Saturday, October 25, 2014

Privilege and the Common Good

Privilege = a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people.
Common good = the benefit or interests of all.
It is fascinating to watch how the two merge, or do not, as we move forward to reclaim our public schools. There are folks with privilege who opt out, not only just for their children, but for the common good. There are other folks - with privilege - who have made the executive decision, without sharing information with members of the community, that opt out is NOT the way to go for THAT community - and therefore, have denied the community the education to determine what they think about opt out. Finally, there are others who have decided that it's essential that they can compare their test results with test results in other districts to prove that their school system is failing DUE to privatization movements in that district - therefore opt out is not the way to go for their district - the ability to "compare" only comes from those who are in a very privileged position to do so - they still believe these test scores mean something.
And then, there are folks who are just trying to stay under the radar because no one in their district has been harmed yet - these are the folks who only give me an FB  thumbs up on my chicken photos or my family photos...they don't want to be noticed because right now, it's just not in their backyard, and they are okay with just protecting their own and allowing their children to test because the kids get good results and the district looks good, and real estate values stay high. Finally there are districts so harmed, so broken, that opt out is the way to go and they know this and understand it - but the fear, the high stakes and the lack of resources and the lack of support are so great, and the time is so short to figure out HOW to move forward, that folks aren't sure what to do - they aren't sure how to arm themselves ever so quickly with education and tactics to salvage and reclaim.
I watch each of these groups try to move forward, and I just keep thinking - if these groups worked together - for the common good - the truth would be clear - so crystal clear - that we would win. Opt out is a guaranteed win. No data = no profit. Money is the end goal here. Without the data, politicians, unions, chamber of commerce, school boards, EVERYONE would be required to listen - it would smack them in the face - and it would be clear who truly holds the power - WE DO. So, I put this post out to my Colorado friends - and I ask you to consider once again, how opt out - everywhere - will shut this down. And how we can support one another - in Adams 12, Adams 50, Aurora, Cherry Creek,  Denver, Dougco, Jeffco, Littleton, Pueblo, and more - to reclaim our public schools for the common good. Please consider that, as you use your privilege to make decisions, decisions that affect all children, decisions that others without privilege, cannot make.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Let Arne and the Denver Post know that a full revolt is in progress

Please comment on this article Arne Duncan: A test for school tests. Even if you have time for just one line of comment - we must not allow these lies to stand as truth. Thank you everyone.

Here is my comment on the article:

First - we must understand that the call for less testing is simply an appeasement - and a distraction - from the privatization agenda which requires immense testing PLUS the full implementation of the common core standards. The high stakes testing and the common core standards MUST stay in place if corporations wish to continue cashing in on public education to the tune of 800 billion dollars and growing. So, Arne can say whatever he wants to attempt to appease the public but we must understand clearly that the goal is to privatize. And they will happily decrease the testing to appease the public so that they can continue to dismantle the public school system. 

These tests test what matters least. None of these tests support instruction, unless of course your goal is to teach to the test - which requires becoming savvy at multiple choice and formulaic writing. In our public schools the testing never ends. At the elementary school level we are testing weekly in some shape or form. The common core standards, upon which all this testing and curriculum is based, are developmentally inappropriate, not internationally benchmarked and not based on research. The PARCC test, which Arne claims is oh so fabulous, has no peer review research to demonstrate that it is valid. PARCC is an experiment. Experiments require informed consent. There is no parental informed consent for the PARCC experiment, which public school children in Colorado will be subjected to this year. 

The PARCC is already estimated to fail 70% of our children. When CMAS social studies and science scores come out on October 27th, the citizens of Colorado will also see that Colorado's children have failed those tests. Then, watch the corporate reformers say - YES - see??? Our schools are failing! Our children are failing! Our teachers are bad! Watch them add more common core curriculum (Which by the way is nothing but test prep of the worst kind...mundane, boring and requires children to practice for the common core tests day in and day out using all the new fancy technology necessary for these tests.) Watch them fire more teachers because our evaluation will be tied to these tests and since 70% of the children will fail it - well, you do the math. Watch the schools buy more technology in order to increase test scores  and watch the CDE gather more student data because data is the new gold. Watch this data get shared with corporations so they can churn out more products and better manage and monitor our children. 

Watch teachers spend more time getting trained to administer tests versus actual professional development to support teaching. In the last year I have received "professional development" on how to administer TCAP, ACCESS, PALS, and TS Gold and CMAS. I wonder what new tests will be ushered in next year? Oh yes - and I have received "professional development" on new common core curriculum which is scripted - for the day in which teachers will simply be teacher as technician. Look up Carpe Diem schools if you are wondering what that looks like. The end goal is to have very few experienced teachers - that would be dangerous as we know too much. Teacher as data puncher is all that is needed in the privatization agenda. Thinking is dangerous  - we might wake up the masses  - and then the cash flow would end. Teachers must be obedient and follow the rules of the privatization agenda, therefore, making sure that our evaluation is tied to these high stakes tests keeps us silent as we teach to the test. It also pits teacher against child as teachers soon realize that their livelihood depends on the test scores of these children. 

Watch specifically in the urban areas, where children live in poverty and do not have books or computers at home which already puts them at a disadvantage for these online tests. Not to mention that they are hungry, many are sick, and many are tired due to having no consistent place to sleep at night. These children in poverty already suffer from toxic stress which damages the pre-frontal cortex of their brain - add toxic testing and toxic test prep to the mix and the damage increases. Watch these schools get labeled as failing schools - when in truth they are abandoned schools. Watch the reformers come in and hand them over to a charter, fire the staff, and usher in Teach for America folks who have 5 weeks of teacher training. Watch them continue to ignore poverty.

Meanwhile, when teachers do nothing but test and test prep day in and day out, we have no time to actually support the learner. This nonsense about "college and career ready" is so short sighted. What about problem solving citizens?  The common core and high stakes testing together are designed to destroy our public schools. The federal mandates under Race to the Top have opened the door wide to allow corporations to cash in using our children's data . If we hope to stop it, we need to revolt by refusing to allow our children to take these tests. I, personally, have refused to administer the PARCC test. See here: and I will continue to support parents in refusing these tests - see here: .  If anyone expects politicians, or mainstream media - such as the lovely Denver Post - to listen to anything that speaks to the truth, it will require a full-on revolt from the parents. Starve the beast - no data means no profit - game over. If I can help let me know. My email is and my blog is 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Questions from Teachers: How Do We Move Forward?

I am getting many requests from teachers who are privately asking me, how do we move forward to refuse to administer high stakes tests? How do we support opt out? What can we do? How can we resist?

Teachers across this nation are recognizing that we are at the tipping point. It's now or never - which is why I refused to administer the PARCC. I have nothing left to lose - I believe that if we don't fight back now - and fight back hard - our profession will be gone in ten years. But please remember, refusing to administer the PARCC is only one strategy. And it could be a great strategy for retiring teachers or teachers simply willing to take that risk. However, there are many tactics - and each of us have to find what works for us. My blog on Resisting from Within might be useful to my fellow teachers in the trenches. 

Also, our (UOO's) Call for Support from the Unions at our website,, might be a post that teachers could pass along to their locals. Florida has already taken action - in great contrast to Colorado where CEA discouraged teachers from sharing opt out information directly. All of us here in Colorado will continue to push forward  - you can count on that :)

If you are working in a state in which your local and state are not supporting your efforts to take action to save public schools, I recommend forming a caucus. The caucus we created here in Colorado is an informal caucus, so we are not required to jump through any hoops. See here: If you are interested in learning more about our caucus and how we created it, please join our FB page and we will be happy to help. 

Next, I recommend finding ways to educate teachers. Educate. Educate. Educate. My local, Aurora Education Association,  asked me to write an article for our last newsletter. Here is the article. Feel free to take it and use it however it might support your efforts: 

This year is a big year for public education.  Our students will be required to take the PARCC test, a test that is predicted to fail 70% of our students.  I have grave concerns about this test and the ultimate harm it will cause for our children, our profession, our schools and our communities. It is clear that this test will increase the speed with which our public schools are being privatized.  PARCC is not just any test – it is a test that was specifically designed to test our national Common Core standards, in order to streamline data efficiently, while allowing profiteers to cash in on the 800 billion dollar K-12 market .

When we look at the big picture - the history behind the Common Core standards, the developmentally inappropriateness of the Common Core standards, the fact that the standards are copyrighted, and finally, the fact that these standards were not created using a democratic process, we must question -whose interests are being met by the implementation of these standards?  We must question this as we watch our schools become immersed in new CC curriculum, testing and technology for testing.

As a teacher, first, I must do no harm. I believe this test will be harmful – and especially harmful to children who live in poverty, children with exceptional needs, children who have anxiety, depression, children who are hungry, sick, and tired.  I believe that it is ethically wrong to administer this test.  As a result, I have refused to administer the PARCC and I will continue to support parents as they refuse to allow their children to take these high stakes tests.  I am thankful to have AEA standing by my side as I take this risk.  It is time to create a larger conversation – as educators  – about what we know is best for children.  We should be leading this conversation.  It is time to take action.

I hope this helps. I felt a need to post this in an effort to respond to the many teacher emails I am receiving. Solidarity to all of you. 

And onward we push,