Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Unfortunate goal of school choice movement - Pastors for Texas Children

Unfortunate goal of school choice movement - Pastors for Texas Children
Many years ago, Jerry Falwell articulated the goal of the school choice movement well when he said, “I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will be!”
Since the beginning of the religious right movement with Falwell, Phyllis Schlafly, Pat Robertson and others, the aim has been to destroy public education in America. Today they are closer than ever to achieving their goal because it is now being promoted by the president, his education secretary Betsy DeVos and Republican leaders in Texas government including the governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, agriculture commissioner and land commissioner.

This is what you have elected in Texas, my friends, by choosing party over sanity.

Vouchers, school choice, education savings accounts — they are all code words intended to mask the real aim of this movement: destroy public education in America and turn all schools into institutions of religious indoctrination.

Now you may say, “Well, David, you are being an alarmist. It would never go that far. Why not try it in Texas?”

Pastors for Texas Children, on whose board I serve, will host an information session at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 9, at Southland Baptist Church. Speakers will include Veribest Superintendent Bobby Fryar and Barry Haenisch, executive director of the Texas Association of Community Schools. The purpose is to answer that very question for you.

But let me do my best to answer it here. I live in the Wall ISD. If 20 students get $5,000 apiece to leave the public school to attend a private school, Wall ISD will lose close to $130,000 that can’t be replaced. That money is just lost. No teacher can be fired, no bus route stopped, no money on utilities saved — they just lose the money.

So let me speak bluntly to my friends in the Wall ISD (and you can apply this to any ISD in our area) — when you keep electing right-wing, religious right Republicans at the state and national level, you are voting to close our schools. Please figure that out before it’s too late.

Notice I didn’t say all Republicans. State Rep. Drew Darby is a Republican who opposes vouchers. No, I said “right-wing, religious right” Republicans such as Dan Patrick, Ken Paxton, Ted Cruz, Sid Miller (yes, we have a Texas agriculture commissioner who is trying to destroy our rural communities — he sponsored the voucher bill when in the Texas House). Please take the time to learn where different Republicans stand on our children’s education.
Now let me warn you about something else. Since 2008, the state has reduced spending on education by $339 per student and reduced the state’s share of spending on public education from 44.9 percent to 38.4 percent. They keep pushing the burden onto local taxpayers while bragging they are cutting taxes. (They do this to our counties as well).

Public education already is underfunded by the state; if vouchers pass we will be using tax dollars to support both public and private schools, which will harm our public schools even more.

David R. Currie, Ph.D., serves on the board of Pastors for Texas Children and is the chairman of the Tom Green County Democratic Party.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

FairTest Testing Resistance & Reform News: March 8 - 14, 2017

FairTest Testing Resistance & Reform News: March 8 - 14, 2017
In state after state -- and even in Washington DC -- lawmakers are responding to grassroots' concerns by beginning to rein in standardized exam overuses and misuses. There's still a long way to go to win comprehensive assessment reform but there is concrete evidence of real progress. Check out FairTest's new test opt-out resources to see how you can add to the pressure during this year's testing season.  

ESSA Test Accountability Rules Swept Aside by Congress
National ESSA Implementation is Now a Big, Big Mess
National Did Sec. DeVos Ask States to Ignore Stakeholder Participation for ESSA Plans

FairTest Opt-Out Fact Sheets Revised to Reflect ESSA Rule Repeal as Testing Season Begins

Multiple States 
"A to F" School Rankings Draw Local Pushback

 Legislator Questions State Funding of ACT Testing
Arkansas School Grades Track Poverty

California Smarter Balanced, ACT and SAT Fight Over State Testing Control
California New School Accountability Dashboard

School Offers Incentives to Entice Kids to Take Tests

Senators Tout Benefits of Cutting State Exams
Florida Bill Would Eliminate Some Testing Requirements

School Leaders Seek Options on Testing Mandates,102728
Georgia Bill Seeks Escape Hatch From State Tests

New School Evaluation Plan Adds a Few Non-Test Factors

State Test is Neither Valid Nor Reliable

City Leads Way in Opt-Out Push

Less Testing More Learning Group Seeks Opt-Out Policy Clarification
Massachusetts Educators, Legislators Pushes for Alternative Assessment Measures

Plans for A to F School Grades Dropped
Michigan Debate Persists About Best Way to Assess Schools

New Jersey 
Resist Administrators Pressure to Take PARCC
New Jersey Why Is State Requiring Third Graders to Take Test on Computers

New York 
Activists Promote Sample Test Refusal Letter
New York Opt-Out to Stop High-Stakes Testing
New York Minor Test Changes Won't Change Exam School Diversity

Under Pressure State Agrees to Review Testing
Ohio Principals Question High-Stakes Testing

 Senator Says Standardized Tests Aren't Worth the Hefty Cost

Texas Model Assessment Reform Legislative Advocacy Resources

Suspension of School Grading Approved by House

State House of Representatives Votes to Scrap Graduation Test Requirements

West Virginia
 State Board Scraps A-to-F School Grading System

University Admission Harvard Law Dropping LSAT Could Lead to Sweeping Admission Changes
University Admission Worcester State Goes Test Optional
University Admissions FairTest Updates List of 925+ ACT/SAT Colleges and Universities

Worth Reading Eight Reasons to Opt Out

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office-   (239) 395-6773   fax-  (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Testing Resistance & Reform News: February 8 - 14, 2017 FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing

Testing Resistance & Reform News: February 8 - 14, 2017
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
Bob Schaeffer

The pace of both testing resistance and assessment reform is definitely quickening as the late winter/early spring 2017 standardized exam season draws nearer. Great to see so many policy makers questioning the fundamental role and value of current volumes of testing and the stakes attached to them.

"A to F" School Grading Scales Distort Public Perception of Schools

 Feds Question Whether ACT Test Is Aligned With State's Standards

District Drops Graduation Testing Requirement

Model Grassroots Opt-Out Guides Published
Florida Lawmakers Question Value of High-Stakes Testing
Florida Districts Move to Reduce Local Testing Mandates

Seniors Will No Longer Have to Pass Test to Graduate

New Name But Largely Same Old Failed Test

Do State Assessments Really Do What They Say They Do?

Major Debate About How Often Students Should Be Testing

Educators Look Beyond Testing to Measure Student Success

 Superintendent Says Test Scores Measure Poverty, Not Academic Performance

New York State to Review Teacher Certification Exams

North Carolina 
Promise to Cut Standardized Exams Will Be Put to the Test

 Supers Criticize State ESSA Plan That Does Not Cut Testing

Oklahoma Legislators Seek Permanent Exemptions From Third Grade Promotion Test Law

 State's Changing Testing Plans Confuse Teachers, Students
Texas A to F Ratings Spur Calls for School Assessment Change
Texas Houston Drops Stakes for Some Standardized Tests

Utah School Grading System Reflects State's Failure Not Public Education

West Virginia
 Legislators Question Governor's ACT Testing Proposal

University Admission Who Is Overseeing the SAT?

Worth Reading
 Public Education Should Prioritize Quality Not Test Competition

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office-   (239) 395-6773   fax-  (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

FairTest Testing Resistance & Reform News: February 1 - 7, 2017

FairTest Testing Resistance & Reform News: February 1 - 7, 2017
Check out all the assessment reform activity in state legislatures as national polling shows strong public support for reducing testing overkill

National Poll Data Show Most Americans Do Not Think Standardized Tests Are Good Measure of Students or Schools
   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

Colorado Educator Ratings Don't Account for Student Poverty   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

Connecticut Failed Smarter Balanced Common Core Tests Hurt Students and Schools   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

Florida Governor Seeks Repeal of Test-Based Teacher Bonus Program   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu
Florida Challenge to Third Grade Retention Law Heads Back to Court   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu
Florida New Certification Test by Pearson Flunks Many Qualified Teachers   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

Louisiana State Ed Super Shows New Flexibility About Tests' Role in School Grades   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

Massachusetts New Opt-Out Legislative Proposal   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu
Massachusetts Public Meeting on New Accountability Standards Under ESSA   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

Michigan Legislature Moves Toward Repealing "Failing" Schools Law   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

New Mexico Ed Secretary Wants to Reduce Test Weight in Teacher Evaluation   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu
New Mexico Legislation Calls for Exploring ESSA Alternative Assessment Grant Application   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

New York Why You Should Continue to Opt Out in 2017 Fact Sheet   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

Ohio Concerns About Ever-Changing Graduation Testing Requirements   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

Oklahoma Lawmaker Targets Third Grade Reading Promotion Test   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

Pennsylvania Bill Would Ease Grad Test Requirement for Vocational and Career Ed Students   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

South Carolina ESSA Town Hall Supports Shift Away From High-Stakes Testing   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

Texas "Teaching Over Testing" Act Filed to Reduce Exam Volume and Stakes   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

West Virginia New Governor Seeks Different Course for Testing, Accountability   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

Wisconsin State Test Scores Do Not Measure School Success   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

University Admission ACT/SAT Tests Outdated and Inaccurate   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

International Israeli University Will Base Admission on Course Grades Rather than Test Scores   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

Is Standardized Testing a Help or a Hindrance   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

School Climate Really Does Affect Academic Success   #EdBlogNet @FairTestOffice @idraedu

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office-   (239) 395-6773   fax-  (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Our Mesa Comunitaria – One Year Later

by Aurelio Montemayor & Michael Seifert -  August 2016

A year ago, the Rio Grande Equal Voice Network, with tremendous support from IDRA, convened a
conference that we called, “Una Mesa Comunitaria.” Community leaders, school superintendents,
college and university leaders and others gathered to consider possible, collaborative actions in
response to drastic changes in Texas’ education policies.

After the Texas legislature passed an education reform bill, members of the Rio Grande Valley (RGV)
Equal Voice Network’s Education Working group became concerned that entire cohorts of students
were being “tracked” (excluded from the possibility of university) unbeknownst to their parents.
The working group organized a survey as a way of alerting families to the dangers in the bill. In the
spring of 2015, our network of eight community-based organizations and the Comunitario groups
conducted a survey to find out if what they suspected was happening with the new graduation
requirements was indeed true.

Participants polled more than 1,600 families across three counties and over 10 school districts. The
results were clear, and alarming. Very few of the parents who were questioned knew about the new
requirements, and most did not know if their children who were in secondary schools were on a
college track. Some families reported having a difficult time getting information from schools, and
others found out their children were not considered “college material” – those students were not
enrolled in such college-required courses as Algebra II.

IDRA helped the Education Working Group tally the data and publish the results. The group decided
to follow up on a previous Mesa Comunitaria held in McAllen in 2013 by offering a second Mesa
Comunitaria, this time in Weslaco in August of 2015.

See complete bilingual article link below

FairTest Testing Resistance & Reform News: January 25 - 31, 2017

Testing Resistance & Reform News: January 25 - 31, 2017
Bob Schaeffer

With the 2017 K-12 school testing season soon to in some jurisdictions, FairTest has released several new and updated fact sheets to help assessment reform activists organize resistance to standardized exam overuse and misuse. At the same time, many state legislatures are considering proposals to reduce testing overkill. 

Why You Can Boycott Testing Without Fear of Federal Penalties for Your School
National Just Say "No" to Standardized Tests by Opting Out

Multiple States Educators, Lawmakers Divided Over Graduation Tests
Multiple States Exit Exam Update Shows States That Recently Eliminated Diploma Tests

Unfair Testing Skews "Failing" Schools Label

State Will Administer Alternative Science Assessment Despite Federal Opposition

High Test Opt-Out Rate Disrupts State School Ratings

Legislators Eye New Test Opt-Out Bill

Florida New Bill Would Create Alternatives to High-Stakes Tests
Florida Key State Senator Submits Plan Offering Graduation Pathways for Students Failing Exit Exam

Louisiana Testing Exemption Sought for Flood-Ravaged Schools

Bill Would Impose Three-Year Exam Moratorium, End Test-Based Teacher Evaluation
Massachusetts State Test Fails in City Schools
Massachusetts Parents Should Say "No" to State Tests

New Jersey 
Demographic Factors Strongly Predict Test Results

New Mexico 
Bill Would Limit Number of School Days Devoted to Standardized Testing

New York 
Students Not Scores Workshop on Threats to Public Education
New York Test Prep Firms Scrambling to Address Changes in NYC Selective High School Exam

Analysis of State's Testing "Audit"

Test-Based School Grades Make Low-Income Schools Look Worse
Texas Hundreds of Districts Seek Repeal of "A to F" School Grading Scheme

 Proposal Would Allow PSAT Scores to Substitute for State Exams

Worth Reading Focusing State Accountability Systems on High Achievers May Backfire

Bob Schaeffer, Public Education Director
FairTest: National Center for Fair & Open Testing
office-   (239) 395-6773   fax-  (239) 395-6779
mobile- (239) 699-0468

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Signs Suggest Trump Budget Will Feature Unprecedented Cuts Plus Large Tax Cuts Favoring Wealthy

Signs Suggest Trump Budget Will Feature Unprecedented Cuts Plus Large Tax Cuts Favoring Wealthy
Mounting signs suggest that the forthcoming Trump budget may contain cuts harsher than those in House GOP budgets of recent years, which themselves would have slashed programs and services across much of the budget.
The budget that the Republican majority on the House Budget Committee approved last spring, for example, contained a stunning $6 trillion in domestic cuts over ten years, shrinking spending outside Social Security, Medicare, and interest payments to just 7 percent of gross domestic product by 2026.  That’s less than three-fifths its average level over the past 40 years and little more than half its average level under President Reagan.  The budget would have slashed non-defense discretionary programs (which include everything outside defense and entitlement programs) by roughly $1 trillion over ten years below the already austere levels set by the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA) and the automatic “sequestration” cuts.