Greetings! It is time to raise our voices to bring fairness and justice to ourselves and the children in our charge. We need to speak up to every politician who seeks our vote and tell him/her they need to do something to reign in the DESE Board and Commissioner Chester. Not only have they passed regulations with timelines for implementation that guarantee the regulations will not be implemented with fidelity (e.g. new evaluation, RETELL, Common Core, DDM, PARCC), but DESE is now going to judge students, teachers, schools, and school districts based on two different tests – MCAS and PARCC.
There has not been a study, or any data collected, that shows there is a true relationship between the results of student performance on MCAS and PARCC. It is impossible to honestly compare students, schools, and school districts when the state’s student population is split between the two assessments. Both of these assessments are crooked yardsticks. They are a fixed target and do not measure our students’ growth toward the target, which is the true measure of the work that we do.
For a number of years, Massachusetts students have been ranked number one on the National Assessment of Educational Progress which is the only assessment given universally in all fifty states. Why is Commissioner Chester and the DESE board moving forward at breakneck speed to change to PARCC? Why haven’t they looked at things that we are currently doing and make appropriate corrections? For example: they have touted their MCAS Improvement Score for our students that is plotted on a bell curve which guarantees half of the students in the commonwealth will show poor or failing growth. The MCAS Improvement Score does not truly measure the growth of the individual student.
One of the harmful effects of this overemphasis on standardized tests over the last few decades is that our schools are no longer educating the whole child. Art, music, shops, home and career, and foreign language opportunities for our students have disappeared or have been severely limited because, if it is not tested, it is not valued.
The social, emotional, behavioral, and spiritual growth of our students is every bit as important as the academic growth. As a matter of fact, without this growth, academic growth will have little value. Without producing confident, well-rounded individuals who have the character traits that make for good fathers, mothers, neighbors, and citizens we will have failed our students and communities.
We need to have the psychometrician determine if using the mixed-matched testing systems make any sense. One thing that does not make sense for the children in our charge is concentrating only on the things that we test. There is a whole lot more involved in human growth and unlocking the human potential than the things we test our students on with any standardized test.
If there was ever a time for teachers, educators, and those who care for children to raise our voices and speak truth to power, it is now. It is the people who care for and about our children who should be setting the direction of our public education system not CEOs, educational bureaucrats, and uninformed politicians.
If public education is to survive and fulfill its time honored role in our democracy, we will all need to do our part in educating the public as to what needs to happen. Yours in solidarity.
My email address: Lenny.firstname.lastname@example.org
Our web site: WORCESTER.MASSTEACHER.ORG
EXECUTIVE SECRETARY’S REPORT
MTA President Barbara Madeloni will be at the EAW on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 for a member forum. She will be here from 4 PM to 6 PM. Theses forums are a result of Barbara’s commitment to meet with members and a directive from MTA Annual Meeting to gather member thoughts on educator evaluations and high stakes testing. All EAW members are welcome. If you are coming, we need you to RSVP MTA’s Auburn Office. Please call Carolyn or Becky at 508.791.2121. The RSVP is important for two reasons. We need to know how much food to order and how many facilitators we will need for discussions. We look forward to seeing you on October 28th!The EAW is moving forward with building visits. We have received responses from delegates at several schools and are scheduling meetings. We will be contacting delegates at more schools as the process moves forward. If you want to schedule a meeting at your school, please speak to your delegate and have him or her call me at the EAW (508.791.3296).As we move towards November 4th, phone bank activity has heated up. The MTA has endorsed Martha Coakley for governor as well as several state senators and state representatives and is phone banking on their behalf. Calls are being made from the Auburn office Monday through Thursdays until Election Day. If you want to phone bank, please call me at the EAW or Carolyn or Becky in Auburn to let us know what day you’re coming.The EAW needs and welcomes active members. If you want to help the Union, please consider being a member of an EAW Committee. Our by-laws list our committees and include Building, By-Laws, Ballots and Credentials, Finance, Legislation, Minority Affairs, Negotiations, Public Relations and Scholarship. If you are interested in serving on a committee, please call Len at the EAW.Remember, if faced with a disciplinary matter or 51A allegation, you must tell the employer that you want union representation and contact the EAW.
My email address: BBrousseau@Massteacher.org