Monday, April 14, 2014

Indypendent Comprehensive Coverage of the Common Core/Opt-Out Movement

Common Core resistance reflects an awareness of the metastasis of standards-based reforms into broader swaths of the American school system. “The changes in public education beginning to touch suburban communities, white or black” says Royal, “have touched us already in urban communities.” 
Opt-out parents like Brooklyn New School parent Elsass, who is white, acknowledges this dynamic. “We’re somewhat insulated from what’s happening at other schools,” she says, citing Brooklyn campuses where arts have been eclipsed by test-focused instruction. “It’s pushing us down a bad road for education.”
There is a silver lining, though. According to Slekar, Common Core resistance has opened dialog between cities and their vanilla suburbs. More affluent parents, Slekar says, “have finally burst out of their bubbles and see the harm that’s being done in the cities.” Royal considers it “good entrĂ©e for them into the whole problem of what public education has become.”
In this light, Jose Vilson sets his sights beyond the Common Core battle. “If there is a resolution to the Common Core,” he wonders, “do all the other things — the racism, classism, sexism that are pervasive throughout a lot of communities — go away? Will you keep fighting for those people that are marginalized by these situations?”.....
The Common Core and Its Discontents, The Indypendent
Jose's point is important. We are seeing the building of increasingly strong alliances that will be long-lasting and will lead to fighting together.

These articles touch on the entire enchilada, especially tackling the race issue as related to the CC. Excellent quotes from a number of people we've worked with, including Jose Vilson, Karen Harper Royal, Janine Sopp. We had the race discussion re: white middle class parents being more likely to opt out in Change the Stakes. That led to a decision to go out to communities through making contact with the local district Community Education Councils and we've already seen some results. My position has always been that all kids -- kids of color and whites are abused by the high stakes testing regimen -- it's a matter of connecting to parents throughout the city.

And the follow-up article this week points to these alliances being built:

Around a thousand New York City students opted out, thanks to the organizing efforts of grassroots parent groups like Change the Stakes. This spring the group helped rouse parents not just at progressive campuses like the Brooklyn New School, but in traditional public schools like PS 446 in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn and PS 140 in the Bronx.
At PS 446, over 80 percent of tested students opted out of the exams. “We felt like this benefitted our kids more than anything else,” says Latoshia Wheeler, a PS 446 parent and opt-out organizer. “They’re wasting a lot of money and resources that they could put back into the school.”
The work of CTS is so exciting -- often to me more than the union work. I am on the Steering Committee but play a minimal role. What a pleasure to see these amazing parents lead the way -- and also to see CTS becoming slowly but surely a more diverse community. Here are links to the Indy articles and a note from Janine.

The Common Core and Its Discontents, The Indypendent, April 4 2014
Finding Common Cause on the Common Core, The Indypendent (follow up article), April 9, 2014

Janine Sopp has been tireless in racing around to every community she can reach. Poor Kya - has been to more meetings - either she will be an activist like her mom or never want to see a meeting when she grows up.

Janine, whose coming out as an activist I am proud to have witnessed, writes:
Greetings Friends and Allies,

Here are two recent articles published by The Indypendent that focus on the ever changing, ever growing and constantly evolving movement to fight high-stakes testing. Journalist Owen Davis interviewed numerous sources on the past and currently unfolding events and actions these recent months and weeks has been a most responsive and reflective reporter. He sees our collective efforts as "one of the most important movements in education justice of the moment."

Change the Stakes has been a major participant in this movement along with countless other organizations, parents and teachers who are responding in their communities and adding to the growing numbers of opt outs as well as bringing awareness to the larger issues around high-stakes testing.

As a member of CtS as well as one of many parents on our school's PAC (Parent Action Coalition), I've met with scores of parents who are organizing in their own ways. CtS was mentioned in the follow up article, but parents from BNS (PS146) met with the PS446 community to speak with them about their plans to opt out. When communities begin to understand they have the right to make these decisions for their children, teachers and schools, it is amazing what can happen. I share this because parents everywhere can become the inspiration and support for others. CtS enjoys and hopes parents and teachers will plug into the network we have become, but we are not the only vehicle by which parents can get involved.

This is what we see when an independent media outlet can help tell the story, where the deeper issues that are the underpinnings of these reforms are allowed to be voiced, so please share these articles widely. And remember, you can still opt out of the math exam! Hope to see you on April 24 at the rally where all allies will stand together to REFUSE high- stakes testing.

Janine

Parent member of CtS, parent at PS146

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