CURMUDGUCATION repost: The Test-Centered School

A grumpy old teacher trying to keep up the good classroom fight in the new age of reformy stuff.

Source: CURMUDGUCATION: The Test-Centered School


The Test-Centered School

Posted: 09 Jan 2016 08:44 AM PST

While politicians and policy-makers have made mouth noises about the amount of time spent on the Big Standardized Test and the prep therefor, those elements only scratch the surface of how test-and-punish policy has messed with American schools.

At various times in ed history we have talked about teacher-centered schools, community-centered schools, and student-centered schools. What we have seen over the past decade is the rise of the test-centered school.

In the test-centered school, regardless of what its mission or vision statement may say, test results are the guiding force.

In the test-centered school, there are remediation courses, but these are not remedial courses in the classic sense of trying to help students who are behind in their comprehension of content. These are test prep courses, in which students’ time and attention is devoted to …

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State superintendent calls on Detroit teachers to end “sickout” protests | from Michigan Radio

Michigan’s education chief is urging teachers in the state’s largest district to end a recent series of “sickout” protests. 


“Nicole Conaway, a sickout organizer and high school teacher at East English Village Preparatory Academy on Detroit’s East Side, says she does not expect the protests to stop now.

‘If there wasn’t these actions, (Whiston) wouldn’t be holding that meeting. So that’s why we have to continue these actions,’ said Conaway.

‘This is what’s required to have some direct democracy, and we’re not stopping until we have a full victory – and that would be the full restoration of Detroit Public Schools to local control.’”

Full report here: State superintendent calls on Detroit teachers to end “sickout” protests | Michigan Radio

Obama And The Conspiracy To Disarm America: The Washington Post Weighs In And Gets It Wrong.

From mikethegunguy’s blog

So for the very first time in the lifetime of everyone who is alive today, a President devoted an entire hour of prime-time media to a discussion about gun violence. And it was a discussion, I might add, that was largely shaped by a series of questions which, vetted or not, were asked by members of the audience at the Town Hall who weren’t particularly in favor of any of the President’s gun-control ideas.  Which was the whole point of this event, namely, to show the average American that Obama simply wants to have a sensible conversation about guns.

bomber              And in that regard, the President knew his stuff and spelled it out clearly and effortlessly.  He knew the difference between gun ownership and concealed-carry (the former regulated at the Federal level; the latter regulated by the states).  He knew and didn’t disagree with the notion that people wanted to own guns for self-defense.  He knew the difference between public and private sales.  In fact, I didn’t hear him make one, single statement during the entire event that couldn’t be supported by facts.

The moment that the event ended, of course, the ‘other side’ was rearing to go, withcomments such as “law-abiding gun owners don’t trust Obama,” and Obama as “bully” flying through right-wing channels.  Not that any of the pro-gun, anti-Obama rhetoric was unexpected, because that’s what the digital news and political commentary environment is all about.  But what provoked the greatest amount of attention on both sides of the political spectrum was the discussion at the end of the event when the President derisively dismissed the idea of gun confiscation as a ‘conspiracy theory’ that had no basis in reality or truth.

Now here is where Obama was treading on a landscape that represents Gun Nation’s most sacred cow.  This notion that any kind of gun control is a harbinger of gun confiscation has gotten to the point that the NRA, for example, uses the phrases ‘2ndAmendment’ and ‘disarming America’ interchangeably; i.e., if you don’t believe in the former, the latter will surely occur.  And this has become the degree to which any attempt to talk about gun violence is debased insofar as any gun-control law by definition reduces protections afforded by the 2nd Amendment, which raises the possibility that you might lose your guns.

Now I don’t care and obviously Obama doesn’t care either if…. (follow the link below for the rest of the post)…

Source: Obama And The Conspiracy To Disarm America: The Washington Post Weighs In And Gets It Wrong.

An Open Letter to Darnell Earley from 4th Grade DPS Teacher, Pam Namyslowski

Mr. Earley,
I have been a teacher in Detroit Public Schools for 24 years. I feel the need to respond to some of the comments you made during your press conference this week.
You described the actions of protesting teachers as “unethical”. I’m curious, then, how you would characterize the learning conditions of the children of Detroit Public Schools that have existed for years.
These deplorable learning conditions happen to also be the teachers’ working conditions.
We deal with unsafe environments – both in the neighborhoods surrounding our schools and often within the schools themselves. Unlike you, students and teachers do not have a driver and security guards.
Students who travel to and from school pass numerous abandoned, dangerous buildings and have been robbed, assaulted, and raped. Teachers have been victims of violent crimes and have had their vehicles and personal property damaged and/or stolen, sometimes repeatedly. They suffer verbal abuse and some have been assaulted by angry students or parents.
Many schools have numerous plumbing problems in the lavatories, drinking fountains, and sinks. Many outdated school buildings are crumbling – roofs, floors, windows, doors, and locks that are broken or in desperate need of repair.
Far too many classrooms are overcrowded, creating conditions that are not even safe, let alone conducive to learning. I’m wondering where the concern and outrage over that is? In the past decade, teachers have lent the district almost $10,000 that we now fear we may never get back.
We have taken a 10% paycut in a salary that was already significantly lower than surrounding districts.
You called upon the mayor, the city council, the clergy of Detroit to “be the voice of the children.” Mr. Earley, rest assured there is no one in this city, other than the parents, who care more about the education, happiness, and well being of the students of Detroit Public Schools, than we teachers do.
We ARE their voice. We are on the front line, working side by side with them every day, trying our best to overcome numerous obstacles. In the winter, we often work in freezing rooms with our coats on with them. In the summertime , we survive with them in stifling heat and humidity in temperatures that no one should have to work in.
We wipe their tears and listen when they are upset. We send food home with them.
We encourage them to persevere and to be hopeful about their futures. We celebrate their successes. We comfort them when they experience loss and tragedy.
We give up time with our own children to support our students, who we also consider our children.
We spend our own money to buy not only learning materials, but things such as uniforms, hand soap, sanitizer, and Kleenex.
You accuse us of drowning out the voices of our students. You stated we are “using students as pawns to advance a political position.” You have it backwards.
The children of Detroit HAVE been used as pawns. Their voices have indeed been drowned out. But make no mistake, this has not been done by the teachers. Educational decisions are now being made by politicians. Schools are being run like businesses.
We have been vilified by these politicians.
We have been made accountable for things we have no control over.
We have been forced to administer numerous developmentally inappropriate tests to our students and then we and our students are judged by the meaningless scores. We have watched the debt increase to ridiculous, unsustainable levels under state appointed emergency managers, while the conditions we teach in have deteriorated alarmingly.
We have been set up to fail in every way. The successes that happen in classrooms every day, both academic and emotional, largely go unseen, and most cannot be measured or displayed on a data wall.
We, as teachers, know our students and what they need. It is heartbreaking to see that our students don’t have what they need and certainly not what they deserve.
The recent action of teachers is not an attempt to drown out the voices of the students. It is an attempt to finally make their voices heard.
Pam Namyslowski
4th Grade Teacher
Mann Elementary School

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