If you haven’t registered for the 2nd Annual NPE Conference in Chicago, there is still time! You can register for the conference on our Eventbrite page, and take advantage of discounted hotel rates at the site of this year’s conference, the Drake Hotel, by following this link.
These ratesexpire on March 22nd!
Make your reservation today, and take advantage of this opportunity to stay at the Drake Hotel with the nation’s most celebrated public school activists.
In addition to a powerhouse line-up of featured speakers, including Yong Zhao, Diane Ravitch, Lily Eskelson Garcia, Randi Weingarten and Chicago’s own Karen Lewis and Jitu Brown, we’ve put together more than forty dynamic and informative panels. There is no other conference that provides the opportunity to be inspired by over 100 of the nation’s leading education activists, and share in their passion for public education. The lineup of panels and panelists is guaranteed to make your weekend with our family of NPE friends and allies one to remember.
If you’re coming to this conference you care about our students and probably have your own ideas on how to help. This is your chance to hear directly from some of our nation’s leading student leaders. Tanaisa, Kristin & Hannah will talk about what life is like for students today, how they feel about all of these so-called reforms, and what they’re doing to take back their schools.
BATs and Social Justice - Dr. Denisha Jones, Aixa Rodriguez and Kristin Vogel
Looking to grow your understanding on the connection between race, inequity in education funding and what’s happening in your classrooms? Then join these three prominent voices from the Badass Teachers Association who are committed to social justice and equity in the schools and communities in which we work and live. The conversation starts here.
Perils of Ed Tech - Leonie Haimson, Rachael Strickland and Cynthia Liu
Want to know what’s happening in the world of student privacy? Three leading national activists will bring you up to speed. Between these three women, they have lead the movement to stop inBloom, built a national Student Privacy Coalition, and exposed the iPad scandal in LA Unified School District leading to the downfall of LAUSD Superintendent Deasy. Their workshop will focus on ways to strengthen federal protections, outline strategies for successful coalitions that lobby state & federal officials, and discuss how to expose the fraud and waste inherent in these systems.
Defending the Early Years - Nancy Carlsson-Paige and Geralyn Bywater McLaughlin
Concerned about what’s happening to our youngest children? Join leading national experts as they discuss their work pushing back against the current ed reform climate where academic skills and tests are replacing experiential, play-based learning. This interactive workshop will bring you into full participation by sharing experiences of what has worked and what has not as the group develops concrete actions steps for moving forward to Defend the Early Years.
More Than A Score - Jesse Hagopian
Black Student Lives Matter: The achievement gap is often used by corporate reformers to justify their policies. Are you looking for a way to respond to them that is both respectful of the experiences of communities of color, but does not accept high stakes testing is the way to close the achievement gap? Then join teacher and author Jesse Hogapian as he explores this topic. Jesse will share his experience in leading the successful MAP boycott in Seattle, discuss examples of gaining support from civil rights groups, and talk about how we can all help build a multicultural, anti-racist movement to support all students.
In the coming days and weeks we will continue to highlight additional panels and panelists, but don’t wait to register for the conference and reserve your hotel room. There are a limited number of rooms reserved for the conference, and the discounted rate will soon expire, so take the time now to confirm your plans. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago!
URGENT ALERT – Sit and Stare Policy Violates Common Core SBAC Protocol
Two days ago, the director of the Connecticut Association of School Superintendents (CAPSS) told announced that Connecticut’s superintendents of schools would now be recognizing that parents DID HAVE the right to opt-out or REFUSE to have their child take the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test that began this week…
And, equally important, the head of the CAPPS organization explained that children who are opted out will be moved to an alternative location where they can read or do homework during the Common Core SBAC test periods.
But either Mr. Cirasoulo failed to tell local superintendents about this critically important policy shift or some local superintendents are still committed to violating parental rights and refusing to treat parents with the respect, maturity and dignity they deserve.
More than half a dozen parents, all from separate towns, have written to Wait, What? in the last eighteen hours to say that local officials refused or tried to refuse the parents’ directive that their student was not to take the SBAC test yesterday.
Equally appalling is that in at least two communities public schools students were not removed from the testing room while their follow students took were taking the Common Core SBAC test.
Forcing students to remain in the testing room, referred to as a “Sit and Stare” policy, seeks to punish, humiliate and bully students whose parents have opted them out of the Common Core SBAC testing.
As previously noted here at Wait, What? “Sit and Stare” policies are nothing short of child abuse since they will lead to anxiety and the very real likelihood of resentment on the part of the children who are taking the test.
As a matter of ethics and principle, let alone their legal duty, educators do not engage, condone or allow bullying or child abuse. Educators do not utilize “Sit and Stare” practices!
But putting aside the immoral and unethical nature of engaging in “Sit and Stare” policies is the fact that the Common Core Balanced Assessment Consortium SBAC Test Administration Manual, called TAM, prohibits the use of “Sit and Stare” for children who are not participating in the Common Core SBAC test!
Public school students in grades three to eight on Wednesday (March 18) are completing the English portion of an examination developed by the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. That's except for the 1 percentof students who are opting out.
In the map, click on a school system to see total number of students eligible to take the test, the number and percentage who opted out and the date of the latest data. Green school systems have zero opt-outs.
The vast majority of students are taking the tests. The pushback comes from a few, including Gov. Bobby Jindal, who say the federal government is reaching too far into local matters or that the tests are useless or even harmful. Jindal's children, nonetheless, are taking the test.
Anti-Common Core activists push for 200,000 test refusals
Updated: 03/17/2015 9:26 AM Created: 03/17/2015 12:02 AM WNYT.com By: Anna Meiler
ALBANY - Common Core based tests are just around the corner and a local assemblyman is joining parents and educators in the fight against what they call high-stakes testing by introducing new legislation.
Concerned parents in the Shenendehowa school district say high-stakes testing is hurting their children's education.
“My child’s education is in no way benefiting from sitting for 540 minutes taking a state assessment every year,” said Deborah Clark.
Many complain classroom focus has shifted from creative learning to test prep- so that students, grades three through eight, don't fail the standardized math and ELA tests held every April. Briana Bays has already notified her children's schools that they will not be taking the tests this year.
“My youngest learns very artistically, hands-on, creative, my son learns with reading, my oldest learns when she writes things out. Each one learns differently. With Common Core, they’re being forced to do test prep and learn in one way. It’s not fair to the children, it’s not fair to the teachers and it’s not fair to the parents,” said Bays.
Assemblyman Jim Tedisco says parents of 60,000 students refused the tests last year. He says if more parents do the same, they could make a difference.
“If we can get close to 200,000 parents to refuse, I think we can stall this whole process and at least reform the testing part of it,” said Tedisco.
So, he's introducing new legislation called the Common Core Parental Refusal Act.
“With this bill you can not only have your child refuse, they can refuse without penalty, they wouldn’t have to sit and stare in a class, they would be doing academic work, teachers couldn’t be penalized or rewarded and school districts couldn’t be penalized or rewarded,” said Assemblyman Jim Tedisco.
“I think more parents would do it. They wouldn’t be afraid to rock the boat,” said Clark.
Faith Family Academy of Oak Cliff is a sprawling charter school wedged between the Interstate 35E service road and the Christ for the Nations campus. The school has several metal-clad buildings, a couple of playgrounds, almost no greenery and more than 2,000 students in grades prekindergarten through high school.
All of those students will need to find a new school next fall. Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams warned Faith Family’s leadership in December that it would lose its charter because of poor financial and academic performance. The revocation should become effective this summer.
The school’s impending closure may surprise its students and parents — and leaders of nearby Dallas ISD schools, many of which also struggle with student achievement. According to news reports, Faith Family sent a note home to parents. It also posted an accreditation warning letter on its website, but you have to hunt for it.
There’s no “Going out of Business” banner; in fact, new job openings were posted on its website this month. Parents may not realize they need to start searching now for another, hopefully better school for their kids.
Charter schools are public schools that typically operate independent of traditional districts. They’re intended to encourage innovation and provide parents with more tuition-free educational options for their children.
From 1995, when Texas lawmakers first authorized charter schools, through last month, the state awarded 313 charters and revoked 24. Revocations accelerated after 2013, when legislators made it simpler to shutter underperforming charters. Faith Family is among the groups losing its charter under the new rules. (A sister school, Waxahachie Faith Family Academy, is not affected.)
Faith Family’s situation has received little attention compared with the well-publicized fight over another charter, Prime Prep Academy, just down the freeway; it closed in January. And Faith Family’s revocation process has been quicker than the bitter battle to pull the charter of Honors Academy, which had campuses in Oak Cliff and Wilmer, among others. Honors Academy continued operating even after losing its charter and finally closed in December.
However, the revocation of Faith Family’s charter is more important because its enrollment is larger than that of Prime Prep and Honors Academy combined. Its students are just like kids who attend nearby traditional schools: at high risk of failing because they’re almost all low-income and many are learning English. Because there’s no requirement to track where students from closed charters go, it’s hard to know whether their next school performs better or worse than their old one.
The state should prod charter schools to make their status clearer sooner. That would give community groups and education officials a chance to help parents learn how to find a stable, higher-performing school.
The last thing these children need is to hop from one school to the next, never finding the good education they need and deserve.
By the numbers
313 Charters awarded by the state
188 Operating charters
24 Charters revoked
800 Approximate enrollment of Honors Academy at the time of closure Dec. 1
300 Approximate enrollment of Prime Prep Dallas/Fort Worth Uplift at time of closure Jan. 30
2,200 Approximate enrollment of Faith Family Academy of Oak Cliff
SOURCES: Texas Education Agency; Faith Family Academy 2013-14 school report card
The featured speaker at a Wednesday night rally in Milwaukee in support of public schools says proposed cuts in Gov. Scott Walker's budget are nothing short of a war on education.
The proposed budget cuts $127 million dollars in public school aid, while expanding charter and voucher schools statewide. Diane Ravitch — a leading national education expert in accountability, testing and privatization — said those cuts will result in larger class sizes and cuts to the arts.
In his state budget address earlier this year, Walker highlighted his track record on property tax cuts, saying: "Property taxes by the end of 2016 will be lower than they were in 2014. That means lower property taxes for six years in a row."
Ravitch, who also served as assistant secretary of education in the George H.W. Bush administration, believes that those savings aren't worth the cost.
"If you have property tax relief, but your son or daughter is going to a school where the classes have gotten very large and then doesn’t have the opportunity for a public higher education, then that property tax relief came with a very high price tag," she said.
According to her, Wisconsin isn’t the only state seeing significant cuts to education.
"In other states, Republican governors are going right for education funding. You have to wonder, do they not believe that education is important?" she asked.
She added: "I would think that most of them went to public schools, so why are they so eager to defund public schools and take public money and give it to private entrepreneurs? It doesn’t make any sense except as a matter of ideology that is impervious to evidence."
According to Ravitch, more and more states have adopted voucher and charter school programs. But even as these schools are gaining in popularity, Ravitch said evidence shows that they do not outperform public schools.
"All of these programs that have been evaluated — in particular Milwaukee, Cleveland, and D.C. — have found that voucher students don’t do any better in the voucher schools, and they also do much worse," she said.
Hundreds of educators and concerned parents and students are expected at the rally at the MATC Cooley Auditorium in Milwaukee, which was organized by the Milwaukee Teacher's Education Association in advance of Friday's public hearing on the proposed biennial budget at Alverno College.
On February 3, Governor Walker introduced his proposed budget for the 2015-2017 biennium. Walker’s budget misses the mark and is full of bad news for Wisconsin’s working people and communities.
From “drafting errors” that cut the Wisconsin Idea, transportation funding problems, cuts to public schools, and many more concerns for working families – working families will take the brunt of this budget full of shortsighted and backwards priorities.
Starting this week the public will have the chance to provide input and weigh in on the budget directly to legislators at hearings around the state.
Joint Finance Budget Hearing Schedule
March 18 Brillion Brillion High School (Endries Performing Arts Center, W1101 County Road HR) 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
March 20 Milwaukee Alverno College (Pitman Theatre, 3400 South 43rd Street) 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
March 23 Rice Lake UW-Barron County (Fine Arts Theatre, 1800 College Drive) 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. March 26 Reedsburg CAL Center Auditorium (1100 South Albert Avenue) 9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Can’t make it to one of these four hearings? The Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee believe that the above four hearings are insufficient for receiving public input from all corners of the state. Therefore, they will be holding additional hearings to receive public input:
March 19 Wisconsin Rapids Common Council Chambers (444 Grand Ave.) 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
March 21 Rhinelander Nicolet Technical College (5364 College Dr., Room 207) 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
March 21 Wausau UW Marathon (518 S 7th Ave, Room 100- The Terrace Room) 12 noon - 4 p.m. March 24, 2015 – Green Bay West High School, The Thune Center 966 Shawano Ave. 4:00-7:00 p.m.
March 28 Menomonie Menomonie Public Library (600 Wolske Bay Rd., Meeting room) 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
March 28 Platteville City Hall, City Council Chamber (75 North Bonson Street) 12 noon - 4 p.m.
March 31 Dodgeville Dodgeville Council Chambers (100 E. Fountain St) 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
April 11 Eau Claire UW-Eau Claire, Centennial Hall (1698 Park Ave., Room 1614) 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Hard working people can clearly see that this budget is a checklist for Gov. Walker’s presidential ambitions and will only further hurt the hard-working men and women of Wisconsin. Make your voice heard at upcoming Budget Listening Sessions.
Workers want to see a budget that supports good job creation and higher wages. Tell your legislators! Attend a public hearing near you!