Friday, October 28, 2011

Vouchers: The inappropriate, unethical and perhaps illegal

In the run up to Senate Bill 1 (Voucher Bill) various citizens decided to make their opinions heard. Supporters and detractors called their Senators or emailed them. According to some insiders the volume was unprecedented. Awesome. Citizens doing their job. Regardless of your position, the idea that the citizens were active is something worth applauding. Right?

No. According Senator Eichelberger, the detractors of SB1 should have had their ability to express their concerns limited to an appropriate time and place and carried out with the appropriate hardware. As you can see from his blog post below, the Senator found it offensive that public school employees would take time during their break, or lunch, or on their way to work, or while on the commode to contact his office. According to the Senator if your working for the state you have no right to address your government. Interesting. However, what if these calls were from teachers during the school day and from a district phone? Is this really "unethical" or "illegal?" The state hired these teachers to advocate and do right by their students. It would seem to me that advocating for children during the hours of school is perfectly legal, maybe even mandatory.

However, what about the Senator? What was he doing during work hours at the expense of the taxpayers using taxpayer facilities? He was advocating breaking the law by passing an unconstitutional bill that would take resources from children, teachers, and schools. Seems a little unethical too. Hypocritical?

"I got some very interesting calls and emails today from public school folks. It is worth noting that many of the calls and emails came from school employees while on taxpayers time and using taxpayer funded equipment. Certainly, any citizen has the right to address their elected officials, but using public resources to advance their personal agenda is inappropriate, unethical and perhaps illegal. Many of the people who pay their salaries and bought that equipment do not share their views." Senator John Eichelberger

If you have time during "appropriate, ethical and legal" times maybe you can let the Senator know how much you appreciate his advocacy for the corporate education reformers and his disdain for public school employees.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Pennsylvania and Vouchers: Now What?

FYI. Senate Bill 1 passed yesterday. Pennsylvania is a step closer to implementing a school voucher program. What? Everybody else is doing it. Shouldn't we?

No we should not. The facts are simple. Vouchers don't help kids in poor schools. Vouchers don't make neighboring schools better. Vouchers cost taxpayers more money.

However, all of this doesn't matter when you understand this fact. Proponents of vouchers don't really care if they "work." Voucher supporters' real motivation is to dismantle the public school system and replace it with a totally privatized system of education. PERIOD!

Now what? Time to write or call your local representative in the House. What should you say? That's up to you but here is what I said in an email to my local representative. Copy, paste, modify and send.

Dear Representative Stern,

I am sure you know that I am disappointed by your colleagues in the Senate. However, I hope that your position on the constitutionality of a voucher program remains strong. The rhetoric coming out of Senator Eichelberger is absolutely disgraceful and his disdain for teachers speaks volumes about his priorities to the children of Pennsylvania.

If there is anything I can do to help please let me know. I am not a politician but I do know a little bit about the "facts" and public education. And the facts about vouchers point out that they don't help anyone and in the end (when public education is gone) they will destroy "our" local communities.

Go and ask the people of Bellwood if they support a movement that will eventually suck the soul (the public school) from their community.

This is not a Republican vs Democrat issue. This is a values issue. Do we value our local public schools that support the cultural life of their respective communities? If we do, then we cannot create a voucher program that has all intentions of expanding into the entire system of public education. This is not about helping children. This is about dismantling the public schools of Pennsylvania. This is about giving up on the ideal that all children in Pennsylvania deserve a free, well rounded, and powerful education.

Your Friend,


Thursday, October 13, 2011

School Board Candidate: My Responses to the Press.

As I mentioned in a previous blog, I am actively trying to get elected to my local school board. Somehow I managed to get my name on the ballot in the May primary (by 1 vote). This was quite an accomplishment considering my community's suspicions about my motivation to be on the school board.

Quickly. Last year, according to "some people," my sole motivation was ending the annual Christmas concert. Funny, but a true story.

Well now that it is officially election season, the local newspaper sent me a few questions concerning my desire to be a member of the Bellwood-Antis School Board. The news director is compiling the responses of the candidates for a future print issue.

But why wait? Below are the questions and my responses. Christmas aside, I actually would like to win a seat so I worked pretty hard on my responses.

1. What is the biggest issue facing the Bellwood Antis school board and what can be done to resolve it.

There are two major issues facing the Bellwood-Antis SD that are deeply connected. First, our elected officials are pushing for more charter schools and a voucher plan that will allow any child to attend a private school at the expense of the taxpayers (you). The other related issue—The current Bellwood Antis school board consists of members that have no idea that the privatization of our school system is at stake. To make matters worse, there are other members of the board that actively support the same elected officials that believe public schools should be “selectively dismantled.” If elected I would first alert all the residents of the Bellwood-Antis School district of the threat to our community and our public schools. I will also do what ever it takes to make sure that the Bellwood Antis school board is responsive to the educational needs of the community and I will never support any legislation that weakens or threatens the existence of the Bellwood-Antis public schools.

Citizens need to realize that our public schools are the hearts of our local communities and that if they are dismantled the souls of our communities will be compromised.

2. Do you think school boards should have the ability to use exceptions to the Taxpayer Relief Act, or should any proposed taxes over the limit be up to a voter referendum?

The easiest way to get votes is to say no. However, this simple answer takes away the civic responsibility of the school district’s stakeholders (children, parents, teachers, and community members) to address the school board on important financial decisions. The Tax Payer Relief Act or any law that takes away the ability of local stake holders to make their own decisions seems condescending and a violation of the basic principles of self government. If the community of Bellwood, through discussions with the school board, wants to make financial adjustments to the school budget then why would anybody be in favor of limiting the ability of the citizens to make these decisions?

3. How would you help improve or maintain proficient academic standards while dealing with tight budgets in this economy?

Once you get rid of the PSSA (NCLB) system, PVAS, and Keystone Exams (Exit exams) a magical thing will happen—tight budgets disappear. We spend millions of dollars on standardized testing and managing data systems that have no academic benefit. Teachers are forced to prepare kids to pass meaningless tests that take away time from learning history, science, art, music, and physical education. Since the implementation of NCLB and PSSAs our students’ academic abilities have actually decreased. Over 50% of freshmen entering college need remedial math and writing even though they scored “proficient” on their PSSAs. National research on NCLB has even concluded that the amount of money spent on tests, testing, data systems, and the government bureaucrats paid to oversee the testing systems would have been better spent on school personnel and real resources (not test prep materials and coaches). Excellent teachers and staff, knowledgeable administrators, a strong curriculum, and engaged parents will better prepare our children academically and cost less than the meaningless PSSA system and the future Keystone exams.

4. What do you think about approaching vendors and businesses to sponsor school activities as a way to produce additional revenue for the district?

5. What do you think about approaching businesses for naming rights to district facilities as another way to raise revenues?

Questions four and five are too related to answer separately. A better question would be, why do public schools need to approach businesses as sponsors and for naming rights to generate “revenue?” If there is a revenue problem then the state is not living up to its constitutional obligation to, “provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.” However, if local businesses and vendors want to support their community public schools financially then that should be negotiated. I will say that when a community (people and businesses) supports their local public schools both the children and the community benefit.

What do you think? Do I have a chance?

Corbett, Rhee and Astroturf


The reforms aim to foster competition among schools and motivate improved student performance.

"We can't guarantee their success, but we owe all students a fighting chance," Corbett said in a statement Tuesday. "We're talking about our children and we owe it to them to reform the system."

Can someone please tell Governor Corbett that vouchers will "guarantee" mass failure and potentially collapse our public education system? He is right that we need to "reform" the system. However, why not use reforms that are supported by research instead of the corporate reforms that have been demonstrated repeatedly to fail children, parents, teachers and communities?

"The bipartisan support this proposal has received speaks to the need for the kind of transparent, rigorous and fair accountability system this would create in Pennsylvania," Rhee said in the statement. "Similarly, our grassroots members support the measure in that it expands educational opportunities for all children regardless of family income by allowing great charter schools to thrive and expand."
Also, can someone tell Michelle Rhee that StudentsFirst is an astroturf organization?

Friday, October 7, 2011

How to privatize public education in 12 easy steps.

Morna McDermott McNulty

Associate Professor

College of Education

Towson University

1) Manufacture a crisis and instill public fear. Waiting for Superman. (LINK:

2) Create a rallying cry for the need for ACTION to save citizens from some danger- which involves eliminating those posing a threat. In this case, public educators. Bring in your own “private” troops (Blackwater? No. Teach for America and people trained at new “innovative leadership centers”)

3) Create a system which becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. High stakes testing policies which will doom schools and children to failure. A convenient way to “prove” the grounds for #’s 1 and 2.


4) Use of “savior” language-sound bite messages which co opt terms that average people identify as favorable such as “innovation,” “reform,” and “choice.”

5) Deflect the FACTS with spectacular dog and pony show media blasts and hide the truth under glossy presentations of the agenda. Disguise this ideology of greed under the umbrella of “freedom” and “saving children.”

6) Create legislation that politically and financially benefits the stakeholders of those same policies by forging under the table alliances between big business and state legislators. See ALEC exposed (LINK:

7) Launder these policies through seemingly beneficial non-profit agencies and corporate philanthropy where the origins cannot be traced easily.

8) These same corporations now open for profit charter schools and online schools and other “options” in lieu of “failing public education.” When children attend these “schools” the per pupil funding that would have gone to support the local public schools is now funneled into the new for profit alternative. (LINK:

9) Make inside deals with the textbook and testing companies that these schools will use. Billions of dollars of profits to these companies while public schools languish from lack of resources. Mandated testing forces schools to redirect monies to testing that could have otherwise been spent on hiring teachers to reduce class size or provide needed learning materials. (LINK:

10) Hide and twist the data that shows that charter alternatives perform NO BETTER than their public counterparts (see step 5). LINK:

11) Manipulate legislation in ways that benefit “choice” alternatives so that certain populations of students who would make their schools “look bad” can be denied access to those schools and can be provided with ample resources that could have also improved public schools if only THEY had the funds. See “model” bills proposed by ALEC at,_Higher_Ed_Policy,_and_Teachers

12) Public schools, as result of steps 1-10, would now in fact be failing and as a result, the free market ideology prevails and can feel justified in their actions. The cycle back to step #1 is now complete. Public education now becomes Education Incorporated.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Journalism Please!

Letter to the Editor to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette that was ignored.

"The competition that charter schools create for traditional public school systems is good and should help to improve educational quality, according to state Education Secretary Ron Tomalis."

There is not a shred of educational, economic, or social science research to support Tomalis' claim that competition between charter schools and traditional public schools improves educational quality. However, there is a significant amount of research that essentially suggests that Tomalis has absolutely no idea what he is talking about and is really just peddling propaganda.

There is a time to point out the things our public officials say when they are untrue. I have done this consistently over the years. However, it might be nice if just once, the "press" actually did their job and stopped telling us what officials have said and actually challenged our officials on the stupid things they say. As an example, the quote above comes from a "story" (Education chief: Variety is important) that is nothing more than a PR piece for the Corbett administration's plans to dismantle the public school system. The entire article is devoted to informing the public what Tomalis is saying. Not once does the Post Gazette actually challenge Tomalis.

Examples: "The secretary said charter schools are becoming such a popular choice that if all of the students were in one district, it would be the second-largest in the state." He said school districts should create more innovative programs to keep or bring back students. That's competition. That's exactly the way you want it to work...."

And interviewing Thomas Gentzel, executive director of the Pennsylvania School Boards Association, does not help because he opposes Tomalis. Gentzel might be pitching his own propaganda. We in the public don't need to know what the Hatfields and the McCoys are saying. We need to know who's statements are supported by research and empirical evidence—we need journalism.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Pennsylvania School Board Candidates: What do They Believe?

I decided to compile this list of questions because I rarely hear a candidate for school board even brush up against these topics. However, from my perspective, what other questions really matter? Please feel free to copy, paste, and shove down the throats of any candidate for school board in your district.

Questions for Pennsylvania School Board Candidates

1. Do you believe in the concept of public education (free and equal educational opportunity for all)?

2. Are the district children receiving the best education possible and how do you know?

3. What research supports the curriculum and instruction used in the schools?

4. Can you identify any waste in the district? Please describe.

5. What are vouchers?

6. How will vouchers impact the school district?

7. Have you given any campaign contributions to politicians that support vouchers? If yes, why?

8. What is the relationship between PSSA scores and real estate values?

9. Should Pennsylvania ask for a waiver to “opt out” of NCLB requirements? Why?

10. How much will it cost Pennsylvania to implement the Keystone Exams?

11. Will the Keystone Exams guarantee that district students are ready to graduate?

12. Should sports, music, and other school related activities that are non-academic be financed with taxes or should students “pay to play?”

13. Explain the use of Value Added Measures in determining effective teaching.

14. Tell me about reliability and VAMs.

15. How much does it cost Pennsylvania to collect data and determine PVAS values?

16. What is a PVAS value and should you even care?

17. If you don’t know the answers to questions above then why are you running for school director?

School Board Candidates: What do They Believe?

I decided to compile this list of questions because I rarely hear a candidate for school board even brush up against these topics. However, from my perspective, what other questions really matter? Please feel free to copy, paste, and shove down the throats of any candidate for school board in your district.

Questions for School Board Candidates

1. Do you believe in the concept of public education (free and equal educational opportunity for all)?

2. Are the district children receiving the best education possible and how do you know?

3. What research supports the curriculum and instruction used in the schools?

4. Can you identify any waste in the district? Please describe.

5. What are vouchers?

6. How will vouchers impact the school district?

7. Have you given any campaign contributions to politicians that support vouchers? If yes, why?

8. What is the relationship between NCLB tests scores and real estate values?

9. Should our district ask for a waiver to “opt out” of NCLB requirements? Why?

10. How much will it cost our state to implement the Exit Exams?

11. Will the Exit Exams guarantee that district students are ready to graduate?

12. Should sports, music, and other school related activities that are non-academic be financed with taxes or should students “pay to play?”

13. Explain the use of Value Added Measures (VAM) in determining effective teaching.

14. How reliable are VAM scores?

15. How much does it cost our state to collect data and determine VAM values?

16. If you don’t know the answers to questions above then why are you running for school director?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Value Added vs Experience.

From The Wall Street Journal on line.

At Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem, principal Gregory Hodge uses the value-added results to alter instruction, move teachers to new classroom assignments and pair weak students with the highest performing teachers. Mr. Hodge said the data for teachers generally aligns with his classroom observations. "It's confirming what an experienced principal knows," he said.

Question. If an "experienced principal" can do the job then why don't they? I know. They're too fracking busy sifting through data instead of being instructional leaders. Also, how much do company's like SAS Institute Inc. make on Value Added Data Systems? I'll bet you taxpayers pay more for these data systems than the they would for an "experienced principal."

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pittsburgh Teachers Can Relax

Yunz Pittsburgh Teachers Can Relax an at. See below.

Arizona has reached an agreement with federal officials to stop monitoring classrooms for mispronounced words and poor grammar from teachers of students still learning the English language.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Explaining Opposition to High Stakes Testing

The"Opt Out" movement is growing. Petitions are being signed. Australians and New Zealanders have joined. And still some just don't truly understand why we are opting out. An important group that needs to understand that this movement is in support of public schools are school leaders. Below is my attempt to explain why I will not let my children take high stakes tests. Feel free to use or modify for your purposes. Just change the names of people and places to fit your localities. :-)

Dear Dr. Toth (Superintendent),

I'm sure you know my opposition to PSSAs (NCLB) and the Keystones (Exit exams). However, my guess is that you don't fully understand why. It has nothing to do with a fear that my children will experience failure. My kids are fine.

My disdain for the testing culture is centered on the fact that testing and the data the testing provides are the weapons being used by "reformers" that want a privatized system of education. The standards and accountability movement was never really about making public education stronger. It was designed to "prove" public education was failing and provide leverage for the voucher, charter, and private school movement. It's a beautiful strategy on the part of the "reformers" because it has convinced our own neighbors that our public school and the taxes being used to support it are being wasted.

Their (reformers) new narrative portrays all teachers, administrators, custodial, and support staff as lazy and overpaid. The data provided by standardized testing feeds the propaganda machine that sucks away the support communities typically provide neighborhood public schools.

I'm not against standards and rigor. I'm against a system that defines standards and rigor as standardized tests and takes the power away from neighborhood schools in defining and delivering a truly rigorous experience in learning. You, the other administrators, and the teachers are the professionals with the knowledge and experience and expertise. I want all of you to be able to do your jobs. Don't worry about "accountability" as defined today. We (parents and community members) will hold you accountable (That's our responsibility as engaged citizens). Don't let politicians being funded by McGraw Hill, Pearson, ETS etc, decide what's best for our community. Again, as a community, that is our responsibility.

I am convinced that our neighbors, if given the alternative narrative (truth) that the Bellwood-Antis School District (actually all public schools) is slowly being dismantled by forces that don't care about our community and only care about using public dollars to make a profit, will never allow this to happen. Except for a few, the citizens of Bellwood-Antis (My town) love their community. And if given the opportunity they would rally around the schools because the Bellwood Antis School District is the center of this community.

Kind Regards,


Extra reading:

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Pennsylvania Senator Casey supports NCLB and next Generation Assessments

I moved up a level. Finally, a call from Casey's DC office. According to the legislative aide, Senator Casey supports the re-authorization of NCLB and looks forward to "next generation" assessments. When I explained that Pennsylvania teachers and parents might not be that supportive of the Senator's position, his aide pointed out that DC can't just give money away without any accountability measures. When I explained that the National Academy of Sciences found NCLB, accountability and incentives to not work and may have even set education back she told me that "next generation" assessments will remedy the poor tests being used in states for NCLB purposes. I asked her if these new assessments have been validated and checked for reliability issues. I didn't get much of a response. I asked her if it was Okay for drug companies to release new drugs to the public as soon as they have been formulated. Of course she said no. These drugs would have to be tested to see if they actually work and if they cause unwanted side effects. I asked her why Senator Casey supports using tests that have no established validity or reliability on children, teachers , and schools? She said I had a good point. She then wondered when some research might be conducted on teaching and learning. I almost lost it.

Below is the email I received after the phone conversation.

Hi Dr. Slekar,

It was good to talk with you today. As I said, you raised some very important issues with No Child Left Behind that have concerned the Senator for some time. While we may not agree on everything, I look forward to talking through these issues and gathering your feedback as the Senate moves forward with NCLB reauthorization.

Best wishes,

Saturday, August 27, 2011

NCLB is a State Issue?

This is latest in my ongoing communications with Pennsylvania Senator Robert Casey's office. In the reply from Casey's office you'll see that they are trying to say that NCLB and RttT and all of the forced standardized tests are "state issues."

So even though the state testing is Federally imposed it's a state issue. Huh? Feel free to contact the Senator's office. Maybe you'll have better luck than me.

Dear Ms. Bierly,

It has now been six months since we (Michele Gray and I) met to talk to you about Senator Casey's position on high stakes testing. This is my third email reminding you that we still have not heard anything from the Senator's education staff. We hope that the Senator is still interested in our cause to restore American public education and take it away from the corporate reformers that are trying to dismantle our public schools using high stakes testing. If the Senator is interested we have now started a national movement to have parents "Opt Out" of state tests this school year. It seems we can no longer wait for elected officials to listen to teachers and the parents of public school children. This is sad.

Please visit

As you know, the movement to dismantle public schools is a bipartisan effort. Therefore, from our point of view, it doesn't matter if you're a Democrat or a Republican. This may come as a surprise to Senator Casey (since he typically receives support from public teachers and working class parents). But the Senator can no longer assume he has a voting block locked up. If he is supportive of the high stakes culture of testing and corporate reform then he is no different than any Republican candidate. I hope Senator Casey and his education staff find time to respond to our constant attempts at beginning a constructive dialogue.

Thank you for your time,


I will get back to you Monday. This is really a state issue. We are limited in what state issues we can get involved in. My cell is 8142216567 if you want to reach me next week. Talk to you Monday. Thanks for the email. Kim
Kimberley Bierly
Regional Field Representative
U.S. Senator Robert P. Casey Jr.
814-357-0314 office

Friday, August 19, 2011

From Opt Out! No Punches Here.

As long as corporations dictate the testing and assessment requirements, grading teachers based on test scores, and fund schools based on those test scores, THERE WILL BE NO CHOICE. All the schools are held to the same BS, so how will you find a school with "alternative" settings? You have choice can go private.And in most districts, you can reassign, choose a magnet, or choose your teacher. PRIOR to NCLB public schools were about teaching the whole child, having a multitude of choices within the school, places of innovation...that's what schools looked like BEFORE NCLB and FCAT here in Florida. No one, NOT ONE PARENT, ever clamored for assessments because we gave them REPORT CARDS, and had WEEKLY TESTS, and ASSESSED kids meaningfully. Many of you speak as if none of this was happening before. Did any of you attend public schools growing up? Did your parents ever wonder or ask for standardized tests or not trust your teacher or look at your report cards? Did you just float through willy nilly?

This whole mess was just a drummed up battle cry to freak out the public as most people were very happy with their NEIGHBORHOOD public schools. The schools doing poorly then are the same ones now...they are in impoverished areas and we don't, as a nation, want to address that so we criminalize every school, teacher, union, etc. Believe me, education and teaching was joyous prior to this. Teachers are still trying but this atmosphere of testing, testing, testing, and "teachers are evil" make it difficult to even want to get up in the morning. So we take more money out, raise class sizes, narrow the curriculum, fail MORE kids, more kids are dropping out than before NCLB, and then the public believes what the corporate and libertarian idiots have always wanted them to believe--we need to close public schools. have bought into the propaganda. Read The Shock Doctrine...
Rosemarie Jensen

Monday, August 15, 2011

MSNBC Did Not "Make the Grade."


After watching MSNBC's "Making the Grade" with Tamaron Hall, and all of the other attempts to tell the story of American public education, I was disappointed that teachers and others fighting the take over of public schools were not part of the conversation. The special left out a significant piece of the discussion concerning the corporate reform movement that has devastated public schools, teachers, children, and communities. I'm sure you were aware that on the weekend of July 30th over 5000 concerned citizens assembled in Washington to protest the corporate takeover of public schools (Save Our Schools ). There were many high profile people that would have helped "Making the Grade" more informative to viewers. Also, the administrators of United Opt Out would have added much to the discussion concerning other "actions" that are being taken to rebuild public education.  The viewers would have had a chance to hear about the "real" problems facing our public schools. It would be well worth the time if MSNBC would interview some of the SOS organizers and administrators of United Opt Out.  If MSNBC really wants to "Lean Forward" there is large group of us that can help MSNBC truly take a "Forward" position on issues dealing with public education. Please feel free to contact me anytime.

Kind Regards,


Thursday, August 11, 2011

I Am More Than a Test Score

Dear Mom and Dad,

It's almost back to school time. I've been thinking about the coming year. I know I'm not an expert, but after seven years of going to school, something seems wrong. Don't misunderstand me. I love seeing my friends and I can't wait for football season, but I'm just not looking forward to sitting in a classroom again. I mean it's been seven years and it seems like every year it just keeps getting worse. I'm not sure how to explain it, so I thought I would just list the things that I am talking about -- what I prefer and what I prefer not to

I prefer to engage in real learning.
I prefer not to spend the first five months of school preparing for tests.

I prefer to have gym, art and music classes.
I prefer not to sit and listen all day long.

I prefer to look forward to going to school.
I prefer not to get nervous when I'm in school.

I prefer to read interesting books and go on field trips that help me connect what I'm learning in school.
I prefer not to spend most of my time on boring math and reading assignments mostly preparing for tests.

I prefer to have teachers that are allowed to teach more than just to the test.
I prefer not to have my teachers be afraid to teach.

I prefer to have assignments that are interesting, hands on, help me discover, make me ask questions, and allow me to be proud of my work.
I prefer not to dread going to school.

I prefer to have the materials, books, equipment and technology I need in all of my classes.
I prefer not to have so many students in my classes that I become a number.

I prefer to take the tests my teachers make -- ones that grade me on my abilities, efforts and participation.

There's more but I think you get the gist. I'm hoping that you will help me take the dread out of school this year. I have heard people talking and they say that only parents can make a difference. Will you please do something? Can you talk to my friends' parents and see if they will help? I need you, my teachers need you, we can't make the changes needed without your help. I can't take one more year of being treated like a test score.


Your child.

P.S. I almost forgot to ask. Can our school be like the one President Obama's daughters attend? I saw him talking about how they don't spend the year preparing for tests. That would be so cool.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

United Opt Out

Let us begin the "selective dismantling" of the high stakes testing industry and the punitive policies aimed at destroying public schools. Please visit the new Website and Facebook site devoted to organizing a national boycott of standardized tests and rebuilding our public schools.

Time to take away the data. Without it, the deformers have nothing.

My kids are not data!

Please visit.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Jeb Bush: No Clue

"This is not a Democrat or Republican issue. Our nation’s destiny is at stake. As policy and funding discussions take place, leaders in both parties must work together to reward what matters most: student achievement." Jeb Bush

Read more:

Can't disagree with the first statement. Second statement might be true. Third statement SOS (not Save our Schools) Same Old Shit!

The reformers are going to continue to use their same arguments to try to ram their reform platform down the throats of Americans. We must continue to provide the alternative narrative (It's not about achievement stupid. It's about love, deep learning, and community).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Test Confidence: Sabotage!

I was wrong. I can read more about people who defend testing in the wake of "cheating" scandals

“Even the hint of testing irregularities and misconduct in the test administration process could call into question school reform efforts and undermine the state accountability systems...." Arnie Duncan

"Test score data will be the life blood of new systems for rating teachers and schools. A lack of public confidence in the integrity of testing could deal a serious blow to this agenda." Bill Turque

However, as Mr. Duncan and Mr. Turque acknowledge, once the public loses trust in testing systems the game is over. Can anyone say, "Sabotage?"

I said Sabotage not Cheating: Another Reason to March

Just like my last post on why I'm marching, I found inspiration in a short reading session. I can't read one more defense of testing in the wake of all the cheating scandals. These people just don't get it. Read the quote below.

"Of course, the worst idea of all is to cheat in the first place. It’s a lose-lose-lose situation for all involved. Students and their parents get inaccurate information about their learning. The same bad information feeds into decisions about student placement, instructional priorities, and curriculum decisions. Policymakers are misled about the efficacy of reforms and funding strategies. Even the public—which pays for high-quality tests to measure student achievement—gets ripped off. It’s time that parents, educators, policymakers, and all concerned demand that the high-quality tests they pay for yield the high-quality information that all concerned need. That’s a good idea." Gregory J. Cizek

This paragraph could have started out, "High stakes testing is a lose-lose-lose situation for all involved." And maybe the end with, "It's time that parents, educators, policymakers, and all concerned demand that the high stakes testing they paid for be obliterated. That’s a good idea. "

I wonder if Professor Cizek will be at the Save Our Schools (SOS) march? I wonder how he would react to actively sabotaging tests—not cheating!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

SOS Invitation to Senator Casey

Below is my note to Ms. Kim Bierly (PA Senator Robert Casey's contact). Maybe we should all send personal invitations to our elected representatives.

Dear Ms. Bierly,

It has now been almost 5 months since we (Michele Gray and I) met with you to talk about Senator Casey's position on standardized testing, NCLB and Race to the Top. We have heard nothing. I hope this is just a communication error.

Maybe the Senator can come to the The Save Our Schools March ( which will be held in Washington, D.C. July 28-31. You can check the website for more details. I also wanted to invite Senator Casey to my presentation at American University on Friday, July 29th in the Anderson Computing Complex, Room B12 at 1:45 pm. I will be delivering a workshop for parents on how to "prefer not to," opt out, or boycott No Child Left Behind testing (PSSAs) in the 2011-2012 school year. The workshop is based on my HuffPost ( from February that started the boycott movement. The blog has been reposted and shared thousands of times, featured in the Washington Post (, and prompted CNN and FOX to cover my boycott of NCLB testing.

Hundreds of parents across the country have contacted me for advice on how to organize boycott efforts in their states. I have worked with these parents and was recruited to present a workshop at the SOS march. Hopefully you and Senator Casey can see the importance of the March as the only real grassroots effort to truly advocate for public schools, children, parents and communities. Hopefully the Senator can stop by.