The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education plans to help corporations profit from schoolchildren’s most sensitive and confidential information. Massachusetts is one of seven states committed to participate in the development and pilot testing of inBloom, a Gates Foundation initiative. Student information—including your child’s name, home address, email address, test scores, racial identity, economic and special education status, and possibly even detailed disciplinary and health records—will be stored on a data “cloud” and shared with for-profit corporations, without any guarantee that the information will be safeguarded.
For more on this and what you can do to protect sensitive student data from being shared with corporations, click here to visit the action page at the web site of our partner the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.
The Joint Education Committee of the Massachusetts Legislature will have a public hearing on Tuesday, May 7 at 10 a.m. in room A-1 at the State House (Just inside the entrance through the garden on Bowdoin Street).
Four bills that make important, positive changes regarding charter schools will be heard. You can come and testify or submit written testimony in support to the Education Committee: The State House, Room 473G, Boston, MA 02133
These are the four priority bills.
HB 491, SB 258 An Act relative to charter schools, filed by Rep. Frank Smizik, Senator Marc Pacheco. Requires local approval of any new Commonwealth charter school applications in order for funding to come from the local school district. Commonwealth charter school applications approved by the board of elementary and secondary education that do not receive local approval shall be funded by the board, but not from chapter 70 or other funds designated for local school districts. For a detailed fact sheet on this bill, click here.
HB 468 An Act to improve student retention in charter schools, filed by Rep. Denise Provost. Requires that charter schools implement certain practices, or refrain from other practices, in order to ensure that all students have the opportunity to be accepted at a charter school, and to complete their education in a charter school. Prohibits charters from imposing conditions or commitments designed to exclude certain students that would not be allowed in district public schools. Requires collection of data and reporting to help implement this bill.
HB 372, SB 257 An Act establishing a moratorium for Commonwealth charter schools, filed by Rep. James Dwyer, Senator Marc Pacheco. Suspends the authority of the board of elementary and secondary education from granting Commonwealth Charter School applications until September 1, 2015. For a more detailed fact sheet on this bill, click here.
HB 345 – An Act prohibiting for-profit entities from managing charter schools, filed by Representative Michael D. Brady. Co-sponsor Christine Canavan. For–profit business and corporate entities shall be prohibited from managing charter schools.
Come and testify or be present to support positive change for students. Testimony should be limited to 3 minutes. It is always advisable to hand in written testimony. Bring about 20 copies.
The Committee will be hearing testimony on a range of bills that address charter schools as well as school accountability policy in Massachusetts, including bills that would lift the cap on charters and increase the numbers of schools in the state eligible for draconian “accountability” measures.
To read brief summaries of other bills that will be heard on Tuesday, click here. For a more detailed fact sheet on
Contact Executive Director Marilyn Segal at email@example.com to learn more about participating.
Come speak out for testing reform at the State House
Three of Citizens for Public Schools’ priority bills – all related to MCAS and assessment – will have a public hearing before the Education Committee on Tuesday, April 9 at 10 a.m. in room A-1 at the State House (Just inside the entrance through the garden on Bowdoin Street).
Come and testify or be present to support positive change for students. Testimony should be limited to 3 minutes. It is always advisable to hand in written testimony. Bring about 20 copies.
Today, Citizens for Public Schools, along with the ACLU of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts PTA, and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) sent a letter demanding that the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reconsider a controversial plan to share confidential student data with the Gates Foundation’s Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC). To read a press release (with a link to the text of the letter), click here.
CPS Joins Coalition Urging Massachusetts Education Officials to Reconsider Controversial Gates Foundation Partnership | Category: Uncategorized | Leave a comment
CPS Supports Seattle’s Garfield High Teachers: “Test Boycott is Courageous Stand for Students, Against Test Abuse”
We, the members of Citizens for Public Schools, stand with the teachers at Garfield High School in Seattle for their courageous move to boycott district-mandated Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) tests. We respect the Garfield teachers for saying no to the escalating use and abuse of damaging high-stakes standardized testing.
We believe it took great courage for them to stand up for the best interests of their students, risking their livelihoods, in the face of tremendous pressure to comply with ever greater and more onerous testing mandates. The teachers are correct to stand firm against testing policies that waste valuable time, money and energy on these flawed measures of student learning.
We believe the teachers are justified in objecting to the test results being used to evaluate teacher quality, which the test makers themselves say is an inappropriate use. We are proud to stand with other parents, teachers and students across the nation to support Garfield teachers in saying enough is enough.
As concerned parents, teachers, students and other members of the community, we the undersigned ask that you reconsider implementing the Social Studies MCAS graduation requirement recently endorsed by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Since the state education budget is being cut, the $ 2.5 million per year or more that it would cost to administer a Social Studies MCAS will have to come from something else. What does the state plan to cut in order to administer this test? The money should instead be allocated to serve real educational needs, such as well-trained and supported teachers and staff, up-to-date textbooks, libraries, well-maintained buildings and classrooms, and much more. What students do not need is one more standardized test.
We believe that the close vote on the Board, as well as the worsening budget crisis that compels us to make wise choices with scarce education dollars, strengthens our request that you overturn the decision to impose yet another test-based graduation requirement on our children. Indeed, our school districts face a much worse fiscal crisis now than in 2009, when it was decided to delay the history MCAS for budgetary reasons.
Most importantly, we believe history is a particularly difficult subject to assess adequately with a primarily multiple-choice exam. This exam will discourage thoughtful study in favor of test-prep drilling that has been shown to disengage students and undermine the quality of the curriculum. We want our children to learn research and critical thinking skills, be able to make meaning from history, and to have classes that will inspire them to study history after they graduate from high school.
This expensive test will not deepen the educational experience of public school students, nor prepare them for college and careers. And it will not move us toward equity and quality for every student. On the contrary, as we’ve seen with the science MCAS, each additional graduation test means that more students complete their high school course requirements but do not obtain a high school diploma.
We support a broad and deep education for all children, not only the most privileged. Rather than impose a new test, the state should help history/social studies teachers work together to improve curriculum, instruction and assessment.
Today’s Boston Globe reports on a screening of the documentary film “Race to Nowhere” and a discussion the film generated in Harvard, MA, about unhealthy pressures placed on students.
“Race to Nowhere,’’ which features interviews with students, parents, teachers, and administrators from Connecticut to California, argues that the high-stakes push to achieve has created a generation of high-strung students constrained in a “one-size-fits-all’’ system. It was produced and co-directed by a California mother of three who began the project when her own children developed symptoms of depression over their schooling.
A series of screenings are scheduled this week and in coming weeks throughout Massachusetts. This Thursday, Jan. 27, there will be a screening and discussion at Northeastern University at 7 p.m. For ticket and more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 925-310-4242. For the full Massachusetts schedule, click here.
Northeastern University Professor Louis Kruger continues to screen his MCAS documentary, “Children Left Behind,” and speak to community groups about the film’s message. A recent article in the Sharon Patch featured an interview with Kruger, a member of the CPS board of directors:
Kruger says high-stakes tests such as the MCAS have “unintended consequences” for the students who fail them.
“The research indicates that high stakes tests do not accomplish their principal aim of improving the academic skills of students, and in addition the tests have serious side effects on our most vulnerable students,” Kruger says.
“If high stakes tests, such as the MCAS, were pharmaceuticals, the FDA would ban their use.”
“There really is a bipartisan consensus on education reform. It happens to be the Republican agenda of the past 30 years, minus the Republicans’ traditional contempt for federal control of education policy. Where did the Democratic agenda go? So, having no political leadership to support public education, collective bargaining, or the dignity of the teaching profession, we must look for leadership wherever it can be found. Right now, it’s among the people who have stood up for the rights of teachers on the cold and windy streets of Madison, Wisconsin, as well as those who have rallied in their own cities and towns.”
Getting the message out in front of the Fox News office.
Citizens for Public Schools joined the throngs at the Massachusetts State House Tuesday in support of Wisconsin teachers and all workers whose right to bargain collectively is under attack.
Just for the record, though some news reports made it sound like the Tea Party had a significant presence, their numbers were dwarfed by all those who came out to support teachers and other union workers.
For more on this important event, watch for the next issue of the Backpack.
Join us Thursday, April 14, at our CPS Annual Meeting when we honor the extraordinary contributions of researcher and author Richard Rothstein. Don’t miss this rare chance to hear and exchange ideas with the author of Class and Schools: Using Social, Economic and Educational Reform to Close the Black-White Achievement Gap and many other fine books and articles. A research analyst for the Economic Policy Institute and former education columnist for The New York Times, Rothstein’s analysis of education policy and its impact on public school children is unfailingly clear, incisive and based on solid evidence.
Writing in the Washington Post “Answer Sheet” blog, Rothstein said this: ”Making teacher quality the only centerpiece of a reform campaign distracts our attention from other equally and perhaps more important school areas needing improvement, areas such as leadership, curriculum, and practices of collaboration…. Blaming teachers is easy. These other areas are more difficult to improve. But most important, making teacher quality the focus distracts us from the biggest threat to student achievement in the current age: our unprecedented economic catastrophe and its effect on parents and their children’s ability to gain from higher-quality schools.” We are eager to follow up Diane Ravitch’s powerful and inspiring talk (covered in the last issue of the Backpack and in Boston College Magazine) with a visit from this influential authority on education and social policy. These two leaders are creating the beginnings of a serious national conversation about the future of our public schools and our democracy.
CPS will also give a special lifetime award in honor of the late Sumner Z. Kaplan, as well as Activists for Public Schools awards to Sen. Kenneth Donnelly, Rep. David Sullivan, and the Black Educators Alliance of Massachusetts.
The event will be held Thursday, April 14, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Church on the Hill, 140 Bowdoin St., Boston.
Richard Rothstein accepts Activist for Public Schools Award from CPS's Lisa Guisbond. (Photo by Larry Aaronson)
No sooner did Richard Rothstein graciously accept his Activist for Public Schools Award from CPS than he challenged CPS members and other progressive reformers to rethink issues of educational equity and the “achievement gap.” Demonstrating his adherence to evidence, he passed out a chart showing huge gains in math scores for Massachusetts black 4th and 8th graders between 1992 and 2009. The evidence, he said, does not support the idea that our schools have utterly failed black students. On the contrary, they have made such great gains in math on the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, that they essentially closed the gap that existed between them and white and students in 1992. The gap persists because whites have also made gains during that time.
Rothstein’s point was not that school quality doesn’t matter, nor that we cannot improve schools for black students, but that if reform activists buy into the idea that schools alone can make up for larger social inequities and close the “achievement gap,” we are buying what amounts to a losing battle for teachers and schools. We are also neglecting to focus on the real problem, he said, the broader social inequities that leave too many children unprepared to learn and grow once they arrive at school. Society would do better to address the inequities affecting students before they even arrive at school than keeping beating up teachers and schools for perpetuating or not eliminating achievement gaps.
Rothstein addressed a full and attentive audience at the Church on the Hill and drew a range of questions and comments. Barbara Fields, who formerly headed the Office of Equity in the Boston Public Schools for 24 years, challenged the notion that the achievement gap couldn’t be closed or even eliminated by investment and improvement in urban public schools. Click here to read more.
Click here to watch video of the meeting and Richard Rothstein’s talk.
Speak Out for Public Education: Rally and Press Conference, Harvard Square (in “The Pit,” behind Out of Town News).
While Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, is inside Harvard Yard performing as Chief Marshal of his 25th Harvard Class Reunion, a group of prominent educators and public school teachers will be outside the ivied walls offering a public critique of his policies.
Speakers include Centro Presente, Prof. Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Whitney Elliot, Alfie Kohn, Deborah Meier, Merrie Najimy, Monty Neill, Ruth Rodriguez Fay, Larry Aaronson. For more information, contact Jenny Kastner 617-945-2869.
Save Our Schools! Rally in Washington, D.C., Saturday, July 30
Citizens for Public Schools is proud to join FairTest and other organizations that have endorsed the Save Our Schools Rally. Educators and families from around the country say they are fed up with so-called “reform” policies that falsely label more than 80% of U.S. public schools as failures. To counter what they call unfair attacks on teachers and public education, a growing coalition of individuals and organizations is mobilizing for a national day of action in support of public schools.
On Saturday, July 30, 2011, thousands of people will gather at the White House in Washington, DC and at locations around the nation to express their desire to reclaim the right to determine the path of education reform in their own communities. The “Save Our Schools” March and allied events are being organized by a network of teachers, parents and community activists. For more information, click here.
Teacher Whitney Elliot spoke at the rally. Photo by Mark Thomson.
A Massachusetts public school activists coalition–including Citizens for Public Schools, Fairtest, Mass. SaveOurSchools, and Boston-area education faculty–rallied in Harvard Square Thursday, May 26, to tell Arne Duncan what we think about Race to the Top and his other education policies. (Arne Duncan was inside Harvard Yard performing as Chief Marshal of his 25thHarvard Class Reunion.) It was a broad-based coalition–teachers, parents, school committee/board members, city councillor, professors of education, fairtest–it was such a wonderfully broad spectrum.
Speakers included Deb Meier, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Alfie Kohn, Eleanor Duckworth, Larry Ward. Also Ruth Rodriquez-Fay of Citizens for Public Schools; Lisa Guisbond of FairTest and CPS, National Center for Fair and Open Testing; Marc McGovern, Cambridge School Committee member; Whitney Elliot, Boston public school teacher and author of blog, The “Greedy” Teacher; Diane Levin, Professor of Education, Wheelock College; Larry Aronson, retired Cambridge public school teacher; and founder of Social Justice Works!; Merrie Najimy, President of the Concord Teachers’ Association, Concord, MA; Larry Ward, former Cambridge City Councilor and FairTest organizer; Betty Burkes, peace educator, former President of (U.S.) WILPF, and now working in New Orleans public schools’ restorative justice program; and Liza Womack, Harvard Alum (1984),15-year veteran elementary schoolteacher and an organizer of the Speak Out.
WBUR recorded the speeches and aired several pieces on the rally. WMBR’s “What’s Left” program aired the whole thing. I believe you can download the piece from wmbr.org. Go to the Friday, May 27 show of What’s Left.
Bob Lamothe’s video of the speeches is available here.
See Larry Aaronson’s excellent photos of the event here.
Ann O’Halloran testified Tuesday, June 7, 2011, before the Joint Education Committee of the Massachusetts legislature in favor of House Bill 153. Among other things, she said this:
It is distressing that so many schools lack libraries and librarians, have relentless cutbacks in the arts, music, drama, after school programs, lack appropriate resources in books, technology and science labs, have constant cutbacks in special education, in medical, psychological, and social work supports that are essential to so many students. While the Commonwealth has built a mammoth testing system for students with huge concomitant costs – with an intent to expand even further – it has been complicit in the ongoing cutbacks of the very basics of a modern school system.
Join us in Washington, D.C., Saturday, July 30 for the
SAVE OUR SCHOOLS MARCH AND NATIONAL CALL TO ACTION
After decades of “school reform” it is finally…
Our Day! Our March! Our Voice!
It’s time to change the national dialogue on public education.
For over a decade, education laws and policies have been enacted without input from those who REALLY know how
to improve our schools and society. And now, as we stand at a critical crossroads in the future of public schools and
the teaching profession…
• The President has a voice
• The Secretary of Education has a voice
• Politicians have a voice
• Corporate billionaires have a voice
• The media have a voice
Finally, the nation will hear OUR VOICE!
On July 30, 2011
The Save Our Schools March & National Call to Action in Washington, D.C.
Diane offers more than enough great reasons to head to DC on July 30 and join her, Deborah Meier, Monty Neill, and many of your CPS friends. Here are just a few:
I am marching to protest the status quo of high-stakes testing, attacks on the education profession, and creeping privatization.
I want to protest the federal government’s punitive ideas about school reform, specifically, No Child Left Behind and the Race to the Top. Neither of these programs has any validation in research or practice or evidence. The nation’s teachers and parents know that NCLB has been a policy disaster. Race to the Top incorporates the same failed ideas. Why doesn’t Congress know?
I want to protest the wave of school closings caused by these cruel federal policies. Public schools are a public trust, not shoe stores. If they are struggling, they should be improved, not killed.
Read the rest of her Blog post here. To learn more about the rally and register, click here.
Join us in Brookline to hear about SOS Rally and Support CPS!
Public Schools and Teachers are Under Appreciated, Underfunded, AND UNDER ATTACK
Learn about and support two inter-related efforts to combat this:
• Save our Schools March and National Call to Action, Washington D.C., July 28-31, and local events across the state, sponsored by Citizens for Public Schools.
• Wisconsin Senatorial Recall Elections, August 9, and attacks on Public Unions.
7:00 pm, 123 Buckminster Rd., Home of Don Weitzman and Harriet Goldberg
Organized by Julie Johnson, Rep. Frank Smizik, Ed Loechler, David Klafter and Marcia Hnatowich, and supported by: Citizens for Public Schools, Brookline PAX, and Brookline Chapter of Progressive Democrats of Massachusetts.
For more information about this event, click here. Read the Washington Post coverage of the rally here.
I just returned from the SOS Rally and conference in Washington DC. It was uplifting to join with other progressive education advocates from across the country. The principles of SOS are totally in sync with the CPS agenda:
For the future of our children, we demand:
Equitable funding for all public school communities
Equitable funding across all public schools and school systems
Full public funding of family and community support services
Full funding for 21st century school and neighborhood libraries
An end to economically and racially re-segregated schools
An end to high stakes testing used for the purpose of student, teacher, and school evaluation
The use of multiple and varied assessments to evaluate students, teachers, and schools
An end to pay per test performance for teachers and administrators
An end to public school closures based upon test performance
Teacher, family and community leadership in forming public education policies
Educator and civic community leadership in drafting new ESEA legislation
Federal support for local school programs free of punitive and competitive funding
An end to political and corporate control of curriculum, instruction and assessment decisions for teachers and administrators
Curriculum developed for and by local school communities
Support for teacher and student access to a wide-range of instructional programs and technologies
Well-rounded education that develops every student’s intellectual, creative, and physical potential
Opportunities for multicultural/multilingual curriculum for all students
Small class sizes that foster caring, democratic learning communities
Read the Washington Post story on the event here. And among the many exciting videos from the event, here’s an interview with Matt Damon and our own Larry Aaronson, Matt’s high school history teacher. And here are excerpts from some of the many fine speakers. –Marilyn Segal, CPS Executive Director
Former CPS President Ruth Rodriguez prepared to speak at the Save Our Schools rally in Washington but did not have the chance. Her full prepared remarks are here. This is an excerpt:
Mr. President, we want to know, how long will you allow the stubbornly continuation of Mr. Duncan’s failed policy of high-stake testing, school closings, charter conversations and “turnarounds schools” in our nation’s public school system; a failed policy that has become the Secretary’s signature legacy? Arne Duncan’s closing of schools in Chicago to turn them into Charters was a huge failure. Now you are allowing him to take that failure nationwide. You’ve placed yourselves apart from reputable educators as being the leaders of the nation’s public schools whose legacy will be known as the “dismantling of democratic neighborhood public schools” in order to hand them over to the private greedy billionaire white boys club.
CPS Executive Director Marilyn Segal’s letter responding to a Boston Globe Editorial appears today, August 24, 2011.
RULES OF NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ARE CHALLENGED
Time to get rid of high-stakes standardized tests
August 24, 2011THE GLOBE continues to conflate standardized tests and quality education (“Don’t cut standards for No Child Left Behind,’’ Editorial, Aug. 22). Researchers such as Diane Ravitch and Richard Rothstein have demonstrated that nine years of No Child Left Behind, with its narrowing of education to teach to the test, have resulted in a slowing of the rate of improvement on the nation’s report card compared with the previous decade.
They understand that poverty is the greatest predictor of poor school performance. Intense pressure to perform on high-stakes tests, closing schools, and denigrating teachers don’t change that unfortunate reality. While a growing number of children in America – now an estimated 25 percent – live in poverty, high-performing countries such as Finland have about a 3 percent child-poverty rate and no standardized testing.
Establishing such unrealistic goals as 100 percent proficiency is a set-up to label our schools as failures when a great many are performing at a high level.
It’s time to overhaul NCLB and get rid of high-stakes uses of standardized tests.
Marilyn J. Segal Executive director
Citizens for Public Schools
See the Globe editorial Marilyn was responding to here.
It was the first time that I felt a teacher cared about me, saw me or believed in me. It lit a fire in me. I never got a bad grade again. I figured that Mrs. Thomas would always be able to see me if I always shined. I always wanted to make her as proud of me as she seemed to be that day. And, she always was.
YOUR Public School Under Attack:
Organizing to Fight Back!
Massachusetts public schools are among the nation’s best, so why are 82% of our schools labeled failures by the federal No Child Left Behind law? Flawed tests are being used to misjudge and label our schools, students and teachers. What are we going to do about it?
On Saturday, Oct. 15, at the Bayside Expo Center in Boston, join parents, teachers, students and concerned citizens to share ideas, strategize and organize to achieve our goal: sensible assessment policies and quality public schools for every child. Click here to register now!
The conference begins with an exciting morning panel of knowledgeable speakers on MCAS Reform, The Struggle to Preserve Boston Schools, Organizing Parents Across America and Exposing “Astroturf” (i.e., not really grass roots) Education Groups.
Stay for morning and afternoon workshops where participants will learn important background information and then strategize on pressing educational issues including high-stakes testing, charter schools, threats to urban public schools, educating the legislature, investing in public higher education, youth organizing and the school-to-prison pipeline, and organizing parents and school committees.
Click here for more information and to register now!
Joining SOS Call to Action in Solidarity
with the National Occupy Movement
Your Public School Under Attack:
Organizing to Fight Back!
8:15 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Bayside Expo Center
Click here to register now.
Good Morning – Registration, Coffee & Pastries 8:15 a.m.
(9 – 9:30 a.m.)
Richard Stutman, President, Boston Teachers Union
Paula Parnagian, CPS President
Ruth Rodriguez, CPS Past President
Panel of Activists for Public Education
Rep. Carl Sciortino
(9:30 – 10:45 a.m.)
A fascinating, informed discussion of key topics, including MCAS Reform – The Struggle to Preserve Boston Schools – Organizing Parents Across America – Exposing “Astroturf” Education Groups
Moderator: Sharon Guzik (Medford School Committee) Sandra McIntosh (Coalition for Equal Quality Education)
Rep. Carl Sciortino (Somerville)
Rita Solnet (Parents Across America)
Alain Jehlen (Education Journalist)
(11:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.)
Organizing in your community for MCAS reform Pressing issues facing public education Reforming charter school financing
Worcester & impact of Stand for Children
Networking Time – Lunch Provided
(12:45 to 1:30 p.m.)
(1:30 – 3 p.m.)
Inside the education legislation process
Campaigning for public higher education
Organizing parents and communities to influence school committees
Resisting Boston school closings:
Promoting and Preserving The Duty to “Cherish”
CPS President Paula Parnagian acknowledged the diversity of conference goers: old and new members from across the state of Massachusetts.
Thanks to all who worked so hard to make the 2011 CPS Fall Issues Conference a success. And thanks to all our old and our many new friends who joined us for a high-energy, productive day of sharing ideas for action to protect and improve our public schools.
Watch for a detailed report in the next edition of the CPS Backpack Newsletter. For now, here are a few highlights from the morning panel of speakers.
From BTU President Richard Stutman’s welcome: “Thankfully, there is a Side One, good caring people who don’t want to turn over schools to the Bill Gates and Paul Grogans of the world. Our job to turn things around, educate people, the legislature about corporate influence. To do this we draw on our great assets: teachers, parents, and students working to keep alive public education for all.”
From Past CPS President Ruth Rodriguez’s opening comments: “Mr. President, we come today with determination to let you know that we will not sit idly while poor White, Native American, Black and Latino students continue to receive an unequal education that is leaving the majority behind. The education apartheid in our public schools system must be addressed by you and immediately eradicated. The mandates and conditions forced by you to entice school districts into accepting federal monies under RTTT only serve to increase the pervasive actions by many districts for more test prepping and in extreme cases for cheating by administrators fearful of losing the funding, and/or of having their school closed by the state (You need only to look at what is happening in Atlanta and many other cities).”
The conference united parents, teachers, students and others to discuss challenges like Stand for Children's dangerous ballot question and how to defeat it.
From City Councilor Charles Yancey’s comments on morning panel: “For 15 years, I have advocated building at least one new high school in Boston. More than 50 have been constructed around Massachusetts since we last built one in Boston, in 1979. People say, ‘How can you spend all that money with the fiscal crisis?’…The one department in Boston singled out for dramatic cuts is the Boston School Department…We’re going in the wrong direction. It’s never reported in the Globe or the Herald because they’re thrilled with the direction…We have a lot of work to do. If we do not mount an aggressive and effective campaign to protect public education, if we are seduced by charters, if we fail, my grandchildren, and their children will be faced with prospect of a lottery for basic survival in this nation.”
From the Coalition for Equal Quality Education’s (CEQE) Sandra McIntosh’s comments: “CEQE wants to document what happens to the promises made to families of 18 closed schools [in Boston]. We have it on tape. They said they’re going to send your child to better, higher performing schools with resources. We want to see if promises are kept. In the heat of passion, promises are made, but they are not always kept. …What’s wrong with NCLB? As the president said, ‘Forcing our teachers, our principals and our schools to accomplish all of this without the resources they need is wrong.’”
Our friend, the education historian and author Diane Ravitch, has yet another great piece in the current Education Week and The Washington Post Answer Sheet.
It’s called “No Child Left Behind and the Damage Done,” and it’s about NCLB on its tenth anniversary and why it needs to be dramatically reformed so we can stop its “destruction of local community institutions.” Ravitch makes the piece made even greater by giving a shout-out to Citizens for Public Schools:
When I spoke to Citizens for Public Schools in Boston, a young man who works as a chef at a local hotel got up to ask what he could do to stop “them” from closing his children’s school. It was the neighborhood school, he said. It was the school he wanted his children to attend. And they were closing it.
In city after city, across the nation, I have heard similar stories from teachers and parents. Why are they closing our school? What can we do about it? How can we stop them? I wish I had better answers. I know that as long as NCLB stays on the books, there is no stopping the destruction of local community institutions. And now with the active support of the Obama administration, the NCLB wrecking ball has become a means of promoting privatization and community fragmentation.
We also appreciate her generous praise of FairTest’s new report marking the 10th anniversary of No Child Left Behind:
The best round-up to date of the catastrophe that we call NCLB was published by FairTest in its report, “The Lost Decade.” It shows in clear detail that progress on NAEP was far more significant before the passage of NCLB.
A term dating from the Middle Ages meaning buying something claimed to be a suckling pig in a bag (“poke”) without looking to see what was inside.
The Stand For Children ballot question called “promoting excellence in public schools.”
Will it actually:
Turn good teaching into mindless test prep?
Cause further narrowing of the curriculum?
Punish teachers of the neediest students and deter teachers from working with these children?
Drown principals in pointless paperwork?
Stand wants to force school districts to take a new teacher evaluation system that does not yet exist and has not been tried in the real world, and use it to decide on layoffs, transfers, and other critical matters. The system is just beginning to be developed, so nobody knows yet how it’s going to work.
But the New York Times reports a similar system in Tennessee has been a disaster, keeping principals tied up with endless paperwork, sending teacher morale into a tailspin and prompting such insanity as measuring music teachers by a school’s writing scores. [“In Tennessee, Following the Rules for
Evaluations Off a Cliff,” Nov. 6.]
Even Mass. Education Secretary Paul Reville, a big fan of a recently approved Massachusetts teacher evaluation system, thinks we need to find out if it works before we use it the way Stand wants. [State House News Service, Aug. 2.]
So why is Stand in a rush?
In a talk in Colorado last summer, Stand CEO Jonah Edelman described how Stand raised big bucks from rich Illinois business people to beat down teachers unions. Then he laid out his strategy for doing the same in other states. In Massachusetts, he said, “It might be, we have a ballot question on the ballot
and we use it as a lever.” [Aspen Ideas Festival web site.]
What is Stand’s real agenda and who’s driving it? Does it have to do with the surge of money coming to Stand from big corporate foundations? What’s really in that ballot question bag?
The “Stand for Children” campaign is called “Great Teachers, Great Schools.” What does the ballot initiative do to help teachers improve their teaching and become “great teachers”?
Nothing. It’s not about that.
What does the Stand proposal do to make schools great—Cut class size? Improve leadership? Lengthen learning time? Help parents get more involved with their children’s learning?
No. It’s not about any of those things.
So what is the “Stand for Children” proposal about?
Many things. One of them is that new, untested teacher ratings would drive critical staffing decisions including layoffs and transfers. (However, principals could ignore the ratings—see below.) To read more, click here.
In the spring of 1982, a small group of committed activists came together to fight a ballot question that threatened to seriously undermine Massachusetts public schools. The coalition named itself Citizens for Public Schools and went on to wage a successful campaign to prevent public aid to private schools.
This year, like 30 years ago, a misnamed and ill-conceived ballot question–backed by a group claiming to speak for children–would undermine our public school educators and students. CPS has joined with others to fight this ballot question, just as we fought and won in 1982.
To honor and continue this important work, we need a party! On Thursday, June 14, from 5:30 to 7:30 pm, a celebratory event in honor of our 30th Anniversary will be held at the home of Deborah Goldberg and Michael Winter, 37 Hyslop Road, Brookline.
To sponsor, send a greeting in the program, make a donation or buy a ticket online, click here.
A group of former activists with Stand for Children have endorsed an open letter calling on Stand for Children to withdraw their ballot initiative.
The group, which includes parents and school committee members from across Massachusetts, wrote:
The proposed ballot measure attempts to blow up the collaborative work that created the new regulations last spring. It does nothing to improve teaching in our schools. What it does is put the careers of our teachers at the mercy of an untested rating system, violating the recommendations of the people who designed that system.
We fear the result would be to drive some of our best teachers away from the schools that need them most.
Venture capitalists and deep-pocketed corporate foundations, such as Bain Capital and the Walton Family Foundation, are moving aggressively to remake MA public schools based on their right-wing ideology. They are funding “Stand for Children” to sell a ballot initiative that would undermine our children’s learning environment and sharply restrict teacher job protections. Don’t let them do in Massachusetts what they did to Illinois!
CPS Past President Paula Parnagian, current President Ann O'Halloran, Executive Director Marilyn Segal, and Board Members Norma Shapiro and Julie Johnson, from left to right.
CPS’s 30th Anniversary Celebration was vibrant and meaningful. Over a hundred supporters gathered, sharing hors d’oeuvres and conversation. Those who were there at the birth of CPS celebrated alongside our newest activists and friends.
The high points of the evening were the awards to those whose efforts marked the beginning, middle and current efforts of CPS to promote, protect and preserve public education.
Rep. Byron Rushing’s 1980s work opposing an amendment to the Massachusetts Constitution that would have allowed public aid to private schools resonates with CPS efforts since 1982 to understand, inform and resist ongoing efforts to privatize all aspects of public education.
The stalwart Gloucester plaintiffs have been resisting the imposition of a charter school for over two years. They’re on the front lines of a struggle that is affecting communities across Massachusetts and the nation.
Ruth Kaplan understood from the very beginning that high stakes testing would be detrimental to many students. Moving from local activist, to Brookline School Committee member and currently serving on the Board of Education, she speaks out strongly and explicitly about the damage that high stakes testing has caused our system of public education.
Thanks again to all who worked so hard or contributed to make the event a success and to all who joined us to celebrate.
Citizens for Public Schools (CPS) believes the compromise reached by the Massachusetts Teachers Association and corporate-funded Stand for Children would avoid the worst aspects of Stand’s proposed ballot question, which was a deceptive and destructive proposal that failed to address real obstacles to educational quality and equity.
The compromise was passed by the legislature and signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick today, June 29. In exchange, Stand said it would drop the ballot measure it proposed to put on the November ballot.
“Stand for Children has become a vehicle for a few billionaires who want to control how we run our public schools,” said CPS President Ann O’Halloran, who was the 2007 Massachusetts History Teacher of the Year. “I’m relieved that Stand was blocked from achieving its full agenda, but CPS and our allies must be prepared to resist similar efforts down the road. We need to raise awareness of this as a national problem, not just a Massachusetts issue.”
Although Stand claimed its ballot proposal would ensure that “every child no matter their ZIP code, has access to great teachers and a quality education,” it would actually do the opposite, driving teachers away from schools that serve the neediest students — for fear of losing their jobs. The compromise will not improve education for urban students because it does nothing to address the challenges they and their teachers face. But it will reduce the damage that the original Stand proposal would have caused by removing some of its most destructive features. To read more, click here.
Shannon was one of the students featured in Prof. Kruger's film, Children Left Behind, about students who struggled to pass the MCAS and pursue their goals and dreams.
The Patriot Ledger covered a new report by CPS Board Member Louis Kruger about the impact of the MCAS graduation requirement on students with disabilities.
The report looks at the percentage of students with disabilities who have been blocked from high school graduation by the MCAS exams, compared with rates for students without disabilities: “Dr. Louis J. Kruger, who has studied the effect high-stakes testing has on students, said 75 percent of the pupils who failed the MCAS in 2011 were classified as special-education students.”
The Patriot Ledger article continues, “It appears as if we have this rigorous high school exit exam, but, in reality, virtually the only ones were preventing from getting their high school diplomas are students with disabilities, Kruger said.”
To read more of the July 25, 2012, article, click here.
CPS in the News: Board Member Says MCAS Requirement Hurts Special Education Students More than Helps | Category: Uncategorized | Leave a comment
“Fire in the Ashes: Public Schools Under Siege — Victims and Survivors”
Come to the CPS 30th Anniversary Mary Ann Hardenbergh Lecture with Jonathan Kozol, author of Letters to a Young Teacher, The Shame of the Nation, Savage Inequalities and many other books, beginning with Death at an Early Age in 1967.
We’re excited to host this inspirational author on September 19, 2012, 7:30 p.m., at Memorial Church in Harvard Yard, Cambridge. His new book, Fire in the Ashes: Twenty-Five Years Among the Poorest Children in America, will be available for purchase and signing by the author.
Note: Online registration for this event is closed, but tickets will be available at the door.
Jonathan Kozol, Wednesday, Sept. 19 at Memorial Church. (Photo by Larry Aaronson)
Heartfelt thanks to Jonathan Kozol, from me and everyone at Citizens for Public Schools, for his fiery and mesmerizing words Wednesday night at Memorial Church. He had the crowd of 800 in the palm of his hand. Now we just have to get them all up and active so we change things for all the Pineapples in the world.
Watch for the next CPS Backpack for more photos and a report on Jonathan’s wonderful talk.–Lisa Guisbond
CPS and our cosponsors the Jewish Alliance for Law & Social Action (JALSA) and Brookline PAX, are proud to present a distinguished panel of speakers on Monday, Dec. 3, 2012 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the main branch of the Brookline Public Library. For more information and to register today, click here.
Deborah Meier, MacArthur Fellow, educator and author of In Schools We Trust
Jim McDermott, Clark University, former member of MA Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Jessica Wender-Shubow, President, Brookline Educators Union
Ruth Kaplan, Moderator, MA Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Judge Sumner Z. Kaplan
Come listen and join in a discussion of democracy and the future of public education: What can we do to stop the privatization of our public schools, and empower parents, teachers and our communities to ensure all our students have the opportunity to learn?
About the speakers:
Deborah Meier has spent nearly four decades working in public education as a teacher, principal, writer and public advocate. The elementary and secondary schools she helped create in New York City and Boston serve predominantly low income African-American and Latino students; these schools are exemplars of performance-based home-grown standards.
She is the author of In Schools We Trust and Many Children Left Behind (co-edited with George Wood). She serves as principal emeritus of Mission Hill School in Boston, co-chair of the Coalition of Essential Schools, and is currently a senior scholar at NYU’s Steinhart School of Education. In 1987 Deborah Meier was awarded a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award, the first educator to be so honored.
James McDermott was a member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in 2010- 2011, appointed by Governor Deval Patrick. A former Massachusetts Teacher of the Year, his work focuses on schools in the Hiatt Main South Secondary School Collaborative: University Park Campus School (where he taught for 6 years, creating the secondary English program) and South High Community School (where he taught and coached for 25 years). Professor McDermott works with MA and MAT students, encouraging student teachers to develop classrooms that engage all urban students in rigorous content in a warm and inviting environment. Reading, writing and thinking are at the center of Professor McDermott’s pedagogy.
Jessica Wender-Shubow is president of the Brookline Educators Union. A Brookline native, she attended the town’s public schools from kindergarten through high school and returned as a high school Social Studies teacher after earning a PhD in American Studies at Brown University and teaching Women’s Studies, Science in Society, and the history of political movements at the college level.
Ruth Kaplan, our moderator, is Sumner Z. Kaplan’s daughter and works for the Combined Jewish Philanthropies as the Director of the Boston-Haifa Connection, a multi-faceted partnership between the sister cities of Boston and Haifa. Prior to her appointment to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Ruth Kaplan served for four years as an elected member of the Brookline School Committee, chairing the subcommittees on Policy Review and Government Relations. She was also a board member of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees and a member of its Advocacy and Resolutions committees. Prior to her school committee service, Ms. Kaplan co-chaired the Brookline Special Education Parent Advisory Council.
Ms. Kaplan is a member of the Massachusetts Parent Teacher Association and is the first parent representative appointed to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Members. She is a founder of the Alliance for the Education of the Whole Child, a coalition of more than 45 education and civil rights organizations which organized to critique the over–reliance on standardized testing in the public schools and advocate for an assessment system consisting of multiple measures.
The lecture and benefit are in honor of the late Judge Sumner Z. Kaplan, who served with distinction on CPS’s Board of Directors.A popular Brookline civic, legislative, humanitarian and community leader, Sumner left a broad, influential, committed and compassionate impression across many sectors of society. A brigadier general in the U.S. Army Reserves, from the early 1970s until retirement at the age of 80, Mr. Kaplan was an associate justice of the Probate and Court Department of the Massachusetts Trial Court, Plymouth County. Following his retirement, he was an independent arbitrator. He was a state representative from Brookline, as well as chair of the Board of Selectmen. He was also chairman of the state chapter of Americans for Democratic Action, and a founding member of the Brookline Community Mental Health Center. He was on the advisory board of the University of Massachusetts, Commonwealth College; was president of the American Jewish Congress, New England Region; and was a founding member and Executive Committee member of the Jewish Alliance on Law and Social Action.
While the event is free and a ticket is not required to attend, CPS would greatly appreciate donations to help us continue our work. Suggested donation: $25 (or $12 for Students and Limited Income). If you would like to help sponsor the event with a larger gift, your name will be listed on the program. Thank you for your support.
For more information and to register today, click here.
Panelists Jessica Wender-Shubow, Deborah Meier, Jim McDermott and moderator Ruth Kaplan at Monday's event. Photo by George Abbott White
A full to overflowing house of Citizens for Public Schools members and friends heard a strong and eloquent panel address the question “Is Education for Democracy at Risk?” at the Brookline Public Library on Dec. 3. Thanks to our fine speakers and moderator for their contributions: Deborah Meier, MacArthur Fellow, educator and author of In Schools We Trust; James McDermott of Clark University, urban teacher educator, former Massachusetts Teacher of the Teacher and former member of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE); Jessica Wender-Shubow, President, Brookline Educators Union; and Ruth Kaplan, former Brookline School Committee member and current member of the Massachusetts BESE. And thanks to all those who came for their interest and support. The event was in honor of the late Sumner Z. Kaplan, the first in a series of lectures to honor our friend and former member of the CPS Board of Directors. Stay tuned to the next issue of the CPS Backpack newsletter for a report on this event and other CPS activities in support of public schools, teachers and students.