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).