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OP-ED | Alert! We are Under Attack! This is Not a Test

by | Feb 26, 2015 7:26pm () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Education, Opinion, State Capitol, East Hampton, Glastonbury

Our society accepts the sad fact that in our free-market democracy, money influences politicians.

Money-hungry corporations, which have recently discovered the untapped and unending resource called public education, know this. They have worked the political system to get what they want – Education Reform – with little concern for the collateral damage to our children and our country’s future. This “fracking” of our educational system for profit is criminal!

In Connecticut, education reform started in 2010 with the acceptance of the Common Core State Standards. As a stand-alone concept, the CCSS, which aims to help standardize national K-12 benchmarks in math and English, has some merit, but, tragically, it masks a much darker purpose, which is to systematically destabilize, dehumanize, and vilify public education. The Common Core is the equivalent of a Trojan horse packed with SBAC cyber attack testing, accountability bombs for teachers and public schools. The coup de grace is the continuing privatization of education by the expansion of charter schools predestined to “rebuild” in the wake of the destruction.

Fortunately, we can counter this surprise attack because parents are free from legislative education reform mandates and can write a simple letter to opt out their children, knowing very well that the U.S. Constitution also backs them. I see education from several lenses and so my reasons to opt out our children are many.

As Acting Chair of my town’s Board of Education:

• I see the economic costs of SBAC-associated state mandates for technology and materials while feeling the pain from budget proposals like Dan Malloy’s that simultaneously take money from public education and give it to charter schools.
• I see the high stakes “mandated” push for teachers and school administrators to focus more on student Common Core SBAC grades and less on the art of teaching. Legislative reforms are forcing schools to become a business and teachers to become simple collectors of student data. 
• I know the reason why the deadlines for adopting and integrating CCSS and associated testing have been so ridiculously short is because in a business, profits can’t wait. 
• As teachers do their best to build the plane while it is flying, our student passengers suffer. 

As a veteran teacher and current candidate for vice president of Connecticut Education Association:

• I share the disgust of other professionals at being forced to become test administrators for testing that is unproven, inappropriate, and which wreaks havoc for weeks on the learning environment and takes away valuable professional development time.
• I see that a major goal of the ed reform movement is to weaken our union from the inside by creating evaluation inequalities among teachers, and from the outside by eroding public confidence in our profession through commercialized propaganda. Unions are the backbone of the middle class.
• I see the test results as educationally irrelevant for students and unjustifiably punitive for teachers and their schools.

Most importantly as a concerned parent:

• I am concerned about the undeserved stress from being subjected to 7-plus hours of developmentally inappropriate testing – especially for my third-grade daughter. 
• I regret the learning that is lost to testing and test preparation.
• I realize the results have no effect on their educational career, class placement, or graduation requirements.
• I know that because corporations persuaded politicians to change FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) laws, my children’s privacy is jeopardized. Their personal information is now, for the first time in history, being sent to a third party to be graded and data mined for unknown future purposes.
• I reject the propaganda that the SBAC tests are somehow more mandatory than the CMT/CAPT tests.

I have no doubt that war has been declared against public education. Our family’s decision to “opt out” is our battle cry to say, “Get out.” Join us – and the many others who want these so-called reformists to retreat from our children’s schools – to oppose them and the Trojan horse they rode in on.

Sample letters can be downloaded at our campaign website.  Find the post titled “’Tis the Season to Opt-Out”

Scott A. Minnick, a teacher in Glastonbury and resident and Board of Ed member of East Hampton, is a candidate for Vice President of the Connecticut Education Association.

DISCLAIMER: The views, opinions, positions, or strategies expressed by the author are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, or positions of CTNewsJunkie.com.

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(7) Archived Comments

posted by: ocoandasoc | February 26, 2015  11:53pm

I am growing so weary of CEA propaganda. I wish they would spend just a fraction of the time they are currently wasting on demonizing anyone who even whispers the words “education reform” on coming up with ideas and innovations that might help to address the CT public education achievement gap which is the worst in the nation.

posted by: RogueReporterCT | February 27, 2015  1:26pm

RogueReporterCT

I am not a CEA member, or currently a member of any union. I work at a private sector job where we sell stuff to people for money. However, on education, I have been saying all this for the past year. I have done my homework, and I know that to call what is going on “fracking” of the educational system is in no way an exaggeration. BTW the “achievement” gap is a poverty gap and a living conditions gap, plain and simple. It CANNOT be fixed with gimmicks that target the schools, no matter how often gentlemen with pseudonyms that start with “o” and end with “c” repeat their hallowed phrases.

posted by: ocoandasoc | February 27, 2015  5:25pm

I don’t claim to have all the answers, Rogue.  But if my pseudonym was “Connecticut Education Association” I would feel it was my responsibility to develop some sort of plan that would let our public schools give a cost-effective education to inner-city kids and alter that plan as required to improve educational performance. But it is apparent that the CEA does NOT consider that to be their job. They are concerned about financial and political power, alternately passing the blame and telling us nothing is wrong, and unfairly criticizing any suggestions that they find remotely threatening.
There has never been a shortage of poor people to educate. A hundred years ago my ancestors came to this country. They were dirt poor and spoke no English. Yet they received a public school education that allowed them to rise socio-economically and propelled their children even further up the ladder to middle class status. Why can’t our public schools do the same today? Who is responsible for their failure to do so? Who can poor parents turn to for the ideas and innovations that might get our public education system moving in the right direction?  Is our society doomed to breeding a sub-culture with no hope or reasonable prospects of escaping poverty?
In my opinion (something I AM an expert on!) the CEA is more a part of the problem than the solution. As Bob Dylan once sang, “Get out of the road if you can’t lend a hand.”

posted by: Linda12 | February 27, 2015  5:47pm

Hey OC - please take care of the income gap, resource gap, opportunity gap, justice gap, housing gap, mental/dental gap and then we can work on the achievement gap…they are all related. Catch up Mr.

Thank you.

posted by: Politijoe | February 27, 2015  7:04pm

Politijoe

OC: I would once again, suggest you do your homework and refrain from the limited thinking that is customary in the conservative anti-rehtoric crowd. The march towards Charter schools began in the 80’s with the notion public schools were failing and radical efforts needed to be made. From this the seeds of anti-union and teacher bashing and the corporate style for-profit education in America were planted. Bush’s “No child left behind” and other initiatives that prioritize testing over learning with the ultimate outcome intended to privatize public education were borne.  I believe the conversation regarding public education has to include the issues of taxation and poverty. Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 says that while states and school districts do not have to provide the exact same resources to all schools, all students must have equal access to educational opportunity. The reality is a loss of federal revenues has forced states to cut back on aid to public education. At least 23 states have widespread cuts to pre-K and/or K-12 spending. More than half of all school districts have significantly cut back on the arts, drama and music programs for students, a third now charge for sports and extra circular activities and increasingly more schools are eliminating these programs altogether. Currently more than a 100 districts and rising have reduced the school week from five to four days. This can only be described as a systematic evisceration of publicly funded schools. Without adequate funding from sustainable and equal taxation policies the country loses an informed citizenry, which is the cornerstone of our democracy.

The elephant in the conservative room is that students in affluent, well-funded schools do very well academically. In contrast the outcomes of students in low-income, racially isolated, poorly funded schools is horrendous. This clearly indicates that the broader challenges facing our public education system today are not unions or teachers but poverty. Studies have shown that a white student and a minority student, both from affluent schools achieve equal outcomes; therefore race is not the predominant problem. In contrast when an affluent minority student is compared to a low-income white student the outcome gap is significant. Not surprising when studied nationally, some of the poorest-performing schools were in the poorest neighborhoods.

The Civil rights project identified family background as the most influential factor in student achievement. The results were only 11% of children from the bottom fifth of earners obtain a college degree while 80% of the top fifth of earners obtain one. Minority students account for apx 40% of high school students, but they constitute just a quarter of students taking AP courses and just 20% of enrollment in advanced math classes. Only 68% of black students attend a high school that even offers advanced math courses.

posted by: ocoandasoc | February 28, 2015  1:40am

Linda: Of course they are all related. But one school of thought says that solving the “education gap” is the first and most important step in solving the rest of the gaps. If we don’t start somewhere we will surely wind up nowhere.
Politijoe: I’m not a conservative and I have no idea what the “anti rehtoric crowd” is. I agree with the situations and problems you describe in the rest of your post. But you’ll have to explain to me what meaningful action the CEA is taking to solve or mitigate any of them. It appears to me that when they are not defending the status quo or blaming someone or something else they are sitting on the sidelines criticizing the efforts of anyone else who tries to make public education work more efficiently.

posted by: Politijoe | March 1, 2015  9:16am

Politijoe

Ocoandasoc: When I refer to the anti-rhetoric crowd Im referring to those who protect the status quo and oppose any government involvement in wealth concentration, poverty, taxes, health and education.

Having re-read your response, it appears to specifically address your disagreement with the CEA and does not support the myopic perspective of anti-D.O.E conservatives who advocate for privatization. Like you, I agree that poverty and taxes need to be part of the conversation regarding public education.

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