The Outrageous Costs of Testing Associated with Common Core. Why are we Americans allowing this to be the case for our children?

PARCC Test Cost: Higher for Nearly Half the States

July 22, 2013  by Catherine Gewertz


So, on this beautiful, summer day, I sat down at my laptop thinking I would search some current events articles to enrich our novel and poetry units this upcoming school year.

Look what I stumbled upon.  As an educator, I constantly feel like the Common Core Curriculum Standards are lurking in the shadows, stalking me.

I always look forward to a brand new school year.  I consider this rejuvenation a perk of the job.  I know I will always harbor this excitement, especially as I receive class lists and then greet and meet new young people entering our classroom.  However, there is now a strand of dread within me because of the country’s direction in Public Education with THESE Common Core Standards.

I am not against federal guidelines and expectations nor am I against accountability and assessment.  However, we parents need to see through the rhetoric of this proposed panacea for our students.  Not only are there unnecessary and outrageous financial costs, but more importantly, please consider the human capital costs of measuring every unique child with the same criteria.

We truly are in the fight of our lives for this generation of our youth!

Let’s J.A.M.!

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If it reads like a script and sounds like a script…


Thank you, Chris Cerrone: The “Parentucator.”

As Diane Ravitch has continued to plead, these Common Core Standards are not research-based and have not been proven effective by any brain-based research, for instance.

Why then is there SO much hype over these standards? Come on! $$$$$$$$$$$$$

Why are teachers then utilizing the standards and “reading the scripts?” FEAR!

Parents and community members, teachers and our students NEED YOU to become informed.
Is “a script” — and only one script — really the most effective method of educating your children?

Teachers and administrators, our profession NEEDS YOU to write letters of your experiences to local media outlets. Voices need to be heard.

Thank you.

Originally posted on @ THE CHALK FACE:

The New York State Education Department has been aggressive with its reform agenda over the last year, including a new teacher evaluation system (APPR) and implementing the Common Core.   The process of adopting the Common Core has been pushed forward at lightspeed giving educators a feeling of helplessness.  Last spring’s state assessments were Common Core aligned so teachers and local administrators were left scrambling to prepare their students for this new curriculum.

Educators had few options as the state assessments loomed in the spring to align instruction with the Common Core. Many districts decided to purchase corporate produced *Common Core workbooks to meet their desperate need for curriculum materials. As the modules were slowly released on the EngageNY website, districts and teachers started to look at the materials provided piecemeal by the state with a critical eye.   Some schools decided to use the modules “as is” since time…

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My response to the response of the initial response on the @aftunion “survey” @rweingarten


Fellow Blogger and Educator,
I salute you and your dedication to the truth! This takes more courage, at times, than most actually consider. I could not agree more with your thoughts and your passion for seeking what is right for our profession and for our youth.
This past spring, I wrote an email to both Mr. Dick Iannuzzi, President of NYSUT, and Ms. Randi Weingarten asking them to consider resigning on their own terms if they are not willing to use transparency regarding the CCCS and to actually begin to steer us away from these corporate-driven, scripted standards. Ms. Weingarten, to this day, remains silent to my plea. Mr. Iannuzzi, at least, has been in contact with me and we were able to briefly talk in person, as well.
Although I did indeed feel that Mr. Iannuzzi was listening to me and am appreciative of his time and most of his leadership, I was very discouraged about his seemingly sincere belief in “the potential” of the CCCS.
With this said, I must confess I can understand that as large organizations, this past year, with so many rapid changes coming from our NYS Commissioner of Education and from our US Secretary of Education, priorities such as the obsession with testing would drive the PR jargon and action steps, ie. the June 8th Rally in Albany, NY. Now, however, it must be the membership, perhaps with grassroots origins, demanding our leadership take the next step with transparency and the truth about the devastation NOT the potential of these corporate-driven CCCS.
We teachers must take to the streets to demand our voices are heard and our expertise respected! Get ready! Please do not allow summer vacation to become a respite from the truth!

Originally posted on @ THE CHALK FACE:

I can’t do this on Twitter. I just can’t.

I wrote this yesterday about the AFT survey. My concerns in that post were not necessarily related to the methods of Hart. That’s already been addressed.

I was responding to a Facebook comment, whereby an educator referred to the survey as “proving” 75% approval of the CCSS from teachers IN GENERAL. Again, not AFT’s fault, certainly not. But this conclusion is understandable based on the AFT’s deceptive presentation of what may have been an admirable attempt at polling AFT membership. For instance, collapsing strongly and somewhat approve into one bar, aggregating that, and then claiming overwhelming approval for the CCSS, which is there they got their 75% approval value.

Ms. Weingarten, to her credit as an accessible public figure, responded to me and I want to very briefly, but less brief than Twitter permits, to respond.

Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 9.31.24 AM


It’s possible that Hart…

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I am worried about Public Education; thus, my optimism must be fueled by advocacy and solidarity! Thank you, colleagues!

Rally For Public Education


So, loyal blog followers, you may have noticed — I do hope you noticed — my absence for almost the entire month of June.  I must confess, the absence was not simply the typical, crazed, end-of-the-school-year madness all teachers experience.  I succumbed to the negative energy of so many decisions that defy all common sense and logic that we professional educators value for not only our practice but also for our students — our kids.

Nothing made sense.

The sad truth is that I know you, my followers and/or my fellow colleagues, can totally relate.

The messages from our leaders in Public Education right now are loud and clear:  we do not trust you and you are not valued.

Teacher: you are the expert, but you may not grade your own students’s exams.

Teacher: you are trusted by your students as you develop relationships based on respect and care, but, be ready, as you will administer pre-assessments in September on material students have never been introduced to before — in other words, you will lie.

Teacher: you are educated and are the professional, but you must simply accept the Common Core because our leaders and policymakers claim, “Because I said so!”

I am afraid nothing is going to make sense for a bit.  I am worried about Public Education; thus, my optimism must be fueled by advocacy and solidarity.  I believe in our youth; I believe in our profession.

As we can sometimes harbor a concern for our students regressing during the summer months, I fear we who are fighting for what is right with Public Education may lose some of our momentum as well.

We must keep reading and learning and watching and questioning: The Washington PostThe New York Times@ The Chalk Face Knows Schools MatterThe NationCity Newspaper [Rochester, NY],, etc.

I implore you to consider writing to major and local media print outlets.  We all have a story to share.  Public Education touches all of our lives.

What has also helped me try to empathize with the human side of policy and policymakers is the realization that many right now in leadership positions may feel just as “stuck” as many of us in the classroom as policy and “reform” have been implemented so quickly and without much critical thought and examination.  Many may be asking themselves about the consequences of speaking out.

As I reflect on this past school year and try to look forward with cautious optimism, I know one thing for sure: advocacy and solidarity are crucial to right-siding the paradigm we call Public Education.  Please join us!  We need your voice!  We need each other!

The truth will find its way.  We are on the right side of Public Education.  We cannot give up on what we do.

In Solidarity,

“Let’s J.A.M.!”

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@ The Chalk Face Knows Schools Matter: from Maya Angelou’s “And Still I Rise”

And Still I Teach….

JUNE 23, 2013 BY  3 COMMENTS

In the past 6 days, the Badass Teachers Association has grown from a handful to over 12,000 members. Earlier this week, Dr. Mark Naison, one of the founders, put out a challenge to all the BATs to take a stab at recreating Maya Angelou’s “And I Still I Rise”. With permission from the author, Sue Doherty, I give you:

And Still I Teach
You may paint me as a union thug
who’s nothing but a leech.
You may say I’m dumb and greedy
but still, with love, I’ll teach.

Does my experience upset you? 
Why are you filled with such hate?
‘Cause I don’t need your manuals
to hook students with canned bait?

Just like Socrates and Montessori,
with the certainty of each,
just like Annie Sullivan, with passion,
still I’ll teach.

Do you want to see me standardized?
Head bowed, voice monotone,
following a corporate script of
knowledge stripped to the bone?

Does my individuality offend you?
Don’t you let it get you down, 
‘cause I teach like H.D. Thoreau’s
residing in my crown. 

You may smear me with your media lies,
you may displace me with your foundation’s reach,
you may diminish my voice with your money piles,
but still, with truth, I’ll teach. 

Does my honesty upset you?
Does it dismay you to know
that I’m a thinking human being
who sees through your selfish show?

In neglected and isolated country schools,
I teach.
In leafy and high pressure suburban schools,
I teach.
In overcrowded and decaying city schools, 
I teach.

I’m a wise ocean
in tune with the sun,
ready to save my students
from a tornado or a gun.

Straining under constantly changing mandates and high stakes tests,
I teach.
Stepping into my classroom where youthful energy never rests,
I teach
Knowing that learning is messy and social and sometimes wild,
in my room, I’m the guide and mentor for every child.
I teach,
I teach,
I teach.

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A Must Share: “Use Your Outside Voice” Fellow Teacher Blog … Check out the powerful video at the link below

What started this whole journey…

As I mentioned in my first post, the inspiration for this blog came from a class I’m wrapping up at Eastern Michigan University entitled Writing, Public Policy, and Public Writing which is designed to help find ways to give teachers a voice in a time when policy makers are using teachers as scapegoats for all that is wrong with education.

The theme of my project for this class is teacher retention because I feel like this is education’s dirty little secret that no one talks about. For many reasons that I could write in a whole dissertation, teachers are leaving the classroom at an alarming rate – and we’re especially seeing it now with the spate of public resignation letters flooding the internet.

With so many teachers leaving though, who is choosing to stay, and why?

I gathered up my Twitter PLN and asked them a very simple (and yet complex) question: With all the negativity surrounding our profession today, what makes you stay? This was the result. I hope it will help to begin a healthy, positive dialogue about how we can celebrate and recognize teachers as the professionals and heroes that they are.

Blog: Use Your Outside Voice
Post: What started this whole journey…

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[Rochester] CITY Newspaper: my 2nd published article

Feedback 6/12

Reforms aren’t ‘rich addition’ to education

On March 3, 2013, I began a petition through calling for our state legislators and Governor Cuomo to separate our Empire State from the federal disaster that is Race to the Top and Common Core Standards. On April 25, I and a small group of supporters – both active and retired educators – delivered the petition with 1,083 signatures from residents around the state.

Our state education standards, the professionalism of our teachers, and the creativity of our students stand proudly and successfully on our own merits. We do not need a Race to the Top education in New York State. We know and live the truth in our classrooms, daily.

NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi has made the following statement: “NYSUT has continually stressed the potential for Common Core standards to be a rich addition to classrooms across the country. Polls of members in NY and nationally agree.” I have not met a New York State teacher yet who would agree. In fact, I am confident many in the trenches are adamant about the devastation caused by these standards.

Race to the Top and Common Core standards are nothing but corporate-driven strategies for the privatization of public education. They are tools to continue the economic segregation of our students, now with the use of data warehouses.

New York State United Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers are not doing enough to resist these moves. Calling for a moratorium and a public rally and writing legislation are appreciated.

However, these are a response to poor decisions, and they are failed attempts to stave off the corporate profiteers invited by NYSUT and AFT’s partnership with corporate-driven politicians and foundations.

The Common Core standardized guidelines run counter to brain-research findings. For our youngest students, love of learning and hands-on discovery are being lost to developmentally inappropriate expectations for all, destroying the spirits of our future innovators. For our older students, unique talents and gifts are being sacrificed for “a one size fits all” approach. We cannot then expect problem-solvers or critical thinkers for the future.

Teachers need union leadership that is willing not only to listen but also to ask the tough questions of policymakers and union members; to seek input to redefine or clarify our mission; and, most important, to lead us away from corporate profiteers and back to research-based policy that celebrates and promotes all learners.

Will NYSUT, AFT, and the NEA listen to their membership?


Mitchell is a Fairport teacher.

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