Tag Archives: special education

Superintendent Dr. Joseph Rella exposes the Common Core Reform Agenda

Superintendent Dr. Rella has been speaking out against Common Core almost as long as I have known about Common Core.  He exposes the truths about the Common Core agenda in this video.  The video is an excellent primer for people who are just now beginning to question Common Core.  The video was recorded in late February 2015 before the New York State budget was passed so a few aspects of the ‘reforms’ pushed by Governor Cuomo have changed but what we are stuck with now is just as bad as what Dr. Rella discussed.  The current state of education is no accident, this is a planned takeover with dire results.

It is nothing less than the programmatic dismantling of the public education system.  And that is not the worst part, believe it or not, the worst part, the most destructive effects are on our students.

Given that 5% incremental improvement, a 3rd grader right now could conceivably go through his entire elementary and middle school career and never pass a state test.    That sends a clear message to that kid, “you’re dumb”.

Proficiency is no longer an indication of student learning; rather it is part of a broader political agenda.

Dr. Rella understood the problems with Common Core when it was first introduced in New York and the problems that still exist as Governor Cuomo rams his education reform down the throats of New York State parents.

Nothing will stop parents from protecting their children.

As a parent I am not concerned about protecting unions.  I do want to help the students’ teachers because what happens to the teachers impacts the kids.  Parents have been fighting; the unions have finally decided to join in but this fight is not about the ‘political agenda’ of parents.  It is actually about STOPPING a political agenda. Parents will not stop fighting until our public schools and our kids are again safe!  I pray that it will be this year but if not, so be it.

Refuse the state tests!

Refuse ELA Test April 2015

Opting Out of Governor Cuomo’s Attack on Public Education

Bianca Tanis, Ulster County resident and co-founder of NYS Allies for Public Education, eloquently shares the narrative of failure being imposed upon our children by Governor Cuomo’s education reforms and continued reliance upon high stakes testing.

The attack on public education in New York State is taking place on several fronts. On one front, our schools are being underfunded and starved of resources. On the other front, our schools are deemed ineffective, and two thirds of our children are labeled as failures. Policies have been put into place claiming to foster equity and access. Ironically, these reforms have resulted in a test driven education in which children are ranked and sorted by test scores and the needs of the highest and lowest performing students are sidelined. Young children sit for tests that rival the SATs in length while students with disabilities as young as 10 sit for more than 18 hours of testing.

Rather than addressing the very real challenges created by poverty and disproportionate school funding, Governor Cuomo wants to double down on the use of draconian “test and punish” policies that emphasize test scores over teaching.

I urge you to read Bianca’s entire post but if you are not able to do so, I would like to highlight a few points.

There are significant fears that a New York State diploma is going to become unattainable for many students.  Every student will have to pass the New York State Regents tests which will be aligned to the common core to earn a diploma.  The GED will also be aligned to the common core.  There are no other diploma options available in New York State.  If you remember local or IEP diplomas, they are both gone.  The new Career Development and Occupational Studies credential (CDOS) for special education students is NOT a diploma.

Because we have now back mapped and correlated success at every level to this bizarre metric [a 1630 on the SAT], a high school diploma will soon be out of reach for many students. This is especially true as NYS has now tied every diploma to a high stakes test, eliminating the local diploma and aligning the new GED with the common core. Starting with the freshman class of 2017, NYS will require “career and college ready” passing scores on the Regents exams required for graduation. If these score requirements were put into place right now, only 5% of students with disabilities and less than 16% of African American and Hispanic students would have graduated in 2014.

The new Career Development and Occupational Studies credential is the ONLY commencement credential available to students with disabilities who cannot pass the Regents with modified passing scores. It precludes a student from taking a civil service exam, attending technical school or college, or joining the military. To date, the NYS Department of Education has NOT launched any major public awareness campaigns to inform the labor force and employers of its existence yet students have already begun to leave high school with this little known credential as their only entry to employment. At a time where the school to prison pipeline persists and individuals with disabilities struggle to find long term employment, these reforms will likely widen the achievement gap and lead to fewer opportunities.

Parents have attempted to sound the clarion about charter schools, refusal to give adequate funding to schools/inequitable funding, inappropriate use of test scores of students, labeling children/teachers/schools as failures, unfunded mandates, loss of fieldtrips/library/music, use of untested policies/standards, lack of respect for teachers’ experience but “while those in power may be hearing us, unfortunately they are not listening.”

The attack on public education has many moving parts and they are intricately linked. Ultimately, high stakes testing is the hub around which they all revolve.

That is why alongside tens of thousands of other parents, my family is refusing the NYS Common Core tests. It is a necessary act of civil disobedience to safeguard public education for every child in NYS.

We are refusing because patronizing these tests gives tacit approval to a system that serves few and harms many. We are refusing because we reject shoddy and illogical education practices that do not support individual learning, and because we object to valuable learning time being co-opted to generate a data point that is used to punish. We are refusing because we can’t support practices that squander our schools limited resources, erode local control and have not resulted in better outcomes for our children. We are refusing because we will not be part of a practice the harms all children, but especially children of color, children who learn differently, and children living in poverty.

We are refusing the tests because we know that loss of funding due to test refusals is a myth, and because we know that legislation passed last March prevents a school from using state test scores as the sole, or even the majority factor in placement decisions. We are refusing the tests because we believe in assessment and accountability, but not at the expense of children’s dignity or their education. We are refusing because we know there is a better way.

So until we reframe the conversation, until we redefine the term high standards to mean universal preschool, equitable school funding, schools that honor the interests, strengths and culture of every child, education policies and learning standards that are rooted in research and empirical evidence, schools where the diversity of educators mirrors the diversity that children see in their communities, assessment practices that have been vetted for cultural and economic bias and do no harm, until every school has a librarian, a social worker, reasonable class sizes, until the benefits of play, exploration, and creative inquiry are valued, and until we begin to value the expertise of experienced educators….we will continue to opt out.

Bianca has so eloquently stated the reasons for REFUSING the state tests that we will be adopting them as our own family reasons for refusing.  Thank you Bianca!

Not job to toughen children

 

Ulster County defends public education forum wrap-up

Several hundred parents, students, teachers and concerned community members attended the Ulster County Defends Public Education forum last Monday February 23, 2015 at Miller Middle School.  The forum was hosted by Kingston Teachers Federation, New York State Allies for Public Education, Alliance for Quality Education and Rondout Valley Federation of Teachers.

Dr. Paul Padalino, superintendent of Kingston City School District, and Billy Easton, executive director of Alliance for Quality Education, spoke regarding school funding and the problems with Governor Cuomo’s education budget proposal.  Mr. Easton asked audience members to call New York State legislators and demand that the legislators say “No” to Governor Cuomo’s education plan and put $2.2 billion in new school aid in the budget.  The state legislators CAN do this and we as constituents of New York State should accept NO excuses!  Alliance for Quality Education is coordinating a rally/lobby day in Albany on March 11, 2015.  20150311EDUParadeFlyer-color-1

Student Sam Longbotham, Rondout Valley, and teachers Kristina Flick, Rondout Valley Central School District, and Laura Harnden, Ulster BOCES, spoke regarding the impact of high-stakes testing on the classroom.  Bianca Tanis, co-founder of NYS Allies for Public Education, spoke regarding excessive testing and its adverse impacts, particularly on students living in poverty, students with disabilities and English Language Learners, and test refusal.

An opportunity was given for audience members to ask questions after all presenters concluded their remarks.

The Daily Freeman and Kingston Times wrote articles about the forum and NYSUT also published a write-up on their website.

Kingston Times article – Dissatisfaction with Cuomo common bond among local educators

Daily Freeman article – Forum participants say NY Gov. Cuomo hurting schools

NYSUT article – Ulster unites to demand fair funding and relief from testing

Video of the entire forum can be viewed here as well as videos of some of the individual segments.

 

If you would like an opportunity to talk further about high-stakes testing, plan to attend the upcoming Demystifying Testing forum hosted by Kingston Action For Education and NYS Allies for Public Education on March 16, 2015.

Everything you wanted to know about "the tests" hosted by Kingston Action For Education (KAFE)
Everything you wanted to know about “the tests” hosted by Kingston Action For Education (KAFE)

Jia Lee’s call to action: Let all teachers be “Teachers of Conscience”

Jia Lee, a special education teacher at the Earth School in NYC, testified at the Senate Education Committee hearing on January 21, 2015. During her testimony, she not only explained why standardized tests are harmful to students, but also why she is refusing to administer the tests. Her testimony was a national call to action encouraging teachers to refuse to give harmful standardized tests to their students. – Living in Dialogue Jia Lee’s Call to Action: Let All Teachers Be “Teachers of Conscience”

Jia Lee has words of wisdom as well as hope for both parents and teachers. Please read her interview with Anthony Cody of Living in Dialogue.

Jia was testifying because the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee (HELP) is considering legislation to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) which was created by President Johnson and was reauthorized most recently under No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  Read more about the legislation being considered here.  Read Jia Lee’s testimony before the Senate Education Committee here and watch this six-minute documentary which captures her testimony and a number of questions that we need to think about as a nation.

Jia Lee: The spirit of the President Lyndon B. Johnson’s ESEA never included this kind of expenditure of resources on unproven testing and accountability measures. That is why NCLB has been a failure to our students and schools.

Whatever the outcome, I hope it spurs a real dialogue between elected officials and the general public, because in order to fix this, we need to go back to a time before public education budgets were viewed as a source of profit for testing and education corporations. Those who have a direct interest, parents, educators and community members must be at the forefront in the decision making process. Decisions on assessments and evaluations should be made at the local level. Stakes must be removed so that the focus can be put back to programs that improve the living conditions of all of our families, at a time when over 50% are living in poverty.

Read the NYSUT refusal/opt-out fact sheet that Jia discusses here.

Jia Lee: As parents engage in their right to opt their children out of high stakes testing, it gives teachers, like me, the sense that there is no greater consequence that what will happen if we don’t speak up and take a stand. No one but us can protect our profession, and collectively with parents, students, administrators, we can protect public education.

For information on how to refuse the state tests this April for your student(s), visit NYS Allies For Public Education or Stop Common Core in New York State.

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

 

 

The Academic Lifecycle of a ‘Non-Proficient’ Student

Students can not be retained in a grade just because they failed the state test in New York but the feelings and implications of ‘failure’ can be just as intense as what Kathleen Jasper reports from her experiences as an educator and now an advocate speaking against high stakes testing in Florida.

kid-math

I have to warn you though that her description of the Academic Lifecycle of a “Non-Proficient Student” might make you cry.  Please read it anyways.

Unfortunately there are many students in New York, like George in the article, who will not receive that all important ticket to employment (a diploma) due to the new Common Core Regents and the associated graduation requirement changes being put in place by the Board of Regents.  New York State parent Christine Zirkelbach has been reporting on special education graduation issues as well as Common Core for the last year.  She tackles the Regents Pathway Plan here.

New York State is the only state that requires 5 high stakes exams in order to earn any type of diploma.  Up until graduation year 2014, students were required to take a Regents in Math, Science, English Language Arts, US History and Global History & Geography.  Special Ed students had a safety net called the RCTs, or Regents Competency Tests.

For graduation year 2015, the RCT option is removed.

The Math and ELA regents are now “Common Core aligned”, and are written to be vocabulary tests.  The cut score for the first Algebra 1 Regents was set to a 33, out of 100.

The IEP diploma was removed.

….

Tisch dismissed the IEP diploma as “nothing”.

I would point out to Tisch that it was better then a CDOS which actually is nothing, as no one recognizes it as a graduation credential and you cannot get a job or go to college with it.

The Regents Pathways option might help some students who can’t pass one of the 5 Regents exams eventually but Christine points out that it might be a little bit of a stretch to expect it to be helpful to students graduating in June 2015 when this test that they ‘can’ take hasn’t even been designed yet.

As Kathleen Jasper says “Oppression comes in all shapes and sizes.  In American public schools it comes in the form of high-stakes tests.”

Meetings and events for KCSD parents this week – February 1, 2015

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

  • Miller PTO meeting – Tuesday February 3, 2015 6pm
  • KCSD Board of Education meeting – Wednesday February 4, 2015 public comment generally begins at 7pm Cioni Building
  • District Wide Parents’ Council (DWPC) monthly meeting – Thursday February 5, 2015 9:30am Cioni Building CANCELLED due to 2-hour delay – Rescheduled for Feb 12
  • Board of Education Policy Committee meeting – Friday February 6, 2015 9am Cioni Building

Next week:

IEPflyer Feb 11 2015Reclaiming Public Education Bennett PTA

Save the Date:

  • Bailey Middle School play “Legally Blonde” February 20 and 21, 2015 7pm
  • Miller 7-8 grade Band, Chorus and Orchestra Pops Concert February 24, 2015 6:30pm
  • KHS Choral Pops Concert February 26, 2015 7pm at Kingston High School

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

parentmeeting

 

 

Meetings and events for KCSD Parents this week – January 26, 2015

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

  • Regents Week – January 26-29, 2015 – no regular classes for KHS students – exam schedule and KHS bus schedule available here
  • KHS Parents Association (KHS PA) meeting – Tuesday January 27, 2015 6:30pm at KHS room 107
  • Community Budget Forum hosted by KCSD – Thursday January 29, 2015 6pm Cioni Building – details here
  • Friday January 30, 2015 – regular school day for all students at KHS

Next week:

  • KCSD Board of Education meeting – Wednesday February 4, 2015 public comment generally begins at 7pm Cioni Building
  • District Wide Parents’ Council (DWPC) monthly meeting – Thursday February 5, 2015 9:30am Cioni Building
  • 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
  • Presidents’ Day weekend – No School – February 13-16, 2015

 

If you know of an event/meeting that should be added to this list, send me a message so I can update the list.  Also send me a message or call me if you find this sort of list helpful and you would like to see it be a weekly feature on Jolyn’s Education Corner.

parentmeeting

 

 

Meetings and events for KCSD Parents this week – November 17, 2014

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

  • Autism Parent Support Group – Tuesday November 18 6:30pm Chambers
  • Ulster County Legislature Session – Tuesday November 18 7pm – 6th floor County Office Building – discussion/vote on Resolution 350 supporting repeal of Common Core
  • Board of Education Meeting – Wednesday November 19 7pm JFK – agenda here
  • Budget Forum – Thursday November 20 6pm Cioni
  • Financial Aid Night – Thursday November 20 6pm KHS auditorium
  • Parent Education Night – KCSD Curriculum Changes (grades K-8) – Monday November 24 6:30-8pm Miller

There are a number of PTO/PTA meetings this week as well as special events for parents in many of the elementary schools in celebration of American Education week.  Check the district calendar or your school calendar for specific dates.

The first KCSD concert of the season is tonight (Tuesday November 18), a Pops Concert at KHS (click here) and the full winter concert schedule is available here.  Miller Middle School is performing Hairspray Jr. this weekend – click here for times and ticket information.

If you know of an event/meeting that should be added to this list, send me a message so I can update the list.  Also send me a message or call me if you find this sort of list helpful and you would like to see it be a weekly feature on Jolyn’s Education Corner.

parentmeeting

 

 

Special Education Lingo

The world of ‘education’ has its own language and if you are the parent of a special education student, there are even more terms to try and understand due to the many additional laws that come into play.

As I have been reading about special education recently, this website Understood has come up a number of times and this article has a description of five very important legal passages.  Check out the information about:  free and appropriate public education, child find, least restrictive environment, procedural safeguards and freedom from exclusion and discrimination.

Also if you are a special education parent and use facebook, be sure to check out the Kingston Special Education Parent Group facebook page.

Not job to toughen children