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.

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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.

Videos From L.A.

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.

06-18-13RegularBd – Jun 18th, 2013.

Favorite part of this next one: about 5:34:20, Steven Zimmer talks passionately about class sizes and such.

http://lausd.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?clip_id=58

However, those are only very small parts of both videos; all of both are still absolutely worth watching!

A Booklet, Protests, Gandhi, MLK and Education in the USA.

Plainly and simply I just want to encourage people to read this…

Booklet for Legislators

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!)

-Charlie

A Note From Tami Pyfer

Recently, we received this comment from Tami Pyfer on our blog:

“This video was eye-opening – most states have mechanisms for alternative testing for students with disabilities and I’m wondering why NC does not.

I’m confused about how/why you are connecting assessment issues, like the one in this video, to the Common Core Standards. Standards do not equal assessments. Standards do not equal curriculum. Standards are simply minimum expectations for what a student will learn at each grade level. Some students may achieve more, and some students – especially those with disabilities – may learn less. Effective educational programs will accommodate for both ends of the spectrum. A state may have one adopted set of standards/expectations for all of the schools in the state, but in many (most?) states, the curriculum is left up to the individual schools. In our state, we’ve had minimum standards for decades. Setting the standards and developing the state assessments are the responsibility of the State Board of Education, while the curriculum is developed/designed/adopted by local school districts and charter schools. We also have a completely separate assessment system for students with disabilities like the child in this video.

Lumping the Common Core State Standards in with the inappropriate assessment practices tied with No Child Left Behind and highlighted in this video, doesn’t make sense, although it’s a common tactic being used by people who don’t understand how different states are/are not implementing the Common Core standards. Unfortunately, waiving the anti-Common Core flag is simply a distraction to the (worthy) battle you are waging for the appropriate use, and not misuse of assessment in our schools.”

We did not approve the comment on the blog, and the next day, we received an email from her asking why the comment was not showing up.  I did not approve her message to appear on our blog because something felt funny to me.

When Tami wrote to us again, Zoe and I did a bit of research on Tami Pyfer, and we found a BLOG with an email correspondence between her and someone concerned about the Common Core being applied in the state of Utah.  Here is the link where you can read more about Tami.

Below is the email correspondence, with Tami’s writing in bold italics and Anissa’s just in italics:

Dear Governor & Board,

It is my understanding that there is a way for Utah to get out of Common Core  so that we are free of any strings attached. The ESEA flexibility request window shuts down Sept. 6, 2012.  Does this mean we have to resubmit our waiver request before then, or lose the option of doing loophole option 2 forever?

Is the Board considering this? Now would be the time to decide. Please discuss this at this Friday’s meeting. Please respond to me with more information.

Thanks!

Anissa Wardell

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Personally, I have no intention of unadopting the new math and ELA common core standards. We are already “string free” and it’s unfortunate that some groups feel otherwise.

Tami Pyfer

——————————————————————————————————-

Tami,

If we really are string free, would you kindly show proof of that? I have done a great deal of research on my own, outside of those you refer to and from what I can see, we are not string free. The math standards are horrible! I am going to have to pay hundreds of dollars this year alone for my 6th grader so that she will be ready for Algebra. Utah’s math standards were already better and were more understandable than what we have just adopted.

While I have this audience, I also want the Board (and everyone else on the list) to know that as a parent I want cursive writing to stay in our state curriculum.

Please provide all of us evidence to back up your understanding.

Thank you,

Anissa

———————————————————————————————————

I appreciate your passion, but the “evidence” has been presented in a variety of public forums numerous times. Your disagreement with the facts does not change them. I will continue to respond to my constituents who are truly looking for answers to their questions regarding our core standards.

Tami Pyfer

——————————————————————————————————–

Tami,

Well thank you Tami. You have not answered my question, and if there is proof I honestly would like to see it. You incorrectly assume that I do not want true answers. If there is this information and it has been provided many times, please tell me where I can find it.

It is answers like yours that are frustrating for constituents. I will continue to ask for answers. I never said we have to agree, I am searching for answers and because you are a board member and you have been entrusted with the mantle to ensure high quality curriculum standards and instruction, and because you are supposed to represent your constituents, I expect you to live up to that.

Anissa

 

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So, reader, there are many things we could say.  The main and only thing we want to say is that when Tami first wrote to us she did not say who she actually was, and we had a feeling that the comment’s author was someone involved with enforcing Common Core.  Her omission of this fact is why we did not want to approve her comment.  But with the proper context for her comment now clear, we are fine sharing it here.  Zoe and I debated a lot about how to present this or if we should at all.  This is the result.  Definitely food for thought…

Autistic youth’s mom fights NC EOG’s

Please share this article with any parent’s of Autistic children who may have helpful information, especially within the state of NC.

Did you know that severely autistic children in public schools are required to be tested with EOG’s under federal law?  Yep, it appears to have started with NCLB and it is still here with us.

This was brought to my attention when I received an email from a neighboring school district parent.  This is a bit unusual and I am putting this out here in hopes that someone here in NC with more knowledge than I can figure this thing out.  You see, her son is severely autistic, is in a public school under an IEP and within a self contained classroom.  This is all new to me, and maybe to parent’s of other autistic children this is nothing new…but her son is expected to take EOG’s.  I presume that they are modified…such as the NCExtend type exams.  But they are still tests that these kids are forced to take.  They are also test that the students, or at least many of them, cannot hope to pass.  I realize this is a very sensitive issue.  I probably have no idea how people may react.  My kid’s do not have autism so I cannot imagine what it is like and I won’t pretend.

But one thing that this mother told me about was how much she loves the teachers in her son’s classroom and how much amazing progress her son has made.  Here is where the Common Core Standards come into play perhaps though…when her son is forced to take a test that he and his classmate will fail, does it make the teacher look like they are a failing teacher in the way that CCS evaluates these things?  I mean, beyond the sheer ridiculousness that any child should be forced to take a test that they will fail and besides the insult to the teacher that all their hard work will be watered down to a test they must administer that has nothing to do with all the progress made…under the new CCS-does taking and failing these tests, hurt the teachers and subsequent school funding?  My guess, is YES.  But if you know, please write in to me or follow this story on FB.

I do not know.  But I do know that this mom would love some help with this.  Are there any legal experts that you may know of who can lend support?  Has anyone out there been through this same thing?  The tests are next week and her family has some kind of function that will make it so their son will not have to be tested until the following week.  They have a bit of time to put together a solid case.  But they need some help.  I know from when my ex-wife worked at NCTeach that the lives and struggles of parent’s of children with autism (when it comes to dealing with public schools) is hard enough already.  So perhaps we can help this family out and also generate a repeatable strategy for any other parent’s of autistic children who wish to exercise their right to Opt Out.

I already have calls in to NCTeach and NC Autism Society.  I also found this amazing video with story attached.  Check it out.  It is from a Special Education teacher who, wayyyy back in 2008, refused to administer the federally required tests to his autistic students, under NCLB.  He was fired.  Folks, I sure hope we have grown wise enough to where in 2013 this would not be the case today…

Story below quoted from a 2008 article in the Asheville Citizen Times by Ashley Wilson

A Cullowhee Valley School teacher has been suspended after refusing to administer the N.C. End-of-Grade Tests to his students with severe intellectual disabilities.

Doug Ward was suspended with pay Tuesday afternoon for insubordination and being disruptive, he said.

On Monday, Ward, 36, sent a letter to his school and Jackson County School District administrators saying, “I have decided that I will not participate in the NCEXTEND1 testing of any students here at Cullowhee Valley School.” The NCEXTEND1 Alternative Assessment is designed for students who have severe intellectual disabilities.

“Basically, the way it was set up, my kids have no chance of passing,” said Ward, who has been teaching for three years. “If you have a kid that is 11 years old and only developed to the level of a 1-year-old — I think I am a decent teacher, but I am not good enough to develop him to pass the test.”

Ward was supposed to begin administering the test Monday. Another teacher at Cullowhee Valley School has taken over for him in testing his students, Ward said. Students with disabilities must be tested under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Phone calls to administrators at Cullowhee Valley School and Jackson County Public Schools were not returned by deadline Tuesday night.

While Ward is opposed to all standardized testing, he said recent changes to the NCEXTEND1 have made it impossible for his students to be successful.

The test went through a standard review process that resulted in changes to this school year’s test, according to Vanessa Jeter, director of communications for N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

“We are not aware of any situation where a teacher has taken a similar stance, at least in North Carolina,” Jeter said. Recently, a science teacher in Seattle was suspended without pay for nine days after refusing to administer the Washington Assessment of Student Learning.

Ward’s inspiration for his stance came from some of his fifth-grade students, he said. In a class he co-teaches, Ward tied issues of racial discrimination the students were reading about to discrimination against people with disabilities.

The students did a lesson on what they have done and what they could do to enhance inclusion for all students.

“If I am going to teach this to my fifth-graders all year, I need to stand up and practice what I teach,” Ward said.

In a meeting Tuesday with school and district administrators, he was told an investigation would be conducted and he would be notified in a couple of days, Ward said.

“Administrators have so much pressure,” Ward said. “They must have the test scores, so if you are a young teacher and all your children fail, there are going to be negative repercussions. I really want it to be out there so that these other teachers have a resource — so they can show their administrators there’s a reason these kids don’t pass the test, and it’s not because I don’t do a good job teaching.”

— Ashley Wilson

Ashville Citizen-Times