Friday, January 27, 2012

Deadline Mon. Jan. 30 on the state's awful NCLB waiver proposal; please make your voice heard

The NY State Education Department is proposing to submit a NCLB waiver request to the US Dept. of Education that is posted hereThe deadline for public comment is 5 PM, this Monday, Jan. 30.
While purporting to create more district “flexibility,” it will actually  lead to even more standardized testing, more test prep, more teachers unfairly fired and schools closed, and hundreds of millions of dollars wasted, while our kids suffer from budget cuts and even larger classes.
Please send a message today!  A sample email, adapted and expanded from a letter signed onto by 1/3 of all NYS principals, is below.  The comments should be sent to, with a copy to the Regents who appoint the Commissioner, and Speaker Silver, who is responsible for the appointment of the Regents.
We have also added a statement, asking the Regents to withdraw their recent unconscionable decision to provide our children’s confidential data to a limited corporation funded by Gates and operated by Rupert Murdoch’s Wireless Generation, even though the state comptroller had vetoed a similar contract this summer and there was a huge public outcry when this was originally proposed.
Please make your voice heard, and do it today!  And please share this message to others who care.

Dear Dr. King and members of the Board of Regents:
As a parent, I strongly disagree with your proposal for a state NCLB waiver and urge you to revise it as soon as possible.
Already my child and other NYC children are subjected to too many standardized tests and too much test prep.  All this focus on test scores is seriously undermining the quality of the education our students receive, with no increase in actual learning.  In fact, with all the emphasis on standardized testing and high-stakes accountability, NYC kids have fallen even further behind their peers in other large cities, as measured by the only reliable assessments known as the NAEPs, according to an analysis done by Class Size Matters
All the additional testing your proposal would generate would lead to even less quality instruction, as well as facilitate the use of unreliable teacher evaluations and justify even more damaging school closings.  In particular I strongly oppose these elements of your proposal:
  •  I do not want additional ELA tests mandated in grades 9 and 10, in order to create more unreliable teacher evaluations or justify more school closings.  I do not want schools held “accountable” for the results of all the other unreliable and often vacuous state tests.
  •  I do not want student test scores used to evaluate teacher education programs -- or individual teachers for that matter.  Any reliable teacher evaluation system should be developed carefully with input from all stakeholder groups, and the evaluation system itself should include relevant feedback from parents, students and other teachers, as well as principals.
  • I do not want proficiency levels on the Regents to be raised, if that means denying students the chance to graduate based on test scores alone.
  •  I do not taxpayer money being wasted by even more testing and data crunching, while our children suffer from school budgets cuts and unprecedented class size increases.  I urge you to provide an estimate of the costs that would incur if your proposal is accepted.  For example, the state of California has estimated the costs of such a waiver to be at least two billion dollars for their state alone.
  • I do not want to “reward” schools based on their test scores, if this means giving schools monetary awards, as this will cause funds subtracted from other schools that are either struggling or do not choose to focus so intensively on test prep.
  • I do not want any of our schools forced to implement one of the four Federal SIG intervention models -- including more school closings, outsourcing school management to a private companies, charter conversions or firing half the staff at these schools.  These policies do not work, are very wasteful, disrupt the need for stable learning environments for our kids, and will lead to higher dropout and discharge rates.  Moreover, these policies are overwhelmingly opposed by parents and community members throughout the city, as well as parents throughout the nation, as shown by a recent Public Agenda survey.
  • Finally I strongly oppose your recent decision to give my child’s confidential data, including test scores and other information, to a Limited Corporation funded by the Gates Corporation and operated by Rupert Murdoch’s Wireless Generation.  Like the NYS Comptroller who vetoed the state’s no-bid contract with Wireless this summer, I have real doubts about the security of such data, the commercial uses to which it will be put, and the fact that you have agreed to provide my child’s data without any input from parents and without my informed consent.    I ask you to renounce and cancel this decision immediately.
Yours, Name, address & school (last is optional)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We've got to fight back. These issues, and how the UFT should respond to these attacks on public education and the teaching profession will be discussed at the "State of the Union" conference (a coalition effort), next Saturday, February 4, at the Graduate Center for Worker Education, 25 Broadway, 7th Floor,
For more information and registration info, visit the event's page,
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