A Possible NCLB Rewrite – Act Now #ESEA

This week (April 14-16, 2015) begins NY statewide ELA testing. Testing refusals are well underway and I am expecting huge refusal numbers not just on Long Island, but across New York state. The open Facebook group, Long Island Opt Out, has further details and both official and unofficial numbers.

However, we need not lose sight of the fact that the US Congress is taking up possible revisions to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the 2001 No Child Left Behind law (NCLB). Congress (the Senate is discussion the revisions this week) can either call for an end to annual high stakes testing, revise it, or keep it as is. It is imperative that we contact our federal legislators as much as we did recently with our local ones regarding the NYS budget vote. Right now, these politicians in Washington are making a HUGE decision. A decision that very well may  determine what teaching and learning looks like in America’s public schools over the next decade.

Don’t let this slip under the radar. Our US Senators and House representatives need to hear from us this week and until they vote on any proposed changes or this madness will continue and the state can continue to hide under the wording of “it is a federal requirement for students to be standardized tested every year.” The annual testing requirements under NCLB also set in place the punitive effects of testing we are experiencing today from possible loss of funding, to loss of teachers, to labeling students as potentially “not career or college ready.”

Below is a sample of what you can tell them in emails. Please feel free to use it. Come up with your own shortened version for posting to the attention of their social media accounts. Here’s how to find your US Senator and House rep.

______________________

Dear Senator (or Representative),

It is time to reduce annual standardized testing in our public schools.

As you consider the next re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), I urge you to roll back the amount of federally-required high-stakes standardized testing to give students more time to learn and teachers to teach—especially to work closely with students most in need. Further, test scores should not be used to punish schools or teachers nor be used as a wedge to drive a split between what takes place in the classroom and what those in charge want to take place in the classroom.

No nation over tests children, especially those children most in need, more than America. None. Not Finland, Singapore, China, Poland, Canada…none. It is excessive, unnecessary, and actually harmful. You cannot find any research or evidence that the excessive amount of standardized testing that has occurred since NCLB has actually improved schools. None.

I will continue to work hard to advocate for parents to refuse these “federally mandated” annual standardized tests until changes are made. To borrow the motto of one of my local Long Island heroes, Comsewogue Superintendent Dr. Joe Rella, “Stop It. Fix It. Or, Scrap It.”

Respectfully sent,
______________________

Some reading for you on this topic.

Follow the tweets of Politics K-12 here https://twitter.com/PoliticsK12
http://thejournal.com/articles/2015/04/07/senate-ed-committee-unveils-draft-legislation-to-fix-no-child-left-behind.aspx
http://www.nysape.org/nysape-comments-on-esea-draft-legislation.html
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/sens-alexander-murray-propose-bipartisan-measure-to-replace-nclb/2015/04/07/c6c37b3c-dd36-11e4-acfe-cd057abefa9a_story.html
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/08/us/senators-propose-bipartisan-bill-to-revise-no-child-left-behind-law.html
http://dianeravitch.net/2015/04/13/mercedes-schneider-part-4-of-her-close-reading-of-the-alexander-murray-bill-to-reauthorize-nclb/
http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2015/04/senate_education_committee_con_1.html

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