Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Norm in The Wave: Opt Out and Politicians as Cuomo Declares “scores are ‘meaningless’ in terms of students' grades”

Published Friday, May 1, 2015 at www.rockawave.com

Opt Out and Politicians as Cuomo Declares “scores are ‘meaningless’ in terms of students' grades”

By Norm Scott

Times Union columnist Fred LeBrun wrote: “Thanks to Cuomo's thuggish war on teachers and his scant regard for the considerable collateral damage it's causing public education in this state, New York has become a national leader in the opt-out movement. Parents across the state have held their children out of third- through eighth-grade standardized state tests that are ostensibly designed to show student progress but in reality show not much of anything with reliability amid much anguish and anxiety. Except that they can be used to rank, rate and fire teachers, which is what the governor is really after.” http://bit.ly/1DOB7HY

I read all the local Rockaway papers and websites and notice our local politicians often write regular articles. I also notice that they barely, if ever, mention issues related to education – one of the hottest items on the national and local agenda. What are they afraid of? Being held accountable for the positions they take and the votes they cast, unlike the accountability they all seem to want teachers to be held to? Next time you run into a local pol, ask them where they stand on opt out and whether they will support bills in Albany backing parent choice to opt out? (One local pol told me he was in favor of “choice” when it came to charter schools. Does he support “choice” on all the other issues?)

The opt out of the tests movement has been receiving national attention as parents on the left and right are in revolt. Common core has been dragged down with the tests. The right doesn’t like federal interference in local control of education – especially in some states that want to keep teaching that the earth is flat. Until recently, the left, worried about education in Mississippi, was for federal intervention, which used to be benign. But seeing the malignant impact on schools of policies that go back to the Clinton/Bush/Obama administrations, the left has turned. My attitude is “screw Mississippi, I have to deal with New York.”

The other day I was at a party and some guy, who used to teach physics, asked me what was wrong with the common core and standards since they seemed reasonable to him. Oh, let me count the ways – from inappropriate content for younger children, and especially children who are learning disabled, to an enormous overload in testing and test prep time, to the use to rate teachers based on faulty mathematical algorisms. Since he was a long-time teacher, I asked him if he taught any differently before common core? Were the pre-common core NY State standards, which were amongst the strongest in the nation, somehow deficient that we needed Bill Gates to come in and fix them? He ended up agreeing with me. I post loads of great – and often funny – opt out videos, including this Bald Piano Man parody: https://youtu.be/D066lb9fbQA.

The response from the ed deform community at all levels – government, DOE, press, astroturf orgs, and even the UFT – has been a vicious assault on the 200,000 (and growing) opt outers, including threats of withholding funding from schools with high opt out numbers. (By the way, even with 4000 opt outers here in the city, there are few reports of parents opting out in Rockaway or in District 27 – wait till next year.) Deformers have been trying to kill the movement through divide and conquer. Offers to exempt the “good” schools, delay teacher evaluation (causing a split between Regent Head Meryl Tisch and Cuomo, whose major goal has been to slam the teachers. The enormous donations to him have come from the anti-teacher coalitions who don’t give a fig about the kids.

Cuomo, in this Capital Education report, exposed his true aims:
“Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday said parents who have chosen to have their children ‘opt out’ of taking this month’s state exams don’t understand that the scores are ‘meaningless’ in terms of students' grades. ‘That’s their option,’ Cuomo, referring to parents who have participated in the unprecedented boycott of state exams, told reporters after an Association for a Better New York breakfast in Manhattan. ‘What I don’t think has been adequately communicated is, we passed a law that stops the use of the grades on the test for the student. So the grades are meaningless to the student.’” http://capi.tl/1JChI1q

There you go, ed deform in a nutshell: It’s not really about the kids. Let’s put them through months of misery so we can fire teachers more easily. Really, folks, wouldn’t it be cheaper to just offer tenured teachers a buyout and stop all this nonsense?

See Norm blog about how he solved a common core 8th grade math example: Where I Check the Condition of My Cognition by Doing some Algebra. http://tinyurl.com/of7v6j8. And he even shows his work.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Norm, correct my thinking if you see it differently---regarding withholding funds. It seems to me that it would be political suicide. NYS teachers as well as the parents of the kids who opted out are already angry and seem committed to this battle. Withholding funds would affect ALL children in a school or district. So wouldn't this only serve to enrage the parents of the kids who took the damn tests--resulting in opt-out and opt-in parents having a common enemy.. and any politician who doesn't protect the school's funding is basically toast. What are your thoughts? Can NY turn red in 2016 if the democrats can't rein in Arne Duncan and Andrew Cuomo? How much heat do you think Arne and Andy are getting from their own party on this? If it's not enough then it's time for us to betray them in kind. Roseanne