Education, Ohio, Public Schools, School Board

Oh Really, Gunlock?

mandyI find it very interesting that Mr. Gunlock is still trotting out the same tired old rhetoric about the OGTs measuring eighth-grade knowledge even after he quit the state school board mid-term. We have asked for proof of this claim over and over yet he has failed to provide it. I would love to read any information you could provide on the topic, Mr. Gunlock. Of course this is not even the real problem anyway. The problem is anyone who thinks that a child’s score on some tests is a true indicator of his readiness for the future. You did not take exit exams, Mr. Gunlock, yet I am sure that you consider yourself a success.

Why do we continue to insist on giving these exams and tying them to graduation when study after study shows that this is not only unnecessary, it can actually be harmful? We are one of only fourteen states in the entire country that require children to pass exams to graduate. Are those thirty-six other states full of kids that are not prepared for the future? Of course not.

As for business leaders complaining about a lack of qualified candidates for the workplace, I have yet to hear that from an actual business leader. A 2014 study done by The National Association of Colleges and Employers and published in Forbes magazine found that the top ten skills employers seek are:

  1. Ability to work in a team structure
  2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems (tie)
  3. Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization
  4. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
  5. Ability to obtain and process information
  6. Ability to analyze quantitative data
  7. Technical knowledge related to the job
  8. Proficiency with computer software programs
  9. Ability to create and/or edit written reports
  10. Ability to sell and influence others

Is there any proof that these new tests measure ANY of these qualities? How can we know for sure when no one has ever seen these tests?

I would also like to know why you left the state school board so abruptly, Mr. Gunlock. Was it because you couldn’t bear the thought of admitting that perhaps you got it wrong? That maybe, just maybe, these kids are not the problem? That the fact that only 24% of students scored proficient or above on the Geometry test may have more to do with the actual test than the kids themselves, regardless of how you feel about them only needing to answer 35% of the questions correctly? I am inclined to believe the children who took these tests when they tell me that there were questions on there on topics that they had not yet covered in class. Of course that would only make sense given that, despite what the name implies, these end-of-course tests are given in March and April.

Is taking the word of  PARCC about its cut scores even though their tests were deemed so poor that we dropped them after only one year fair? How about switching testing vendors after one year while simultaneously raising the cut scores of the new tests? Or giving these same kids three different sets of Math and ELA tests in three years while providing little to no information to districts about these ever-changing testing requirements?

Does it matter that some students were taking these tests online while some used paper and pencil? While PARCC claims that it did a study and found no discernable difference, the results from states around the country say otherwise. As a matter of fact, Derek Briggs, professor of research and evaluation methodology at the University of Colorado at Boulder, who also happens to serve on the technical advisory committee for both PARCC and Smarter Balanced (whose tests are created by the same vendor we now use for all of our state tests), is quoted as saying, “In the short term, on policy grounds, you need to come up with an adjustment, so that if a [student] is taking a computer version of the test, it will never be held against [him or her]”. Yet we are still holding current juniors responsible for the results of these tests that nearly everyone else was given a safe harbor from.

Like Representative Fedor said recently, the adults got it wrong, not our children. I am incredibly grateful to her and the remaining school board members who recognize that we have a serious problem here that needs to be addressed so that the 35,000 of our current juniors who are not on track to graduate next year get the opportunity to do so.

Written by Mandy Jablonski, Ohio BAT

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Small Local Group Uncovers Widespread Opposition to Confirmation of DeVos as U.S. Education Secretary

What a frustrating time in education; but, what an exciting time to be able to join with so many voices all saying the same thing! Ohio BATs thank Tom Schmida and the Cleveland Heights Coalition for Public Education, for including Ohio BATs in the ability to sign on to this letter!

janresseger

On Tuesday, January 3, as everybody crawled out from under holiday cooking, gifting and celebrating, leaders of our local Heights Coalition for Public Education met to consider mounting some kind of local response to the existential threat of a Betsy DeVos-led U.S. Department of Education. President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of Betsy Devos alarms us because her only connection with public schools has been a lifelong commitment to using her billionaire philanthropy to privatize education. We’ve all personally sent letters or signed petitions to protest Trump’s nomination of Devos to be our next education secretary, and we looked for a way to expand our advocacy to include our broader community.

We crafted a sign-on letter for organizations and assigned different people to reach out to leaders they knew to see of their organizations would consider signing on. On Wednesday, we learned there was some time pressure: DeVos’s hearing before the Senate…

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Education, Ohio, Public Schools, Schools

#DumpDeVos

A proud public school parent writes a sample letter to HELP Committee Senators urging their “No” vote in the confirmation of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education. Her fantastic letter is below for use as-is or modified as needed.

Dear Senator {insert name},

On January 11, 2017 you begin the immensely important task of determining the fitness of our president-elect’s choice for Secretary of Education. Your conclusion will ultimately decide the direction of our education system for at least the next 4 years. Undoubtedly, this is a decision neither you nor your colleagues take lightly.

“Teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as hard duty. Never regard study as duty but as the enviable opportunity to learn to know the liberating influence of beauty in the realm of the spirit for your own personal joy and to the profit of the community to which your later work belongs.”
― Albert Einstein

Teachers understand the impact they have on shaping the lives of young people. Every day they work tirelessly to provide each child an opportunity to discover their full potential and to go forth as engaged and productive citizens. Teachers know their legacy is embedded in the multitude of ways their students influence our society for generations. As such, we must demand the individual serving as the principal adviser to the President on all federal policies, programs and activities related to education in the United States understand this intrinsically. Betsy DeVos is not that individual.

Betsy DeVos has spent her career and considerable fortune undermining public education. Leading the charge to voucherize and privatize education should not be accomplishments touted on the resume of the individual charged with shaping policies and programs for our public education system. Educators, parents and other public education stakeholders recognize our current education model can and should be improved to better serve the needs of all students. We need to change our reliance on high-stakes testing, increase funding not continue to funnel funds out of our public schools and continuously empower our teachers to address the socio-economic and emotional obstacles their students face. Betsy DeVos’ effect on Michigan’s school system should serve as all the evidence one needs to determine her vision for education is dangerous for the youth of our nation.

Betsy DeVos regularly lobbied to block legislation that would require for profit institutions to be transparent in their use of public funds or even share student achievement. Public schools must consistently demonstrate fiscal responsibility to the communities they serve and budgets are a matter of public record. Public schools accept every student regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, economic status or mental ability. Charter schools and parochial schools do not operate under the same inclusivity requirements.

Reallocating public funds to private for profit institutions and parochial schools under the guise of increased competition is at best foolish. Time and again charter schools fail, forcing parents who have utilized vouchers to find alternate schools for their children. The charter that just failed previously forced their neighborhood school to close leaving working parents with little or no options for their children. Often the people this affects most are those living in economically disadvantaged areas and people of color. We have already seen the re-segregation of schools in urban areas as vouchers and school choice facilitate white flight.

If we are sincere in our desire to propel our educational system forward, it is imperative we appoint a true champion of education. This individual must have spent their career in the service of educating our youth. This individual must have intimate knowledge of what it is like actually be an educator. This person must not be Betsy Devos. I have extreme optimism that as a member of the Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee you will conclude Betsy DeVos is not fit to lead our educational system forward. I sincerely appreciate your NO vote on Betsy DeVos.

Kindest regards,

Jessica Bosak

Registered Voter

Constituent of Senators Brown and Portman, Ohio 15th Congressional District

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Education, Ohio, Public Schools, School Board

Thank You to A.J. Wagner

14804946_1358697560837794_1144925745_nDear Mr. Wagner,

Our first interaction was a tumultuous one. We were forthright and bold in sharing our disagreements with the proposed changes to Ohio’s 5 of 8 rule. What followed from that exchange stunned us. In reply, you sent a request to meet with members of Ohio BATs in an effort to understand how policies play out in the classrooms across our state.

Not only did you spend nearly four hours of your time meeting with us, you made it abundantly clear that December day, and each subsequent day in service with the Board, that you stand with the students, parents, and educators of Ohio. While you have said repeatedly that meeting with us and really hearing us is not some extraordinary thing, while stressing that public servants are supposed to do just that, our collective experience indicates otherwise.

The encouragement and the validation felt by this first meeting rippled throughout our group. It provided hope, where before, we felt only despair. For that, there are not words enough to express our gratitude.

Throughout your two years on the Board, your steadfast commitment to public education cannot be misconstrued or understated. There was never doubt that your guiding principle is concern for our young people. You demonstrated a gracious spirit while you worked to uphold the aims of a true democratic public education, despite some of the backlash you faced. Your stand on the right side of history will have lasting implications for anyone fortunate enough to have crossed your path.

We appreciate your efforts as an Ohio School Board member, although we mourn the loss of a terrific ally. Your shoes will not be easily filled. We wish you well during this time of transition in your family’s life.

In Sincere Gratitude,

Ohio BATs

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Solidarity with LEA

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Ohio BATs stands in solidarity with the Louisville Education Association (LEA). We understand that a strike vote is a very difficult decision for any group of educators to make. We fully support LEA’s strong stand against proposed language that is harmful to not just our noble profession, but to our innocent students as well. We kindly ask that our members consider sending letters of support and donations to the Louisville Education Association.

Louisville Education Association

c/o Angela Emmons, LEA Treasurer

P.O. Box 194

Louisville , Ohio 44641

Email: louisvilleea.oh@gmail.com

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Ohio BATs – Election 2016

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Ohio BATs will not be endorsing candidates in statewide races during this election cycle. We feel that an Ohio BAT endorsement is an honor to be earned for any candidate who openly defends public education. As such, more time is needed to decide on procedures for procuring such an endorsement.

The Ohio BAT Administrators will decide upon procedures to present for feedback within the larger Ohio BAT group. We believe that our future endorsements should come from the majority of the votes within our closed group.

We will not, as a community, representative of a broad core grassroots movement (Ohio BATs), suggest in this election cycle that others vote for a particular candidate. Obviously, individual BATs are welcome and encouraged to share their views and information, as they relate to education, about a candidate.

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Education, Schools

Ohio BATs w/Seattle

Ohio BATs stands in solidarity with Seattle Educators in proclaiming that #BlackLivesMatterAtSchool. Ohio BATs recognizes that systemic racial inequality within our schools has resulted from decades of neglect for our public education system. As educators and those who support educators, we affirm the Seattle Educators’ call for our collective awareness to this issue. We thank you for your tireless devotion to our students and the education they deserve. We thank you for your strong stand in support of our students of color. All of our children deserve champions like you. #WeSeeYouSeattleEducators
Join the Thunderclap and read about related actions here: https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/48664-blacklivesmatteratschool

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