Tag Archives: Race to the Top

Test prep costs more than any lost aid from low testing numbers

Many people talk of ‘lost aid’ if too many parents REFUSE the state tests.  Retired superintendent Kenneth Mitchell is more concerned about another loss.

Any “fiscal consequence” will be less costly than the wasted resources of time, money and quality learning that districts have expended for test prep. There will be costs, but to children whose school experience has been ruined by a test prep culture and eventually to the districts whose legal funds will be exhausted when they must defend a legally indefensible and research-poor accountability system that New York’s leaders have recklessly imposed upon the system.

View:  False threats feed opt-out movement  lohud The Journal News April 23, 2015

He also challenges the talk of ‘lost aid’ because it assumes the aid WILL be lost if 95% of students do not participate, however, this is not true.

On the matter of “real” fiscal implications for failing to make a 95 percent test participation rate because of student test refusals, the New York State Council of School Superintendents issued a statement that included the following:

• There are no provisions in law that would lead to a loss of state aid due to low test participation, unless district officials refused to administer the tests or actively promoted non-participation.

• Districts failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress for a single year, including due to falling short of 95 percent participation, lose eligibility for “Reward School” Grants. These are grants paid for by federal aid and awarded to districts with schools that either have high achievement or have made the most progress in the state and do not have significant gaps in student achievement between subgroups. Only 31 schools were eligible for these grants in 2014-15.

• Schools that fail to make the participation rate target for three consecutive years can be required by the State Education Department to develop a Local Assistance Plan to address low participation.

• The state’s federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act Waiver eliminated the requirement that districts with schools failing to make adequate yearly progress for multiple years set aside Title I funds for specific purposes, such as professional development, extra academic help, or public school choice. Set-aside requirements remain for schools designated as Focus and Priority Schools under the state’s accountability system. Failing to make 95 percent participation this year would not lead to designation as a Focus or Priority School.

• If the state as a whole drops below 95 percent participation in the grades 3-8 assessments required by the No Child Left Behind Act, the U.S. Education Department could impose sanctions on the state, including financial penalties that could filter down to school districts. However, there are no fixed rules to predict what penalties, if any, would be imposed. A consideration could be the extent to which the state acted to promote participation. According to NYSED, “The US Department of Education has made clear that when a district fails to ensure that students participate in required state assessments, the state education agency is expected to consider imposing sanctions on that district, including – in the most egregious cases – withholding programmatic funds. What sanctions to impose must be decided on a case by case basis, taking into account the degree and length of time the district has failed to meet participation rate requirements and the reasons for such failure.”

Kenneth Mitchell is a retired superintendent of the South Orangetown district and wrote about concerns associated with testing and other aspects of Race to the Top in a paper published back in the fall of 2012 as well – Federal Mandates on Local Education:  Costs and Consequences – Yes, it’s a Race, but is it in the Right Direction?  Such a shame that New York State didn’t heed his warning in 2012!

Ulster County votes in support of Repealing Common Core!

The Ulster County Legislature voted 23-0 tonight to pass Resolution No. 350 in support of repealing common core and race to the top!

Resolution No. 350 – Supporting The Reintroduction and Passage Of New York State Assembly Bill 07994 and Senate Bill 06267, An Act To Amend The Education Law, In Relation To The Common Core State Standards Initiative And The Race To The Top Program

Video from the legislative session

Please thank your county legislator for standing in support of our children tonight.  Here is a list of the Ulster County legislators with their contact information to assist you in contacting your county legislator.

No Common Core words

Press release – Ulster County Legislators Voice Opposition to Federal Common Core Initiative

 

A New Paradigm For Accountability

Those who are proponents of Common Core often argue that we can not get rid of it because “what would we do instead?”

I have heard a number of good suggestions and this one particularly caught my imagination today so I would like to share Diane Ravitch’s suggestion with you.

She begins with a quick explanation of what utter failures No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top have been (click here if you wish to read about the failures) but then moves to imagining how things could be with this new accountability system.

I have an idea for a new accountability system that relies on different metrics. We begin by dropping standardized test scores as measures of quality or effectiveness. We stop labeling, ranking, and rating children, teachers, snd schools. We use tests only when needed for diagnostic purposes, not for comparing children to their peers, not to find winners and losers. We rely on teachers to test their students, not corporations.

The new accountability system would be called No Child Left Out. The measures would be these:

How many children had the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument?

How many children had the chance to play in the school band or orchestra?

How many children participated in singing, either individually or in the chorus or a glee club or other group?

How many public performances did the school offer?

How many children participated in dramatics?

How many children produced documentaries or videos?

How many children engaged in science experiments? How many started a project in science and completed it?

How many children learned robotics?

How many children wrote stories of more than five pages, whether fiction or nonfiction?

How often did children have the chance to draw, paint, make videos, or sculpt?

How many children wrote poetry? Short stories? Novels? History research papers?

How many children performed service in their community to help others?

How many children were encouraged to design an invention or to redesign a common item?

How many students wrote research papers on historical topics?

Can you imagine an accountability system whose purpose is to encourage and recognize creativity, imagination, originality, and innovation? Isn’t this what we need more of?

Well, you can make up your own metrics, but you get the idea. Setting expectations in the arts, in literature, in science, in history, and in civics can change the nature of schooling. It would require far more work and self-discipline than test prep for a test that is soon forgotten.

My paradigm would dramatically change schools from Gradgrind academies to halls of joy and inspiration, where creativity, self-discipline, and inspiration are nurtured, honored, and valued.

– from “My New Paradigm For Accountability”, Diane Ravitch’s blog, November 12, 2014

The thought of this new system makes me want to dance – I can just imagine the joy and excitement that would fill the school halls!  What do you think?  Would your student be excited to attend a school using this accountability system?

Education transform

Do you want to repeal Common Core?

If you would like to see the repeal of Common Core and Race to the Top in New York State, here is something you can do right now!

  1. Attend the Ulster County legislative session on Tuesday November 18, 2014 7pm to show support for Ulster County Resolution No. 350 supporting Repeal of Common Core and Race to the Top.
  2. Contact your Ulster County legislator before November 18 and ask them to support Resolution No. 350.  Tell them why you are opposed to Common Core and what impact Common Core is having on your family.

Read here for details about Ulster County Resolution No. 350.

No Common Core words

The Ulster County legislative session on Tuesday November 18 will be held at 7pm in the Legislative Chambers – 6th floor of the County Office Building, 244 Fair St. Kingston NY 12401.

Action needed to help Ulster County support the repeal of Common Core

As residents of Ulster County, we have an exciting opportunity!  We have the opportunity to come together in discussion of Common Core and its impact on our children and our schools and to ask our Ulster County legislature to move Resolution No. 350 in support of ending the implementation of Common Core in New York State.

Please do the following:

  • E-mail your Ulster County legislator today with a brief description of why you are concerned about Common Core and ask him/her to support Resolution No. 350 on November 18.
  • Adjust your calendar and plan to attend the Ulster County legislative session on November 18, 2014 and speak during public comment or if you can not possibly speak before a group of people, at least be present to lend your support to those who are speaking.

Here is a list of the Ulster County legislators with their contact information to assist you in contacting your county legislator.

Resolution No. 350 – Supporting The Reintroduction and Passage Of New York State Assembly Bill 07994 and Senate Bill 06267, An Act To Amend The Education Law, In Relation To The Common Core State Standards Initiative And The Race To The Top Program

Resolution No. 350 is authored by Ulster County legislator Craig Lopez (Towns of Shawangunk/Wawarsing).   Ulster County legislators Mary Wawro (Town of Saugerties), David Donaldson (City of Kingston) and Donald Gregorius (Towns of Hurley/Woodstock) joined as sponsors of the resolution at the Legislative Programs committee meeting on November 5 and the resolution will come before the full Ulster County legislature for a vote on November 18, 2014.

Read past discussion of Resolution No. 350 here, here, and here.

No Common Core words

Will you act to help Ulster County support the repeal of Common Core?

As residents of Ulster County, we have an exciting opportunity in the upcoming month.  We have the opportunity to come together in discussion of Common Core and its impact on our children and our schools and then ask our Ulster County legislature to move Resolution No. 350 in support of ending the implementation of Common Core in New York State.

This will not be easy or a trivial undertaking but I believe our children are worth it and we can do it!

Ulster County legislator Craig Lopez has drafted Resolution No. 350 in support of the New York State assembly and senate bills to end the implementation of Common core – read the current version of the resolution here – and will reintroduce the resolution to the Legislative Programs, Education and Community Services committee on November 5, 2014 before the resolution comes to the floor to be voted on by the full Ulster County legislature on November 18, 2014.  UPDATE 11/6/14:  Resolution No. 350 passed the committee and will be going to the full Ulster County legislature for a vote on November 18!

Kingston Action For Education co-founders and members Tory Lowe, Maria Maritsas, myself (Jolyn Safron) and Madeline Hoetger spoke about a number of concerns related to Common Core before the Ulster County legislature at the monthly session on Tuesday October 21, 2014.  Now we need you, the Ulster County community, to communicate with the members of the Legislative Programs committee and your county legislators regarding your personal concerns and stories related to the impact Common Core has had in Ulster County.  A few people will not be able to take the Common Core problem on alone.  The county will need to come together to make a stand against Common Core.  Just imagine if we can light the way for the rest of New York State to create similar resolutions and have a ground-swell coming to the state legislature that Common Core does indeed need to be repealed!

Here are some suggestions of what you can do:

  • E-mail your county legislator today with a brief description of why you are concerned about Common Core.
  • Adjust your calendar and plan to attend the legislative session on November 18, 2014 and speak during public comment or if you can not possibly speak before a group of people, at least be present to lend your support to those who are speaking.
  • Call your county legislator next week with another concern (if you have more than one).
  • Make an appointment for the following week (or switch the activities around if that works better – or do two weeks of e-mails – just make contacts).
  • Keep the communication informative and respectful.  Our legislators are residents of Ulster County just like we are and want the best for all of the residents of the county including our children.

No Common Core words

Here is a list of the Ulster County legislators with their contact information.

Here is contact information specifically for the members of the Legislative Programs, Education and Community Services committee:

Past discussion of Resolution No. 350 here, here and here.

Ulster County resolution to support repeal of Common Core

Ulster County legislator Craig Lopez is introducing a resolution to support the full repeal of Common Core in New York State.

Resolution No. 350 is supporting the reintroduction and passage of New York State Assembly Bill 07994 and Senate Bill 06267, an Act to Amend the Education Law, In Relation to the Common Core State Standards Initiative and The Race To The Top Program.  These two bills would repeal Common Core in New York State.

All Ulster County residents who are opposed to Common Core should contact their county legislators and urge them to support Resolution No. 350 on October 21.  Also please make every effort to attend the legislative session on October 21 to show support for this initiative.

Update 10/20/14 – Resolution 350 in support of the NYS Senate and assembly bills to end the implementation of common core has been postponed by the sponsor legislator Craig Lopez until November.  Read details here.  We will still plan to attend the legislative session on October 21 to speak out against Common Core.

The legislators will be meeting at the County Office Building, 244 Fair Street Kingston New York 12401 at 7pm on October 21, 2014 in the Legislative Chambers on the 6th floor.

Here is the text of Resolution No. 350 for easy reference:

Supporting The Reintroduction and Passage Of New York State Assembly Bill 07994 And Senate Bill 06267, An Act To Amend The Education Law, In Relation To The Common Core State Standards Initiative And The Race To The Top Program

Referred to: The Legislative Programs, Education, and Community Services Committee (Chairman David Donaldson and Legislators Archer, Gregorius, Lopez, and Wawro)
Legislator Craig Lopez offers the following:

WHEREAS, Assembly Bill 07994 and Senate Bill 06267 have been introduced in the 2013-2014 Legislative Session which amends Education Law Section 116 to discontinue implementation of the common core state standards developed by the common core state standards initiative and declares any action taken to adopt or implement the common core state standards void; and

WHEREAS, in 2009 and 2010, New York State was offered the chance to compete for education funding through the “Race to the Top” program created by the U. S. Department of Education (“ED”); and

WHEREAS, the only way to achieve a score in the competition sufficient to qualify for funding was to agree to “participation in a consortium of States that is working toward jointly developing and adopting a common set of K-12 standards”; and

WHEREAS, the only such “common set of K-12 standards” existent at that time, or since, is known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative (“CCSSI”) and was developed without a grant of authority from any state; and

WHEREAS, the CCSSI standards were released in June 2010, and to meet the ED “Race to the Top” requirements the State had only 60 days to evaluate them and agree to adopt them and were not offered an option to modify those standards before their adoption; and

WHEREAS, local education officials, school leaders, teachers, and parents were not included in the discussion, evaluation and preparation of the CCSSI standards that would affect students in this State; and

WHEREAS, the National Assessment of Educational Progress national test already exists and allows comparisons of academic achievement to be made across the states, without the necessity of imposing national standards, curricula, or assessments; and

WHEREAS, imposing a set of national standards is likely to lead to the imposition of a national curriculum and national assessment upon the various states, in violation of the General Education Provisions Act, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; and the Department of Education Organization Act; and

WHEREAS, when no less than 22 states face budget shortfalls and Race to the Top funding for states is limited, $350 million for consortia to develop new assessments aligned with the CSCSI standards will not cover the entire cost of overhauling state accountability systems, which includes implementation of standards and testing and associated professional development and curriculum restructuring; now, therefore be it

RESOLVED, that the Ulster County Legislature emphatically urges New York state lawmakers to re-introduce and support the passage of New York State Assembly bill 07994 and Senate bill 6267 to discontinue the implementation of the Common Core State Standards developed by the Common Core State Standards Initiative which interfere with State and local control of public schools; and, be it further

RESOLVED, that the Ulster County Legislature urges our New York State Legislature to get further involved in the current debate over Common Core, to halt implementation of the standards while a state initiative is pursued to do due diligence and perhaps take an independent state-based approach to the improvement of our education system in New York State; and, be it further

RESOLVED, the Clerk of the Ulster County Legislature shall forward copies of this resolution to Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly and Senate Majority and Minority Leaders, Assembly and Senate Education Committee Chairmen, and all Ulster County elected Assemblymen and Senators,

and moves its adoption.

Against Common Core and Vote

Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014

The New York Bonds for School Technology Act, Proposal 3 (or Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014) was proposed by Governor Cuomo in his State of the State address in January 2014 and was approved by the legislature in the Governor’s 2014-2015 state budget with the press release stating:

The Budget includes a $2 billion general obligation bond act. Bond proceeds will fund enhanced education technology in schools, with eligible projects including infrastructure improvements to bring high-speed broadband to schools and communities in their school district and the purchase of classroom technology for use by students. Additionally, Smart Schools will enable long-term investments in full-day pre-kindergarten through the construction of new pre-kindergarten classroom space, replace classroom trailers with permanent classroom space and make investments in high-tech school safety projects.
Now the bond act must be approved by the New York State voters on November 4, 2014 to take effect.  The ballot text as it will appear on the November 4 ballot reads:

The SMART SCHOOLS BOND ACT OF 2014

The SMART SCHOOLS BOND ACT OF 2014, as set forth in section one of part B of chapter 56 of the laws of 2014, authorizes the sale of state bonds of up to two billion dollars ($2,000,000,000) to provide access to classroom technology and high-speed internet connectivity to equalize opportunities for children to learn, to add classroom space to expand high-quality pre-kindergarten programs, to replace classroom trailers with permanent instructional space, and to install high-tech smart security features in schools. Shall the SMART SCHOOLS BOND ACT OF 2014 be approved?

If the Smart Schools Bond Act is approved by voters, Kingston City School District will receive approximately 5.3 million dollars that could be used to purchase computers, servers, white boards, make infrastructure upgrades for broadband, security or preK expansion.  Dr. Padalino has stated that Kingston does not need construction for preK because, while the preK program at George Washington is full, the preK program a JFK is not.  However if the bond act were to pass, the KCSD board of education and administration could put the money to good use within the confines of what is allowed to be done with the money.

Since the Smart Schools Bond Act was announced as part of the budget package, several concerns have been raised causing parents and community members around the state to question whether they should support the bond act by voting yes in November.

On April 17 Governor Cuomo announced the formation of a three-person Smart Schools Commission intended to make recommendations on how districts should use the money they receive from the bond act.  Commission member Constance Evelyn, superintendent of the Auburn School District in Cayuga County said in support of the bond act,

There is a stark difference between a classroom outfitted with up to date, advanced technology, and one without. As we prepare our students to compete and find jobs in an economy that places high value on technical literacy, it is of vital importance that all our children have access to the classrooms where they can develop these skills. – Cuomo announces commission for school bond act, lohud April 17, 2014
However Assemblyman Bill Nojay focused on the tax dollars.
I’m not aware that this panel is anything other than a sort of a gimmicky Cuomo move, they’re not really going to decide where the money is spent.  The problem with the Smart Schools Bond Act is we already have more debt in New York state than we can reasonably expect taxpayers to pay for the next 20 to 30 years. – Cuomo announces commission for school bond act, lohud April 17, 2014

In addition to Constance Evelyn and Geoffrey Canada, president and CEO of Harlem Children’s Zone, Governor Cuomo appointed Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of of Google to the Smart Schools Commission.  Having the head of a major technology company that could significantly benefit from the situation as one of the three committee advisers leads to some serious questions of propriety as pointed out by Consumer Watchdog in their formal complaint about the matter.

Nicholas Tampio is concerned about the Schmidt/Google relationship but even more so that the constituents in the local districts (parents, teachers, students and other stakeholders) will not really have control over how they spend the money the district receives because plans must be approved by the Smart Schools review board (not the Smart Schools commission as it turns out) which consists of the chancellor of SUNY Nancy Zimpher, the Director of Budget Robert Megna, and the Commissioner of Education John King.

On Nov. 4, New Yorkers will have a chance to vote on the Smart Schools Bond Act. This bond has little to do with education and more to do with Gov. Andrew Cuomo giving a gift to the tech industry and circumventing political opposition to the Common Core. – Smart Schools Bond a Bad Investment, Nicholas Tampio, lohud September 2, 2014

Also Common Core rears its ugly head in this picture.  New York is going to have to start administering the Common Core-based PARCC tests soon, per our Race to the Top application, and that means the school districts have to have the necessary technology to administer the tests to the students all at the same time.  This bond act will help to provide the necessary technology in the short term but as Tampio points out,

… make no mistake: This bond helps cement the Common Core in New York schools. The technology makes possible the Common Core tests, and the smart schools review board is made up of three individuals who support the Common Core. – Nicholas Tampio

Finally this bond will take money from our taxes that could be spent on other things.  Tampio mentions smaller class size as an educational endeavor he would prefer to see the money spent on.  Senator Mark Grisanti and Assemblyman Robert Sweeney introduced the Clean Air/Clean Water/Green Jobs Bond Act of 2014 which is a $5 billion package (details here) but only one bond act per year is possible and since Governor Cuomo included the Smart Schools Bond Act in the budget, the environmental bond isn’t even an option.  I don’t know that I agree with all of the things in the environmental bond but as I think about the hole in Washington Avenue (not sure if that would be eligible or not), I can easily imagine how communities would need the money.  Perhaps we need to not have a bond this year to allow tax payers the opportunity to prepare for the environmental bond, or some portion of it, next year?

E. J. McMahon from the Empire Center questions whether a bond act is appropriate for technology which gets old so quickly and feels that the state already gives school districts money for technology.  McMahon appears in this news video (September 8, 2014) from Time Warner Cable along with a summary of several other view points including Governor Cuomo’s comments on the bond act.  He has the following to say about the Clean Air/Clean Water/Green Jobs Bond Act:

Sewer and infrastructure upgrades are a significant expense faced by many municipalities, including some that still directly discharge waste into the Hudson River during storms. Beaches in communities along Lake Erie are regularly closed during summer months because of sewer discharge into the water. Old pipes, decaying electrical systems and other infrastructure problems have stalled private development in many upstate cities, McMahon said.

While McMahon said he didn’t support the whole environmental bond, the $2 billion directed toward infrastructure is increasingly necessary, but gets little notice during an election year.

“It’s the non-sexy, really important thing that seems like it won’t happen while we’re paying for iPads and technology for schools,” he said.

Cuomo’s school bond would stall environmental measure, Capital New York January 9, 2014

Please carefully consider the Smart Schools Bond Act of 2014 before you walk into the voting booth on November 4, 2014 and determine whether it is how you want your tax dollars spent in the coming years.

Common Core Fact Forum with Dr. Peg Luksik in Kingston, New York – video and pictures – Sunday September 7, 2014

The Common Core Fact Forum with Dr. Peg Luksik hosted by Kingston Action For Education on September 7, 2014 was a big success!

We had a great turnout with people from multiple school districts, both local and across the state, in attendance.  We were also pleased to have three members of the Kingston City School District board of education in attendance.  As attendees left many commented about the depth and quantity of information that they had received from Dr. Luksik.

Dr Luksik Kingston Forum2 Dr Luksik Kingston Forum

Many Kingston residents expressed a desire to attend but were unable to do so for a variety of reasons.  Thanks to Mr. Mert Melfa, who has recorded countless events across the state on a volunteer basis in the last year and a half as parents and teachers continue to battle against Common Core, video is now available for those who wish to see what they missed at the forum.  The video includes both short videos of the opening comments shared by co-founders of Kingston Action For Education Tory Lowe, Maria Maritsas and Jolyn Safron as well as the full video of the forum with the opening comments and the presentation and Q&A by Dr. Luksik.

Dr. Luksik suggested a number of things that can be done by those concerned about Common Core:

  • get informed – watch the video of the forum.  Be sure you know the facts.  For even more detailed information, visit foundedontruth.com
  • get involved politically – VOTE!  “When you walk into the ballot box, you are making a political speech.  it is the only one they MUST listen to.”
  • “The worst thing you can do is nothing.  the best thing you can do is something!”
  • Stay involved with other parents – Kingston Action For Education (KAFE) is a group of parents who are advocating for their children and all the children of this school district.  Their goal is to unify and educate parents and caregivers presenting factual information about the state of their community’s educational system.  When the need arises, KAFE is willing to take the action necessary to reclaim their voice in education.  Find Kingston Action For Education on facebook or at kingstonactionforeducation.org
  • Q&A – When writing a letter to the editor, pick ‘the one thing that floats your boat’, a personal story or something you feel strongly about.  Pick one issue.  Quote real information/facts.  Keep the letter under 300 words; one issue and hit it three times in the same letter.

 

 

Common Core Fact Forum with Dr. Peg Luksik – Sunday September 7, 2014 – Kingston New York

I have been expressing concerns with regards to Common Core and the associated testing and data privacy issues for quite some time.  Now you can hear details and facts supporting these concerns from an expert in the education field, Dr. Peg Luksik, without having to travel any further than uptown Kingston!

Common Core Fact Forum

For Concerned Parents, Teachers, Students and Community Members

Sunday September 7, 2014  6:30 – 8:00 pm

Saint James United Methodist Church

35 Pearl Street, Kingston NY 12401

***

Hosted by Kingston Action For Education

  Common Core Forum event – September 7, 2014

or kingstonactionforeducation.org

 

Come and hear the important information that Dr. Luksik has to share and please consider bringing a friend with you.  There will also be time for Q&A after the presentation.

Common Core Forum 9/7/14 flyer