PARENT ACTION COMMITTEEThere are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.-Thoreau
Chair: David Rosenberg, email@example.com
Who is the PS3 Parent Action Committee and What Do We Want?
The Parent Action Committee was formed to share information with parents regarding federal, state, and local education policy.
We feel that this information is critical in helping parents understand what’s going on in our school, and how policy directly affects the education your child is receiving.
When you understand the policy, then you can make an informed decision.
We believe the system is broken, and only through parent action can it be repaired. Hence, our committee name.
We welcome your comments and your participation.
SEND AN EMAIL TO THE NYS REGENTS BOARD AND VOICE YOUR OPPOSITION TO THEIR SUPPORT FOR THE SHARING OF YOUR KIDS PRIVATE DATA WITH “FOR PROFITS CORPORATIONS” :
Email addresses and form letter here:
firstname.lastname@example.org, RegentCashin@mail.nysed.gov, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com,
To the members of the New York State Board of Regents:
There was news from Louisiana today: Superintendent John White pulls back
student data from inBloom,
because of protests of parents and the state board. Louisiana was the only
state sharing student data statewide
except for New York — at least in phase 1.
I heard that all of you, the New York State Regents, are meeting about this
topic on Monday. I urge you: pull student
data out of inBloom like Louisiana did. I do not want my children’s
personal data, photos, health histories, special education
status, and other information stored on a cloud. Why should a private
corporation have access to this information? Why can’t parents
opt out? When a student leaves the system, how long will the information be
After today’s announcement that Pearson made mistakes on the NYC G&T tests,
and after the problems on last year’s ELA/Math
state tests, I am very concerned that huge, sweeping changes to testing and
data privacy in New York State’s education system
are being made too quickly, without enough careful consideration and input
from teachers, administrators, and parents.
Some Public School Students Will Sit Out State Tests This Week in Protest
By Anya Kamenetz Tue., Apr. 16 2013 at 12:07 PM•Village Voice
Hotaling will not take the tests this year, and he’s not alone. There are reports of testing opt-outs at 22 public schools in all five boroughs this week. Parents cite stress on students, the diversion of instructional time and resources for weeks of test prep, poor alignment with the curriculum, what they see as inappropriate use of the test scores to evaluate teachers and schools, and most recently, New York state’s sharing of student data with the Gates Foundation-funded nonprofit startup InBloom.
“It happened almost overnight,” said Rain Lanning, the mother of a third grader and a fifth grader at the Earth School. “All of a sudden we realized it was so simple–you could just not take them.” Parents of 33 children at the Earth School, comprising 20 percent of the small student body, have submitted letters signaling their intention to legally opt out of testing this year. This is a significant number because 95 percent participation is required in order for the school to be judged on its “adequate yearly progress” under No Child Left Behind.
Small testing boycotts have cropped up across the country. The Facebook group Long Island Opt-Out has 7,500 members.
At Garfield High School in Seattle, Washington, the teaching staff voted unanimously not to administer the tests. Jesse Hagopian, lead organizer of the Garfield boycott, flew out to New York City to speak at Earth School and brought the small crowd to its feet. “This happened because one teacher said, ‘I refuse to let this test label me and my students a failure,’” he said. Noting that Bill Gates attended Lakeside, a private school down the road from Garfield that does not administer the state tests, he said, “Their whole education reform system–all of it runs on these test scores! We’re denying them the lifeblood of their corporate reforms. These tests are not for their kids–these tests are for your kids.”
No matter how much parents may want to sit their children out, many worry about consequences, especially in the all-important fourth and seventh grades, when scores are considered for admission into competitive middle and high schools. But the blog New York City Public School Parents offers some reassurance. According to the Department of Education’s chief tester, Shael Polakow-Suransky, children who do not take the state tests can opt for a portfolio review, and most middle and high schools have discretion to consider applications without test scores, for example, from homeschoolers.
Whatever the ultimate size of the boycott this year, disquiet about standardized testing will remain a live political issue. MORE, the “social justice caucus” of the United Federation of Teachers, organized Sunday’s meeting and is running Julie Cavanagh as the underdog candidate to succeed Randi Weingarten as president of the nation’s largest teachers’ union. Cavanagh, a special education teacher in Red Hook and the charismatic and media-friendly director of the documentary The Inconvenient Truth Behind Waiting for Superman, has clearly identified standardized testing as an issue that unites parents and teachers.
“The testing boycott movement is happening!” she told the audience. “The movement of social justice to take back our communities is happening! Parents and teachers are leading the way, and unions better get behind them.”
Give Them an Apple, or a Hug: Help Teachers and Students Survive Testing
By JENNIFER OCHOA April 16, 2013, 3:30 p.m. Schoolbook
This week, as the English Language Arts state test are administered across the state, elementary and middle schools will be on testing lockdown.
Teachers are not allowed to be near a pencil or pen when the test is in the room; cell phones must be off our persons and in the off position; students must be escorted through the hallways; teachers are not allowed to do anything but “actively proctor,” which means wandering around the room without stopping for the whole 90 minutes; teachers are not allowed to really speak to children while the test is in the room, and in their active proctoring, they are not to linger too long by one student since it may mean the teacher is cheating.
The state of New York will send random test monitors to schools across the state to make sure everyone is adhering to these guidelines. Entire rooms full of tests can be invalidated if a monitor witnesses a violation. Teachers have been sternly warned about all of these procedures.
It’s kind of scary.
For kids, the days are equally miserable and scary. All students from third through eighth grade will be taking a 90-minute test (135 minutes for those with extended time) all three days. During the time the test is in the room kids are not allowed to have anything on their desks except the test and a pencil. They may not talk or get up and wander around. They must be still and focused and working. When they are done, we must tell them to sit quietly and put their heads down. Under no circumstances can they talk.
I would like to remind you that third graders are eight years old. People somewhere thought these were good and viable directions to give eight year olds. The teachers and principals must be stern and serious during the time the test is in the room. If you are a kid, and you are taking the test, you can’t ask your teacher any questions, you can’t expect encouraging words. Your teachers seem stressed and mad. You know it’s serious. The test is long and hard and scary. Bad things will happen if you don’t do well. Everyone, your teachers, the principal, your parents, even the news on TV, tells you this.
Sometimes the kids cry. Or they look really mad. Or they put their heads down or stare into space. They kind of give up. They get antsy. They don’t smile or laugh or seem happy. They are worried. Being a teacher on state test days feels a little like committing child abuse.
I remember from Regents administration, when the kids were done with the test, they left school for the day. Not so with this test, the kids have to stay, sitting still and quiet until the tests have left the room. Then they can draw or do puzzles until all the tests in the school are collected and secured. Then the rest of the school day happens, like everything is normal.
It makes me weary to think about this week. The kids and teachers at my school look haggard, everyone feels crazy and exhausted. I suspect we are not alone.
This year, we know from all we’ve been told by the state, and from the practice materials, that the tests will be much more difficult. While reading a practice passage aloud last week, I thought surely I read this weird article about alternative fuel sources for cars before. I had. It was a Day One Regents passage from several years ago, for 11th graders. Now it’s being used for eighth graders; that’s what we’re up against. We keep telling kids, “You’re smart! You got this!” And that makes them feel better.
But we could all use more encouragement.
Please join me, in offering all our elementary and middle school colleagues and kids raucous cheers and huzzahs, war cries, if you will, as they survive this challenging testing season. And remember that after the tests this week, and before the math tests next week, we have Friday. On Friday, we will resume the excellent teaching we love to do, and that we know makes differences in kids’ lives.
So here’s my rallying suggestion:
If you know a kid taking the test, give them extra hugs, cuddle and read them a good book, let them eat ice cream, let them watch their favorite movie or spend a few extra minutes playing their favorite video game. It will make them feel calm and normal and loved.
If you know a teacher or principal giving the test, drop them a cheerful line, pat them on the back, buy them a cup of tea, actually give them an apple, it will make them laugh, and feel better.
And then you could think about calling a politician. They could use words of encouragement about this too.
Jennifer Ochoa teaches eighth grade literacy at M.S. 324 in Washington Heights. Prior to that she was a high school English teacher for 17 years in the Bronx and in Lansing, MI. She works closely with the NYC Writing Project and the National Council of Teachers of English.
The DOE ELA/MATH 2013 testing FAQ for 2013 is available here: ELA:MATH TEST FAQ 2013
As the Hechinger Report explains, Finland doesn’t give standardized tests, yet its students excel on the international standardized tests. Finland has this idea deeply grounded in its education system: it trusts its teachers to make their own tests and to decide how well students are doing.
By contrast, we trust no one and test everyone.
We waste billions of dollars on testing even as budgets are cut, teachers are laid off and class sizes grow. Worse, we waste a large number of weeks of instruction on testing and preparing to take tests. Kids are practicing to satisfy Pearson instead of learning new skills and knowledge.
Will our leaders ever come to their senses? Probably not until millions of parents withhold their child from the testing machine. Probably not until thousands of superintendents and principals speak out. Probably not until thousands of school boards say no.
Probably not until entire school districts refuse to give the tests or refuse to send the results to the state.
An Organization Worth Investigating
It was recently brought to our attention that a new nationwide organization headed up my Diane Ravitch, has been formed.
The Mission Statement is as follows:
The Network for Public Education is an advocacy group whose goal is to fight to protect, preserve and strengthen our public school system, an essential institution in a democratic society. Our mission is to protect, preserve, promote, and strengthen public schools and the education of current and future generations of students. We will accomplish this by networking groups and organizations focused on similar goals in states and districts throughout the nation, share information about what works and what doesn’t work in public education, and endorse and rate candidates for office based on our principles and goals. More specifically, we will support candidates who oppose high-stakes testing, mass school closures, the privatization of our public schools and the outsourcing of its core functions to for-profit corporations, and we will support candidates who work for evidence-based reforms that will improve our schools and the education of our nation’s children.
We urge you to read the New York Times article here, and then consider joining up.
News, March 2013
1. Lawsuit Charges Ed Department with Violating Student Privacy Rights. This is an update. Refer to original story #3 listen below, and read the update HERE.
2. Good news! Yesterday in court, CFE and parents filed a lawsuit against the city for failing to hold the Contracts for Excellence borough hearings required by law, and for holding their CEC hearings so late in the year after so much of the C4E funding has been spent. Here’s an article in theDaily News about this, here’s our press release in the Albany Times Union.
While the Governor and the State Education Commissioner have been insistent that their arbitrary deadlines must be met for a new teacher evaluation system, or else our kids will be punished with budget cuts, they have ignored the fact that the DOE has missed deadlines for years in implementing a real public process and coming up with a real plan to reduce class size. Meanwhile, Judge Manuel Mendez also blocked the Mayor’s attempt to cut the budget of schools mid-year based on the Governor’s threatened cuts.
3. Please keep sending your opt-out letters to the state, demanding that your child’s highly sensitive, private records not be shared with corporations, followed by a call to King’s office at 518) 474-5844. A sample letter is below. You should also forward the email separately to your state legislators, with a nice cover note asking them to intervene on your behalf. Your Assembly member can be found here: your State Senator here.
COPY AND PASTE INTO YOUR EMAIL:
CC: DMWalcott@schools.nyc.gov , firstname.lastname@example.org,
RegentsOffice@mail.nysed.gov, Eric.Schneiderman@ag.ny.gov, email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Opting out of sharing my child’s data
Dear Commissioner King: As a parent, I was appalled to learn, as this Reuters article confirms, that the NY State Education Department is planning to share the most private, confidential data of my child and all NYS public school students with a corporation called inBloom Inc., that will store this highly sensitive information on a vulnerable data cloud and disclose it to for-profit vendors to help them develop and market their products.
This data will include children’s personally identifiable information, including names, addresses, phone numbers, grades, test scores, detailed disciplinary records, health conditions, special education and economic status.
The company inBloom Inc. has already stated that it “cannot guarantee the security of the information stored…or that the information will not be intercepted when it is being transmitted.” All this is happening without parental notification or consent.
I hereby OPT my child’s data out of this plan, and demand that you do NOT disclose any of my child’s personally identifiable educational records with ANY third party including the Gates Foundation, inBloom, Inc. or ANY other private entity or corporation.
I DO NOT give my consent. Instead, I urge you to hold public hearings in NYC and throughout the state to explain the purpose of this project, offer all New York parents the right to consent, and inform the public who will be legally and financially responsible if this highly sensitive data leaks out or is used in an unauthorized fashion.
I expect to hear back from you immediately as to whether you will honor my request to withhold my child’s private and confidential educational records. If not, I will call your office until you do so. As a parent, I am outraged at your plan which violates every ethical standard and your responsibility as the state’s highest educational official to protect my child from harm.
Yours, [Your Name and complete address]
Parent [or legal guardian] of [your child’s name, grade and school]
4. Below are links to the 75 Morton page on CB2′s site and the two documents shared at the 75 Morton meeting on Thursday. For folks that couldn’t make the meeting, these docs are and easy way to catch up on what was shared.
CB 2 75 Morton Page: http://www.nyc.gov/html/mancb2/html/75mortonstreet/75mortonstreet.shtml
Community Envisioning Document: http://www.nyc.gov/html/mancb2/downloads/pdf/75morton/75mortonmarch7_orientation.pdf
News, February 2013
- Fascinating story: Psychology Today put forth this article by researcher Susan Engel, “What Test Scores Don’t Tell Us: The Naked Emperor.” Ms Engel reviewed over 200(!) studies of K-12 standardized tests. “What I have discovered is startling- most tests used to evaluate students, teachers, and school districts predict almost nothing except similar scores on subsequent tests. I have found virtually no research demonstrating a relationship between those tests and measures of thinking on the one hand, or life outcomes on the other.”
- CECD2 voted to split the PS 3/41 school zone at the calendar meeting on Wednesday, January 23rd. The split zone will take affect in 2014. The vote was 6 yes and 4 no.
- DoE plans to cut funding to Special Ed. (more to come on this as it is shared).
- Bloomberg and the irrelevance of democaracy :dianeravitch.net
- City Looses 450 million over failed Teacher Evaluation Deal.
Why no one in his right mind should believe the school grades OR the teacher growth scores
- Economic disadvantage (ED), but without differentiating free lunch or reduced lunch students – very different, with very different expected outcomes;
- Students with disabilities (SWDs), but not types or severity of disability;
- English language learners (ELLs).
I’m On Your Side by Diane Ravitch
Issues affecting your child’s education, and what it all this stuff means:
The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a U.S. education initiative that seeks to bring diverse state curricula into alignment with each other by following the principles of standards-based education reform. The initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The past twenty years in the U.S. have also been termed the “Accountability Movement,” as states are being held to mandatory tests of student achievement, which are expected to demonstrate a common core of knowledge that all citizens should have to be successful in this country. As part of this overarching education reform movement, the nation’s governors and corporate leaders founded Achieve, Inc. in 1996 as a bi-partisan organization to raise academic standards, graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability in all 50 states. The initial motivation for the development of the Common Core State Standards was part of the American Diploma Project (ADP).
A high-stakes test is a test with important consequences for the test taker. Passing has important benefits, such as a high school diploma, a scholarship, or a license to practice a profession. Failing has important disadvantages, such as being forced to take remedial classes until the test can be passed, not being allowed to drive a car, or not being able to find employment. The use and misuse of high-stakes tests are a controversial topic in public education, especially in the United States.
Charter schools are publicly funded schools that operate under a five-year contract, or ‘charter’ with the State. Although they are open to all students, charter schools are independent and do not answer to a local school district superintendent or board of education. Charter schools were created to provide school choice for families whose local schools were failing and to allow pedagogical innovation without the bureaucratic hurdles. Admission is based on a lottery. The downsides to Charter Co-Location include loss of space and overcrowding in the district school, support from the financial sector and philanthropists in addition to receiving per-pupil funding from the City, creating inequities between students in the same building, charter schools continue to enroll fewer students with special needs, and there continues to be a lack of accountability in the financial and educational aspects of the Charter School system.
HOW CAN YOU GET INVOLVED?
Read and and be informed:
Have two hours once a month:
Pick an issue of particular interest to you and commit to staying abreast of it, attend relevant meetings of the Board of Education and the District 2 President’s Council, so you can fill in the committee.
A connection with any Board of Education members:
Contact the committee.
A talent for drafting letters:
Sign on to help us communicate with the city and state.
Join the Parent Action Committee:
FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES:
FROM THE WASHINGTON POST:
FROM THE NY DAILY NEWS:
Important & Timely Petitions for you to sign:
Tell Governor Andrew Cuomo and the State Legislature of New York: Return the 250 million dollars lost over the failed teacher evaluation deal.
Get to know more about a great organization called goingpublic.org. Learn very startling things about the plan to privatize public education.
PAC Newsletters and Downloadable’s: