So, what can you do? Well, there are four things that I’m going to ask you to do tonight…
First, CONFRONT THE LIES.
- These tests are not being used to assess our students’ college and career readiness. Esteemed NY public school principal Carol Burris said this: “There is no objective science by which we can predict future college readiness using grades 3-8 test scores. To make college readiness predictions for 8-year olds is absurd.”
- Confront the lies: These tests aren’t needed to place students in honors or remedial classes. Don’t you believe that the teachers who work with your children every day, and the principal who oversees the instructional program in the building, knows better than some corporate manufactured test the educational needs of your young child?
- How do you confront the lies? Follow the FB and Twitter feeds that we gave you. Ask your BOE how many tests your children are taking, ask why they are taking them, and ask which for-profit corporations are they sharing data with. (inBloom, NJ Smart, Realtime) Help to educate your BOEs about the lies associated with standardized testing.
Second, FOLLOW THE MONEY.
- This morning, I read an article about Willingboro’s school budget. They are going to cut 12 teachers and end their prekindergarten program, yet in the same budget they are going to spend over cap (banked cap) for – you’ll never guess what – $200,000 in new computers to be ready for the PARCC. Not $200,000 to keep people who work directly to improve the quality of their children’s education – $200,000 for electronic boxes simply so that tests can be taken to then label the schools and the school children as failures.
- Follow the money – Our former commissioner of Education, Christopher Cerf, implemented all of these new tests at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, and yet the Governor refuses to give state aid to the schools in the amounts that they both need and are legally required to have. We can pay Pearson, but we can’t fund school budgets. (Or, we can set up an electronic evaluation and testing system, and then quit our job with the state to then work for the company that profits off of all the electronic evaluation and testing. Way to go, Chris Cerf)
- How do you follow the money? Ask your BOEs how much the tests are costing. Ask your BOEs how much the computers are costing. Ask your BOEs how much it cost to retrofit libraries or other common areas. Ask your BOEs how much new textbooks aligned to the Common Core cost the district. I’m not asking you to attack your boards…I’m asking you to question, educate, and find a way to come to the conclusion TOGETHER that your LOCAL FUNDS can be much better spent than on standardized testing and related expenses.
Third, PROTECT THE CIVIL RIGHTS OF ALL STUDENTS.
- Read Mark Weber and Bruce Baker’s research on Cami Anderson’s “One Newark” plan. You’ll see that the goal of corporate ed-reform is to take over school districts, bring in private, for-profit charters, and allow them to then SHUT their doors to special needs students, English language learners, and students with disciplinary issues. Ed-reform is the antithesis of civil rights and it needs to be stopped. According to Weber and Baker, not only does ed reform disproportionately negatively impact minority students, but minority teachers as well.
- Insist on protecting the civil rights of all students by insisting on local control of school boards, local control of educational decisions, and the rights of individual parents to choose what testing is appropriate for their children. We have a right to a free, appropriate public education – we need to insist on that right. If we allow them to take it away from Newark, and take it away from Camden, they will eventually come and take it away from the rest of us, too.
- How do we do that? We must contact our local legislators and insist that they put a stop to the take over of public schools. We must insist on legislation that puts a stop to for-profit charter schools. We must insist on legislation that allows local districts to decide how much testing is appropriate and what say parents have in that process.
Lastly, WE NEED YOU TO CONSIDER OPTING YOUR CHILDREN OUT OF THE TESTS OR HAVING YOUR CHILDREN REFUSE TO TAKE THEM.
- We have to put a stop to this madness and the most immediate, impactful way to do this is to opt out of the test.
- If your districts don’t allow you to opt out, or put up barriers to doing that, you need to instruct your children on how to politely refuse the test.
- Don’t allow them to open the test booklets. Refuse to take the test. You see, when schools get rewarded for high test scores, or punished for low ones, the only focus in education is on the tests and not on the children. We need to insist that this is not right, that this is not what education was meant to be, and we need to do it now.
Simply put, we need your help. This can’t simply be a “teacher movement.” After all, everyone knows that teachers are whiners who don’t work hard enough or long enough and never want to be held accountable for anything. If this movement is to have a real impact, it needs to be parents, community members, administrators, and board members together. So, if you’re a teacher, great – get a movement started in your school district…but where you’re needed most is actually in your children’s district. Stand up as a parent and as a taxpayer and work with your board of education to make sense of all of this testing nonsense. Not a parent? No longer have children in the district? That’s ok, too. As long as you are a taxpayer, wouldn’t you like to know that your tax dollars are being spent to EDUCATE children and not to retrofit classrooms or libraries for the sole purpose of testing? You have a right to speak up and we need your help, too.
Thank you so much for coming tonight. Please be sure to contact me directly if you have any questions about the topics we discussed tonight or how we can help your movement to get started!