Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pete Farruggio comments on Juan Gonzalez Column, Fed-up parents revolt against state's standardized tests

this was not provoked by any politician or the teachers unions, as some want you to believe. Tens of thousands of parents got tired of being ignored by the people in Albany. So one fine day in April, they simply said, “no more.”.... Juan Gonzalez, New York Daily News, April 15,  Fed-up parents revolt against state's standardized tests
Yes, the big lie of the deformers and much of the press -- that teacher unions are behind the opt out movement because they don't want teachers to be accountable. See NYC Educator DA Report--Mulgrew Warns Against Opt-Out - to see how Mulgrew uses Tisch-like threats to try and kill the opt out movement.

Here in the city, a Department of Education spokeswoman claimed the number of opt-outs won’t be known for weeks. But there’s little doubt the boycott totals in city schools will dwarf last year’s numbers, when fewer than 2,000 pupils abstained.

At Central Park East 1, a K-to-5 school in East Harlem, 59 of 76 children refused the test, according to Toni Smith-Thompson, co-president of the Parents Association and a leader of the boycott.
Think the UFT had anything to do with that?

I've been involved in the NYC opt out movement from Day 1. You know what funding Change the Stakes has gotten? From the Ed Notes checking account using the surplus money from our film, The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman.
In Westchester, former Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino refused to allow two of his children to take the test....Conservatives like Astorino have formed an unusual alliance with liberal education advocates who claim the test, developed by Pearson PLC, does nothing to help assess students. “They’re secret, you can’t even discuss the contents of the test with anyone,” said William Cala, superintendent of Fairport Central School District outside Rochester, where 67% of students boycotted the test Tuesday. “Any good assessment is one where you get immediate feedback, but we don’t even get the results for months after they take the test,” Cala said, and even then, teachers and students are never told what questions the students got wrong.

The latest ed deform argument is that we don't need no stinkin' results or diagnosis. This is not about children but we adults who need the tests to tell us if our tax money is being spend wisely. But only for teachers. Police, fire, politicians, construction companies on the city dole, corporations on the govt dole -- we don't need no stinkin' accountability.

I was speaking to a delegate yesterday at the DA. She is from Long Island and her husband works in a school district that had massive opt outs. She told me she has a big opt out sign on her lawn.

Pete Farruggio, an old colleague at PS 16 - in 1969-70 - and a member of Another View in District 14 for a while, sent me this comment he was trying to leave on the Gonzalez column, where the anti-union folks are out in force.
It’s scary how many well intentioned folks in the US consider themselves experts on educational policy because they once went to school. As in this comments space, many weigh in effortlessly with criticism of educational professionals, mainly teachers, while they wouldn’t dream of similarly criticizing professionals in other fields, such as medicine or engineering.

Equally troubling is the tendency by some to criticize parents who have opted their children out of these flawed standardized tests in order to protect them from the continued emotional and cognitive harm they have witnessed that is caused by the yearly “test and punish’ regime. Subject my kids to testing-induced tough love in 3rd grade so they can prepare for life in a cruel cold world? How about let’s show them how to fight back against the heartless plutocrats and their puppet politicians as a way to CHANGE this cruel, cold world?

And to get the revenue to pay for a better society, let’s lighten up on the underpaid teachers and public service workers, and instead demand a fair tax rate from the gluttonous billionaires and their polluting corporations.

As for the myth of the poor performance of US schools compared to other countries, don’t believe the hype in the corporate media. Poor kids everywhere score poorly on these biased standardized tests; but few countries test their poor kids, while the US does it bigtime. Middle class US schoolchildren consistently score near the top in all international comparisons (see below).

If you worry about poor kids, as we should do, then attack poverty, not teachers.

BRAVO to the opt-out parents!

Pete Farruggio, PhD
Associate Professor, Bilingual Education
University of Texas Pan American
Here is the Diane Ravitch piece on the Gonzalez column:
Juan Gonzalez has a front-page article in the New York Daily News about the historic opt out that swept across New York State.

He writes:

The entire structure of high-stakes testing in New York crumbled Tuesday, as tens of thousands of fed-up public school parents rebelled against Albany’s fixation with standardized tests and refused to allow their children to take the annual English Language Arts state exam.

This “opt-out” revolt has been quietly building for years, but it reached historic levels this time. More than half the pupils at several Long Island and upstate school districts joined in — at some schools in New York City boycott percentages neared 40%.

At the Patchogue-Medford School District in Suffolk County, 65% of 3,400 students in grades three to eight abstained from the test, District Superintendent Michael Hynes told the Daily News.

“There was a very strong parent contingent that spoke loudly today,” Hynes said.

At West Seneca District near Buffalo, nearly 70% of some 2,976 students refused testing. Likewise, at tiny Southold School District on Long Island’s North Fork, 60% of the 400 students opted out; so did 60% of Rockville Centre’s 1,600 pupils. And in the Westchester town of Ossining, nearly 20% of 2,100 students boycotted.

“It’s clear that parents and staff are concerned about the number of standard assessments and how they’re used,” Ossining school chief Ray Sanchez said.

The final numbers are not in, and may not be in for a few days, but it is already clear that the number of opt outs will far surpass last year’s 50,000.

Contrary to the official line that this is “a labor dispute between the Governor and the unions,” the opt out movement is parent led. Parents don’t work for the union, and parents aren’t dumb. Parents protect their children from tests that have no valid purpose. Parents protect their children from tests that were designed to fail them. Parents protect their children from tests that force schools to cut back on the arts, on recess, on anything that is not tested.

Bravo, New York state parents!

Bravo especially to the New York State Allies for Public Education, a coalition of 50 organizations of parents and teachers who have testified in Albany, held community forums, informed PTAs, met with their legislators, and raised funds to pay for billboards and roving trucks with banners, plastered towns with car magnets, opt-out stickers, and lawn signs, and been truly herculean in their dedication to bringing down the state’s mean-spirited and pointless testing regime. Go to their website to learn how they mobilized the Empire State to say no to the Governor and his misbegotten plan to bring down public schools and teachers.

This is grassroots democracy at work. The hedge fund managers have millions to buy allies, but they can’t buy millions of parents, whose first and only concern is for their children. As a parent said earlier today in the Long Island Press, “The most dangerous place on Earth is between a mother and her child. Cuomo has crossed the line.”

Make no mistake. This is parent resistance to high-stakes testing and to Andrew Cuomo’s plan to make the stakes even higher than they were. He was able to push his plan through the legislature, but parents have just thrown a huge monkey wrench into his ability to make it work. It won’t and it can’t. That is how democracy works. Only with the consent of the governed.

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