Diane Ravitch: Anti-Testing Movement Grows in NY Suburbs and Towns

by , under Professional Issues

We do not often repost entire articles.  However, this post written by Diane Ravitch hit extremely close to home.  Please consider visiting Diane’s Blog.  It contains a vast amount of information on educational issues.  Additionally, her new book will be available soon

Anti-Testing Movement Grows in NY Suburbs and Towns by Diane Ravich

The collapse of test scores in New York following the first tests of the Common Core standards is fueling the growth of the anti-testing movement. A huge protest took place in Port Jefferson Station on Long Island on Saturday.

Fifteen hundred people turned out to denounce the Common Core and the tests that labeled most children as “failures.” To get a turnout of this size on a Saturday in August in a small town signals big trouble for Common Core and its cheerleaders in the State Education Department.

Hero educator Dr. Joseph Rella  was one of the speakers.

Newsday, the most widely read newspaper on populous and politically powerful Long Island, published a vivid photograph of the rally (open the link) and wrote as follows: “Protesters carried signs and cheered as they waited to hear from Comsewogue Superintendent Joseph Rella, a vocal curriculum critic.

“All of us have been passengers on a plane being built in midair,” Rella said to the crowd. “Today, we are canceling our flight reservations.” “He urged the group to use social media to spread the word and demand that state legislators re-evaluate the potential effects of Common Core standards. “Stop it, fix it or scrap it,” Rella chanted with the crowd.”

A blogger noticed this great sign held by a child: “I should be blowing bubbles, not filling them in.”

Meanwhile, the Suffolk Times and Riverhead News-Review, the main newspaper for the North Fork of Long Island, ran a blistering editorial denouncing the Common Core and the tests, predicting that state officials would end up dropping them and admitting their error.

The victims of the Common Core, he warned, “will likely be the poorest among us.”

Michael White, editor of the Suffolk Times and Riverhead News-Review, understands that the engineers of the standards and tests are detached from reality.

He wrote: “Consider that many children in poverty-stricken areas will still be living in single-parent or no-parent households in our new, Common Core world. They still won’t be eating or sleeping properly. They won’t be getting proper medical attention for physical or emotional issues that interfere with school. They won’t be getting help with homework, or even having their homework checked at home. In fact, extra attention for such students will be increasingly funneled away from them, as the focus shifts to teaching to the Common Core assessments.

“For these kids, school’s simply getting harder, with no significant amount of funding set aside to provide them better access to school supplies, computers and internet access, or any plans to expand the school day or school year or bulk up after-school enrichment programs. With higher test failure rates, there’s also sure to be a huge spike in students in need of additional support through mandated programs such as academic intervention services. Where does that money come from?

“State officials keep arguing that we must adopt Common Core because America’s education system lags behind those of other industrialized nations. But they never acknowledge that much of the disparity is accounted for by the performance of students in poor and non-English-speaking immigrant communities, which aren’t as prevalent in more homogeneous nations like Finland and South Korea.”

White sagely concluded: “Locally, it was revealed by the state last week that for the 2012-13 year, 74.7 percent of Riverhead School District students in grades 3 through 8 failed to meet the state’s math proficiency standard and 73.8 percent failed to meet the ELA standard. “Those numbers will change very little moving forward (at least not after some initial curriculum adjustments). Here’s why. In Riverhead, scores will increase somewhat for wealthier students but will fall at about the same rate, with potentially disastrous results, for those who don’t have the same support systems at home. Those in the middle will break one way or the other. “When these disparate results between wealthier districts and the rest of the state become apparent — especially in New York City — the backtracking on these numbers-driven policies will begin.

“Yes, it’s my prediction Common Core will be reversed. But it’s also my hope. My fear is that so much money will be tied up in pricey books, testing materials and other increasingly entrenched funding sources for this initiative that the politicians and policymakers won’t ever budge. Meanwhile, our teachers will remain handcuffed and will continue teaching to tests, and more and more students who lack either a natural aptitude for learning or parental support will disengage from the classroom and the educational process in general.

“Eventually, we’ll be wondering how we slipped even further behind Finland and South Korea.”

Wow.

When suburban parents have the visionary leadership of men like Joseph Rella and Michael White, they will not fall for the lie that three-quarters of their children are failures. They will catch on: the kids did not fail. The tests were designed to label them as failures. Suburban parents will see this, rightly, as an assault on their children, not “reform.” And they will tell their elected officials to stop these crazy policies that hurt children.

This story was reposted