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Saturday, April 30, 2016

They are scared of... me?!


I am not scary...





Unless maybe if you mess with my kids (or anyone's).



Recently I connected with a fellow activist, parent, and teacher who became the focus of a Pearson presentation by the Chief Operating Officer of an unscrupulous organization, iNACOL, that is rather successfully trying to destroy public education. iNACOL is a member of the unethical group, ALEC, which is also successfully strangling our schools. What was the reason for the COO's condescending belittling?

This parent educated her local school board about the poor quality, blended learning products they were wasting tax payer dollars purchasing... and the school board listened. Watch the whole video below... you won't believe it. These profiteers sure get mad when parents make the facts known.





Heather Hicks, leader of our newest PAA chapter, PAA-Ocean County NJ, has just posted a devastating video showing how the chief operating officer of iNACOL (the International Association of K-12 Online Learning) gave a workshop at a Pearson conference focusing on her as the prime example of how parents must be managed so that they don’t get in the way of the blended learning steamroller. - See more at: http://parentsacrossamerica.org/blended-learning-bombshell-mom-inacol-target/#sthash.WT2O4NuM.dpuf

Heather Hicks, leader of our newest PAA chapter, PAA-Ocean County NJ, has just posted a devastating video showing how the chief operating officer of iNACOL (the International Association of K-12 Online Learning) gave a workshop at a Pearson conference focusing on her as the prime example of how parents must be managed so that they don’t get in the way of the blended learning steamroller. - See more at: http://parentsacrossamerica.org/blended-learning-bombshell-mom-inacol-target/#sthash.WT2O4NuM.dpuf
Heather Hicks, leader of our newest PAA chapter, PAA-Ocean County NJ, has just posted a devastating video showing how the chief operating officer of iNACOL (the International Association of K-12 Online Learning) gave a workshop at a Pearson conference focusing on her as the prime example of how parents must be managed so that they don’t get in the way of the blended learning steamroller. - See more at: http://parentsacrossamerica.org/blended-learning-bombshell-mom-inacol-target/#sthash.WT2O4NuM.dpuf
Parents Across America reports, "Heather Hicks, leader of our newest PAA chapter, PAA-Ocean County NJ, has just posted a devastating video showing how the chief operating officer of iNACOL (the International Association of K-12 Online Learning) gave a workshop at a Pearson conference focusing on her as the prime example of how parents must be managed so that they don’t get in the way of the blended learning steamroller."


And now I have learned that another ruthless organization, Education Reform Now, is apparently scared of me and a fellow parent activist in my community.

I subscribe to the listservs of a number of groups who disseminate inaccurate information regarding public education so I can keep an eye on their marketing spins. You can imagine my surprise when I clicked on an interactive map for my state and saw this:





What really caught my eye was the use of the word exploit. Maybe these education reformers don't know that opt out is a civil right in Pennsylvania under PA Code 4.4. Or maybe they are just doing what the general pubic doesn't realizelying. To exploit means to take advantage of, and PA parents have had the right to opt out of PSSAs long before ESSA became law.  

I clicked on the word exploit and saw this:

Wow,  it's fellow parent, Cheryl Masterman (right) and me.
I couldn't help but laugh out loud. The billionaire-funded Ed Reform Now is so scared of grassroots activists that they featured us?! Note their Board of Directors. All are in the finance field, none is an education expert.

After reading their What we do page, I had to admire their marketing finesse, but their lack of education knowledge is crystal clear. They focus publicly on the following, but their real focus is on making profits off of our public school tax dollars.

-Consumer Choice
-Resource Equity
-Student Motivation
-Fast-Track Advancement
-Higher Ed Affordability and Accountability

Below is a real world translation of their What we do list:
-Standardize teacher education, deprofessionalize the field, and cause a teacher shortage.
-Support the destruction of neighborhood schools.
-Take away local control of school boards and get their hands on our tax dollars.
-Sit our kids in front of screens for adaptive technology, blended learning and online learning, and tell us this makes them more motivated to learn.
-Use competency-based education to give our kids low level, skills-based learning. Students will be promoted by passing modules on adaptive technology and will not move on until they pass computerized tests. Students who do not pass will be left behind with younger children.
-Push middle class students into community colleges and standardize college with the same low quality ideas as they have for k-12. 


When the hedgefunders and venture capitalists are scared of parents, you know that we must be more powerful than we realize. After all, America is a democracy, even if our public education system is being stolen out from under us. 

It seems that the only way to save our schools (all of them), is for each of us to keep learning and to keep speaking out. I have a religious objection to the PA state tests because I have a moral and ethical objection to the destruction of public education. We must continue to educate our friends and neighbors, and fight to save our public schools.

In Memory of my Bubby, who didn't think I am scary at all.



Heather Hicks, leader of our newest PAA chapter, PAA-Ocean County NJ, has just posted a devastating video showing how the chief operating officer of iNACOL (the International Association of K-12 Online Learning) gave a workshop at a Pearson conference focusing on her as the prime example of how parents must be managed so that they don’t get in the way of the blended learning steamroller. - See more at: http://parentsacrossamerica.org/blended-learning-bombshell-mom-inacol-target/#sthash.WT2O4NuM.dpuf
Heather Hicks, leader of our newest PAA chapter, PAA-Ocean County NJ, has just posted a devastating video showing how the chief operating officer of iNACOL (the International Association of K-12 Online Learning) gave a workshop at a Pearson conference focusing on her as the prime example of how parents must be managed so that they don’t get in the way of the blended learning steamroller. - See more at: http://parentsacrossamerica.org/blended-learning-bombshell-mom-inacol-target/#sthash.WT2O4NuM.dpuf
Heather Hicks, leader of our newest PAA chapter, PAA-Ocean County NJ, has just posted a devastating video showing how the chief operating officer of iNACOL (the International Association of K-12 Online Learning) gave a workshop at a Pearson conference focusing on her as the prime example of how parents must be managed so that they don’t get in the way of the blended learning steamroller. - See more at: http://parentsacrossamerica.org/blended-learning-bombshell-mom-inacol-target/#sthash.WT2O4NuM.dpuf
Heather Hicks, leader of our newest PAA chapter, PAA-Ocean County NJ, has just posted a devastating video showing how the chief operating officer of iNACOL (the International Association of K-12 Online Learning) gave a workshop at a Pearson conference focusing on her as the prime example of how parents must be managed so that they don’t get in the way of the blended learning steamroller. - See more at: http://parentsacrossamerica.org/blended-learning-bombshell-mom-inacol-target/#sthash.WT2O4NuM.dpuf

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Destroying Public Schools & the threat of Competency-Based Education




I am getting a bit tired of the "debate" about the Common Core State Standards, high stakes standardized testing, charter schools, and corporate education reform. Whom should you trust, people who profit from our tax dollars or highly educated, professional teachers? Should you trust people with no accredited education training & people who only have backgrounds in business or people who are ligitimately educated, professional experts in education? This should be common sense.



Want to see if "their" ideas work? Just look to Philadelphia School District, which has been under State control for over fifteen years. In this article in The Nation, the title kind of says it all: 

Read the article to understand how the corporate ed reform game is rigged, and they are trying to set up our public schools to fail - even our suburban schools. After all, our spending per student is higher, which would make education investors (commonly referred to as edupreneurs) richer.

 

In this post, read about the researchers who are trying to get the truth about the Common Core State Standards out to parents and the public at large.

 

"The rhetoric surrounding the CCSS is not supported by a compelling body of research. For example, the CCSS is often presented as a way to enhance rigor in public schools. However, state-level standards varied so widely that no definitive statement can be made as to whether the CCSS is more or less rigorous. Proponents have argued that the CCSS ensures that all students receive an equal education, but even the courts recognize that high expectations without adequate resources can further disadvantage the students in most need. Overall, there is not a compelling body of research supporting the notion that a nationwide set of curriculum standards, including those like the CCSS, will either raise the quality of education for all children or close the gap between different groups of children. Therefore attaching high-stakes testing to the CCSS cannot be the solution for improving student learning."

 

PA is a "developing state," which means we are adopting this. Did anyone ask parents if we want competency-based learning for our kids? Cheaper does not mean better. Read their attack plan here. They tell school leaders how to get parents to drink the kool-aid. 

 

 Want to know what is coming to a school near you that should make you very afraid? It is called Competency-Based Education, and it lowers the quality if education for kids,. Sure, some well-intended, but misinformed school leaders may tell you otherwise, so decide for yourself. Read the post below:

CONNECT THE DOTS: Competency-Based Education, Digitized Instruction, Data Mining, The Vanishing Teacher, and Profit

 "In this modern computer era, digital personal data is gold, currently being traded like currency. You know when you search for something on Amazon and Google and then you start seeing ads related to that search in your feed? That is the result of data mining. In a video I have linked, the CEO of Knewton explains how Education is today’s most data mined industry. He explains “the name of the game is data per user.” From Amazon or Netflix they get 1 data point per user per day. Google and Facebook 10 data points per user per day. In education, Knewton gets 5-10 million actionable data points per student per day! Apparently, every sentence of every passage in digital content has a data tag and they can tell how interested a child is in a certain topic, how difficult it was, etc., etc. Ten million data points a day! This data grab is a gold mine to companies that want to market and design products. For venture capitalists, Education is the new hot commodity... This is also why, though paper and pencil tests would dramatically reduce testing time, there is an insistence on computer based testing. On a computer based test, more data than just marked answers can and is being collected and shared. This also explains why state approved remedial reading and math programs have essentially all been computer based. State tests can be created, and cut scores manipulated, in order to fail large numbers of students and state law can mandate each failing student participate in a digital remediation program, ensuring a steady stream of data points to third party participants. Keep in mind that student test scores are digitally linked to personal identification data, including student address, IEP, free lunch status, health records, and discipline records and god knows what else. What if your “permanent record” went viral? Last November, a U.S. Congressional committee criticized the USDOE, exposing how vulnerable its information systems are to security threats. I encourage you to watch the proceeding. Currently, federal student data is NOT secure."


"Freeing up the sector" refers to opening the "education market" to get investor's hands on our tax dollars.Read more here.


Here is the litmus test, if you still need one. Do the children of our elected officials send their children to public schools? Nope, nope, and nope. But they are fine with the greed grab for our children's schools.


Who should you trust as a reliable source of education facts for your family? You decide.
Question everything. 

Read more here. Scroll down for videos.





 

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Math teacher explains PSSA math doesn't add up!


Below is an invaluable guest post which explains why PSSA math is nothing like SAT math, and why it is not going to help get our kids "ready" for their futures.


Why are the “new” state standardized tests 
so much harder than before?
By Katy Morris, public school parent and math teacher

There are plenty of reasons why the standardized tests that students take today are more difficult and time-consuming than before. One reason for the increased difficulty is the use of a new type of multiple-choice question.

Sure, most adults have taken multiple-choice tests. Many of us have less-than-fond memories of taking college entrance exams or exams for professional licensure, but I’ll show you that all multiple-choice tests are not created equal.

“Normal” multiple-choice tests


To understand the difference between “normal” multiple-choice and the “new” multiple-choice, consider the Directions that accompany the Math section of a sample SAT recently released by the College Board.


These Directions let the student know that she can solve the problem as written, then look for the answer among the choices. 

Here is a “normal” multiple-choice question:
This question can be solved by someone who knows how to solve a system of equations. Even without the answer choices, a student could solve the problem, then choose the correct answer – in that order. Content aside, the SAT Math questions are generally written so that they can be solved without looking at the answer choices. The questions are not necessarily easy, but the format is familiar. Solve first. Then find your answer. Repeat.  


“New” multiple-choice tests

Now consider the “new” multiple-choice tests, such as the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) tests. Here are the Directions that accompany the PSSA Mathematics and Scoring Sampler, released by the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). (This is the closest thing we have to a sample test, since the PSSA tests are cloaked in secrecy and protected by confidentiality clauses, but that’s another blog post entirely... )



These Directions are very similar to the SAT Directions. Reading these “Directions for Multiple-choice Questions”, one would expect that children could actually solve each problem, as it is written, and then look for their answer among the multiple-choices. That would make sense. 
That is NOT the reality.

In fact, the very first item released by the PDE on the 8th Grade Sampler requires students to try all of the answer choices in order to answer the question posed.






Instead of giving students a single problem to solve, the test writers have, in essence, given four problems to solve. A student must compute each expression (without a calculator) to determine that expression D is between -4 and -3.

In fact, the question itself makes no sense without the answer choices. With this question and many others, students are unable to follow the Directions, as stated. How would a student “solve the problem on scratch paper”?





 
In short, they can’t.


With this item, the test writers allegedly were testing the following standard from the PA Core Standards. 

 
 
Here is a common-sense suggestion for how this standard could be tested more directly.



But, asking direct questions is not the business of the “new” multiple-choice tests. In fact, there is no way to solve these questions as written. Not every question is like this, but there are enough to make these tests extremely time-consuming and frustrating for kids.

And it happens again… (on the7th Grade PSSA Math Sampler)


and again… (on the 6th Grade PSSA Math Sampler)


and again… (on the 5th Grade PSSA Math Sampler



So, are you smarter than the 5th graders who have to try all these answer choices?


Comparing apples and oranges
I’ve heard adults say that children should suck it up and take the standardized tests they are given. After all, their reasoning is that students will eventually have to take the SATs. So they should start getting the practice now. But comparing the SATs to the PSSAs is comparing apples and oranges.



In short, the PSSA test writers have written questions that require students to solve all the answer choices in order to answer the question. And they’ve written Directions that are impossible to follow. It’s no wonder our kids are confused by the PSSA questions.
Solving 4 problems to get 1 answer? The math just doesn’t add up!



Please excuse formatting and font error in this post due to blog limitations on the day of posting.