Friday, October 2, 2015

Dear Mr. President, Really????

Dear President Obama,

It must be Friday. It's one of those days where you just can't believe how incredibly stupid the education news of the day is. First, Arne is leaving. Ok, we can just file that under "Dyin' From Not-Surprise" because, let's face it, it sucks living several hundred miles away from your family and well, no one thought he'd hang in there with you until the bitter end anyway. His temp replacement, though, that is a bit of shocker. I'll get to why in a sec.

So, Arne, your good b-ball buddy, has left quite the boot footprint on US education. Pushing the unproven, not-validated, not-internationally benchmarked Common Core State Standards (CCSS) on all of us (btw, that is something you and your family have never had to endure). Pushing the ridiculous, expensive, time consuming testing that goes with CCSS. Pushing the invalid teacher evaluations. And, my personal favorite, selling the insipid notion that "high expectations" will magically make students with disabilities perform like their neurotypical peers. My goodness, Mr. President, did he ever read any actual peer-reviewed work on education? Ever? Speak with actual teachers and parents? Ever? If you need to see what I'm talking about, read Diane Ravitch and Mercedes Schneider for CCSS and testing; read Bruce Baker for why teacher evaluations are a sham.

Arne's latest foray into practically abolishing special education is especially heinous. He made sweeping changes, with barely a nod to those of us who wrote in protest over the last couple of years. And, he did this while citing research that either cannot be found or using research in specific areas as the basis for major changes that don't apply the way he says they do. Really, someone has to answer for that. Will it be you? It certainly doesn't look like it will be him. 

Now for the temp. John King. I'm laughing as I write that. Surely, Sir, you know what a disaster his tenure in New York was. Right? Well, maybe you don't. Your education policy suggests you haven't a clue what's happening out here. So let me help you. 

I have watched the education war in New York for some time. They are about a year ahead of us in the unmitigated disaster that is CCSS. I've watched the progression of teacher and parent advocacy. The growth of the Opt Out movement. I have helped bring that advocacy here to New Jersey. I have watched in stunned horror at the treatment of parents and teachers as they tried, in vain, to advocate for their children and students. And, I have watched John blow them all off"Unfortunately, the forums sponsored by the New York State PTA have been co-opted by special interests whose stated goal is to "dominate" the questions and manipulate the forum." [emphasis mine] Glad to know that people like me, the ones who are able to speak up (loudly when necessary), are considered a "special interest." Duly noted. Of course, that set off an even louder outcry and the meetings were rescheduled, but pretty disappointing that the guy in charge of New York ed was willing to just walk away because he didn't like what he heard. I hope his skin is thicker now because he will have parents and teachers from all over the country to listen to. 

You, Sir, also have in him a charter cheerleader. He co-founded one. He led Uncommon Schools. Curious that he's now going to be overseeing US public schools. I wonder if he'll give more to charters than Arne...

And, then there is the teacher evaluations. Yeah, in case you didn't know, a New York teacher filed suit against NY ed officials, including, get this, your new SecEd. A highly regarded educator all of sudden was deemed "ineffective" because of the new teacher evaluation. That's the one that Bruce Baker, above, shredded.

I know the response in the education advocacy world has been swift. But, you know (or maybe you don't), we're getting used to whatever it is you throw at us. Our kids deserve so much more than the Arne Show Part II you're about to unleash on them and their teachers. We aren't going anywhere. Our numbers are growing and we will not give up.

Julie B.
Mom, aka Special Interest
I've decided the new acronym for this is #OOF  Opt Out Fuel! 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! I was not surprise that arne bailed: we know his family is in Chicago. I am not surprised that Obama went with "acting" to avoid a fight in Congress, but I am horrified that he chose John king.
    Once again the special children are thrown away in order to privatize education. Thanks, Obama. I thought you were different.