Going Well

All still seems to be going well. On Wednesday, I just went in late and read, like before. On Thursday, however, it was the Science MSL, and I decided to test it — so, I went in on time, and just sat down with everyone else, but didn’t touch the testing materials and pulled out a book instead. Eventually, the proctor came over and basically just said that she had to take my test papers if I was going to read. Friday, I just went in late again.

As far as I know, there aren’t any repercussions this year, grades or otherwise, and the next makeups are Monday and Tuesday (according to my guidance counselor). So, coming in late every testing day appears to be a (so far) foolproof way of getting out of testing if you don’t want to have pressure and refuse it. I will say, though, if you’re going to do this, it’s a really good idea to bring either a long book, or a couple extras. Because if you finish your book before testing is over, you’re probably not going to have much to do.

Yesterday Again

Well, the same thing happened today as did yesterday. Tomorrow, I’ve heard that the Math makeups are at the same time, and so I’m just ding the same thing then. I also heard that the other EOG makeups are next Tuesday, so that’s another late day…the question is, are they going to try anything on Thursday, or any day after? I still have mixed answers on whether or not they actually will try to test me on a non-testing and non-makeup day, or even if they can.

I’ve also talked with some people and, apparently, the MSLs do not, in fact, count for a grade…if I hear anything that seems more decisive between now and Thursday, I might consider them, but it looks like no repercussions whatsoever.

Without a Hitch

So, today I walked into school at about 9:45. They notified me that I was late and that I couldn’t take the test with everyone else because of it, and then just said to head on down to the library. That’s all that happened-either there was a lesson learned from the huge fuss last year, being late is just a risk-free way to get out of them, or there is secret plan here I don’t know about.

Tomorrow, I have a dentist appointment in the morning, so I don’t even have to try to be late; on Wednesday, though, I don’t know what time the make-ups are, so I’ll just do the same thing but prepare to refuse the test in case I don’t miss them.

Well, things are going well, though I will admit that I prefer refusal; being late is getting out of them, but refusing to take them shows that I have reason.

Testing Comes Back Around

So…no news on the lunch petition. If something happens, I will let you know. But for now…end of year testing has come back. The big differences: 1. We’ve done this before now, and we have more research at our backs. And 2. MSLs are now being called ‘Final Exams’. It looks like they’re not part of your grade, but I can’t be certain; I’ve definitely heard it both ways. A lot. And as for the EOGs, they’re EOGs, but for seventh to eighth grade, my math EOG scores (opt-out-ers at my school have really low ‘1’s, if you would recall my school’s wonderful policy) will also dictate which math class you are in the next year.

I’ve heard that if you miss some of the testing days, including the make-up EOG day, then they can’t test you after that. And if they can in fact, then I’ll fall back on refusal to test (like last year). Can’t be sure how it’ll go, but it should be easier than last year.

Oh, and here’s the testing schedule for next week (at least, for my grade in my school): Monday-Math EOG. Tuesday-Language Arts EOG. Wednesday-EOG makeups. Thursday-Science Final Exam. And Friday-Social Studies Final Exam. Yeah, that’s right, testing all week.

Alright then…unless something happens between then and now, the earliest I’ll be able to write about how it went down is after school on Monday.

Everything according to plan, write to you then! Have a wonderful (and hopefully not stressful) weekend.

Op Ed: Telling It Like It Is in NC-Studying Our Options in NC-Opting Out, Teacher Tenure

Written by Charlie Morris (aka not Zoe)
I have been seriously inactive lately for Blue Hat stuff. Pamela Grundy, the co author of a recent and courageously written N&O article about Opting Out,  has been in touch with Zoe and I.  I have been ducking calling her even though I support the cause.  First of all, I am a single dad and hey…my plate is FULL.  But there are other reasons. Here they are…
I must admit that I am currently suffering from not a lack of courage, but a lack of belief that the current system can just be buffered up and made good once again.  My attempts to get Zoe’s 0 status removed at the state level, from her opting out of testing last year has gone no where-literally.  No help from the Principal.  The letter I wrote to the state level rep, who is in charge of such things, went completely ignored.  I also offered my piece on the topic to the N&O, the local newspaper in Raleigh.  They didn’t mention it or cover it in the paper, even after the reporter had asked to see it.  I still admittedly feel disappointed that last year Zoe was literally the only kid in the district to opt out.  We live in a pocket of NC that is supposedly exceedingly liberal and free minded.  Yet, not one other person stepped forward?  So…where am I at? Frazzled.  Disappointed for sure in the elected leaders of NC for what they are supporting for our children.   Enjoying the relative virtues of being marginilized by this bizarre system that was formerly about education. In other words, I have been fairly quiet.
I have been feign to do much lately because I am unsure of how to proceed best.  I truly feel that the corporations are not one, but two or three steps ahead of us in their quest to standardize all “learning”.  Why? Please see “standardized packaging”.  It makes it easier to deliver a product.  And that is what is being sold now.  Education is being sold like a product instead of a process or dare I say it…a fascinating journey. So, even as we fight what is here currently to wrestle with, they are already on to the next thing…rendering the current battle sort of as a distraction or an obfuscation to what they already have planned.  I feel that as long as we do not self organize, we will always be requesting fairness from those who seek to take advantage of our collective trust that they have our best interests at heart…and they apply a system that is only fair to a certain segment of the population.  I feel that the writing is on the wall here if we look around the country.  The friendly requests for fairness simply do not work.  What works is mass refusal and taking education (not) back…but taking it somewhere new altogether.
So, I hate to sound negative.  But currently I am picking my fights a bit better and staying out of losing ones.  I am sitting still and looking for the right kind of opening to present itself.   I think the fight to get schools back to a good place cannot be won. Fighting the gov’t cannot be won.  But organizing children completely differently and into smaller groups of decentralized learning groups…to me that feels possible and more positive.  We shouldn’t fight to make the gov’t agree with us about how to educate our children.  They never had the right to do so from the start.  In a way, arguing with them, lends credence to their power.  When you find yourself asking for your rights back…it means that you are talking to someone who took them without your permission.  I say we need to change the conversation completely.  Don’t talk to them at all.  We simply should educate our children.  And for the parents that cannot because they are working (like me), we can hopefully find a way to have things in place that support them as well.  I don’t think that we can ever get the gov’t out of the current educational system.  They created it. It is their system and we merely partake of it.   It will never be ours.  If we want education that is ours for our children, we must make our own, pulling together resources that make sense to us.  The government has no role in the education of most of the wealthiest families in America.  That isn’t an opinion.  It is the truth.  The government does not tell private schooled children how to learn or what test to take.  Many have never considered that.  We debate the merits of common core, assuming it is something that all children must struggle through.  It isn’t. The wealthiest do not.  All the things that we public school parents struggle with (testing, learning by rote, more testing, et al) is something that private schools do not have to contend with.  It is only us…the working folks who cannot afford such schools who are subject to government style education.  And I want to be clear that I am not saying teachers in public schools are the “government”.  I feel the worst for them.  I have never met a teacher who wanted what we have now in public schools.  I am also not setting up a class divide argument or an us or a them.  What I am saying is that if Common Core was such a valuable tool, such a wonderful democratized method of education…don’t you think that the well funded private schools all across America would be using it?  Guess what?  They aren’t.  Case closed.
A comment I get a lot from concerned parents and even teachers is a retort to when I mention corporate and for profit interests.  Many people simply do not grasp the connection between Pearson Publishing and many other influences.  If you had to sum up what is happening in our schools in two words…here they are “profit motive”.  So let  me be clear, and just sound terribly off base when I say that you will not truly understand what is happening to public schools until you do your research and grasp that government sponsored education is now in the hands of business and for profit interests.  The best way to fight it is to not fight them at all.  But to create a system that does not include them.
Just as the wealthier among us do not have to fight the government or for profit interests when it comes to a quality education for their children…we deserve the same.  There has to be a better way to go about this.  And for this many children, I honestly don’t know how this will work.  Homeschooling and Unschooling can achieve this end, but only for a relative few.  But as a people we can’t leave behind children with parents who both work full time and cannot be at home with their children.
I hope that we see a new way to teach and learn in a more collaborative fashion.  Free from control by CEO’s.  I don’t want my daughter’s name on any sheet that indicates Profit/Loss statements and her school’s name on the top.  We all deserve education that is filled with the input of students, teachers and involved parents, not a corporation, not a politician.
Until then we can take steps.  We can refuse-flat out-to take tests.  We can refuse to allow Common Core in our schools.  And to draw a line in the sand…if you are not opting out…you are responsible for supporting the system that you wish did not exist.  If you want something to change, you have to do something first.  So, opt out at the end of this schoolyear.  Make it so my daughter isn’t the only one who is brave enough to do so here in our little town.
Check out what is happening in Guilford County, NC where they are suing the state over the abolishment of teacher tenure….and make it happen in your county too (if you are in NC).
If you agree…share this article.

Lunch Petition, 3rd Report

So, one of my friends comes up to me a couple of days ago in the hallway. She hands me the petition back. I ask her, “Are they going to do anything about it?” And guess what her answer was:

No. We had a petition of students with 207 signatures on it, and (to their credit) it was the first thing that the committee talked about at their meeting, but they’re not going to change it at all.

So, what we figure right now is that either we run the petition through again and see if we get different results a second time, or we find something else to try.

What does everyone reading this think we can do here? Really, if you have an idea, please do comment.

Well, thanks for tuning in for this episode of “How Many Times Do We Have To Say This Before Someone Will Listen”! See you next time, on N.C. Ed. Network.

(The original petition post link, and the 2nd petition post link here!)

Petition on Lunch-2nd Report

So…I have been out sick from school pretty much the entire week, and today was my first day back. I had figured that, since it has been so long, there would be news of what was going on with our lunch petition.

But, no.

I asked around a bit, and turns out, the person who did say that she would contact us has not. At all. And it’s been almost two weeks since my last post about this.

So, I don’t know what’s going on with that, but I do know that when I get back to school after the weekend, I am going to go and fill out another form to request an appointment with her.

But for now, I’ll have to wait and see what is going to happen with that; and meanwhile, I learned some new things about data collection today. So while we’re waiting for news on the lunch petition, I suggest that you go and check this video by Pamela Smith that I found through the Utahns Against Common Core: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9OAYBu3qUo.

Well, don’t let the disturbing vibe of data collection as a whole get you down, and have a good weekend!

Lunch Petition

Ok, so, not much has been happening here at Blue Hat Movement for  while. One quick thing, something about these new tests, the PBAs, is that they are tied into our grades. Which means, if we don’t take them, we very well could end up failing the class.

But. What I really wanted to write about was this thing, a lunch petition at my school. I may have written about it before, but to refresh memories, we have at my school this weird lunch policy; the grade is divided into two teams, Voyagers and Skyhawks. What they do is, when lunch starts, send one team outside while the other eats their lunch, and then switch the teams halfway through the lunch period.

In the first half of the year, the Skyhawks went outside first, and then went in and could eat; they felt the full force of having to stay hungry through the first half of their lunch and  only then being able to eat. So, they were driven to start the petition to get rid of ‘Split Lunch’, and bring it back to the way the lunches used to be, everyone getting the full time to eat.

But that’s not the only problem…since we were already divided into Skyhawks and Voyagers, we never had any of our ‘core’ classes (math, language arts, science, and social studies) together. All we had were the two elective periods, physical education, and lunch to see our friends on the other team. Which was not that much, because gym and electives are still classes, meaning we still had to work, even if we could sometimes work with our friends. Lunch was really the only time in school when we could just talk freely with people from the other team.

Now, the people who came up with this idea of splitting us up for lunch did have a fair enough reason: it is a lot easier to manage one team at a time rather than all — what, 240? That, or so — of us at once.

The petition to change the lunch structure has 207 signatures from just students in our grade.

And now that we are in the second half of the school year, the Voyagers are now going outside first, which means that we have to wait for half the lunch period to go by before we eat now. That gave us more incentive to get the petition moving again, and just today at lunch we gave it to a member of the Safe Schools Committee.

Apparently, it was perfect timing; the lady said that they were having a meeting tomorrow, that is, Wednesday, and that she would bring it in.

So…I’m not entirely sure how long it will be before we have more definite news on this, but when we know what is going on with it, there will be a report.

This may not have anything to do with the Common Core or testing, but it is still a case of students trying to fix what we feel should be fixed in our school.

If you are reading this as a student or a parent, and there is something in your or your child’s school that you think should get changed, hey — start a petition. You never know where it might go.

Two Things

There are two major things that have been going around in my school lately.

One, we seem to have been experiencing a paper shortage. I’m not sure where the process got blocked, whether it was that there isn’t as much paper available or if it is just that we can’t afford as much, but teachers have been having us do things like write our warm-ups on our own papers, because they didn’t want to waste the paper with hand-outs.

Two, the school’s budget. It has become something of a joke to many of us. When we received our science textbooks this year, there were not enough to give one book to every student, so only the kids that specifically wanted one could get one. The school also has several fundraisers, typically one or more a month, from dances to bake sales to book fairs to school merchandise sales to days when everyone at the school is invited to Chic-fil-A.

So, basically, schools need funding so that they can get simple things like paper and textbooks. It really shouldn’t be as hard as it is. But, well, at least we still have a well-furnished library.

What Is Education?

What is education? Education is many things. It is some things because those things are education, but it is also some things because of what caused them to be. For example. If you ask me, the most basic of definitions for education is learning, because learning is being educated. But it could also be said that knowledge is education, because when you are educated, you receive knowledge. And then there’s freedom. Freedom could be said to be education, but I’d say that it would be more accurate to say that education is freedom, because education often does bring a sort of freedom. It could be a freedom to think about things your own way, it could be a freedom to learn, it could be a freedom to know things that you didn’t or couldn’t have before. Now, let’s see what the internet has to say.ImageIf this is to be believed, then to educate is only worth 12 points. That would be 12 points carved beautifully out of wood and then put through a black-and-white filter, mind you, but 12 points nonetheless. Assuming this is on a — say, 20 point scale. That would mean that to make it simpler, to educate would be 6 points out of 10. How many points would you give your education? Hopefully more than 6. If you are a teacher or administrator or just someone who works with education other than students, how would you change the number of points from when you were in school to now? Let’s look at another couple.Image

Interesting. Education and future are in the same direction, easy to see by the sign. But it doesn’t say which comes first. I like that, because that seems to say that one could come before the other, or that the other could come before the one. Sometimes, you go through your education, it brings you to your future, you’re done with it. But other times, you go through something else which brings you to your future, and your future IS education. Or, they could go hand-in-hand the entire time.

 

“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.” -Mark Twain

That, Mr. Twain, is a good thing. If schooling is not entirely adequate, learn on your own as well. Especially now with the Common Core and everything setting in, I’d say it’s a pretty good skill to have to be able to study things and learn on your own as well, to make for lost time, etc. in class.

Image‘LEARN!’ indeed. When you’ve a test coming up in a week, and you still are just barely beginning to understand the concepts on it, it really can feel like you’ve got someone shouting at you about it. Or, someone could literally be shouting about it, and that person would be you. It’s like cram school, but they don’t give you the time to cram.

So then…all different types and definitions of education. I’d say that all of them are correct in their own way, and that there probably isn’t one simple way to encompass all of the aspects of education. Well, that’s all I wanted to say…so, if you’re still reading, see ya next time, I guess!

-Zoe