So far this has all been about political game playing. Sanchez and Douglas are ...for now...playing nice with each other because they each think this is the best way to preserve their own jobs. When Sanchez starts to get beaten up by the Common Core folks for making common cause with Douglas and she gets beaten up by everyone who thinks ethnocentric education is not a good thing we may see a pair of 180 degree changes. David may well be right that it is too early to say how it all will shake out.
When TUSD dismantled the old MAS classes, the board made a commitment to redesign the history and literature classes to reflect all of our history...warts and all. Sadly, the TUSD board never followed through with that commitment. Instead we get the same old "Woe us me. We are such victims of the oppressors nonsense" that characterized the MAS classes. A rigorous set of classes in history and literature are the cure for this disease, but there are too many political points to be scored by promoting ethnocentrism and downright racism.
By the way, David, according to Dr. Romero...the guru of MAS...the only difference between MAS classes and the CRC being used by TUSD is the name. How do you square his well-documented statement with your assertion that there are key differences between the two? After all, Shakespeare may be a dead old white guy, but his statement about a rose by any other name could well be applied to MAS...though the predicate in the statement would have to be altered.
You might also have mentioned that federal judge Tashima found the law to be constitutional. It is his decision that has been appealed.
Jana Happel says: : If schools are failing AYP merely because of opting out, it puts focus on the parents' civil disobedience and their concerns and also reveals the system to be a sham."
I agree that one possible near-term consequence of sufficient numbers of students to opt out of the tests resulting in every-increasing numbers of schools failing to make AYP. I would ask you to examine two other pieces of the entire picture before you conclude this is a positive result.
Many observers have said all along that the goal of NCLB was to privatize public schools by "proving" to voters that public education has failed. To a great extent what we are seeing now... with the proliferation of tuition tax credits and charter schools ...is the success of that strategy. Is opting out of testing along with the increase in "failing" schools it leads to, going to increase the mis-perception that public schools are failing? If so, opting out as a strategy to defeat the corporate takeover of public schools is a supposed remedy that makes the disease spread more rapidly.
What are the chances that a parent-led movement to defeat the misuse of tests is going to get fair coverage by the media that provides most people with their wrong assumptions about the relative success of charter schools and private schools compared with public schools? Tell folks who only get their news from any of the major networks that charter schools as a whole and private schools as a whole under-perform district public schools and you had better be prepared for a whole lot of cognitive dissonance. That is a result of the same biased coverage that any opt-out movement is likely to receive.
Jana Happel said, "The reason they give is that they are quaking in their boots because federal Title I funding may be restricted if a certain percentage of students are not tested."
I agree that the potential loss of Title I funding is certainly a factor that has silenced state education officials and school board members, but the consequences of large numbers of students opting out of tests goes much deeper than that. Title I funding is a part of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, better known by its acronym, ESEA. ESEA was first passed by Congress back in the 1960s. In fact, Title I means that is the first part (Title I) of ESEA. Every time it has been reauthorized Congress has attached a memorable name to it. The most current version of ESEA is best known as No Child Left Behind. Under No Child Left Behind schools and school districts face an increasingly severe set of consequences for failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP.) One component of AYP has always been having at least 95% of students in the school, and every grade level in the school, take the standardized tests mandated by the state Every year schools fail to make AYP because they don't have 95% of their students taking the tests.
One of the very first consequences of failing to make AYP is the redirection of Title I funds away from classrooms and into Supplemental Services such as tutoring. Further failure to make AYP leads to even more severe consequences, such as the loss of district control over the schools that fail to make that benchmark, the loss of the jobs of some teachers and principals, and the turning of failing district schools over to private management companies.
The consequences of failing to make AYP are severe, and that made waivers from NCLB even more critical. Since the waivers required states and districts to buy into the Common Core standards and the tests that go with them, the fears of school boards are legitimate. The use of waivers to blackmail districts and states into accepting this overuse and misuse of testing that is part and parcel of the Common Core must be owned by the Obama administration. While it is understandable that school officials do not want to encourage parents to have their children opt out of these tests it is less understandable why they have remained silent on the broader issues of testing abuse and misuse.
Jana Happel asks: "How did we get to this place where adults who commit to educate our children are abusing them in this manner and teachers, principals, school district officials and governing board members are not speaking out LOUDLY?"
This is an interesting question, but it assumes facts not in evidence. Thousands of teachers have spoken out against the overuse and misuse of standardized testing and have been doing so for years. Some principals have also been doing this, though they are generally quieter than teachers because they typically do not have unions to protect their jobs when they exercise their right to free speech. Central administrators have been very quiet about this abuse, but a few courageous ones have spoken out. And even some politicians have spoken out against this abuse, though they have been isolated and attacked by the educational publishers and other business interests that have seen their profits soar during the past decade as the testing frenzy has gained steam.
Jana, I would ask a few different different questions. How did we get to this place where politicians who send their own children to schools that do not even use standardized tests think it is just fine to subject other people's children to the overuse and misuse of standardized tests? How is it that President Bush, President Obama and Secretary of Education Duncan have used the leverage of federal aid and NCLB waivers for states and school districts to force states and districts into the use of so many tests? How is it that national teacher unions have gone against the interests of millions of their own members and the tens of millions of students they teach by remaining largely silent in the face of this testing abuse?
Double standards are evident in both the column and the comments. The column chastises Mr. Twist for using school equipment for election advocacy. Where were the protests from Mr. Safier when supporters of the Grijalvas (both father and daughter) used TUSD's equipment to campaign for their re-election? And the use of Great Heart schools communication network for campaigning was miniscule compared to the use by Grijalva supporters of TUSD's resources for campaigning.
And then we have the far right folks who support the giveaway of taxpayer money in the form of vouchers with absolutely no accountability for how the voucher money is spent, whether students achieve or not, or how much of the money is misappropriated (or stolen) by the owners and managers of the private schools who get it. Are these the same people who complain about the misuse of taxpayer funds by members of the Pima County Board of Supervisors? Taxpayers deserve accountability for how their hard earned tax dollars are used. These tax dollars should not be used to make donations to the favorite charities of Pima County elected officials, nor should they be used to promote anyone's religion.
The bottom line is that there is no research done by academics who have no dog in the voucher fight that proves vouchers increase student performance when you include the other variables that are known to have huge impacts on student performance such as poverty, having two parents instead of one, living in violent areas, etc...
Rat T says: "Sorry Marty but school districts all over the country are employing male and female teachers with sexual assault convictions. Saw a story yesterday that the U of Illinois hired a murderer that hid in Africa for 30 years,...they hired him to teach African American studies. (After killing his white wife)"
Last things first...the University of Illinois is not a K-12 school district. The rules are very different for colleges. Apparently, The University of Illinois has some flaws in its hiring process.
Yes, there are a few teachers with sexual assault convictions who slip through the cracks and get rehired in other states. I have seen this happen only once in many years of teaching, and that was not the fault of the school district. Identifying people with criminal records is not something done by school districts. It is done by State Departments of Education and law enforcement officials when people apply for teaching licenses. The teacher used a different name and was not identified until a fingerprint search was done. Given the lack of funds many states provide for background checks for teachers it is no surprise that it took a few months for the check to reveal the past criminal record.
As an avid supporter of vouchers you ought to be aware that private school teachers...and, indeed, many charter school teachers... do not have to be licensed by the state. There is no way to know their backgrounds, especially if they come from other states, unless fingerprinting is part of the background check done by the private or charter schools. I do not personally know whether these schools do such thorough background checks.
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