Tag Archives: Data Mining/Privacy

A New Vision of Education

The following resolution from the Patchogue-Medford school board on Long Island, New York was reported by Diane Ravitch and is well worth a read through.

A New Vision of Education:  A Resolution Passed by the Patchogue-Medford School Board in New York

I will include the resolution as well in case you can not access the link.

WHEREAS, Learning standards must serve as a guide to what all children should develop toward and be based on developmental norms rather than systematic back-mapping of any given college and career readiness benchmark; and that such standards should be created by New York State classroom educators and content area specialists experienced in the grade level for which they are creating standards, with feedback from parents, community members, and where appropriate, students; and that such standards must specify at what level of difficulty a student is expected to demonstrate proficiency on state tests; and that such standards should be based on peer reviewed and evidence based research for each grade level, including lexile benchmarks; and that such standards should serve as a guide to what skills to what skills and concepts are taught at each grade level; and that such standards must be broad enough to allow local teachers, as professionals, to determine methodology, content, and instructional practices and assessments that will best suit the needs of the communities and students they serve; and that such standards must include fine and gross motor skills, including handwriting; and that such standards must broadly address play skills, a well researched and critical aspect of learning for students, to ensure that schools allocate instructional time for self-selected and guided play, particularly in the early grades; and that such standards in all grades must address cultural competencies;

AND
WHEREAS, School districts must be given adequate funding to create or purchase culturally relevant curriculum that meets the needs of the communities and students they serve; and that all schools must have dedicated funding for curriculum-based field trips and project-based, experiential learning; and that music, art, physical education, and technology should be integrated into the curriculum for all students in grades K-12; and that all schools must offer at least one consistent foreign language in grades K-12; and that any state-wide digital learning platforms must be evidence based, piloted, and studied for both efficacy and safety before being implemented; and that all high schools must offer advanced mathematics and science courses as well as advanced electives in all disciplines; and that all schools’ curricula should offer significant opportunities for students to exercise choice and direct aspects of their own learning;

AND
WHEREAS, Any federally mandated statewide assessments must be created by New York State classroom educators, including test question construction and reading passage selection; and that in a system that includes local assessment, classroom educators must have the primary role in constructing or selecting the assessments; and that tests must be criterion referenced rather than norm referenced and results must be given back within 4 weeks of administration; and that College and Career readiness benchmarks aligned with test proficiency must be aligned with strong indicators of post-high school success that have been vetted for racial, cultural, and socioeconomic bias; and that any federally mandated statewide assessments must be no longer than one day per subject with time limits established by a committee of classroom educators experienced in the grade level for which the assessment has been developed; and that time limits must be based on grade level expectations for time on task; and that the misuse of assessment data must stop; and that statewide exams must be decoupled from any high stakes including but not limited to teacher and principal evaluations, grounds for school takeover or closure, use as admittance criteria to selective schools, promotion, programs, and retention; and that on any statewide test, all test content, reading passages, and questions must align to the grade level benchmarks and lexile levels for the grade in which it is being administered; and that test scores and high stakes exit exams must not be the only pathway to graduation; and that students must have the opportunity to demonstrate proficiency in other ways such as portfolios and interviews; and that Regents exams must be scheduled in such a way so as to ensure that no student must take more than one Regent exam per day; and that assessments must be subject to full transparency, including the annual release of comprehensive technical reports that provide transparency on specific items; and that all parents and guardians must be notified of their right to refuse standardized tests for their child(ren), with notification must be provided in the parent or guardian’s native language;

AND
WHEREAS, New York State must fully and equitably fund our public schools; and that reasonable class size caps (for example, 18 students in K-3, 23-25 in other grades) must be used in aid and funding formulas as the basis for school aid determination; and that all schools must have at least one full time nurse, social worker, and security guard/safety officer, with all security guard/safety officers receiving crisis intervention and cultural competency training; and that all schools must have a well-resourced library and a full time librarian; and that all schools must have adequate counseling support provided by a psychologist, as determined by the overall number of students, the number of students with special needs, and the level of poverty a school is experiencing; and that all schools must have up to date technological infrastructure and resources, where state aid and funds for these resources should not be contingent upon schools increasing their capacity to administer computer-based assessments; and that in conjunction with parents, educators, school board members, and community members, the Board of Regents should develop a framework for what every public school in NYS must have in order to ensure equity and student success, where this framework should help drive the State’s accountability system as well as its funding; and that in Pre-K and in grades K-6, all students must have at least 60 minutes of recess per day in addition to the federally mandated 120 minutes of physical education per week; and that all students must be guaranteed at least 30 minutes for lunch, and this time may not be used for instructional purposes; and that all teachers, administrators, and paraprofessionals must receive training in cultural competency, crisis intervention, and restorative justice practices; and that mandatory common planning time should be provided for general education, special education and ENL teachers, and intervention specialists who share students; and that New York State must prioritize the recruitment and retention of teachers from diverse backgrounds that reflect the students they serve, are trained in a fully accredited education program, and have completed a full course of student teaching with a trained mentor; and that all school districts must offer a strong teacher mentoring program to help new teachers navigate their first few years of service; and that schools must provide access to medical and dental services as well as high quality nutrition for ALL students who need them; and that all families must have access to fully funded, high quality Pre-Kindergarten;

AND
WHEREAS, The role of the Individual Education Plan (IEP) must be restored and allowed to drive instruction for the individual student and should be guided by the needs, interests & development of each student; and that the needs of the student must inform IEP goals rather than alignment to learning standards that are currently in flux; and that all special education teachers must receive training in evidence-based methodologies for teaching math and reading to struggling learners; and that all co-taught models must have a full time special education teacher; and that students with disabilities must have access to pathways that lead to a diploma and provide access to vocational training that is aligned with student interest and strengths; and that special education teachers must have time set aside on a weekly or daily basis to engage in differentiated curriculum work, intervention planning, communication with parents, and fulfillment of IEP and special education mandates;

AND
WHEREAS, The following five principles should be incorporated in any law or policy regarding the protection of personal student data in grades preK-12, and after students reach age 18, all these rights, including those related to notification and consent, should devolve to them:

Transparency: Parents must be notified by their children’s school or district in advance of any disclosure of personal student information to any persons, companies or organizations outside of the school or district. Once notified, parents to must be able to opt out of the disclosure of their child’s personal data. All disclosures to third parties should also require publicly available contracts and privacy policies that specify what types of data are to be disclosed for what purposes, and provide a date certain when the data will be destroyed.

No commercial uses: Selling of personal student data and/or use for marketing purposes should be banned. No advertising should be allowed on instructional software or websites assigned to students by their schools, since ads are a distraction from learning and serve no legitimate educational purpose.

Security protections: At minimum, there must be encryption of personal data at motion and at rest, required training for all individuals with access to personal student data, audit logs, and security audits by an independent auditor. Passwords should be protected in the same manner as all other personal student information. There must be notification to parents of all breaches, and indemnification of the same. No “anonymized” or “de-identified” student information should be disclosed without verifiable safeguards to ensure data cannot be easily re-identified.

Parental/ student rights: No re-disclosures by vendors or any other third parties to additional individuals, sub-contractors, or organizations should be allowed without parental notification and consent (or students, if they are 18 or older). Parents must be allowed to see any data collected directly from their child by a school or a vendor given access through the school, delete the data if it is in error or is nonessential to the child’s transcript, and opt out of further collection, unless that data is part of their child’s educational records at school. Any data-mining for purpose of creating student profiles, even for educational purposes, must be done with full parental knowledge. Parental consent must be required for disclosure of personal data, especially for highly sensitive information such as their child’s disabilities, health and disciplinary information.

Enforcement: The law should specify fines if the school, district or third party violates the law, their contracts and/or privacy policies; with parents able to sue on behalf of their children’s rights as well.

THEREFORE,

BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Education of the Patchogue-Medford School District, in agreement with the New York State Allies for Public Education, calls upon the Governor of New York State, the New York State Legislature, the New York State Commissioner of Education, and the New York State Board of Regents, to consider this outline as a new framework for public education in New York State, a framework that serves all students; an equitable public education system in which ALL students can succeed; a vision of public education that prioritizes child-centered and developmentally appropriate learning standards and assessments, research and evidence based practices and policies, equitable resources and opportunities, and an accountability system that supports rather than punishes; what all schools must have in order to foster creative, critically thinking, confident, well-rounded, independent, self-motivated, culturally competent, and well-prepared students who can work cooperatively and excel post-high school, whether they choose to attend college or pursue a vocation. Further, we call on all aspects of public education to be rooted in ethical practices and democratic decision making.

Test REFUSAL in Kingston City School District

Letters went home to parents in at least two elementary schools (Edson and Crosby) in the Kingston City School District today telling parents that changes have been made in the New York State testing program and requesting that parents NOT opt their children out of the testing.  I anticipate that similar letters were sent home to parents in the remaining schools in the district or will be sent this week since the NYS ELA test begins next week April 5-7, 2016.

Crosby opt in letter
Crosby opt in letter
Edson opt in letter
Edson opt in letter

 

Even though parents are being encouraged to believe differently, nothing significant has changed with regard to the New York State testing.  The tests are shorter by a question or two but many kids will actually spend longer on testing because the tests are now untimed. Pearson still produced this year’s test questions even though NYS has signed a new contract with Questar. Who knows what the questions will be like as far as quality?  Also every single issue that has existed regarding the adverse impact of the tests for special ed and ELL students still exists.

Please continue to REFUSE the New York State ELA and Math tests for grades 3-8 this April 2016.

By refusing you can be an Upstander.  Even if you feel that your kids are not ‘hurt’ by taking the state tests, other kids are. When you refuse the state tests, you are helping to protect kids all throughout New York State.  Jeanette Deutermann clearly shares the reasons for opting-out in this video.

Deborah Torres Henning, a parent from the Wappingers Central School District who I am very proud to stand beside in the fight against Common Core, has also written an excellent piece on why it is important to refuse the state tests.

Instead of asking “why refuse?” we should be asking “why does the state want the children to take them so badly?”

•    240,000 children did not take the New York State Math and English Language Arts assessments last year.
•    The tests don’t count toward your child’s grades or promotional status.
•    The tests don’t count toward receiving or not receiving special services.
•    The tests are age and developmentally inappropriate.
•    The tests were already too long, and now they are untimed, making them longer.
•    The tests are developed by businessmen and corporations, not teachers.
•    The tests are just another form of data mining. Data is the name of the game.

The state wants you to believe it has dramatically decreased the number of test questions and effectively reduced the time it takes to complete taking the tests. The reduction of one or two test questions is not significant, and the tests are now untimed, which means longer, not shorter. New York State Education Department’s “changes” are as meaningless as the tests themselves.

For those who say, “My child does well on the tests,” what are they doing well on? They are doing well on following orders, filling in bubbles, and navigating an absurd myriad of age and content inappropriate test questions that do not measure what they are learning in class and have no bearing on where they will be placed the following year. All you see is a number (1-4), specific results are not given to school districts or to parents — so there is no information at all on what they’ve learned, where their strengths are, or where they need improvement. The tests do not have any bearing on whether or not your child will or will not receive  Academic Intervention Services or Response to Intervention Plan either.

Refusing the state tests does not mean your child will never have exposure to taking a test, nor does it mean you are teaching your child he or she doesn’t have to fulfill academic responsibility. Refusing means you are aware that these tests mean nothing, and you refuse to have your child be a guinea pig for the state and the test manufacturers.

School districts must make the tests available to all students, that does not mean they can force or “encourage” all students to take them. You have the option of refusing. Parents, you are the primary educator of your child, and you have first and final say. Parents’ rights supersede the rights of the school. Remember that. Always.

Your child provides free labor and research for the test manufacturers. Your schools have sold your child into indentured servitude in order to get grant money and the test manufacturers are cashing in.

The state Education Department and test manufacturers rely on your obedience to make your child take the tests, and they love to use threats to get you to do so. Don’t believe the threats you hear about losing funding or testing counting against your child’s teacher, these are scare tactics, and they work on people who don’t know the facts.

In a most recent development, our newly appointed Board of Regents Chancellor (and technically Commissioner Elia’s boss), Mrs. Betty Rosa, went on record to say, if she were a parent of a 3rd through 8th-grader today, she would refuse the tests. When the agency that supervises state Education Department and Mrs. Elia supports refusals, it is time for everyone to refuse!

I am for tests that measure my child’s growth and progress. I am for tests that give teachers and parents a dashboard to look at and pinpoint what questions they are struggling with or excelling in. I am for tests that are staggered throughout their school years and do not last for days. I am for meaningful testing.

I want my children educated when they go to school. I don’t send my children to test-taking school — I send them to school, just school. Please stop the rampant, abusive, useless testing and lets get back to educating the whole child. That won’t happen unless we all refuse these tests.

refusal_letter_2015-2016__8_

Update 4/4/16: Letters from other KCSD schools

Chambers opt in letter
Chambers opt in letter
GW testing letter
GW testing letter

 

GW testing letter in Spanish
GW testing letter in Spanish
JFK opt in letter
JFK opt in letter
Miller opt in letter
Miller opt in letter
Myer opt in letter
Myer opt in letter

Stealth Assessments and Competency Based Education

Stealth Assessments and Competency Based Education – from stopcommoncorenys

reblogging:

For anyone who wants to see how the new generation of Competency Based Ed rolling exams will be marketed and who is behind it, please check out the following. Note Gates and Pearson, among others. This is not the competency based learning from years ago.

click here to continue reading

kids-school-computer

Key points of concern:

You don’t have to be a technophobe to sound alarm bells. Children sitting on devices all day long – concerns all of us. For budgetary reasons, for health reasons, for social reasons, and for practical reasons, is this what parents and teachers want, and does it matter? And what becomes of the teacher who has acquired a masters degree, who is now to sit and be a tech support proctor? Where does the human interaction fall in this paradigm? Let’s not forget online vulnerability. Where does the data go? How safely is it protected from hackers?

Parent Speaks Regarding the Impact of Standardized Testing

Even though some of the references are different because this parent lives in Indiana rather than New York, she has hit the nail on the head over all!

This educational environment has become a pressure cooker for our kids and teachers because the legislature has decided that somehow educators weren’t accountable enough. The learning and teaching process has been transformed into a test-taking, data collecting nightmare to somehow prove accountability… at the root of which is an apparent deep distrust of teachers.

We’ve had standardized tests for a long time. But it is what is at stake when the kids take the test now that has transformed their experience.

Read here.

 

CLASS goes to Albany

I recently joined CLASS, or Coalition for Legislative Action Supporting Students, to examine legislation presented by Senator Flanagan (bill S5124) and Assemblywoman Nolan (bill A7303A) in response to Governor Cuomo’s education reforms included in the state budget.  Our goal was to develop a list of parent education issues and suggested revisions to the legislation addressing the key concerns that parents throughout New York State are expressing.

Representatives of United to Counter the Core and CLASS headed to Albany yesterday May 27, 2015 to meet with members of the Senate and Assembly education committees to discuss current education policy.  We wanted to thank the committee members for moving in the right direction on various education issues and ask them to consider additional changes that would further address parental concerns as well as to consider parent issues that are not addressed at all by the proposed legislation.

The recommended changes and legislative initiatives presented by CLASS included:

  • Cease the use of VAM (value added model) in calculating students’ growth and for teacher evaluations
  • Decouple the school district funds from implementation of the education reforms proposed by Governor Cuomo
  • Ensure released test questions accurately and cost effectively reflect the nature of the test
  • Develop fair assessment methods for SPED/ELL teachers and students
  • Make changes to the appointment and terms of New York State Regents restoring local control and parent voice
  • Changes to the comprehensive review of the education standards being used in New York State (Common Core) particularly the make-up of the review committee
  • Support for the Common Core Parental Refusal Act
  • FERPA-HIPPA changes to protect student data privacy and restore parental control

I personally met with representatives from the offices of Assemblymembers Steve Englebright, William Magnarelli and Phil Ramos and Senators Betty Little and Hugh Farley.

  • The aides from Assemblyman Ramos and Senator Little’s offices just took notes and were not able to speak to the issues we raised.
  • In general the aides from the other offices indicated that the legislators were concerned about education issues but I did not get a strong sense that they were willing to act beyond what they have already done regarding education legislation.  I believe they will need to hear from additional constituents to generate legislative action.
  • Assemblyman Englebright voted against his majority party with a “No” vote for the state education budget (very few assemblymembers were willing to stand against Governor Cuomo and vote “No!” so this was a strong statement for the students on Assemblyman Englebright’s part) and he also is a co-sponsor on the Nolan parental test refusal bill A6777.  We asked that he consider an amendment requiring that school districts inform parents of their right to REFUSE the state tests.
  • Assemblyman Magnarelli’s aide indicated that Magnarelli voted to move both of Nolan bills A6777 and A7303A out of the education committee.  The aide has to consult with Asseblyman Magnarelli to determine if he is willing to take any further action on the items CLASS requested.
  • Senator Farley’s aide indicated that the senator is very opposed to Common Core and ran on the Stop Common Core ballot line last fall.  Parents need to continue to be vocal about our concerns – do not stop, “keep it up” the aide said.  In addition to contacting the education committee members, we also need to contact our own assemblymember and senator to share our education concerns and request that our representatives communicate our concerns to their colleagues including those on the education committee.

In total, parents met with 16 of the majority education committee members from the assembly and the senate including: Assemblymembers Cathy Nolan, Carmen Arroyo, Barbara Clark, Barbara Lifton, Shelley Mayer, Amy Paulin, Linda Rosenthal, Sean Ryan and Matthew Titone and Senators Kenneth Lavalle and Joseph Robach.

We ask that you now join CLASS in requesting legislative action to support our students.

Please contact the following legislators to let them know that you agree with the changes presented by CLASS.  Also contact your NYS Assembly member and NYS Senator, even if they are not on the education committee, and ask them to voice support for these educational issues with their colleagues.

Assembly Education Committee Majority Members:
Catherine Nolan – 518-455-4851
Carmen Arroyo – 518-455-5402
Michael Benedetto – 518-455-5296
James Brennan – 518-455-5377
Barbara Clark – 518-455-4711
Steve Englebright – 518-455-4804
Earlene Hooper – 518-455-5861
Ron Kim – 518-455-5411
Barbara Lifton – 518-455-5444
William B. Magnarelli – 518-455-4826
Shelley Mayer – 518 455 3662
Michael Miller – 518-455-4621
Walter Mosley -518-455-5325
Daniel O’Donnell – 518-455-5603
Amy Paulin – 518-455-5585
Phil Ramos – 518-455-5185
Linda Rosenthal – 518-455-5802
Sean Ryan – 518-455-4886
Matthew Titone – 518-455-4677
Michele Titus – 518-455-5668

Senate Education Committee Majority Members:
Hugh Farley – (518) 455-2181
Andrew Lanza – (518) 455-3215
Kenneth Lavalle – (518) 455-3121
Betty Little – (518) 455-2811
Carl Marcellino – (518) 455-2390
Michael Ranzenhofer – (518) 455-3161
Joseph Robach – (518) 455-2909
Sue Serino – (518) 455-2945
James Seward – (518) 455-3131

Pearson and SBAC monitoring of social media – “spying” or infringement of free speech?

Okay, this monitoring of children’s testing comments in social media is no longer about ‘spying’! It is definitely about free speech in my humble opinion.

If you haven’t heard about the hullabaloo that broke out on Friday when Bob Braun reported that Pearson was spying on children who tweeted about the PARCC test in New Jersey, you can read my initial thoughts here and an excellent summary of the entire weekend of craziness by Anthony Cody here.

Turns out that social media ‘monitoring’ is being done for both the PARCC and SBAC tests and attempts are being made to ensure that no one talks about either of the tests, all in the name of test security!

I thought it was bad when my daughter came home last year and told me that she couldn’t talk about the AP European History test because she had to sign a confidentiality agreement.  Turns out the test questions are re-used from year to year.  At least the AP test is optional (we had to pay a fee for her to take the test) and she actually signed a confidentiality agreement.  I didn’t know about the confidentiality requirement in advance but I think she had been told she would have to sign the agreement.

With state tests like PARCC, every student is expected to take the test. There is no choice and now it sounds like if ANYONE talks about the tests, it is considered ‘cheating’ and could be punished.

Here is what the State of New Jersey and Pearson agreed encompassed the idea of security and its possible breach–it’s codified in the testing manual developed by the state and sent out to all the districts:

“Revealing or discussing passages or test items with anyone, including students and school staff, through verbal exchange, email, social media, or any other form of communication.”

Another opportunity for repetition for emphasis here–discussing? Any other form of communication?

So, if children come home from school and their parents ask–”How was your day, sweetheart?” and the children talk about a really dumb question on the PARCC, they will be violating  the rules and be subject to whatever punishment is meted out for cheating–as a blogger did who learned from a child who hadn’t taken the test that there was a passage on it about The Wizard of Oz.

At the Watchung Hills Regional High School district in Warren, three students were caught up in the “monitoring” and at least one of them was suspended. Elizabeth Jewett, the district’s superintendent, won’t say exactly what the students did to violate the rules so we don’t know what the students said and to whom.

Here’s the rub–school officials invoke student privacy concerns to prevent parents from finding out how the privacy of children is violated.

This is definitely too far!!!  There is NO AMOUNT of ‘useful data’ that can be obtained from these tests that will convince me it is worth giving up our country’s free speech rights in order to get that data!

I don’t know if this extreme monitoring is part of New York’s contract with Pearson (we are not administering the PARCC tests yet in New York) but parents must stand in solidarity around the nation and say “No, we will not submit to this take-over of education and the rights of parents, students and teachers!”  REFUSE the state tests!!!

Join in REFUSING the tests April 2015 nysape.org
Join in REFUSING the tests April 2015 nysape.org

Pearson is monitoring children’s social media posts

Thanks to the work of Bob Braun, the nation is now aware that Pearson is monitoring social media for any posts by children regarding the PARCC tests currently being taken around the country.

The spying–or “monitoring,” to use Pearson’s word–was confirmed at one school district–the Watchung Hills Regional High School district in Warren by its superintendent, Elizabeth Jewett.  Jewett sent out an e-mail–posted here– to her colleagues expressing concern about the unauthorized spying on students.

She said parents are upset and added that she thought Pearson’s behavior would contribute to the growing “opt out” movement. So far, thousands of parents have kept their children away from the tests–and one of the reasons is the fear that Pearson might abuse its access to student data, something it has denied it would do.

Pearson claims that they need to do this monitoring for the security and validity of the tests.  However we now know that this involves an awful lot of personal information about the CHILDREN taking the tests in the hands of a third-party vendor.  In New Jersey tweets were found, the specific MINOR student identified along with their school district (ie where they live!) and then the state education department, who is cooperating with Pearson in all this spying, contacted the school district to request that discipline be administered to the child who had tweeted.

It turned out the student had posted–at 3:18 pm, well after testing was over–a tweet about one of the items with no picture.  Jewett does not say the student revealed a question. There is no evidence of any attempt at cheating.

Jewett continues: “The student deleted the tweet and we spoke with the parent–who was obviously highly concerned as to her child’s tweets being monitored by the DOE (state education department).”

“The DOE informed us that Pearson is monitoring all social media during the PARCC testing.”

Jewett continued: “I have to say that I find that a bit disturbing–and if our parents were concerned before about a conspiracy with all of the student data, I am sure I will be receiving more letters of refusal once this gets out.”

The school superintendent also expressed concern about “the fact that the DOE wanted us to also issue discipline to the student.” Clearly, if Pearson insists on claiming test security as a justification for its spying on young people, that reasoning is vitiated by its cooperation with the state education department in trying to punish students who are merely expressing their First Amendment right to comment on the tests.

Read Bob Braun’s Ledger where the story initially broke here.  Mr. Braun’s blog experienced very heavy traffic yesterday, and even attacks, as a result of this story so I will include the blog below in case you are still unable to access the story.  Reading it online will be best though as he has updated his blog with information resulting from Ms. Strauss’s investigation.

Valerie Strauss has a follow-up article in the Washington Post here which includes responses from Pearson and Superintendent Jewitt to Braun’s original story.

Before wrapping this up, I read through a number of the comments on Mr. Braun’s blog and found them very interesting.  One gentleman pointed out that twitter is a public forum so it can not be called ‘spying’ when someone searches for information on twitter. The net of the responses basically came down to this summary by Mr. Braun himself:  private, multinational (and, therefore, unaccountable) corporations should not be conspiring with state government to track what students are saying about testing programs and then punish them. 

If this is not a reason to refuse the state tests, then I don’t now what is!

Join in REFUSING the tests April 2015 nysape.org
Join in REFUSING the tests April 2015 nysape.org

***

Here is the BLOG where this story was first announced:

https://www.facebook.com/bobbraunsledger/posts/643261159136837

Bob Braun’s Ledger

MY BLOG ABOUT PEARSON/STATE SPYING ON STUDENT SOCIAL MEDIA IS UP AND DOWN BUT THIS IS A COPY OF THE BLOG. I APOLOGIZE FOR THE INCONVENIENCE:
Pearson, the multinational testing and publishing company, is spying on the social media posts of students–including those from New Jersey–while the children are taking their PARCC, statewide tests, this site has learned exclusively. The state education department is cooperating with this spying and has asked at least one school district to discipline students who may have said something inappropriate about the tests. This website discovered the unauthorized and hidden spying thanks to educators who informed it of the practice–a practice happening throughout the state and apparently throughout the country.
The spying–or “monitoring,” to use Pearson’s word–was confirmed at one school district–the Watchung Hills Regional High School district in Warren by its superintendent, Elizabeth Jewett. Jewett sent out an e-mail–posted here– to her colleagues expressing concern about the unauthorized spying on students.
She said parents are upset and added that she thought Pearson’s behavior would contribute to the growing “opt out” movement. So far, thousands of parents have kept their children away from the tests–and one of the reasons is the fear that Pearson might abuse its access to student data, something it has denied it would do.
In her email, Jewett said the district’s testing coordinator received a late night call from the state education department saying that Pearson had “initiated a Priority 1 Alert for an item breach within our school.”
The unnamed state education department employee contended a student took a picture of a test item and tweeted it. That was not true. It turned out the student had posted–at 3:18 pm, well after testing was over–a tweet about one of the items with no picture. Jewett does not say the student revealed a question. There is no evidence of any attempt at cheating.
Jewett continues: “The student deleted the tweet and we spoke with the parent–who was obviously highly concerned as to her child’s tweets being monitored by the DOE (state education department).
“The DOE informed us that Pearson is monitoring all social media during the PARCC testing.”
Jewett continued: “I have to say that I find that a bit disturbing–and if our parents were concerned before about a conspiracy with all of the student data, I am sure I will be receiving more letters of refusal once this gets out.”
The school superintendent also expressed concern about “the fact that the DOE wanted us to also issue discipline to the student.” Clearly, if Pearson insists on claiming test security as a justification for its spying on young people, that reasoning is vitiated by its cooperation with the state education department in trying to punish students who are merely expressing their First Amendment right to comment on the tests.
I contacted Jewett by email. By that time she had discovered not one but three instances in which Pearson notified the state education department of the results of its spying. In her email to me, Jewett was vague about the role of Pearson and the education department.
She wrote: “In reference to the issue of PARCC infractions and DOE/Pearson monitoring social media, we have had three incidents over the past week. All situations have been dealt with in accordance with our Watchung Hills Regional High School code of conduct and academic integrity policy. Watchung Hills Regional High School is a relatively small district and a close-knit community; therefore, I am very concerned that whatever details your sources are providing may cause unnecessary labeling and hardship to students who are learning the consequences of their behavior.”
Jewett acted professionally, I believe, but I must point out the irony of her lecturing me about protecting the identity of students when she has just dealt with both an inexcusable breach of privacy involving minors and an attempt by state government to punish dissent. I made it clear to her I have no intention of revealing names of students–but I would be more than happy to speak with their parents.
The state education department official identified as the person cooperating with Pearson is Veronica Orsi, who is in charge of assessment for grades 9-12 in the department. She refused to answer this website’s questions about her involvement and passed them on to superiors who also did not answer.
Neither the state education department nor Pearson’s would respond to my emails on the company’s spying on students. New Jersey is paying $108 million to run its PARCC testing program, an enterprise that has engendered opposition throughout New Jersey–and that was before the spying was revealed.
One motivation is clear–the more students who take the test, the more Pearson gets paid. This explains a lot about the state’s and the company’s aggressiveness in ensuring as many students as possible take the test.
But what isn’t explained is the willingness of the state education department to punish New Jersey children on behalf of a private company. According to sources–and not denied by Jewett–state officials tried to have the students involved suspended.
State Education Commissioner David Hespe spent hours testifying before the Legislature’s Senate Education Committee Thursday but did not once mention the possibility that the London-based Pearson would be “monitoring” the social media accounts of students taking the test. Jewett’s email, however, indicated the department–presumably including Hespe–were well aware of the practice.
A few days earlier, state education department officials–including Orsi–held a background briefing for some media–Bob Braun’s Ledger was not invited–and none of the mainstream media accounts of the session revealed the Pearson spying program.
Testing is scheduled for this month and May. Passing or failing the test has no consequence for the students who take it. PARCC does not serve as a graduation test. It can, however, be used in the evaluation of teachers.

PARCC spying letter

Meetings and events for KCSD parents – week of February 8, 2015

Below are meetings that might be of interest to parents in the Kingston City School District this coming week:

  • Board of Education Coffee & Conversation – Monday February 9, 2015 7:30am Quick Chek Albany Avenue  *event canceled if snow day or 2-hour delay
  • Autism Parent Support Group – Tuesday February 10, 2015 6:30pm Chambers Elementary School – details here
  • Robert Graves PTO meeting – Tuesday February 10, 2015 6:30pm
  • Parent Education Night hosted by KCSD – Tuesday February 10, 2015 6:30-8pm Chambers Elementary School – Learn about how data-driven instruction is shaping education in Kingston.
  • IEP Development with Dorothy Richards of RCAL presented by Kingston Special Education Parent Group and KCSD – Wednesday February 11, 2015 6pm Cioni Building (see flyer below)
  • Reclaiming Public Education hosted by Bennett School PTA – Wednesday February 11, 2015 6:30pm Bennett Intermediate School, Boiceville NY – Forum to learn more about high stakes testing and the impact it has on our children, our schools and our teachers (see flyer below)
  • District Wide Parents’ Council (DWPC) monthly meeting – Thursday February 12, 2015 9:30am Cioni Building (rescheduled from Feb 5)
  • Presidents’ Day weekend – No School – February 13-16, 2015 *assuming no snow days this week – read details here

IEPflyer Feb 11 2015Reclaiming Public Education Bennett PTA

Next week:

  • J.W. Bailey PTO meeting – Tuesday February 17, 2015 7pm
  • KCSD Board of Education meeting – Wednesday February 18, 2015 public comment generally begins at 7pm Robert Graves elementary school
  • KCSD Budget Forum – Thursday February 19, 2015 6pm Cioni building (rescheduled from January 29, 2015)
  • Bailey Middle School play “Legally Blonde” February 20 and 21, 2015 7pm

 

If you know of an event/meeting that should be added to this list, send me a message so I can update the list.

ParentMeeting2

 

 

Kingston Board of Education meeting tonight – January 7, 2015

The first Kingston Board of Education meeting for 2015 will be held tonight in the Cioni Building on Crown Street.  Public comment is expected to begin at 7pm.  The agenda for the meeting is available here on the Kingston City School District website.

The Superintendent’s Report portion of the meeting includes:

  • Ulster BOCES – Dr. Charles Khoury
  • JFK Playground Update
  • District Recognitions – Mr. Glen Maisch, SRO Harry Woltman, Rachel Meyers
  • Meagher RFP

Other items that I find of particular note to parents include:

  • Adoption of a new textbook for the Hospitality and Tourism Management Program at KHS
  • KCSD supporting complaint filed on December 13, 2013 by Enlarged City School District of Middletown with the Office of Civil Rights within the United States Department of Education regarding discriminatory state aid.
  • Declaration of January 19-23, 2015 as No Name Calling Week
  • Changes to Policies 1900 School-Family-Community Partnership, 5110 School Attendance Boundaries, 5500 Student Records, 8635 Information Security Breach and Notification

Hope you can attend the Board of Education meeting tonight or listen to the meeting from home via the public access cable channel (not sure if it is available via live-streaming on the district website or not).

positive-learning

Note:  the next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for January 21, 2015 at George Washington elementary school.

New Paltz School Board Member Urges Boards of Education to Vote No on NYSSBA Resolutions – updated 10/24/14 with New Paltz BOE decisions

New Paltz School Board of Education member Steve Greenfield posted the following two write-ups on facebook and has asked for them to be shared throughout New York State prior to the New York State School Boards Association convention beginning on October 26, 2014.  I (Jolyn) will be asking the Kingston City School District Board of Education to change their support of NYSSBA resolutions 4, 9 and 10 at the BOE meeting tonight.

Update 10/24/14:  See end of post for results from New Paltz School Board of Education meeting on 10/15/14.

***

Fellow School Board Members of New York State, parents, taxpayers, and all concerned:

My name is Steve Greenfield, and I am a member of the New Paltz Board of Education, currently in my second term. The following is the result of research I have conducted into unusual activities being conducted by the New York State School Boards Association, and numerous press releases and public statements by NYSSBA officers and paid staff that run contrary to what our polls have indicated are our actual opinions, goals, and interests. This is not the opinion of the New Paltz Board Of Education, although I have brought it to their attention for consideration at our next meeting.

Concerns about NYSSBA’s independence, and its role as our advocate, came to me while reading the On Board newsletters and numerous press releases, and public statements issued by various officers and staff that I have found in the media. Over the last year there has been a preponderance of content supporting testing, Common Core, data mining, and related hardware and software purchasing as priorities for New York public schools. This stands in stark contrast to the widely disseminated information we’ve seen in which many, perhaps most, school boards are decrying and otherwise challenging those very themes, not seeking financial and training support in implementing them. We have also been subjected to a series of “pulse poll” questions that are actually push-polls, in that they are on themes upon which NYSSBA is already acting, as if seeking a citation of membership support after the fact.

The most significant case of this is a new NYSSBA subsidiary they created called “Student Achievement Institute,” a pro-testing, pro-data mining, pro-Common Core road show that we are invited to attend “free of charge,” that NYSSBA states on its materials is funded by The State of New York, and features Bill Daggett, a prominent education expert who is recently speaking on behalf of several corporate-backed astroturf “reform foundations” that have proliferated in recent years, as the principal presenter and “myth buster.” Tim Kremer, Executive Director of NYSSBA, confirmed to me via e-mail that this entire program is indeed state funded. Given that SED is currently in receipt of at least $19 million in private foundation funding from sources like the Gates and Helmsley foundations, it’s hard to know full sourcing on the funds. Mr. Kremer refused to provide breakdown details, despite the fact that, as a member, I have a right to full disclosure. These NYSSBA-promoted forums feature no range of input. They are sales pitches, and not even attempting to conceal that. The printed materials and slideshows are the products of Daggett, openly labeled as such, not NYSSBA, although NYSSBA distributes them through their (should be “our”) website. NYSSBA has accepted funding from New York State and corporate lobbyists to lobby us, rather than being the member-responsive lobby for us to those agencies. The operating model has been stood on its head. They are no longer our agency. Perhaps they never were, but let’s stick to the present, and what is known now. Here are the two documents in question: http://www.nyssba.org/…/…/slides-sai-common-core1-032914.pdf and http://www.nyssba.org/…/…/slides-sai-common-core2-032914.pdf

Research also has me concerned about the name “Student Achievement Institute.” That name is in wide play in these corporate-backed astroturf foundations. For example: “Student Achievement Partners”http://achievethecore.org/about-us The literature summaries indicate they are all sourced to Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Helmsley Charitable Trust, and the rest of the usual interconnected suspects with dozens of names and shared funding sources. Example: Predominant Teacher Evaluation Program Will Reflect New Common Core State Standards
10/29/2013 | PR Newswire Helmsley Charitable Trust makes a $3 million grant to align Charlotte Danielson’s Framework for Teaching to the Common Core State Standards. “The project will include a field study of the FfT and the CCSS Instructional Practice Guides, a new set of tools developed by Student Achievement Partners to support teachers in making the instructional shifts called for by the CCSS.” The name “Student Achievement Institute” yet again, seemingly of national scope, with the same mission: “All ASAI initiatives include a series of leadership team workshops at which participants learn how to develop an organizational structure and engage educators and community organizations in a series of focused discussions leading to a data-based and accountable strategic plan. Teams are support by a robust online program management system that provides student data, a steering team manual, and discussion facilitation tools. After each local discussion, teams use the online system to submit various reports to ASAI which are evaluated with written feedback provided.” http://www.asainstitute.org/

Compare that to what the NYSSBA Student Achievement Institute says it’s doing: “What does the Institute Offer? The Institute offers an array of free trainings and resources to New York school board members. Regional hands-on training workshops will take place in Lake Placid, Buffalo, Syracuse, Plainview and Albany. These workshops will help board members understand what student achievement and college and career readiness mean today and what the successes and challenges of Common Core implementation in school districts look like in practice. Other program offerings include: Monthly board meeting agenda items; Sample policies; Polling and research; Clearinghouse of news, innovations and best practices about educational reform; Webinars and/or instructional videos; Social media Innovation awards.”

As you can see, these people have the money, and they get what they pay for. The Helmsley Foundation, cited for the $3 million grant above, is also a $3.3 million donor to the NY SED’s private “think tank” that is designing APPR and Common Core implemenation systems and manufacturing data with which to sell them. Perhaps you saw some of the articles about this, currently privately funded at $19 million, and rising.http://www.timesunion.com/…/Education-reform-backed-by-the-… andwww.nytimes.com/…/free-advisers-cost-ny-education-dept-crit… and this one, which shows the scope of this program is national.http://www.washingtonpost.com/…/secret-policymaking-on-sch…/Compare and contrast these mainstream media investigatory accounts, that include the viewpoints of supporters and opponents, with the NYSSBA report on the exact same thing. To NYSSBA, this is the greatest thing since the invention of typesetting. Its gushing praise is cartoonish. But that should come as no surprise, given that NYSSBA is now on the same payroll as the people and institutions upon whom they’re reporting:http://www.nyssba.org/index.php…

Lastly, so as not to be too burdensome with the full scope of my research thus far (as if I have not already risked that, but due diligence would not be possible without proper citation), I will include this NYSSBA press release from September 2nd, which refers to a Pulse Poll survey from July, in which the headline and the actual poll results are in complete contradiction with each other. This and other polls, including the one from last week that they invalidated after getting results they didn’t like, were intended to create after-the-fact validation for the Student Achievement Institute, which was founded in January with no membership input whatsoever, and to promote three related resolutions we are being asked to approve at the convention at the end of October that support additional Common Core training programs for teachers, and increased use of test scores in APPR. If you read the those three proposals (4, 9, and 10) in the resolution book), you will see that like any push poll, they claim membership survey support for why they’re being proposed, in the text of the resolution, rather than in the rationale section. http://www.nyssba.org/…/poll-training-on-common-core-imple…/ And just this week, NYSSBA was running a poll that asked us whether we felt Common Core would help, hurt, or do nothing for education in New York, and whether we felt most parents in our districts supported or opposed Common Core. The answers for both questions were negative at around 80%. NYSSBA removed and then reposted the poll, after which the results remained about the same. They then killed the poll, and put out an announcement that if any of us had seen the results, we shouldn’t talk about it, because NYSSBA considers them invalid because of the size of the turnout. However, the questions were very similar to those from the July poll — the one NYSSBA lied about in its Sept. 2nd press release — just inverted, in which questions about school board support for Common Core produced results at the same percentiles as those in the poll the cancelled, with 23 percent believing their board would benefit from training in Common Core data-based decision making, twenty percent would welcome board training in Common Core communication strategies, and 12 percent would like additional training in resource allocation for implementing Common Core. In the instance of the first poll, NYSSBA put out a false statement. They declared the second poll invalid and requested our silence on its results.

They shouldn’t get it. They should get an earful — from us, parents, taxpayers, everyone in the pipeline of who we are and what we do as school boards. All of our dues, several million dollars per year, come from our taxpayers. We have a legal fiduciary responsibility to assure that their money is going to what we think it’s for — advocacy for, and public information on the desires of the membership, not the manipulation of those desires, and misrepresentation of them to the SED, elected officials, and the public. NYSSBA is taking us for a ride. They are taking other people’s money and literature to lobby us on behalf of things those people want, instead of being our lobby to others on behalf of what we want. The two goals are in direct conflict with each other. We need to take a stand on this, and get that stand out to the other school boards, the press, and the public as quickly as possible, so that they may have this information before the last meeting at which boards can make decisions on how they will vote at the convention, and any other actions they may wish to take.

I am advising our board, and all boards, to vote no on resolutions 4, 9, and 10 at the NYSSBA convention at the end of the month (all are affirmations of Common Core and testing — the first seeking additional CC training for teachers, the second asking the state to make proficiency in Common Core a requirement of its teaching license examination, and the third seeking greater application of student testing in APPR), and to demand that a) NYSSBA’s “Student Achievement Institute” cease all activities, and be dissolved, and have all materials for Student Achievement Institute forums supplied by outside agencies returned to those agencies and deleted from the NYSSBA website; and b) refuse to pay further dues until all unexpended funds from outside sources, be they private donations, or the State of New York, that are dedicated to lobbying of our own membership on curricular and assessment matters, are returned, and a promise made that no more will be sought or accepted. As part of that, we should demand that NYSSBA open its books, so we can assess to what degree our agency is being funded by stakeholders in our decisions on their policies and products.

I ask that you consider this information, and action to take upon it, at your next meeting, so that it will be in effect in time for the convention, which starts on October 26th. You may also wish to consider joining in with resolution(s) from the floor related to these matters. Please disseminate this information widely. Thank you very much.

Steve Greenfield
Member, New Paltz BOE

 

More on the NYSSBA convention.

Sorry this isn’t written in “dry school board information” style. I’m angry. At least I’ve suppressed my instinct to cuss. We’re taking close to 10 grand from our taxpayers every year to finance this, and statewide, scho
ol boards are collectively taking over $5 million. And that’s before you add in how much taxpayers statewide are spending on getting all of us to the convention, with its resolutions written to create evidence of school board backing for all this, and back home again. I will continue to do this research on every single featured presenter at the convention.

Many times I’ve heard people say “it’s not so much Common Core itself, but its use in assessments, and other ancillary issues.” My position has always been “Common Core has always been about those ancillary issues, and not anything known about the curriculum and instructional systems, because the ancillary issues are the gold mine.” One might as well say “I have no problem with the extraction of oil, just with the harm caused by burning it.” And so, with A & B inseparable, and therefore really not A & B, the issue is Common Core itself. And now I have even more information about NYSSBA’s role in promoting, as evidenced by who they’re bringing in to convince us. I also note that Diance Ravitch or other very public, and well-qualified, dissenters are nowhere to be found at the convention. Not a single one.

Take a look at this graphic: http://www.iste.org/standards/common-core . It came to my attention because I was researching the CV of a keynote speaker, Kate Kemker, at the upcoming NYSSBA convention, who is scheduled to deliver a ringing endorsement of Common Core, and how to best implement it. Her CV was not provided by NYSSBA — I went to her LinkedIn Page. This is what she’s been doing for a living. She is from the board of directors if ISTE, and has previously given herself the title of “Visionary” at Florida Digital Education. The link is their Common Core policy statement — but it has nothing to do about Common Core as educational policy, and everything to do with Common Core as a taxpayer-funded tech puchase bonanza. Big surprise, huh?

Take note: “Billions of dollars estimated implementation cost at the state level.” Graphs showing way too high a proportion of professional time being spent on assessments. Need to reduce that with massive tech purchases. Unsubstantiated claims of massive outcome improvements by giving kids laptops, and other tech aquisitions by schools. “Next Step: Implement CC and ISTE standards together. What are ISTE standards? The ISTE standards are the definitive standards for learning, teaching, and leading in the digital age. Contact ISTE today!”

This is who the organization that’s supposed to be our lobby, and by extension, our voters/taxpayers’ lobby, is bringing to explain to us the wonders of CC. It is not about CC. It has never been about CC. It has never been about improving the way we rate teachers, and to improve or terminate them if they’re found lacking. It is about increasing the legislation of tech purchasing from for-profit firms. It is no different that what underlies the drive for charter schools. We already know they don’t provide improved outcomes for students. But they do provide improved outcomes for investors. CC has the exact same money trail. The only thing proven about CC as a product is that it requires legislating billions of dollars from taxpayers to tech firms.

Whenever pivate interests are promoting public policy, there are always two shoes, not one, and when you reach for the first, the second always drops — right inside your wallet. I’m legally bound to be our taxpayers’ trustee, and in that role, I’m required to do these investigations, and publish the results.

We don’t need our share of those billions of dollars to go to computer systems. Our buildings are in terrible disrepair, actually dangerous, and because of the expense, and the fact that state law requires putting that expense to the local voters for approval, we can’t fix them. I know this is true throughout New York State. But the state is mandating that we spend that money on computer systems by mandating a curriculum that can’t be operated without them.

And the executives of our own lobby, whose quarter-million dollar compensations are paid with over $5 million per year in school board membership dues, and all of that paid by taxpayers, are in on it. That’s the bottom line — literally.

Additional CV citation on Dr. Kemker. http://etc.usf.edu/fde/ On her LinkedIn page, she actually gave her title at FDE as “visionary,” so I’m assuming the vision statement, and its elucidation on this page, are hers.

**

Update following New Paltz School Board of Education meeting on 10/15/14 (from Steve Greenfield):

Going out to many school boards today. Please help by sending to your own school board.

On Wednesday, the New Paltz CSD Board of Education, by unanimous 7-0 vote in all cases, took the following positions on resolutions being presented at the NYSSBA annual business meeting being held on Monday, Oct. 27th at the convention in New York City. We also adopted a resolution intended for introduction on the floor, permission for which will require a 2/3 vote, followed by reading, discussion, and adoption. We encourage all school boards throughout the state to join us in these votes. I am encapsulating key elements of the concerns that informed our decisions.

Resolution One, sunsetting of encouraging diversity, renewal: Yes.

Resolution Two, increase and new schedule of NYSSBA dues: NO. We find that the formula exceeds that which all of us our now required to follow in our budgeting. We also find that the increases, in the absence of disclosure of executive compensation and other expenditures, cost-cutting measures, and performance reports to the membership by NYSSBA, all of which are required of us as school boards, have not been justified.

Resolution Three, RICs for data storage: NO. These systems are known to be insecure. They must be proven secure before support to expand their use is warranted. In addition, NYSSBA’s rationale states that they would be helpful in facilitating SED’s increasing statewide data-mining demands. We oppose these demands, and expect NYSSBA to share that position, and therefore oppose resources going to easing their fulfillment.

Resolution Four, dedicated funding stream for Common Core teacher development: As written, NO. But we will submit an amendment proposal recommending that the portion of the resolution after the words “professional development” be stricken, that is, “and other supports associated with implementation of Common Core,” and should that amendment pass, we will vote Yes. Our Asst. Superintendent for Curriculum is highly dissatisfied with the existing modules as training tools, and feels more development is needed; and the board is concerned that should another election or political process in Washington or Albany result in replacement of Common Core, that NYSSBA is binding itself to restrictive language that will not apply to other systems.

Resolution Five, full day kindergarten: Yes.
Resolution Six, pre-K: Yes.
Resolution Seven, opposition to Albany-administered bonus programs: Yes.

Resolution Eight, cap relief for distressed districts: Yes, with an advisory. We believe NYSSBA should be representing all districts, and oppose the cap completely. By only supporting districts where the tax cap is threatening districts with bankruptcy, NYSSBA is playing politics on behalf of those who wish to minimize the appearance of the cap’s harm to all districts in terms of teacher layoffs, increased, class size, elimination of sports, clubs, and other extracurricular activities, deferred maintenance, and other issues stemming from the tax cap. It should not only by imminent threat of district bankruptcy that merits relief. We plan to propose a resolution to that effect for the 2015 convention.

Resolution Nine, supporting Common Core new teacher certification requirements: NO. We feel that nothing can be gained by further burdening young people who are interested in becoming teachers, particularly when the standards in question were established by politicians, and subject to change at any time in the same manner they were instituted. Even among proponents, Common Core is being heavily revised, and will continue to evolve even if it survives the winds and whims of politics. It is too early to discuss ensconcing Common Core into the new teacher licensing process.

Resolution Ten, increasing use of student testing data in APPR: NO. This one was the most vexing for us, as we cannot fathom how it got here. We know of very few people among school boards, superintendents and principals who conduct APPR, special education staff, teachers, or parents who don’t think exactly the opposite. We have previously adopted an anti-high stakes testing resolution, as have many boards throughout the state, and our opposition to this resolution is in keeping with that position. A major study, followed by a superintendents’ statement, just found the use of student test data in APPR to severely skew other components of the overall review, and that their inclusion is too flawed to be fixed, and must be scrapped. In addition, this resolution, if adopted by NYSSBA and successful with SED, would result in significant mandates for expensive hardware and software, and contains no privacy assurances, as was the central issue in the termination of InBloom’s state contract.

Resolution Eleven, Affordable Care Act exemption: No, as per recommendation.

Resolution Twelve, elimination of budget vote for districts staying under the cap: We will propose an amendment striking language recommending budget votes be moved to November general elections. Like many districts, we have multiple towns, and except for New Paltz itself, only parts of the other six, in varying sizes. We have already explored this idea, and found it to be technically impossible to get the exact ballots only to the exact voters, town by town, to have this idea function. Should that amendment pass, we will support this resolution over NYSSBA’s objection. We find the Resolution Committee’s rationale for opposition to the concept itself to be grossly against the interest of school boards. Do any of us find that the combination of the property tax and the public referendum in order to operate, and make capital improvements, is a good idea for education? If so, none of us in New Paltz have met you. And elimination of the referendum will indeed save a lot of money. Should our proposed amendment fail, we will vote NO, because November ballots cannot be done, but should it pass, we will vote YES on the remaining language.

Resolution Thirteen, exemption of school districts from Medicare IRMAA payments: YES (that is, against the NYSSBA recommendation to vote No). Our Asst. Superintendent for Business informed us that the rationale offered by NYSSBA staff for rejecting this resolution is incorrect. Our payments under the law do not relate to, or pass through, NYSHIP in any way. They are between us and our retirees who qualify, and therefore being relieved of the requirement to pay them cannot incentivize NYSHIP to drop our eligibility to participate. The exemption would be a cost-saver, and not have any downside. We will vote YES.

Finally, the resolution we will attempt to bring to the floor. Just accomplishing the introduction will require a 2/3 vote of the floor, and we encourage you to support its introduction and take part in the discussion, even if you are not certain at this time that you will vote “yes” when it is called. But we also encourage you to vote “yes,” and through conversation with boards throughout the state, we have found that many share the concerns expressed therein, with some even taking the major step of refusing to pay further dues. We find that the establishment and conduct of the “Student Achievement Institute,” established and fully funded by SED, but operated through NYSSBA, and other elements of NYSSBA operations represent a conflict of interest with our core mission, and that NYSSBA must refocus itself as our legislative advocates. Towards that end, we propose the following:

Resolution Requesting New York State School Boards Association to Provide Focused Advocacy for its Member School Boards.

WHEREAS the core function of the New York State School Boards Association is to serve as policy advocates for its member school boards; and

WHEREAS acceptance of any State or Federal funding by the New York State School Boards Association represents a conflict of interest;

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the membership of the New York State School Boards Association calls upon the executive board of NYSSBA be accountable to its member districts by providing full disclosure of its funding sources, to focus its advocacy and avoid conflicts of interest; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the membership of New York State School Boards Association calls upon the executive board of the New York State School Boards Association to provide member school districts an annual professional review and accountability of its advocacy performance.

______________________________________

Thank you so much for your consideration of our input. Should you have questions, I will answer them promptly. I look forward to meeting you at the Convention.

Steve Greenfield
Voting Delegate, New Paltz CSD BOE.