Kelly Wallace’s (CNN) article, and my response

I came home after a busy day to see this:

I had no idea how big the movement had become until I did this story.

So I read the article. At the end, there is a call for comment through Twitter, or the Facebook page, and I sent this:

     I am a teacher of 15 years. My wife is also an educated professional in another field-but works in schools with children all the time and is very familiar with the norms of child development and students who succeed as well as those who struggle. Our three daughters are very bright. “A” students, and two have taken tests in the past and have done very well. One is past the 3-8 testing range. One particularly strong-willed daughter decided to refuse last year, at the age of 12, on her own. I mean truly on her own. Her mother and I (Mom mostly doing all the difficult legwork) were making arrangements for testing accommodations, and our daughter said “I’m just going to refuse” and something like “It’s not right what they are doing to us”. If you met my 16 and 13 yr old, you would be impressed and I certainly am almost every day.

     We supported her decision because we know her, her abilities, the quality of her school and her educators. We do not need a test. Especially one that is continually justified with more “accountability” for the hardest workers, more sanctimony from and lack of accountability for those doing the real damage to students and schools.

Below are a few quotes from the Kelly Wallace article with my responses:

1) “Those who call for ‘opting out’ really want New York to ‘opt out’ of information that can help parents and teachers understand how well students are doing,” said Merryl Tisch, chancellor of the Board of Regents, in a recent statement.

Tisch is full of it and this statement reeks of strategy powwow lingo that has been coming out of NYSED and the governor’s office (Jim Malatras, Rich Azzopardi (sp?), Cuomo himself…) from the time Obama spat out the words “shared sacrifice”, bailed out Wall St, then began his Race To The Test attack on public education. Teachers know how well students are doing because they see those students every day. Parents/families who have the time and resources to be involved know-and always have. Tisch must know she’s game-playing because her response to backlash against the passage of even MORE onerous evals for teachers and additional testing was to say that high achieving schools (code for mostly well-to-do types) might not have to follow the new guidelines. What is really happening is what everyone knows. As our failed, trickle down, speculation fake money investment economy locks the wealth and opportunity into fewer hands-public education is left to perform triage for the neediest and our leaders are well funded, well protected, and ashamed. And if they are so soulless they aren’t ashamed?

Well then they should be.

What’s next-a Tisch political ad with her in a white sweater at a table helping some girl do homework, lauding the importance of parents and kitchen tables? The truth is our leaders have chosen scapegoat over support and collaborate. One side of this so called battle has a long-established record of being there for the ones without parents and kitchen tables. 

2) (Regarding tests inappropriate for the most struggling learners) To that point, Tisch, of the New York State Board of Regents, has said that the tests actually help the most vulnerable children in our schools, whose needs were too often disregarded in years past.

Almost truthful, but her implication is that hungry kids can eat tests and that it’s “opt outers’ and failing schools that are disregarding needs. I have met with and sat in the office of senators and assembly members-one the head of the assembly’s ed committee. I have been on the phone with NYSED associates and in contact via email with a regent. I was advocating (2yrs ago for then 14yr old) for access to diploma pathways described in regulations as available in ALL schools and to ALL students. After being told that language didn’t exist- I had to point it out and chase it down with someone who is responsible for helping provide opportunities! All of these people who I should be able to trust, and use my time to focus on teaching and parenting…all these people were consistent with 2 themes: 1) Cuomo and Commissioner King were arrogant and had an agenda, and everyone is fearful of Cuomo; 2) The state of school funding in NY means that students will not have the same support or the same access to programs and opportunities. Even if the regulations say “all public schools” will offer certain opportunities, and that “all students” will have access to those opportunity: such is not the case and those pushing tests and consequences know this.

3) “I posed the question to Tanis: If we don’t have difficult tests and tough standards, how will we compete globally, against children from countries where rigor is the norm?”

Do you mean countries like Finland where equity and respect is also the norm, inspiring more equitable success, or other countries where only their best are tested-the brightest and most well-connected with a hope to rise above the overwhelming poverty weighing down the many?

When Obama suggests we are competing with India and China, as if they are models to hold up and ourselves to-I cringe.

Thank you for covering…news in general has been pretty quiet regarding what should be a big deal when considering a gov that went from “I care” in late campaign to guns blazing once he won.

Dan McConnell



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