”
  • asserted that “no transitional fossils have been discovered”
  • insisted that there is no evidence for a human influence on the carbon cycle
  • claimed that there is no evidence about the effect of climate change on species diversity
  • promoted a book touting “intelligent design” creationism as a reliable source of scientific information
  • denied that recombination and genetic drift are evolutionary mechanisms
  • mischaracterized experiments on the peppered moth as “discredited” and as “fabrication[s]”

“This is scary because of Texas’[s] big influence on publishers and on textbooks used across the country,” Rosenau said. “Publishers should listen to real experts, not unqualified reviewers who don’t seem to understand even basic scientific terms.”

Sep 3

Debunking Myths About Private and Public Innovation

Money Doesn’t Matter | Dr. Jerome Stewart's Blog

This is an excellent post that needs to be shared with all those that think “you can do more with less.”

Good job Dr. Stewart. Lead on.

Diane Ravitch: 3 Dubious Uses of Technology in Schools: Scientific American