Wednesday, September 17, 2014
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UPDATED: "Why I won't let my son take the PSSA" goes viral

UPDATED: "Why I won't let my son take the PSSA" goes viral

Last night I mentioned that at the same time as cheating scandals erupt in Atlanta and elsewhere, a rebellion is growing against excessive standardized testing of our schoolchildren, noting that some teachers in Seattle are refusing to administer the tests there. Tonight I came across a piece from right here in Pennsylvania (OK, it's western Pennsylvania...does that count?) that has gone viral, showing 26,000 "likes" on Facebook, which boggles the mind.

It's called "Why I won't let my son take the PSSA," although I especially like the sub-head, "The opt-out movement is growing because high-stakes tests are wrecking our schools." :Here's a particularly juicy snippet:

High-stakes tests also warp the educational environment. This March, as Linden was gearing up for the PSSAs, the hallways were stripped bare, though state law requires only that displays pertaining to the tests be taken down. Artwork, motivational slogans, student-made posters, the Women's History display my kids helped to make, my daughter's picture of herself as a "writer" when she grows up, the "dream" statements everyone filled out in January with the large cutout of Martin Luther King -- all of it has been removed. During testing season, access to Linden's new iPads -- for which I helped to write the grant that allowed us to acquire them -- will also be curtailed.

The curriculum at Linden is narrowing, too. As testing has ratcheted up, and as Gov. Tom Corbett's billion-dollar cut to Pennsylvania's K-12 education budget have kicked in, schools across the state are dropping programs that are not measured by tests.

Last year at Linden the third-grade band program was cut, dozens of hours of music instruction were cut, our science programming was reduced, and we were slated to lose our art teacher (fortunately we were able to save her). We lost dozens of hours of library instruction, and children are allowed access to the library only once every two weeks. Ironically, the loss of our library hours will hurt the students more when it comes to testing. A recent study found that "[w]ith a full-time librarian, students are more likely to score 'Advanced' and less likely to score 'Below Basic' on reading and writing tests."

Please read the whole thing. Everyone is talking about this issue in the wake of the Atlanta indictments, but that's just the tip of the iceberg, an iceberg that's headed straight for Pennsylvania, I believe. All hands on deck.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, we were asking the other day whether what happened in Atlanta can happen here. I asnwered my own question, "Of course it dad."

Of course it did.

That two Philadelphia principals whose schools are under investigation for cheating have surrendered their administrative licenses sends a clear message, a state official said Wednesday afternoon.

"This is evidence that the department is serious about cracking down on this type of activity," said Tim Eller, spokesman for the state Department of Education. "We're intent on weeding this type of behavior out; it ultimately hurts children."

The two - Barbara McCreery, formerly principal of Communications Tech High, and Lola Marie O'Rourke, formerly of Locke Elementary - both voluntarily gave up their administrative credentials in lieu of discipline.

But, Eller said, "they will retain their teaching certificates, but be unable to teach in the Philadelphia School District."

Interssting. Interesting that they announced this today, when the punishments actually came down days ago. Pennsylvbania wants to show everyone that they're on it. But are they?

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Will Bunch
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