NYS Parents Fight to Reclaim Student Education from Excessive Testing and Data Collection

Please see the exciting press release below. Here at DEY we are happy to help spread this news from  New York!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  September 17, 2014

More information contact:

Eric Mihelbergel (716) 553-1123; nys.allies@gmail.com

Jeanette Deutermann (516) 902-9228; nysallies@gmail.com

NYS Allies for Public Education (NYSAPE) – www.nysape.org

 

NYS Parents Fight to Reclaim Student Education from Excessive Testing and Data Collection:

250,000 High-Stakes Test Boycotts Planned Statewide

Parents throughout the Empire State demand valuable student classroom learning time be returned to their children and that elected state and federal representatives rein in Education Departments obsessed with vast expansion of testing and unauthorized data collection.  New York parents have had enough and declare “No More!”

“In 2014 roughly 60,000 parents boycotted NYS testing.  We believe strongly in appropriate assessment of our children, but the high-stakes nature of testing and unauthorized data collection must stop.  Our children are subjected to a one-size-fits-all system that focuses more on test scores and data collection than on student learning and overall growth.  Parents are committed to a plan for 250,000 students to boycott NYS tests,” says Eric Mihelbergel, Erie County Public School parent and founding member of NYSAPE.

Accelerating dramatically over the past five years, public education is being stripped of quality student-centered learning in order to devote excessive time, money and focus on high-stakes tests that feed corporate and political interests.

NYS parents demand that U.S. Congress, New York State Legislators, and President Obama act immediately to do the following:

  1. Roll-Back Federal/State Annual Testing Requirements from 9 Hours to 3 Hours for Grades 3-8:  Evaluation of a third-grader’s test taking ability can readily be done with 90 minutes of tests in English and Math.  Requiring more testing is simply a mandate to drive profits for technology and data storage companies.
  2. Pass Student Data Privacy Legislation that Requires Parental Consent:  If elite private schools do not educate children through speculative collection of large volumes of student profile data into statewide and national databases shared with multiple government agencies, public school parents don’t want it either.
  3. Remove Student Test Scores From Teacher Evaluations:  There is no evidence that massive student testing and data collection does anything to improve student learning.  Student-score based teacher evaluations are merely a flawed attempt to make shoddy firing practices stand up in court while meaningful student learning time is discarded.
  4. Stop Assaulting Students with Special Needs:  The U.S. Department of Education must be put in its rightful place and stop bullying states into educational practices that are inflexible and do not allow states to address the needs of Special Education students in an appropriate and challenging way meeting their individual needs.
  5. Cease and Desist from All Punitive Actions Against Parent Test Refusals:  Schools should not be punished for supporting the fundamental right of parents to support their child’s education.

“Parent permissions slips are required for a school trip to the police station next door, yet the government collects personal data on children and shares it with private companies and other government agencies without a parent’s knowledge or sign off?  Collection of the most personal student data in national and statewide databases without Parental Consent is an affront to all Americans and our liberty.  Our representatives in Congress need to stand up for parents and strike back against government agencies far too cozy with business interests and profiteers,”   said Lisa Rudley, Westchester County public school parent and founding member of NYSAPE.

“NYS Commissioner of Education John King’s failure to comply with the recent NYS privacy legislation passed in April is unacceptable. In August, NYSAPE along with Class Size Matters sent a letter (http://www.nysape.org/letter-to-king-and-regents-nysed-failed-to-implement-state-law.html) to the Commissioner, the Board of Regents, and elected officials demanding that the New York State Education Department comply with the law. John King’s casual and dismissive attitude towards the law in NY only reinforces the need for strict parental consent legislation,” said Anna Shah, Dutchess County public school parent.

“Parent commitment to restoring quality education in our schools by removing the high-stakes nature of testing is never ending,” says Jeanette Deutermann, Nassau County public school parent and founder of Long Island Opt Out. “We won’t stop until our children’s education system returns to a focus on learning rather than test scores and data collection, and we have a plan to accomplish this.”

On its website, NYSAPE details actions that parents everywhere can participate in to help reach 250,000 boycotts.  These include:  1. Educating the public through continuous informational forums across New York State.  2. Coordinating regional parent liaisons in each school district across the state to lead parents in boycotts in that district.  3. Spreading the word through flyers, PTA groups, lawn signs, bumper stickers, book covers, and local events.

Chris Cerrone, Erie County public school parent, middle school educator, and Springville-Griffith Institute CSD Board Member, says, “We intend to reach out to both state and federal legislators through a tactical campaign.  While we already have many legislators supporting us, we have a plan to help parents across the New York State reach out to legislators specifically asking for their assistance in removing the destructive high-stakes nature of testing from our classrooms.  As state and federal legislators see a substantial increase in test refusals, they will be forced to act or be voted out.”

NYS Allies for Public Education consists of over 50 parent and educator advocacy groups across New York State.  More details about our education positions and advocacy can be found at www.nysape.org.

 

Are the Common Core State Standards failing our kids?

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Please read and share DEY’s feature article, Are the Common Core State Standards failing our kids? in the current issue of Boston Parent’s Paper.

Here is a snippet of our article – which outlines our concerns as well as action steps that parents can take at home and at school:

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Are the Common Core State Standards failing our kids?

by Geralyn McLaughlin, Diane Levin & Nancy Carlsson-Paige

If you are the parent of a young child, chances are you have seen firsthand that kindergarten has changed dramatically since you were young. There has been a well-documented, though highly controversial, push-down of academics into the earlier years. If your child is just now entering school, you may not have experienced this change – though you may have heard much debate about the Common Core State Standards.

Even comedian Louis C.K. added his ideas to the debate when he tweeted, “My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and Common Core!”

Our organization, Defending the Early Years, is deeply concerned about the current direction of early education in the United States. We hear stories all the time from teachers who are struggling to balance the reform mandates with what they know is best for young children. One teacher told us with regret, “I am being forced to shove academics down the throats of 4-, 5- and 6-year-old children. I used to be proud of my teaching – now I feel that I am being forced to do wrong by my students every day.”

Click here to read the full article on the Boston Parents Paper website.

Our article noted some local parent actions that are happening – and we are wondering what actions parents have been taking in your community. We would love to be able to pitch the article to other Parents Papers around the country – with your local examples included. Leave a comment here or contact us at deydirector@gmail.com if you have thoughts about this and want to help us spread the word through the Parents Paper in your community. Thanks!

Peter Gray: The Decline of Play and the Rise of Mental Disorders

GrayScreenshotWe encourage you to take 15 minutes to view this powerful Tedx talk from Dr. Peter Gray. “Dr. Peter Gray compellingly brings attention to the reality that over the past 60 years in the United States there has been a gradual but, overall dramatic decline in children’s freedom to play with other children, without adult direction. Over this same period, there has been a gradual but overall dramatic increase in anxiety, depression, feelings of helplessness, suicide, and narcissism in children and adolescents. Based on his own and others’ research, Dr. Gray documents why free play is essential for children’s healthy social and emotional development and outlines steps through which we can bring free play back to children’s lives.” Be sure to stick through to the end where he offers excellent advice on how to counteract the current trend, including: “We need to be brave enough to stand up against the continuous clamor for more schooling.”

DEY’s Nancy Carlsson-Paige interviewed: Common Core is it ‘Developmentally Inappropriate’?

Yesterday, North Carolina’s public radio station WUNC aired a story by reporter Reema Khrais. In the story Common Core is it ‘Developmentally Inappropriate’? Khrais takes time to dig a little deeper into this current debate.  Khrais interviewed DEY’s Nancy Carlsson-Paige, along with child development expert Sam Meisels and Jere Confrey, a math education professor at NC State who worked on the math Common Core State Standards. Here is a snippet:

“You wouldn’t want to require children to count to 100, which is what one of the standards does, it’s actually ridiculous,” says Nancy Carlsson-Paige, an early education expert at Lesley University.

Carlsson-Paige is referring to a kindergarten math standard requiring children to count to 100 by ones and tens. She says it’s a good example of how the standards for young children are developmentally inappropriate. 

“Counting is something you could memorize. You could just say names, right? But it doesn’t mean you understand numbers,” she says.

Carlsson-Paige argues that some of the standards in the early grades are just too rigid.

“You could say almost silly in the sense that they’re de-contextualized from children and even from understanding child development.”

Without that understanding, she says kids are expected to know things they simply aren’t ready for, which can make them feel “confused, scared or stupid.”

You can hear the whole story on WUNC’s website.  We are thankful to Khrais for digging deeper than other reporters have about the ideas behind the stance that the Common Core State Standards are inappropriate for young children. However there is much more to the debate than can be captured in five minutes. Here are some links to further resources on the subject from DEY’s blog:

Common Core Pushes Abstract Topics Too Early

Common Core and Kindergarten Boys

6 Reasons to Reject the Common Core State Standards for K- Grade 3

And on a related note:

A tough critique of Common Core

Early Learning: This is Not a Test – printed in today’s NY Times!

 

 

 

Common Core Pushes Abstract Topics Too Early

Many thanks from DEY to William Crain for publicly saying what needs to be said!

William Crain, author of Reclaiming Childhood: Letting Children Be Children in Our Achievement-Oriented SocietyProfessor of Psychology at The City College of New York and DEY National Advisory Board Member, wrote the following letter to the Poughkeepsie Journal in New York:

Letter in the Poughkeepsie Journal, June 21, 2014

“Common Core Pushes Abstract Topics Too Early”

The Common Core sets its sights on children’s future needs.  Specifically, it wants to ensure that all children are “college- and workforce-ready.”  This goal seems worthwhile, but the Common Core also needs to consider the ways in which children grow and develop.

Seeing that children will need “high order” conceptual thinking in college and the workplace, the Common Core introduces such thinking early on.   For example, it introduces mathematical place value, an abstract topic, in kindergarten and the first grade. But before the age of 7 or so, children’s minds aren’t inclined toward such conceptual matters. Young children are more naturally motivated to develop their powers through the arts, play, and the exploration of nature.  They are enthusiastic about these activities, which enable them to develop their imaginations and sense of wonder.

Our educational system needs to resist the impulse to take up young children’s time with abstract material that is beyond their years.  Such instruction is unlikely to be effective, and it can cause children to dislike school and learning. Instead, educational policymakers need to pay greater attention to the capacities that children themselves are ready and eager to develop at their present stages of development.

William Crain

Professor of Psychology, The City College of New York

Poughquag, NY

Advocating for Play at School and at Home

YC0514_CoverIn the current edition of Young Child, published by NAEYC, DEY’s Diane E. Levin offers the following advice to parents:

Memo to: All Families of Young Children

From: Diane E. Levin

Date: May 2014

Subject: Advocating for Play at School and at Home

Play is essential for children’s optimal development and learning.  Through play, children use what they already know to help them figure out new things, see how they work, and master skills.  As they do this, children add new social, emotional, and intellectual knowledge and skills to what they already know.  They experience the satisfaction that comes from working things out and solving problems on their own.  They think and sometimes say out loud, “I can do it!”  This is the kind of learning through play that prepares children to feel confident in themselves as learners who see new information and ideas as interesting problems to be solved.

However, all play is not the same and today several forces can endanger quality play.  First, many of today’s toys are linked to what children see in movies and on television.  These media experiences channel children into imitating what they see on screens instead of creating their own play.  Second, the use of electronic media takes young children away from play and can make their child-created play seem boring.  Finally, growing pressure to teach academic skills at younger and younger ages takes time and resources away from the quality, teacher-facilitated play that young children need in preschool and kindergarten.

I encourage you to learn about the ways child-created active play supports learning and to advocate for play and encourage it at home.  Play will give your children a foundation for positive social and emotional health as well as later academic success in school.

ParentsAdvocatingForPlay.YoungCh.Levin- (2)

 

 

 

Common Core and Kindergarten Boys

The Gesell Institute of Child Development is known as the oldest voice in child development on our country and they are deeply concerned about the Common Core’s affect on young children. In fact, this week the Executive Director Marcy Guddemi wrote specifically about young boys:

“Kindergarten is such an important time in the academic career of the child.  In Kindergarten, children first learn what school is all about.  School requires new rules, new expectations, new routines, new materials, and much more independence.  The ratio of adults to children has changed.  The number of children in the classroom has also changed.  A mother told me just recently that her Kindergarten child was in a room with 31 children and one teacher.  Kindergarten, however, teaches the skills which are the foundation for future academic learning.  Kindergarten also shapes the attitude that a child has about school and about him/herself as a learner.

So, with mounting new evidence that girls differ from boys both developmentally and academically at Kindergarten entrance, the fact that the chronological age range of children entering Kindergarten can be anywhere from 4 ½ years to 6, and with what we know about how children learn and development, the Kindergarten Common Core State Standards need to be reexamined—not only or especially for boys but for all children.  Achievable standards empower students and teachers, but developmentally inappropriate ones discriminate against and destroy the social and emotional development of Kindergarten students.”

Read the full post here.

photo 2For parents who are trying to understand what is happening with the Common Core State Standards in early childhood classrooms across the country, we have created What Parents Need to Know (a version of the longer document, Common 6 Reasons to Reject the Common Core for K – Grade 3 and 6 Principles to Guide Policy). We have updated our new DEY Mobilizing Kit to include What Parents Need to Know. Please read and share!