Here is another excellent example of a teacher pushing back against corporate ed reform! Please check out the blog “Peg with Pen” – written by Peg Robinson, an early childhood teacher and activist in Colorado. In her post Do Not Go for the GOLD (Teaching Strategies GOLD) for Early Childhood Classrooms, Peg expertly describes all the problems around this newly-mandated assessment system: the thousands of minute data points she is required to enter in to the system; the uploading of personal information on each child that has the potential of being shared; the time and cost; the way GOLD transforms the teacher into a data manager; and more. Here are a few snippets, to get you started (and I urge you to read the post in its entirety):
Have you heard about the “National Day of Action to Reclaim the Promise of Public Education” on December 9th? Here in Boston, there will be a town hall meeting hosted by students, families, educators, labor and community members. This is part of a national event and is evidence of the growing voice of resistance to the current trends of corporate-driven education reform. From the press release:
“On December 9th parents, students, educators and community leaders across the country will raise their hands and demand more for America’s children. On the National Day of Action: Raise Your Hand for our Schools and our Solutions communities will demand that those who know students best devise and implement community-driven solutions to tackle the opportunity gaps in American education.
The day of action is an outgrowth of ongoing collaboration among the National Education Association, the American Federation of Teachers, and several key community partners to mobilize support for public education, pushing back against the corporate takeover of our public schools and lifting up the voices of practitioners and communities about what is best for our students.
Together, the groups have developed “The Principles that Unite Us” ( PDF, 898 KB, 4 pgs.)—a common vision for public education. It stands in sharp contrast to the corporate agenda for public schools, market driven reform that attempts to impose a system of winners and losers. More than 100 community groups and unions ( PDF, 23 KB, 1 pg.) have already endorsed the principles.
The National Day of Action—coordinated public actions organized by community and union partners in cities across the country— will be followed by multicity and multistate campaigns and larger actions in the spring.”
On the Education Votes website, there is a toolkit for organizing, and many other resources. This day of action is just a week away – and an excellent chance to join in local actions that are connected to a national movement. Education Votes says:
- We are saying YES to teaching kids to be critical thinkers; NO to teaching them to fill bubble tests.
- We are saying YES to reducing class sizes; NO to cutting school budgets and allowing kids to fall through the cracks.
- We are saying YES to investing in our children’s future; NO to corporate tax breaks and underfunded schools.
- We are saying YES to ensuring every child has a quality teacher; NO to replacing teachers with computer screens and ESPs with private companies.
Find out how you can get involved – and for more information about the Day of Action check out Education Votes.
In New York City parents made this compelling and heart-felt video to tell Mayor-Elect Bill de Balsio their ideas about education and the choosing of the new school chancellor.
Will de Blasio listen?
Back now from Washington, DC and beginning to reflect on all that happened. Here are just a few initial thoughts — and more soon.
There were some encouraging indicators. Quite exciting was the turnout for DEY Senior Adviser Diane Levin’s featured session Beyond Remote-Controlled Childhood: Teaching Young Children in the Media Age. The massive room was filled – the estimate was at least 1,000 people in attendance. Diane explained the many ways in which young children are affected by popular culture and exposure to media. She shared successful strategies for working with children and families. In her speech Diane called for creating schools that take into account who today’s children are – and to much applause she questioned current misguided school reform.
Many thanks to Community Playthings for sponsoring this important session! If you missed the session and want to know more, Diane’s book is available through the NAEYC online bookstore.
Many thanks also to the early childhood teacher activists who joined us at our session Finding Your Voice: Becoming A Teacher Activist, and for our evening meeting at The Henley Park Hotel. You shared your stories and your ideas – and we learned as much from you as you (hopefully!) learned from us. It was encouraging to finally meet many of you in person, after having met only online until now. DEY will be working to follow up on the ideas shared, and so please stay tuned.
In the opening session it was heartening to hear NAEYC’s new executive director Rhian Evans Allvin encourage attendees to go out and vote. Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Green Party…whatever your political inclination is: vote! Voting is one way for early childhood educators to use their voices. As this new bill, the Strong Start for America’s Children Act gains traction, it will be our voices that help to keep what is best for children at the center.
Finally, although I wasn’t able to attend the session, I heard great things about a reflection on advocacy from folks who have been working for high-quality early childhood education for decades – folks like Joan Lombardi and Marcy Whitebook.
Those are a few initial reflections…more will be forthcoming. Please feel free to add your own reflections and/or questions…
Friday evening: DEY will be hosting a gathering for teacher-activists 6:00 – 7:30 pm at the Henley Park Hotel, 926 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC – just one block from the convention center. See flier here. Please RSVP to email@example.com.
In the exhibit hall: Booth #935 with Hugh Hanley Circle of Song and TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment). Stop by and introduce yourself. Check out DEY materials, TRUCE materials, and with great songs for young children from our dear friend Hugh Hanley!
The momentum of resistance to the Common Core State Standards and high-stakes testing is growing, as we highlighted in a recent DEY blog post. We urge you to share Early Learning: This is Not a Test far and wide as resistance continues to build.
Earlier this week DEY’s Senior Adviser Diane Levin published the piece Media Literacy for Young Children: Essential for School Success in Today’s World in her education blog at the Huffington Post. Levin describes why she testified before the Massachusetts Legislature’s House-Senate Joint Committee on Education in favor of media education for all children in the state. Levin has been looking closely for decades at media’s impact on children’s lives. Her writings and research on the topic are extensive. Her new book Beyond Remote Controlled Childhood: Teaching Young Children in the Media Age (NAEYC, 2013) is a much-needed resource for teachers who are seeking ways to support children (and families) whose lives and learning have been impacted by today’s media-saturated world.
This issue speaks directly to DEY’s concerns about the loss of play as well as the increase in scripted curricula and testing in early childhood classrooms. Levin writes:
“If passed, Massachusetts will become the first state in the country with the wisdom and foresight to remove the blinders that most of today’s policymakers and educators are wearing as they fail to take into account the impact of media and technology on children’s optimal development and learning in their more and more narrowly-scripted educational mandates in schools.”
“Technology is affecting most aspects of children’s lives. I have used the term Remote-Controlled Childhood to capture the fact that more and more of children’s time, ideas and behavior are controlled and conditioned by what they see and do on screens–by following programs created by someone else. The more educators understand and work to counteract the resulting remote-controlled learning and behavior, the more successful they will be at promoting optimal learning in children.”