Save Our Schools: Coalition for Action

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Save Our Schools: Coalition for Action

July 8th – 10th

BATs will be descending upon DC once again this summer! This time we will be joined by SOS, UOO, NPE, NCEUA, NEA BAT Caucus, Opt Out Florida Network, and CELT!

We are working with these organizations to form a coalition that will grow with like-minded people to speak and march in solidarity in Washington DC on July 8-10th.

This coalition is working hard to join together a broad group of diverse people to make the statement to our government and to the citizens of our country that “This is what democracy looks like!”

We envision actions and festivities for children and adults, which foster awareness and to celebrate democracy by living it.

Details are developing for this event so please sign up to receive updates and support us!

We have a burgeoning coalition of grassroots groups, union organizations, and activists who will rally and march in support of education and social justice. The Coalition is growing, and we envision a mass gathering with bold actions and expressions of resistance for children and adults, which foster awareness and camaraderie in the movement to save our schools. Join us inWashington D.C. on July 8-10th to celebrate democracy by living it. The general schedule for the event is:

  • July 8th: Rally & March (location will be announced soon)
  • July 9th: National & International Summit with family and kid-friendly events
  • July 10th: Coalition Congress – member organizations meet to plan next steps for the movement

An action this big requires much collaboration and support, and the Coalition has many involvement opportunities for individuals and organizations alike. Consider helping in the following ways:

  1. Endorse the principles and the 2016 event
  2. Provide active publicity about the 2016 event to your organizations and listserves
  3. Organize in your area and assist people in attending the event
  4. Provide financial support for the 2016 event and/or scholarships to deserving attendees
  5. Collaborate and actively engage in the planning of the 2016 event by joining the Coalition for Action Steering Committee or one of its planning sub-committees. For more information on how to help and participate in the Coalition event, contact Bob George at (708) 692-5818.

This is an election year, and surely there can be no better time to show our government and our fellow citizens, “This is what democracy looks like!” We look forward to marching with you this summer in D.C.!

In solidarity,

The SOS Coalition for Action

Scoreboard

Issues: Oppose/SupportClintonSandersO’MalleyTrumpCruzRubio
Common CoreSupports Video LinkInconclusive There is nothing that states Sanders has outright endorsed or opposed the Common Core. He voted in early 2015 against an anti-Common Core budget amendment that would “prohibit the federal government from ‘mandating, incentivizing, or coercing’ states into adopting Common Core or any other standards.” This vote could imply support for CCSS or opposition to some of all contents of the amendment. SupportsOpposesOpposesOpposes
End Standardized Testing/ End Federal Mandated Testing
Every Student Succeeds Act
Charters
Teacher’s Right to Due Process
Teacher Evaluation on Test Scores
Vouchers
Education Funding
Protecting Rights of Special Needs and English Language Learner

Kids can’t be kids at Nashville Prep

CS Warning

 

BATs help to expose Nashville Prep!!! Please share this unbelievable blog post by the amazing Amy Frogge all over. You can go to our Open Page to share out directly. Share with family, friends, colleagues, and major news media. EXPOSE EXPOSE EXPOSE!

WARNING: THE CONTENT OF THIS POST IS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR CHILDREN.

http://dianeravitch.net/2015/09/10/warning-the-content-of-this-post-is-not-appropriate-for-children/

BATs Pledge to Preserve the Arts in our Schools

BATs will be 2 years old on Sunday, June 14th. Over the 2 years of BAT existence we have seen the Arts slashed and cut.

 

  1. Atlanta School District cut 18 Music/Orchestra positions

 

  1. Funds have been cut in more than 80 percent of U.S. school districts since 2008

 

  1. Detroit’s Renaissance High School may lose music program

We could put hundreds of articles here to show how the arts have been slashed and cut.  As educators we know that the arts are needed in our schools.   The arts allow students to explore their natural passion and creativity.  The arts give students an outlet to express their vision of the world and provide, for many, a place in which they can shine.

 

Research shows that children who are exposed early to music have a boost in their brain development

Neuroscience research is revealing the impressive impact of arts instruction on students’ cognitive, social and emotional development

Our very own BAT Dr. Yohuru Williams wrote an amazing piece in September of 2014 in which he said,

 

“The intangible benefits of public education will never appear in the sterile strips of data represented by tests scores. The high school band members who play in churches, parks, parades and festivals, the young thespians and dancers who share their talents in shows, and the artists who paint murals on the sides of buildings bring a splash of life and color to an otherwise desolate urban landscape — they put the public into public education.”

 

BATs we must all commit to fighting for and preserving the arts in our districts.   We must show our local, state, and federal lawmakers that funding our schools means that all children get rich programs that help them grow and that make school a fun place to be.

 

We are asking all BATs to please sign onto the BAT Pledge to Preserve the Arts in Our Schools!

Please leave your name in the comments so we can add your name to our pledges!

 

 

BATs-statement-against-Pearson

The Badass Teachers Association Calls on the U.S. Justice Department to Investigate Pearson

tumblr_mkc1btGC9k1s5jjtzo1_1280This week’s scandal about Pearson spying on children and their social media activity to determine if testing security was breached shows us that Pearson has no qualms in stealing the sanctity of childhood. Gone are the days in which a child’s life can be that of a private citizen. The idea that Pearson feels it must corral and control what our children put on social media is a corruption, greed, and injustice sandwich. Sorry Pearson we are not eating it.

Here is a strong and direct warning from the teachers and parents of the Badass Teachers Association – You screwed up and you screwed up BIG. Due to your attempt to continue to buy up and control American education you have committed perhaps the most disgusting act any one could commit – you have used our children to further your agenda in a light that is so transparent. America values its children’s privacy and respects their ability to be private citizens.

To place limitations upon a child’s ability to be a private citizen brings us a step closer to the Orwellian society that may have been more prophetic than even George Orwell himself realized. A veiled threat made through the communication of the state department of education informing the school of the issuance of a Priority 1 Alert for a test item breach AFTER school hours, while the child is a private citizen is, as the kids would say, creepy. Even though there was no picture of the test item and no attempt at cheating, the tweet was done, by the child, as a private citizen. With the questioning by many around the nation that has been done about the appropriateness of Common Core and PARCC related materials, this can be seen as an attempt by Pearson to merely silence that questioning by attempting to limit the exposure of their test items. However, the cloud of secrecy that envelops Pearson tests is not thick enough to hide just how wrong it is.

The fact that Pearson already had well-laid out plans that included the contracting of a social media watchdog company to monitor student discussions on social media speaks to the validity and reliability of this test in the first place. If their product was a true educational tool with a valid purpose the need for such procedures would not have even arisen. Pearson is being faced with a strong uprising over their control of the educational marketplace. Pearson’s control of this market should not even exist in the first place as private companies seek to profit from our children and from public education. A national test refusal movement so massive would not have even begun if Pearson, and others, were not engaged in educational malpractice tactics that are harmful to our children and to their schools. We would like to strongly state, again, that all parents refuse their children from Pearson testing.

As parents and teachers that have a duty to protect our children and safeguard their right to being private citizens, we are outraged at the over reach that Pearson has been allowed. It is an overbearing reach that has even been condoned by New Jersey’s department of education. As parents and teachers we demand that the United States Department of Justice investigate the facts and practices that Pearson is employing to monitor and control the actions of our children, that is not only in clear violation of their rights, but also a transgression against their childhood.

Please email the U.S Department of Justice and demand they investigate this matter AskDOJ@usdoj.gov

Petition

An Open Letter to the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, National Center for Learning Disabilities, and The Education Trust Disabilities From Parents of Children with Disabilities
We are a coalition of parents who have children with disabilities. On January 11th a statement was released by 20 Civil Rights groups that supported each state’s adoption of college and career ready standards, aligned statewide annual assessments, and a state accountability system to improve instructions. As a coalition of parents we strongly say to you – YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR OUR CHILDREN!

The idea that students must be tested annually from grades three through eight and once in high school in order to achieve “equity” for all students is fatally flawed. You presume that high-stakes standardized testing has led to more equity for students but here is NO evidence that it has. You presume that high stakes standardized tests are valid and reliable measures of what students know and how much teachers have contributed to student progress, but assessment experts have reported to the contrary. You presume that requiring testing is the only way to ensure that disabled students get attention, but that thinking is fatally flawed. Which begs the question, why on earth would civil rights groups think that it is a civil right for students to take a standardized test that treats them all the same when each are unique individuals who have broad range of needs, goals and abilities?
Our children have a broad range of disabilities. Some are ADHD, some have autism, some are severely delayed, some have depression, anxiety, and some are dyslexic. We want to be crystal clear on this matter: We do not support the Common Core, we do not support annual testing, and we do not support testing that is used to punish our children, teachers, and schools.

The Common Core State Learning Standards has ushered in a system that has devastated most children with disabilities. All one has to do is look at the Common Core assessments from New York where 95% of the children with disabilities failed. The Common Core standards render our children frustrated, defeated, and feeling like failures. We see this every day in our homes. Do you? Why must our children deal with text passages that are too complex and math problems that are 2 to 3 grade levels above their abilities? The Common Core Learning Standards are experimental and not based on research or evidence. Children with disabilities are entitled to research-based instructional practices yet much of the pedagogy compelled by these experimental standards flies in the face of established educational research. Additionally, the standards were created largely without the input of special education teachers. Teachers are forced to teach to a one size fits all script that leaves very little room for modification and a demand that certain standards be taught at certain grade levels that may not be at the grade level our children are working at. What happens to our children who are not reading at grade level but are forced to learn standards that are taught at grade level? In 2004, with the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act students with disabilities were required, as much as possible, to be included into the general education curriculum. For many of our children, this was working and teachers could modify work and tailor it to a child’s pace. The Common Core Learning Standards demand, and script, grade-specific lessons that leave no room for modification or pacing that meets the needs of our children. As a result, the learning moves on and our children are left behind.

Federally mandated yearly testing often results in abusive practices. Mandated standardized testing is often characterized by a lack of access to the testing accommodations indicated on a student’s IEP and forces students to submit to tests that rival the medical boards and SATs in length. These tests are forcibly administered to children despite the fact that test content is often years beyond the student’s present levels of performance. All of this is done without any regard for the emotional well-being of the individual student. One only needs to look at the case of Ethan Rediske, a severely disabled child, who was forced to take the Florida State test while in the hospital.

Often times these tests are not returned to teachers in a timely manner and yield very little specific information about an individual child’s strengths and weaknesses. When the test administered is years beyond a student’s current academic performance levels, these tests yield absolutely NO usable information. These tests are not diagnostic in nature and therefore cannot be used to support our children’s learning. Ultimately, these harmful tests exist solely for the purposes of accountability.
We do not object to adaptive standardized academic assessments such as the WIAT III and the Woodcock Johnson or benchmark reading assessments that allow the teacher to match the assessment to a student’s projected performance level and move up or down accordingly. We support these assessments as they minimize the amount of time spent testing while simultaneously limiting the amount of needless frustration experienced by our children. They provide immediate, detailed and insightful information about a student’s learning profile and their specific areas of strengths and weakness.
Consider the experience of a 5th grader diagnosed with both a learning disability and ADHD who has the testing accommodation of double time taking the NYS Common Core aligned test. The English Language Arts test in 2014: Imagine this 10 year old, 5th grader, receiving double the allotted 90 minutes for consecutive days. Imagine the anguish of a ten year old who must sit for 9 hours of testing over the course of three days only to experience a similar test a week or two later when he or she is compelled to take the NYS Common Core math test! This is state sanctioned abuse, plain and simple. Imagine how this child would benefit from spending these 18 hours learning rather than testing. Shame on your for supporting this! The fact that you would support such a practice is reprehensible to us. We as parents DO NOT support this and will tell you that it destroys our children physically, emotionally, and mentally!

While we support accountability, we believe that accountability should not be based on test scores. Accountability can be measured when one walks into a school building and sees that our children are being taught by creative, out of the box, compassionate people. These qualities cannot be measured by a test score. The use of test scores to evaluate the effectiveness of our children’s teachers will only encourage the best and brightest teachers to shy away from working with the most challenging students as these scores do not reward innovation and differentiation. In addition, to be forcibly subjected to abusive testing practices our children are forced to contend with the knowledge that their scores are being used to fire the teachers they love and trust. Annual, one size fits all, testing and test based accountability has created an environment for our children that is about blame, punish, and fail. Under a test based accountability system for teachers, many children with disabilities enter school and within the first week are subjected to a baseline test on content that has yet to be taught only to fail miserably. Imagine being any child, but especially a child with a disability, who is made to feel like a failure on the second day of school. We asked one special education teacher in New York, a state that holds teachers accountable based on test scores, how this looked in real life. Here is what she told us – “In the beginning of the year Student A, a student with anxiety and depression, got a 28 on the baseline test. We had to give this test the second day of school. He was very upset and as much as I told him the score would not count, he was still upset. He was angry when he was taking the test because he felt that he didn’t know anything and it wasn’t fair. It was difficult to get him to finish the test. At the end of the year Student A had to show a point growth for me to get credit for him. In my district we negotiated a 30 point growth (the state test). At the end of the year this student got a 42 on the state test (the new Common Core exam). I didn’t get the points for him, nor 15 of the other 18 kids in my class. I was deemed an ineffective teacher last year and I have been teaching special needs kids for over 25 years. Many of my students have gone to college or are working successful adults. We all, students and teachers, feel defeated.”

No Child Left Behind presumed that teachers and schools simply did not have high enough expectations for disadvantaged students and that was the reason for the education gap. Factors such as hunger, sickness and violence were not considered in the poor performance of students. We know now that No Child Left Behind has been an utter failure. In fact the failure of No Child Left Behind is one of the battle cries of Common Core. We would like to remind you that civil rights groups, and some of the key people behind the joint statement, were advisers to the key legislators who worked on the bill and supported No Child Left Behind. You were wrong then and you are wrong NOW.

We urge you to reconsider your position in support of Common Core and the testing associated with it before more students are needlessly sacrificed as a result of this fatally flawed and harmful policy.
In closing, we will repeat that YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR OUR CHILDREN. You claim that annual testing is an essential to further the legacy of civil rights and equality but in fact you are supporting a practice that not only harms many children with disabilities but also discourages our most talented special educators from working with the most challenging children. You are supporting a practice knowingly and willingly that sets our disabled children up to fail as it ignores learning differences. It is akin to making a child in a wheelchair enter a school building without a ramp that is on a steep vertical angle. WE would argue that you have put policy above the dignity and human rights of our children. Experimental learning standards such as the Common Core, federally mandated one size fits all annual testing, and test based accountability are in fact impeding our children’s right to a free and appropriate education. We are asking at this time that you retract your support for annual testing and support our children with disabilities and their right to a free and appropriate education that meets THEIR NEEDS!

Sincerely

Parents of Children with Disabilities

An Open Letter to the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, National Center for Learning Disabilities, and The Education Trust Disabilities From Parents of Children with Disabilities

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Petition, An Open Letter

An Open Letter to the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, National Center for Learning Disabilities, and The Education Trust Disabilities From Parents of Children with Disabilities

We are a coalition of parents who have children with disabilities. On January 11th a statement was released by 20 Civil Rights groups that supported each state’s adoption of college and career ready standards, aligned statewide annual assessments, and a state accountability system to improve instructions. As a coalition of parents we strongly say to you – YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR OUR CHILDREN!

The idea that students must be tested annually from grades three through eight and once in high school in order to achieve “equity” for all students is fatally flawed. You presume that high-stakes standardized testing has led to more equity for students but here is NO evidence that it has. You presume that high stakes standardized tests are valid and reliable measures of what students know and how much teachers have contributed to student progress, but assessment experts have reported to the contrary. You presume that requiring testing is the only way to ensure that disabled students get attention, but that thinking is fatally flawed. Which begs the question, why on earth would civil rights groups think that it is a civil right for students to take a standardized test that treats them all the same when each are unique individuals who have broad range of needs, goals and abilities?
Our children have a broad range of disabilities. Some are ADHD, some have autism, some are severely delayed, some have depression, anxiety, and some are dyslexic. We want to be crystal clear on this matter: We do not support the Common Core, we do not support annual testing, and we do not support testing that is used to punish our children, teachers, and schools.

The Common Core State Learning Standards has ushered in a system that has devastated most children with disabilities. All one has to do is look at the Common Core assessments from New York where 95% of the children with disabilities failed. The Common Core standards render our children frustrated, defeated, and feeling like failures. We see this every day in our homes. Do you? Why must our children deal with text passages that are too complex and math problems that are 2 to 3 grade levels above their abilities? The Common Core Learning Standards are experimental and not based on research or evidence. Children with disabilities are entitled to research-based instructional practices yet much of the pedagogy compelled by these experimental standards flies in the face of established educational research. Additionally, the standards were created largely without the input of special education teachers. Teachers are forced to teach to a one size fits all script that leaves very little room for modification and a demand that certain standards be taught at certain grade levels that may not be at the grade level our children are working at. What happens to our children who are not reading at grade level but are forced to learn standards that are taught at grade level? In 2004, with the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act students with disabilities were required, as much as possible, to be included into the general education curriculum. For many of our children, this was working and teachers could modify work and tailor it to a child’s pace. The Common Core Learning Standards demand, and script, grade-specific lessons that leave no room for modification or pacing that meets the needs of our children. As a result, the learning moves on and our children are left behind.

Federally mandated yearly testing often results in abusive practices. Mandated standardized testing is often characterized by a lack of access to the testing accommodations indicated on a student’s IEP and forces students to submit to tests that rival the medical boards and SATs in length. These tests are forcibly administered to children despite the fact that test content is often years beyond the student’s present levels of performance. All of this is done without any regard for the emotional well-being of the individual student. One only needs to look at the case of Ethan Rediske, a severely disabled child, who was forced to take the Florida State test while in the hospital.

Often times these tests are not returned to teachers in a timely manner and yield very little specific information about an individual child’s strengths and weaknesses. When the test administered is years beyond a student’s current academic performance levels, these tests yield absolutely NO usable information. These tests are not diagnostic in nature and therefore cannot be used to support our children’s learning. Ultimately, these harmful tests exist solely for the purposes of accountability.
We do not object to adaptive standardized academic assessments such as the WIAT III and the Woodcock Johnson or benchmark reading assessments that allow the teacher to match the assessment to a student’s projected performance level and move up or down accordingly. We support these assessments as they minimize the amount of time spent testing while simultaneously limiting the amount of needless frustration experienced by our children. They provide immediate, detailed and insightful information about a student’s learning profile and their specific areas of strengths and weakness.
Consider the experience of a 5th grader diagnosed with both a learning disability and ADHD who has the testing accommodation of double time taking the NYS Common Core aligned test. The English Language Arts test in 2014: Imagine this 10 year old, 5th grader, receiving double the allotted 90 minutes for consecutive days. Imagine the anguish of a ten year old who must sit for 9 hours of testing over the course of three days only to experience a similar test a week or two later when he or she is compelled to take the NYS Common Core math test! This is state sanctioned abuse, plain and simple. Imagine how this child would benefit from spending these 18 hours learning rather than testing. Shame on your for supporting this! The fact that you would support such a practice is reprehensible to us. We as parents DO NOT support this and will tell you that it destroys our children physically, emotionally, and mentally!

While we support accountability, we believe that accountability should not be based on test scores. Accountability can be measured when one walks into a school building and sees that our children are being taught by creative, out of the box, compassionate people. These qualities cannot be measured by a test score. The use of test scores to evaluate the effectiveness of our children’s teachers will only encourage the best and brightest teachers to shy away from working with the most challenging students as these scores do not reward innovation and differentiation. In addition, to be forcibly subjected to abusive testing practices our children are forced to contend with the knowledge that their scores are being used to fire the teachers they love and trust. Annual, one size fits all, testing and test based accountability has created an environment for our children that is about blame, punish, and fail. Under a test based accountability system for teachers, many children with disabilities enter school and within the first week are subjected to a baseline test on content that has yet to be taught only to fail miserably. Imagine being any child, but especially a child with a disability, who is made to feel like a failure on the second day of school. We asked one special education teacher in New York, a state that holds teachers accountable based on test scores, how this looked in real life. Here is what she told us – “In the beginning of the year Student A, a student with anxiety and depression, got a 28 on the baseline test. We had to give this test the second day of school. He was very upset and as much as I told him the score would not count, he was still upset. He was angry when he was taking the test because he felt that he didn’t know anything and it wasn’t fair. It was difficult to get him to finish the test. At the end of the year Student A had to show a point growth for me to get credit for him. In my district we negotiated a 30 point growth (the state test). At the end of the year this student got a 42 on the state test (the new Common Core exam). I didn’t get the points for him, nor 15 of the other 18 kids in my class. I was deemed an ineffective teacher last year and I have been teaching special needs kids for over 25 years. Many of my students have gone to college or are working successful adults. We all, students and teachers, feel defeated.”

No Child Left Behind presumed that teachers and schools simply did not have high enough expectations for disadvantaged students and that was the reason for the education gap. Factors such as hunger, sickness and violence were not considered in the poor performance of students. We know now that No Child Left Behind has been an utter failure. In fact the failure of No Child Left Behind is one of the battle cries of Common Core. We would like to remind you that civil rights groups, and some of the key people behind the joint statement, were advisers to the key legislators who worked on the bill and supported No Child Left Behind. You were wrong then and you are wrong NOW.

We urge you to reconsider your position in support of Common Core and the testing associated with it before more students are needlessly sacrificed as a result of this fatally flawed and harmful policy.
In closing, we will repeat that YOU DO NOT SPEAK FOR OUR CHILDREN. You claim that annual testing is an essential to further the legacy of civil rights and equality but in fact you are supporting a practice that not only harms many children with disabilities but also discourages our most talented special educators from working with the most challenging children. You are supporting a practice knowingly and willingly that sets our disabled children up to fail as it ignores learning differences. It is akin to making a child in a wheelchair enter a school building without a ramp that is on a steep vertical angle. WE would argue that you have put policy above the dignity and human rights of our children. Experimental learning standards such as the Common Core, federally mandated one size fits all annual testing, and test based accountability are in fact impeding our children’s right to a free and appropriate education. We are asking at this time that you retract your support for annual testing and support our children with disabilities and their right to a free and appropriate education that meets THEIR NEEDS!

Sincerely

Parents of Children with Disabilities