We are on a roll. Today I hear that Randi Weingarten has put into writing her support of opting children out of taking standardized testing like PARCC. Even though I think it has taken this union leader way too long to back efforts that support real teaching and learning and are meant to protect not just teachers, but the children and the profession as a public good, at least she has finally said it.
Let’s continue to find and share this good news and work to create more of it daily!
Dr. Jesse “The Walking Man” Turner:
“I am a man on a mission to bring the joy of learning to the classroom. An advocate and activist for children, parents, and teachers.”
I’m am pleased to share with readers the writing of Dr. Jesse Turner. This piece of writing, in particular, is being shared far and wide because it is touching so many hearts. At a time when the field of education, the practice of teaching, teachers and public schools are under attack, these words strike a chord in those of us who understand the forces at work against us and the price being paid by everyone, especially our children, until we take back the reigns of control from the heartless, monied interests.
I Love Public EducationI cried the first time my Mother left me at your door,
I would learn to love you with every morning cookie and container of milk,
I would love you more with every song we sang within your hallowed walls,
I found your love in every teacher’s smile in your halls
I loved the reverence and respect you showed our flag every morning.
When the evil darkness of assassination
took the life of President Kennedy ~ you were there,
You calmed us, and helped us understand that although things could never be the same ~ our nation would be mended,
You kept us warm during the winters from 9:00 to 3:00 ~ when there was no heat in our old cold-water flat,
You were there when they murdered our heroes Martin and Bobby, to help us wipe away our tears,
You ensured that although they were taken from our world ~ these men would remain in our hearts forever,
You gave us hope through the riots and the protests,
You gave us color when there were no crayons in our homes,
You gave us poetry to ease our pain,
You gave us poetry to celebrate our lives,
You gave us history to give us roots,
You gave us geography, the stars and the moon landing ~ just to let us know we had no boundaries,
You taught us mathematics and science,
But most of all you gave us literature,
You gave us a love of books,
You handed us a little more of our dreams every single day,
You were there, year after year, as we spent our summer vacations under the cooling spray of fire hydrants ~ dancing in the streets,
As every summer ended we longed for another school year to begin,
You were beaming with pride at every graduation,
My loves still grows
I am confused by:
A nation’s leaders ~ who bash public schools at every opportunity,
An American media ~ that ignores 150 years of noble service to our nation’s children,
I find myself distraught ~ by the titans of industry, who blame you for every social ill, while they drink from the cup of plenty, time and time again,
I am troubled by their mantra of testing will save us,
I am saddened by their infatuation with fictional heroes like Superman, and homage to those with no real classroom experience,
I am bewildered by leaders who say teachers are the essential ingredients to success, and then in their next breath say our teachers are not good enough.
All I am I owe to you,
I can’t remember one single standardized test,
I do remember teacher after teacher telling us those tests were no measure of who we really are,
I remembered loving Mr. Bass’s reminders that poor boys and girls could be anything they dreamed,
His boys and girls were more than test scores,
We were his endless possibilities,
Yes, I love public education,
I love public education enough to fight for it,
I love public education enough to stand up for it,
I love public education enough to take it back from the
The billionaires club,
The policy makers,
The ones who only see test scores,
The ones who count numbers not tears,
The ones who refer to America’s children as “Data”
Yes, I love public education; enough to walk to Washington DC again in 2015.
Forever in your debt,
Follow him Twitter: @readdoctor
Dr. Turner will start his walk at Central State University on June 11th and it will end in Washington, D.C. He will walk about 400 miles in 40 days. Check out his event page at: https://www.facebook.com/events/297723840427078/
Anchor Chart = An instructional tool created by the teacher with students to support a lesson being taught. It can be used to remind students of routines or what is important about the content of a lesson. It is created as the lesson is being taught or during a class discussion. It is a routine part of the life in the modern classroom and often becomes a permanent or semi-permanent part of the classroom environment. Anchor charts and other teacher-made or store-bought posters that support student learning are plastered all over classrooms in the United States. In my school, they are on bulletin boards, chalk boards, white boards, doors, on the sides of bookshelves, on cabinet doors and drawers, filing cabinets and even taped to windows or clothes pinned to the blinds of windows. THAT is how important they are in supporting students’ learning.
However, during the PARCC tests coming up twice before the end of this school year, those charts and other posters are on the “FORBIDDEN LIST” when it comes to preparing the classroom environment for testing what kids know and can do with what they know. So rather than being another learning tool in their repertoire of learning tools to be referenced, these have become objects to be memorized and taken down or covered up during the test. In my mind, it’s kind of like having to memorize the dictionary rather than referring to it when a key word needs to be clarified before going on in reading a story or article.
Let’s see . . . does a lawyer have to memorize the contents of his or her books in the law library? Do doctors have to write up the contents of the articles from memory about the dangers of diabetes for each patient who becomes diagnosed? Do mechanics have to memorize the correct tire size or wiper blade size for each make and model of car, domestic or foreign made?
What is the point of these hyper austerity measures being imposed on children today? How do these expectations resemble the real world and how do they prove that children are learning or not learning? Which colleges and careers require that children deny using reference materials to do their work or to do their jobs? COME ON??? WHAT IS THE POINT???? I’M SERIOUS!!!!
In my state, on the previous state standardized tests that we have given for years and years, the only things we had to cover up or remove were name plates on desks that included things like multiplication charts as well as posters that included step-by-step directions on how to write an essay. All other anchor charts or posters were allowed to remain visible in the classroom, just like any other day in the life of learners.
As a matter of fact, this whole concept that I value immensely (and so should we all) of “keeping it real” for students reminds me of a book I’ve been reading. More on that in a future post! But for now, chalk this post up to one more reason we need to:
PERMANENTLY PARK THE PARCC!!!
LET’S WORK TOGETHER TO STOP THIS MADNESS!!!
It is critical that we all understand that everything about the PARCC test is a sharp departure from the previous kinds of standardized testing that has ever been done. The standards upon which they are based were agreed to before they were even written. They were backwards designed from college all the way down to kindergarten. There were few people who are experts in the field of education and zero early childhood educators to help create them. The few who were knowledgeable in their fields have since come out against the standards. The standards are copyrighted and therefore OWNED by this one group and cannot be changed, except by them. And now these tests are going to take longer than those that adults who wish to become lawyers or doctors must take. There is something significantly wrong with this whole process. It has been highly secretive, left out important stakeholders in a democratic society, and has not been proven to accomplish what it claims to do: assure to prepare kids to be college and career ready. Yet they are being forced upon us, regardless of the legitimate concerns expressed, full speed (and a FAST ONE AT THAT) ahead! This speeding train needs to be stopped. Children are on board. Their safety (mental and physical) is at stake! We need to have our kids refuse to take these unfair, unproven tests that will be used to close our schools and continue to unjustly justify opening up more non-community, privately owned and operated charter schools that hand-pick which kids they want to serve. Save your communities by saving your public schools! Say no to PARCC testing and to the Common Core non-State $tandards they rode in on!
If my child is going to sit for 500 minutes to take a test there better be a good reason. To date, I have not heard of any.
What we know:
-The results are given in 6 months.
-We can never see the test.
-We are told every answer is “plausible”.
-We are told the text is above grade level.
-Only15% of ELA standards are tested. Writing, listening & speaking are left out.
-Field test questions are on the test.
-Prepping for this test has taken a month (or more) out of our children’s education and fractured a love of learning.
-There is no proof that this is a measure of college/career readiness.
-We are not preparing them to become “good” test takers, because this is the only 500 minute test they will ever take (regardless of college/career).
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It’s time to recognize basic human needs and it’s time to recognize how corporations are leading us all over the cliff!
GUEST POST: Denny Taylor, Garn Press
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I am writing to urgently request your help. If you find the political circumstance and the research base for the four propositions that I have outlined in this letter are compelling, and you support the course of action suggested here please send this letter to friends and colleagues. Use your websites, Facebook, and any other means to get the message out. Given that I rarely enter the public sphere my friends will know that the situation of which I write is pressing. Time is of the essence, I fear.
Some of you will have read books I have written based on forty years of longitudinal research in family, community, and schools settings with children, families, and teachers who live and work in challenging social and physical environments. Except for my doctoral dissertation, all my research has taken place in sites…
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So, let’s end the argument about how “voluntary” these inappropriate standards are or even WHY they are inappropriate. They ARE inappropriate because they don’t represent the will of THE PEOPLE. They are a corporate-driven, Gates-led, anti-democratic bunch of controlling words written primarily by non-educators who don’t really “give a sh!t” (David Coleman’s words, not mine) about what kids think or feel. And all of it is based on the lie that our schools are in crisis based on international test scores.
Our schools are only in crisis insofar as poverty is on the rampage and privatizers are being allowed to target those schools, many of which are also filled with mostly students of color, so they can justify closing them and handing them over to the profiteers who will show everyone how to make a fortune while bamboozling (VAMboozling, if you are a teacher) the American public and laughing all the way to their off-shore banks.
Where are all the fair-paying jobs that will help families alleviate their poverty-stricken circumstances that suppress their ability to focus, concentrate and learn? Oh, that’s right. The priority hasn’t BEEN jobs. It has been budget-cutting austerity measures that we’ve been told are necessary. Those cuts have crippled our schools making them desperate for additional funding any way they can get it. It was no coincidence that Race to the Top grant competition came along at the same time as the corporations and banks crashed our economy in 2008, further crippling our schools. It was also not clear the average American citizen that the Common Core $tate [sic] $tandards weren’t even finished being written when states who wanted to compete for the limited (not enough for everyone) funding required them to agree to adopt the standards, sight-unseen, regardless of winning the grant competition or not. THAT is how 46 states initially got misled into signing on the dotted line.
So enough of the madness. It’s time to slay this dragon and promote sanity by giving our schools back to the communities they belong to, led by the teachers who know how to teach.
Read all about what Gates did/said here: