Sorry to be so brief in this posting. Like many of our readers I am a full time worker and a parent. Days are long and I am typing this out at 12:15 AM. I wanted to type out the whole story about the end result of Zoe refusing to take the EOG’s last year and how it affected things….but the following letter I just wrote should fill in most of the details.
I wrote the following letter to Tammy Howard, NCDPI’s Director of Accountability Services today….
Good morning Ms. Tammy Howard,
- who made the decision to run the test as if it was taken…is this policy?
- is there no testing provision yet made to illustrate “refused to take test”?
- who in our state is the person who literally made the law that says every child must be tested?
- now that my daughter was given a “1”, in error, how will this mistake be repaired on her record?
- she is not taking the test again this year…what will happen then? Will it be given a “1” again?
I want you to imagine that you are a teacher in an NC public school. Let’s fill this fantasy with ideals. Ideally you have a satisfying job, teaching the future leaders of America and citizens of the world. The pay isn’t exactly stellar…but you get to teach children who are counting on you. You are seen as leaders in our community. You are respected and admired. You watch the children grow and learn while the parents are working to support them. You teach every skill that they will presumably need to provide for future families, for themselves and for the future of society at large. No one said it would be easy. But hopefully your school is a place that has not forgotten the value of education, of childhood and of the joy of learning.
Now for reality…
You manage your long hours and Common Core assessments and the curriculum being railroaded into valuable actual learning time. IFL trainers pull you out of teaching time to show you how to administer the new Performance Based Assessments related to the Common Core. Parents are angry and confused at how much testing YOU are doing to THEIR children…even though you are just doing your job to the best of your ability. You have not had a pay raise in 5 years. Testing, testing, testing is raining down on your head as you are increasingly encouraged, through new teacher evaluation standards, to make sure you do not stray from the subject matter that someone else located very far away requires you to teach.
And now…tenure and pay for advanced degrees is stripped out.
Imagine that you are an NC teacher under these conditions. And then the legislators of NC bring this to your doors-
For Teachers who are currently employed but with a rating deemed non proficient…
You will be offered a one year contract.
For Teachers with LESS than 3 years experience teaching in NC who are deemed proficient…
If you are brand new to teaching here in NC, are an experienced teacher from another state, or are rated as a highly proficient teacher but with less than 3 years teaching experience…we can offer you a one year contract.
For Teachers with MORE than 3 years consecutive teaching experience in the state of NC and are rated as proficient…
- Keep and maintain tenure until 2018…and then you will be offered a one year contract.
- Tenure eliminated…and you will be offered a one year contract.
Special Offer: For only 25% of the state of NC’s proficiently rated teachers, who have tenure…
You must give up tenure but will receive a 4 year contract AND an annual “merit pay” of $500 per year for each of those 4 years.
Now pretend that you are NOT a teacher in the state of NC. With the policy named above, why would you want to be one? What is your incentive when you are going to be treated so poorly?
If you are a parent in the state of NC, does a policy like this seem to you to be about education? Do you feel like this kind of thing engenders a love of learning? Without dedicated and supported teachers, conversations and arguments about the new Common Core are immaterial. There won’t be anyone who feels good about teaching left to teach.
Now tell me, how much do you believe that your legislators care about education again? A question I wonder about is if the people that dreamed this stuff up have children or grandchildren in any public schools?
Something that all of us public school parents forget is that all these policy issues we struggle with: testing, tenure, Common Core-private schools do not have these issues. As we debate the merits of more testing and more assessments, privately educated kids are doing just fine, going to college, learning what they need to know. They do not have Common Core. So we are here struggling with this giant monster and people are telling us it is going to save education. Ahem..excuse me…but if it is so critical to education, why isn’t everyone reaching for a piece? I am bringing up Common Core here only lightly, but there is an undeniable connection with the hidden agenda of Common Core and the undermining of public education. What we are seeing here, this is what Common Core drivers at the highest levels are encouraging. A demoralization of public trust in public schools for a tricky move into non-public and corporate-run “education” facilities that will be for profit. Our children are being educated less and less by teachers…and more and more by a mandated teaching tour de force that includes a policy that undermines the art of teaching and introduces a curriculum that replaces actual learning. This policy, and many others like it, pave the way for legislators to be able to claim that teachers are not as valuable as we would like them to be and also that teaching as a profession is not actually as specialized or important as it actually is. Eventually what we will see is the idea that a Common Core approach can be taught by anyone who wishes to teach, and it will be easy to teach from a script after all…so who needs to pay high wages to a teacher with tenure after all?
In other words, this policy shift, is not them laying down their cards on the table. This is just the shuffle. It is only the beginning of a long and arduous game where the deck is stacked. My point in writing this down is in hopes of reminding parents and students that this is our future that they are playing cards with. It isn’t what any of you chose. I invite anyone who was given a choice about what would happen to your school’s teachers or curriculum to write to me. The lack of transparency in such wide sweeping changes is, quite simply, wholly unethical and unprofessional…and those are the only two friendly adjectives I can conjure up at the moment.
Do you really believe that Common Core and deeper learning is a priority for the people making these decisions? What kind of incentive is there for teachers to share, collaborate and encourage other teachers to be better if they are, by policy, in competition with their fellow teachers for one of the 25% sweet spots? This is the point in NC when Free Market thinking meets respecting great teachers who work exceedingly hard at what they do.
I could go on and on but the point is that these policies are real. They were decided upon last summer, in 2013. The deadline for who will be in the 25% and who will not is June 30 of 2014. That means that every teacher you know is currently struggling with these questions. Which group will they fall into? Will parents object to having their child taught by a “non proficient” teacher? How can trust and collaboration continue when there are so many teachers barely clearing poverty level wages as they support their families?
Right now there is not even a system in place, at least where I live, to specifically decide how to choose whom. Those guidelines were not in the ruling. This whole thing just showed up. I don’t tend to judge people. But I am betting that Gov. McCrory and his decision making team do not have any relatives that are teachers in this state. And if they do, I’d love to interview them.
As I read on a blog recently….when was the last time our elected politicians (like McCrory) volunteered for a 5 year pay freeze and deduction in pay? When was the last time they taught in a classroom that couldn’t afford paper, or books or laptops? And on top of those kinds of things…now this?
So, I sit here and watch schools decline. And I wonder what it will take for people to realize and grasp that education is literally under siege in our state. Teachers are being fractured and marginalized and underpaid. If you care about your child’s future, you must say enough is enough and organize your local school district to refuse to go along with this mandate. Protecting teachers IS equivalent to protecting education.
Teachers care about teaching. Do you care about teachers? Our legislators either don’t care or don’t know how to care properly. So it is up to the citizens and parents and students to step up and do something before our best teachers leave to teach somewhere else.
Organize parents, students and legislators and let them know at your district level that this is unacceptable. It is YOUR school. These are YOUR children’s teachers. Keep great teachers here! This is only one aspect of improving education in NC, but it is the most important. Without teachers to teach, the rest is meaningless.
Talk to your teachers about this. Talk to your friends. Share this posting. Start a group. Tell your PTA. Talk to the Superintendent. Tell everyone to refuse to allow this to happen. And just in case you don’t know…teachers in this state cannot unionize. They are not allowed to actively speak up about this in groups or large numbers without fear of being fired. It is up to us.
Blue Hat Day-September 17th-is coming up very, very fast. 9 more days. Here is what we have as an outline as to what might happen:
People who are in the area around here in NC: we are having a gathering at Wilson park in Carrboro from about 5-7 p.m. It is simply a gathering of anyone concerned about the effects of the Common Core (standardized testing and such) in the public schools. We won’t have a keynote speaker nor a podium. It will be an open format for people to simply meet and find out what common concerns we may share and hopefully what kinds of actions we can take together. No one will be leading it, but Zoe and I will be open to answer any questions you may have. This is a great time for teachers, parents, students, and other concerned citizens to share their experiences and ideas.
People who are not in the area, such as the rest of the people who want to take part but who are quite far away: no problem! Just as we are organizing a gathering here, so can all of you in your areas. Or, maybe you could have a group of people walking down a street for a while, or if someone has a test that day, encourage peers to opt out. Just some ideas; do what works for you and your community!
As you may know from reading our website and Zoe’s opting out of last year’s EOGs and MSLs…we are committed to overturning the use of Common Core and all that is linked to it in our public schools. Our goal is to have it removed completely and replaced with systems that actually foster learning and teaching.
Please share this and help us get the word out in the Chapel Hill Area. If you know of anyone locally, please forward this message. If you are out of our area, feel free to copy the format here and organize locally by sharing your own version of this. We are hoping to hear about Blue Hat meetings all over the place.
Here are two videos from L.A.
My favorite part of the fists one is the end of number 45, at about 7:30:00.
Favorite part of this next one: about 5:34:20, Steven Zimmer talks passionately about class sizes and such.
However, those are only very small parts of both videos; all of both are still absolutely worth watching!
Bah…it’s late and I am sleepy. Zoe, Quinn and I worked hard on this video outlining what our sense of things is after researching the Parent Trigger as applied in the state of CA. We read through reams of online pages. And honestly, there are many sides to this issue…ahem…to this “law”. It can be applied in ways that make sense. But what the heck are corporations doing enacting laws regarding education. If there isn’t a profit to be gleaned, by the very definition of Return On Investment (ROI), no corporation is going to support this kind of law without an expected return. The ROI here is to turn your children, my children, our children into one of these:
Children who legally must attend school are not a revenue stream for a public school. The money that goes with each child to their school in the form of taxes barely covers costs because of what politician’s and elected officials do with it. But for a corporation, for a corporate charter school system…children become a source of revenue. A guaranteed source of revenue for 12 years per child. Corporate America, it isn’t just for selling stuff anymore…now education is business. How do you encourage parents to ‘see the light’ and put their children into a charter school run by a corporation? One way is to put corporate money into a front that appears to be all about parental rights, while all along you are just getting them to help your company open up the schoolhouse doors for guaranteed revenue. When we looked at the website for Parent Revolution and Parent Trigger we were all scratching our heads. We were sitting there reading it and just flabbergasted. It is so transparent that it makes no sense that anyone would believe it, let alone be duped into actually trusting it. It’s a crazy world out there folks.
Plainly and simply I just want to encourage people to read this…
It is from Utah. Put together by these FOLKS. Why read it if you are not from Utah? It is chock full of incredible information about what is happening with the Common Core…how it originated. All of the answers to many of your questions can be found here. It is Utah specific in some spots. But really the overall agenda is a national one and it is made clear in this pamphlet written for Utah legislators.
Our Blue Hats are off to these men and women who are working so diligently. They are super organized!
There is one thing I want to point out though. It is a problem I have with many anti-common core movements. It is here, in this quote from the booklet…
“Representing thousands of Utahans, we implore you as legislators to try
freedom. Release school districts from education mandates and let them adopt
whatever high standards they want to set for the children in their care. It’s not
too late to protect Utah and preserve local control of education.”
The problem that I have? Too many movements are still asking for freedom instead of just reclaiming it. I hate to sound like an agitator. But when someone seeks to remove your freedom without asking you…they aren’t likely to ever give it back because you asked nicely. I asked my local school to let my daughter opt out of standardized testing that was Common Core aligned and they said we were breaking the law. I asked nicely more than once…they said no. Finally…we just behaved within our freedoms, our moral freedoms, and they had to concede. Gandhi didn’t ask for Britain to leave India alone. Martin Luther King Jr, didn’t say “please”. These men led people towards retaking their rightful freedoms and without untold numbers of people being willing to stand up for what was right and not what was “legal”….nothing would have ever changed. We have a moral imperative to behave in a way that is ethical, peaceful…and that protects the education of our children. Asking permission to do so, asking for legislators to look out for us AFTER they have sold us down the river, isn’t likely to work. Parents and teachers and schools must have a coordinated, peaceful, respectful but firm complete shunning of what is NOT working and damn the protests and lamentations of those passing down CCSI on our schools.
Taking back our schools isn’t defiant of us. It is just returning things to how they were before they began trying to control everything. What we need, is a new way to stage protests and actions where teachers will not lose their jobs for teaching in ways that are appropriate, creative, and educationally rich. To be clear, I do find merit in asking and going through appropriate channels. But at this late stage in the game, a whole new field is required before all is lost. That is my ten cents worth this evening…
(please forgive any typos…tis late and I am weary!)