|Who'd Have Guessed this High Stakes Testing Thing Would Back Up on Us like This?|
I have spent a bit of time looking around for proponents of standardized testing or high stakes testing as we call it now especially here in New York where it's been weaponized to facilitate a shoddy and inaccurate form of assessment and ultimately the firing of unionized teachers. Pretty thin stuff locally. Nowhere could I find a Super or even a Principal who'd throw down in favor of New York's April Foolishness where we annually annihilate creativity, curiosity, critical thinking and socialization.
No there really isn't anyone to stand up for the merits of our annual April Foolishness as much as they regurgitate the Orwellian Newspeak of school reformers and NYSED drones who re-issue the same tired threats and platitudes. They only focus on the imperative nature of the testing and the potential financial harm that can come to any district or school whose testing attendance dips below 95%. They don't ever seem able to expand on the educational benefits of this testing to students though, nor can they articulate the value of this testing to teachers in planning lessons and designing strategic materials that will incorporate the invaluable "data" yielded by these "tests."
Channel 2 News WGRZ was able to draw out two local Superintendents on the subject and here is their version of why it's good for kids to take these tests and why parents should not opt out of exposing their children to them :
Mark Mondanaro, Superintendent of suburban Ken-Ton schools offered this as his best pro testing argument:
"The parents who are choosing to opt their children out of state tests or any district test now, I don't agree with that, but it's not my right to disagree with them."
Excuse me sir but WTF did you just say?
Further in the same story WGRZ reports :
Ken-Ton Schools are informing parents with online letters, not to opt out of assessment tests. District officials have instructed school principals to inform families that skipping the mandatory tests can affect the student's education, because teachers will not be sure how students are progressing. Mondanaro says that the district has also created a committee of teachers and administrators just to deal with test assessment issues within its schools.
Again I ask the good Superintendent where he gets the idea that his teachers are all walking around in a daze consulting Tarot Cards, tea leaves and bumps on their students' heads to figure out if anyone is getting what's being taught? Does he honestly have so little respect for his teachers and their professional abilities to think that last year they wouldn't have had ANY idea how their students were progressing had the kids not been exposed to the infamous Pineapple Hare ELA disaster? Really now Mr. Mondanaro, is that how little you think of your faculty? Or are you just saying the expedient cowardly "right thing" to keep the NYSED hyenas at bay?
He digs himself in even further as he sums up what your average suburban school administrator considers a real world lesson :
"It's real life, welcome to it, (he says condescendingly, as if anyone who stands up to this nonsense is Peter Pan incarnate) you gotta do some things in life that you don't want to do and you got to take some tests and the school needs to know how their students are progressing."
Again, the outrageous lie that these tests will inform teachers of what their students are absorbing better than any daily, weekly. monthly assessments they are doing all ready. And more to the point Sir, maybe this is one of those times YOU should have done something YOU are afraid to do, namely, stand up for your students and their teachers and say NO to pointless testing that wastes time, narrows curriculum, blunts curiosity and critical thinking and ultimately is aimed at assigning negative evaluations to teachers whose kids refuse to take this nonsense seriously. Remember friends TWO "Ineffective" ratings which these tests can lead to and you're out of the classroom getting by on subbing and selling cars on weekends and after school.
Up the road a piece in Buffalo we may observe a similar dearth of administrative backbone though the situation one might say is vastly unlike the one in Ken Ton. Buffalo Public Schools are led by an African American female Superintendent where Ken Ton follows a white male. Buffalo is a decidedly urban situation fraught with poverty, broken homes, gang violence, domestic abuse, drug and alcohol addiction and single parent (or single grandma in many cases) homes. Not that Ken Ton is all Wally, Beaver, June and Ward mind you, but their schools don't quite absorb the volume of societal and familial dysfunction on as many levels as BPS does. Disregarding all of that however, as the "reformers" insist there are No Excuses for kids to fail we hear Dr. Pamela Brown coming out in full support of High Stakes Standardized Testing:
"The position that we take is the same as that is taken by the state that there is not an opt out provision -- that every child is expected to take standardized tests," said Dr. Pamela Brown, the superintendent for Buffalo Schools.
|I think we've arrived...|
And that's it. No explanation or rationalization, no impassioned plea on behalf of the testing culture or its value to the kids and teachers. Dr. Brown likes to pose for pictures with John King the commissioner of NYSED so she's not about to muck up her post Buffalo opportunities with anything as silly as a show of courage on behalf of her students and teachers. Dr. Brown's main concern is to assure the gatekeepers in Albany and NYSED that they have a company girl on board in Buffalo, a Team Player as it were whose career is far more valuable to her than dying on any barricade for some silly principle like standing up to excessive, abusive and weaponized testing. Seriously, look at how following Steiner around, holding the door for him, charging his blackberry, laughing at his unfunny jokes and generally being a yes man bobblehead paid off for John King -- he of the whopping three years teaching experience -- who now sits precariously atop the edu heap we call NYSED where nobody can even see the myriad of marionette strings or Uncle Bob Bennet's lips move when King speaks.
And finally, some more boiler plate party line gibberish from Mr. Steven Katz Head Tester in Albany who's received more than his share of inquiries on the subject of Opting Out and like the rest of them was only able to seize on the language of the inquiries and point out that there is no such available option to parents as "Opting Out." He does try to bluster along with some shuck and jive about parents familiarizing themselves with Common Core as if that will unlock their minds and show them once and for all the true genius of the NYSED sponsored April Foolishness.
Here is a brief, thank me for that, snippet from one of Steven Katz, Director of State Assessment Office's missives, reprinted on this blog :
"With the exception of certain areas in which parental consent is required, such as Committee on Special Education (CSE) evaluations for students with disabilities and certain federally-funded surveys and analyses specified under the federal Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (see 20 U.S.C. 1232h), there is no provision in statute or regulation allowing parents to opt their children out of State tests.
Each child’s school will decide how best to provide a sound educational environment for each child while the State tests are being administered. Schools do not have any obligation to provide an alternative location or activities for individual students while the tests are being administered."
And here is where I believe I really enjoy the parental backlash against all of the double talking invertebrates we've had to hear from as they lamely attempt to defend the indefensible. This is from a group in Texas ( Texas CSCOPE Review) who are not having it :
Parental rights are broadly protected by United States Supreme Court decisions (Meyer and Pierce), especially in the area of education. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents posses the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children.” Furthermore, the Court declared that “the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35) The Supreme Court criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their own.” (Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 402.) In Meyer, the Supreme Court held that the right of parents to raise their children free from unreasonable state interferences is one of the unwritten “liberties” protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (262 U.S. 399). The immorality of high stakes testing in the public schools, as stated earlier, constitute an unreasonable state interference in the operation of public schools.
The right to opt out of standardized test ought to be an option for every child’s parent or guardian — the right to say, without being pressured or penalized by state or local authority, “Do not subject my child to any test that doesn’t provide useful, same-day or next-day information about performance.”