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Fwd: [five-point-plan] Re: [care] Letter from local teacher union presidents



Hi--

Here's the post from Monty yesterday to which I was referring.

Dave Stratman
Editor, New Democracy
<A HREF="newdemocracyworld.org">www.newdemocracyworld.org</A>
5 Burr Street
Boston, MA 02130
617-524-4073

--- Begin Message --- As always, David distorts much of what CARE proposes, and I encourage people
to read the CARE plan at www.fairtest.org org or on the CARE website
www.caremass.org. Very specifically, the CARE plan would prevent decisions
about schools or students from being based on standardized tests, contrary
to what David asserts. (If the draft legislation is not as clear on that,
and I believe it is, it should be made so.)

That said, the legislation does not address every detail that should be
addressed, and in some cases the legislation (and the CARE plan) need to be
changed to address these issues. CARE is working on this, and any specific
recommendations on how to strengthen the CARE plan are welcome and should be
sent to me directly (monty@fairtest.org).

When David says
>>What the schools need is not more assessment and accountability; they need
more equality, more resources, more support, more hands-on collaborative
change by teachers from the bottom-up, less competition, less intimidation,
less corporate and DOE interference. <<
he deliberately or inadvertently fails to understand the premises and the
content of the CARE plan. CARE itself has consistently and repeatedly, in
its literature, in news conferences, in comments to the media, called for
more resources and more equality. The CARE assessment plan will help will
foster more collaboration and it builds in bottom-up change. This bottom up
process is how to build the power to block intimidation of schemes that
pretend to improve schools while actually undermining them, including the
corporate-led MCAS scheme.

Finally, while non-educator Stratman decries "these fancy 'alternative
assessment' schemes" he presents no evidence that teachers don't support
high-quality assessment and he shows he simply lacks knowledge of teaching
and learning and the ways in which assessment is an integral part of
education and education reform.

The CARE plan is not the perpetuation of MCAS, it is the elimination of most
of MCAS (while retaining limited testing as one means of a public check on
the system) and the creation of an assessment process controlled first by
educators, with real public/community/parent input, and some oversight from
the state to help make sure that schools are in fact responsive to
communities and serve their students.

FairTest and CARE are on record as supporting boycotts, the one specific
call for specific activity that New Democracy has offered. However, David
seems incessantly intent on attacking CARE and fostering divisions between
CARE and others, and seems unable to present a real program for actually
improving anything, beyond offering vague nostrums. This sectarianism is
most useful to proponents of MCAS.

Monty

-----Original Message-----
From: Newdem@aol.com <Newdem@aol.com>
To: five-point-plan@yahoogroups.com <five-point-plan@yahoogroups.com>;
care@yahoogroups.com <care@yahoogroups.com>; ARN-L@listsrva.cua.edu
<ARN-L@listsrva.cua.edu>
Date: Wednesday, March 27, 2002 3:19 PM
Subject: Re: [five-point-plan] Re: [care] Letter from local teacher union
presidents


The MTA legislative proposal Monty is referring to is SB 255, "An act to
require a comprehensive assessment system...." The bill violates both the
spirit and the letter of the MTA's own Resolution B-30. It was precisely
this
piece of legislation that the 2001 Annual Meeting was acting against in its
new business item requiring all legislation regarding MCAS and sponsored by
the MTA to be reviewed by the Legislative Committee to see that it in fact
reflected the MTA's resolution on standardized testing.

Paul Phillips presented the new business item on the floor of the
convention.
He first read Resolution B-30; he then read from SB 255 and pointed out the
huge contrasts. The NBI passed overwhelmingly.

The question is not merely one of "how best the union can be effective," as
Monty puts it, but of whether the union is going to act democratically or
not. The members spoke out loud and clear at the Annual Meeting--the union's
highest body--that they reject tinkering around with these fancy
"alternative
assessment" schemes and want to abolish MCAS. The leadership ignored them.

SB 255 incidentally is typical of the MTA-FairTest-CARE approach. Rather
than
challenging the fundamental assumptions of MCAS, it proposes changing the
actual mechanics of MCAS enough so that it will do less actual harm to
students and teachers, while accepting the claim that what the schools need
is more accountability and assessment. Acceding to the enemy's claims of
course undermines efforts to build a mass opposition movement, in much the
same manner that FairTest does when it promotes the Alliance for High
Standards.

What the schools need is not more assessment and accountability; they need
more equality, more resources, more support, more hands-on collaborative
change by teachers from the bottom-up, less competition, less intimidation,
less corporate and DOE interference. Every time we let the corporate and
political types define the problem, they also get to define the solution.
It's time that WE defined the problems of the schools.

For anyone who would like to pursue this in more detail, here is a

COMPARISON BETWEEN MTA Resolution B-30 AND SB 255:

1. B-30 calls for standardized tests that are "selected or developed by
educational professionals closest to the classroom and integrated with
assessment information specific to district programs."

SB 255 continues statewide standardized testing in English and math in
certain years and calls for "standardized, end-of-course assessments" in
social studies and science in grades 9 and 10. SB 255 does not require that
standardized tests be developed or selected by professionals closest to the
classroom, but rather that these tests be "designed by the DOE."

2. B-30 "urges locals to advocate developmentally appropriate assessment
techniques that are bias-free, reliable and valid."

SB 255 calls for the Commissioner to appoint a panel to undertake a study of
the "validity, reliability, quality and age and language appropriateness of
the MCAS tests."

3. B-30 requires that "when a test is mandated at the state or national
levels it should only be used to evaluate programs toward meeting state or
national standards and/or goals. The MTA opposes any use of standardized
tests when scores are:
· used as criteria for the reduction or withholding of any educational
funding;
· used inappropriately to compare students, educators, programs, schools and
communities;
· used inappropriately to evaluate teachers;
· used to design programs for "teaching to the test" rather than to the
content measured by the test."

SB 255 fails to correct these important effects of MCAS. There is nothing in
the legislation to prevent scores reported in the aggregate at the school
and
district level being used to withhold or reduce educational funding; or
being
used to compare educators, schools, and communities; or being used to
evaluate teachers. Since the statewide standards are the measures against
which all students, teachers, and schools will be evaluated, teachers will
still be forced to "teach to the test."

4. In addition, SB 255 permits the state takeover of "underperforming
schools," and there is nothing in the bill that would prevent such takeover
being premised on a school's failure to meet state standards as measured by
a
statewide standardized test.

In summary, the MTA bill SB 255 does not fulfill the letter or the spirit of
the MTA Resolution B-30 on the "Standardized Testing of Students," and it
will not protect either students or teachers from the destructive effects of
MCAS or the top-down, punitive approach to education of which MCAS is part.

Dave Stratman
Editor, New Democracy
<A HREF="newdemocracyworld.org">www.newdemocracyworld.org</A>
5 Burr Street
Boston, MA 02130
617-524-4073


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