Friday, February 28, 2014

Hopefully, They'll Listen

Yesterday I wrote about Chicago teachers, parents, and students opting out of a low-stakes standardized test. But what about high stakes tests, like the new ones mandated by Common Core State Standards? After all, that's really what those of us who opposes corporate-style education "reform" object to.

Well, it appears that Seattle teachers, emboldened by the success of last year's boycott of standardized MAP tests at Garfield High School as well as other schools, are threatening to do just that: refuse to administer the standardized tests that are the centerpiece of the Obama administration's standardization and testing regimen. Last year, the teachers enjoyed widespread support among both parents and students and they're counting on the same this go around.

"People are completely fighting back," says Seattle Schools watchdog-blogger Melissa Westbrook, who says she's heard from parents across the district alarmed by Common Core. The district is wholly unprepared for Common Core . . . Westbrook says: Teachers don't fully understand the standards, the district's computers aren't ready for the new tests, and parents won't understand how to interpret sudden drops in their kid's test scores."

Local support for a boycott is strong, and it's growing nationally as well.

This could be the first-ever teacher boycott of Obama's new standards and testing regimen, with the potential to set a precedent for the rest of the country. Critics say corporate education reform titans like the Gates Foundation developed Common Core without input from teachers. Last week, Dennis Van Roekel, the president of the National Education Association, the country's largest teacher's union, issued a statement calling implementation of Common Core across the country "completely botched." He cited a new poll of the union's teacher-members in which an overwhelming 70 percent said implementation of Common Core is "going poorly."

The NEA is calling for a three-year moratorium on implementation of Common Core in order to properly field test the program using actual teachers and students in classroom settings. As they now stand, the standards and the tests have no grounding in actual research, anecdotal or otherwise: they are merely the best-guesses of political and corporate dilettantes, forcing schools to use their students a guinea pigs in a massive education experiment.

It appears that my very own Seattle is shaping up as the first major battleground as teachers, parents, and students come together to push back in the name of high quality education. If the past is any indicator, the school district will threaten teachers with punishment, even firing, and it's unknown what the Obama administration will do.  Hopefully, they'll listen. 

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Evin said...

You mentioned the NEA calling for a three-year moratorium on implementation of the CCSS. But your article talked about the standardized testing. The two are separate. The CCSS is about teaching, not testing.

Barbara Zaborowski said...

Did you see this?

Teacher Tom said...

You've been misinformed, Evin. SPS teachers are planning to refuse to administer the standardized tests that are fully intertwined with CCSS.

I've written about Common Core quite a bit here, but essentially it comes down to a room full of business people and politicians, funded by the Gates Foundation, with the audacity to tell professional teachers what, how, and when to teach certain things without allowing for any input or feedback from those teachers. CCSS have not even been field tested: it is simply the best-guesses of dilettantes who think they are experts by virtue of having been able to make some money. And standardized testing is at the core of it all.