The Bottom Line on N.Y. Common Core

Having difficulty posting to my blog. Computer glitches.  Here is the link to the Superintendent's letters to Parents and to his state representative.

I read a post on Diane Ravitch's blog today about a New York District Superintendent who is standing up against Common Core Standards as they exist in infancy but which have prematurely instituted the new Common Core tests for all New York State students. When the scores were published earlier this week  they showed a drop of 30% in the state average.  Here is Dr. Rella's letter to N.Y. Senator Kenneth LaValle which he also sent in part to all parents in his district. Also included is a letter that NY Ed Commissioner John King sent to all parents in the state. What do you think?

I sent those letters and one of my own to all Louisiana State Legislators as follows:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Attached you will find a letter from Superintendent of the Comsewogue School District in New York State to New York Senator Kenneth P. LaValle along with an accompanying letter that New York Commissioner of Education John B. King, Jr. sent to all New York State Parents. I have also attached a letter sent by Dr. LaValle to all parents in his district.

As you may know, New York State just released test scores based on the new Common Core State Standards.  It has been widely reported that these scores dropped an average of 30%. These letters identify clearly and correctly the problem that Louisiana is also facing and which will be increased exponentially if the new Common Core testing is allowed to be introduced in 2014-15.

Louisiana will be using the new Common Core tests next school year.  Superintendent John White has predicted that Louisiana scores will also drop based on the same arguments that Mr. King has put forth.   Keep in mind that not only will our students be discouraged, some will be retained, and some may be denied TOPS or acceptance to the university of their choice, but teachers will be facing the loss of employment and the inability to practice their profession.

This is plainly and simply NOT ACCEPTABLE!   The legislature missed an opportunity to end or delay the administration of these tests along with the application of the Common Core Standards by voting against a bill filed by Senator A. G. Crowe.  Senator Crowe was acting in response TO HIS CONSTITUENCY hugely influenced by parents and educators.

You may also remember that teacher Herb Bassett presented documentation/proof to the Senate Education Committee that the school performance score formula created and re-created by Supt. White was deeply flawed.  Dr. Mercedes Schneider, St. Tammany teacher and statistician, has published numerous analyses of Supt. White's teacher evaluation formula, school performance scores, and school grading methodology showing that without a doubt they are flawed and manipulated.  Supt. White uses the same "policy mania" that former Indiana/Florida Superintendent of Education Tony Bennett used which caused him to lose his elected position in Indiana and his recently appointed position in Florida.

Common Core is a bipartisan screw up as evidenced by the strong objections from the Republican National Committee, Tea Party, several states who have either refused to accept or have recently pulled out, and last but not least QUALIFIED EDUCATORS - and I'm talking about the same educators that Supt. White falsely claims "Believe" in the new standards.

It is within the power of the legislature to convene a meeting of the Joint Education Committees for the purpose of a full hearing from all stakeholders on these issues BEFORE Louisiana becomes further mired in the false hopes of reform, further indebted due to the high costs of implementation and testing, and further ostracized nationally for its FAILURE to show that reform and the privatization of education can improve learning for our children or solve the primary cause  - POVERTY!

I respectfully request that a hearing be set as soon as possible and that all stakeholders have an opportunity to present full testimony.         

Lee P. Barrios, M.Ed., NBCT   

The Problem With Firearms!

The problem with firearms is that sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot!  

Re-posted from Jonathan Pelto's blog.  Jonathan lives in Connecticut where Paul Vallas has migrated.    Vallas has been ruled ineligible to hold the job of Superintendent of Schools in Bridgeport.

  That didn't stop BESE from approving Gov. Jindal's anointment of John White in Louisiana because BESE has a policy that allows a waiver of qualifications.  Now does that make sense that the top state school board whose job is to ensure accountability and quality of educators, so the public can be relatively assured that their children are in competent hands the majority of their waking hours,  chose to waive ALL educational qualifications from its superintendent.  Well yes it does if you want to make sure that the agenda of the governor is rubber stamped even though it is contrary to researched, proven education principles. 

From the beginning, we figured it would just be a matter of time before the whole reformee gig fell apart.  Anybody who has taught 7th graders as long as I have knows pretty much how their little adolescent schemes pan out.  They just don't have the money and the power to pull political legs that the likes of reformees have - so it has taken a little longer and will ultimately have caused deep and long lasting damage to children, communities, budgets and public confidence. For that, they should at least be banished to a deserted Alaskan Island to fend for themselves for a significant period of time.  That's what one native Alaskan American tribe in Alaska did a few years ago with a couple of teens who committed vandalism.  Now that's accountability.  


Once again, Hugh Baily has produced a commentary piece worthy of national attention.
In it, Bailey writes, “Bridgeport didn’t ask to be a microcosm for the national education debate, but that’s part of the deal when a rock star comes to town.
Ground zero for school reform is usually someplace like New York or Chicago, maybe Newark. It’s always a system with overwhelming needs, and invariably one where reformers would never deign to send their own children.
The fight over Paul Vallas puts Bridgeport in the spotlight. And it’s becoming clear that many of the strategies that have long held sway are wearing out their welcome.
School reform has for more than a decade meant a headlong dash in one direction, toward more testing, less protection for teachers, more faith in miracle workers. At the heart of the debate is whether educators should be running things. It sounds like a simple enough proposition, but one of the central tenets of education reform as commonly practiced is that educators might belong in the classroom (maybe), but have no business in administration. Vallas, the admired and maligned superintendent of Bridgeport schools, personifies this debate.
Vallas is not an educator. He used to make a habit of announcing that fact as if it were a badge of honor. Even as he has led school systems in three major cities, he has never pursued an education degree.”
And then Bailey focuses his readers on the facts explaining;
“Connecticut law, though, requires an educator as superintendent, which Vallas and his allies suddenly find to be extremely inconvenient.
But none of it should be considered accidental. Reformers are proud of the fact that their leaders aren’t educators, as if only people outside the system are clear-headed enough to knock some sense into a failing system.
This makes sense in the same way that it would be a good idea for the Yankees to hire some corporate CEO to run their baseball operations rather than someone who maybe knows a little bit about baseball.
A judge ruled that Vallas’ three-credit, two phone-call UConn course did not qualify as an education degree. If the Supreme Court agrees, which would appear likely, it would be a blow to a movement that loves its celebrities and appears to believe rules should not apply to them.
Bridgeport also bucked a national trend last year when it voted against mayoral control of the school board. This is another one of the reformers’ most-prized policies, even though evidence in its favor is mixed at best. The unquestioned effect is to remove voters from school system oversight, which did not sit well with local residents. Despite a well-funded campaign to convince people it was in the students’ best interests, mayoral control went down to a resounding defeat.
That the opposition is getting anywhere is remarkable. All the political power is on the side of the reformers, and that goes for Bridgeport, the state of Connecticut and the nation. For all the special treatment allotted to Vallas, there has been only one person in a position of any authority, Superior Court Judge Barbara Bellis, to call him on it.”
Bailey concludes with;
“School reform is running into increased resistance nationally, and it doesn’t help that any number of high-profile, billionaire-backed reformers have been exposed as cheats and frauds.
It’s a movement that may have already crested. More people are understanding that what troubled schools actually need, like real resources and integrated classrooms, are not the goals of today’s reformers. And there is a growing understanding that it is not a school but society in general that is failing too many people who live in poverty, and that to dump all the blame on teachers who are working to help those children is not only unfair but counterproductive.
There is a counter movement to school reform developing, slowly. Bridgeport could again find itself at the center of it.”