Wednesday, December 30, 2015
I decided to be a teacher so that I can spend my free time defending public schools, dodging verbal abuse, suffering uninformed criticism,disseminating information to the contrary, studying pending legislation, and lobbying legislators.
Sunday, December 13, 2015
Shorten, lengthen, change vendors, include or exclude teachers in the process, and the assessments will continue to measure what they have always measured, the economic standing of the students assessed.
Friday, December 4, 2015
I hope this finds you well and in anticipation of the holiday season. I also hope that you had the opportunity to read the Plain Dealer article regarding the correlation between test scores and poverty. If not it can be found here...
Perhaps you read the similar report at the Columbus Dispatch here...
Put simply, the only thing that our system of standardized tests is accomplishing is indicating to us which students are wealthy and which are poor. This corroborates the evidence found in studies from previous years which indicated the exact same thing. Schools with high poverty rates will perform at lower levels on standardized tests than those with low rates of poverty. I would be so bold as to predict that if we continue testing for another hundred years the same would be true.
What is at least equally problematic are the Lorain County poverty statistics shared by the Chronicle Telegram this week. In case you missed it, the article is here...
Median income countywide has dropped from $57,357 to $52,610.
In my city, Elyria, the poverty rate has climbed from 15.9% to 20.3%.
Obviously, these economic conditions have an incredible impact on the students that I encounter daily at Elyria High. If we were to couple the findings that I've mentioned here, add in an atrocious new testing system and graduation policy, then I believe that we could predict overall lower test scores in years to come as well as lower graduation rates.
It doesn't have to be this way. We test far more than the federal mandate in Ohio, and at higher stakes. As you know, requiring tests for graduation is not federal law, nor is the 3rd grade reading guarantee. And it gets better...other news this week indicates that the revision of ESEA (No Child Left Behind), the so-called "Every Student Succeeds Act" has passed the House, will likely pass the Senate, and is nearly certain of a Presidential signature. The bill is not great, but it is far better than the "test and punish" philosophy of the current law. There is some information on that bill in a Wall Street Journal article here...
We have spent a ridiculous amount of time and money on assessment here in Ohio and found that we can consistently measure levels of poverty, not achievement. The federal government is about to provide us with an opportunity to dramatically scale back this senseless system, and I look forward to continuing our dialogue on doing just that. Perhaps then we can allocate our resources to more valuable ends like supporting programs that help to remediate the effects of the growing poverty in our communities.
Thank you, as always, for your work and consideration.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your families.
Friday, November 20, 2015
Friday, November 13, 2015
Friday, November 6, 2015
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Phone Forum Propaganda with ODE Associate Superintendent Lonny Rivera and an Ohio Teacher of the Year.
Saturday, October 24, 2015
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Monday, October 19, 2015
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015
Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Friday, September 18, 2015
|You're out of your element, Donny.|
Saturday, September 12, 2015
Saturday, August 29, 2015
After our Professional Development on Friday, I had the opportunity to welcome Senator Gayle Manning and Representative Nathan Manning to Elyria High School in order to meet with my wife and I for a discussion of education. We had initially scheduled this meeting to discuss the Youngstown Amendment to HB 70 which takes effect October 15, and seems to be a piece of the end game of turning discredited public schools into charters through the appointment of a CEO. While this doesn't present us with immediate concern here in Elyria, Lorain would be the next district after Youngstown slated for take-over.
Senator Manning indicated that she and others were working on a legislative solution that would seemingly set Youngstown up as a pilot program to be studied. Unfortunately, this does little for Youngstown, but would seem to create a situation that buys Lorain more time. My wife and I indicated that we were aware that Senator Joe Schiavoni is also crafting legislation as a remedy, and Senator Manning indicated that she would initiate contact with her fellow Senator. For what it's worth, there are also a few lawsuits, and a request for an injunction to prevent the introduction of the plan.
We also spent some time discussing HB2, the bill that would begin to regulate the state's charter schools. The bill has passed the Senate and stalled in the House just before their recess. Both the Mannings are supportive of the current bill, but indicated that it would likely undergo further changes in the House before another vote. We indicated our overall support for the bill as "a beginning" in the overall regulation of Ohio's charters.
I would have been remiss had I not mentioned standardized testing. I reiterated my thanks for eliminating PARCC, while indicating that AIR has had its own issues with misleading and ambiguous questions. I thanked them for the move to a single testing window, while assuring them that we still assess far too much in Ohio K-12, that the 3rd grade guarantee is atrocious, our testing of Special Education students abominable, and the use of the VAM or any standardized testing in the evaluation of teachers was essentially meaningless.
By and large, the Mannings were receptive to our input. They were also very complimentary about what we do here in Elyria. I got the idea that they see us as an example of how public education can work in urban areas with diverse populations. We have done what is right for our students, and done well to promote our achievements. Be proud of your efforts.
Also, do not discount the power of your own voice. When a bill comes around regarding the Youngstown Amendment, or HB2 comes to a vote in the House, let your (and all) legislators know how you feel.
Thanks to Mr. Brown for letting us meet here at E-High. It gave me an opportunity to talk up our facility, programs, and students. If anyone has any questions about the meeting or otherwise, please let me know.
Yours in education.
Social Studies Dept.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
When I moved into my classroom on the third floor of the Washington Building a few years ago, a praying mantis watched me from outside on the window ledge. I saw it as a sign of good things to come.
It has been.
Entering the building this morning, a praying mantis was waiting for me on the door, another auspicious beginning.
Sunday, August 16, 2015
Wednesday, August 5, 2015
Friday, July 31, 2015
I hope that you haven't forgotten about scheduling a meeting for my wife and I with Senator and Representative Manning. A lot has happened since we spoke last. We are still concerned about Youngstown as it applies to Lorain, especially as the Morning Journal has reported that the state appointed commission to facilitate Lorain's improvement has been almost entirely dysfunctional. We are also concerned with the utter lack of charter school reform, especially now as it is clear that Republican appointee Dr. Ross and his staff have purposefully cheated the system in favor of charters. Furthermore, the ODE's testing schedule has come out with 3 hours per test. This is beyond the federal minimum, if I am not mistaken, and clearly far too much meaningless testing. To make matters worse, the supposed "Safe Harbor" has done nothing to protect school districts from funding cuts in the likely wake of further parent refusals to take the test, and really only protects schools and districts from the use of letter grades and not other assessments of their progress. Overall, these policies seek to undermine proven public school education as provided by myself and my colleagues, in favor of unproven, unregulated, and underperforming charter schools.
As always, I appreciate the willingness of the Manning's to listen to constituent point of views. I trust you will pass along our concerns, and I hope that we can reschedule our meeting.