Tag Archives: PARCC damage

MBOE Budget Meetings: Where, oh, where did the money go?

Dear friends,

Good day to you.

Due to snowfall yesterday, there was a two hour delayed school opening in Montclair, and the PARCC was postponed from today, to tomorrow, 3/3/15.

While we gather links, press clips, blog posts, and pictures from yesterday’s amazing event in Montclair with filmmaker Michael Elliot, we’re jumping back to last week’s BOE meeting on
2/23/2015.

We collected a few pieces you might want to read before this evening’s budget meeting. One thing on so many of our minds is:

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Here’s the BUDGET WORKSHOP MEETING  info from the MPS website on 3/2/2015 at 1:30pm:

The MBOE Budget Workshop meeting on March 2, 2015 will commence at 4:30 pm in the George Inness Annex Atrium at 141 Park Street. It will then go immediately into Closed Session and reopen at approximately 7:30 pm for the Public Session.

The MBOE Budget Workshop meeting on March 5, 2015 will commence at 5:30 pm in the Atrium and go immediately into Closed Session reopening at approximately 7:30 pm for the Public Session.

The MBOE Budget Workshops will air live at 7:30pm on Mon., March 2, 2015 and Thurs., March 5, 2015 on Comcast/FiOS 34, FiOS Channel 33 and will stream live.

 

PARENT VOICES:

Parent, Laurie Orosz made these comments at the BOE meeting on 2/23/2015.
We are adding a link to the Noam Chomsky piece she referenced in her comments and include here via Creative Systems Thinking blog:

My son, a third grader at the Charles H. Bullock School, will not be taking the PARCC exams.

Noam Chomsky, in a recent interview for The Progressvie Magazine, stated “The assessment itself is completely artificial. It’s not ranking teachers in accordance with their ability to help develop children who will reach their potential, explore their creative interests. Those things you’re not testing.. it’s a rank that’s mostly meaningless. And the very ranking itself is harmful. It’s turning us into individuals who devote our lives to achieving a rank. Not into doing things that are valuable and important.”

The PARCC assessments are especially harmful and meaningless. Having taken a practice exam at a Montclair Cares About Schools, Take the PARCC event, I can say these tests are confusing, needlessly wordy, at least two grade levels too advanced and measure nothing but one’s endurance to sit through a frustrating, tedious test.

The PARCC is just one of several, unfunded mandates, recently imposed on our schools by bureaucrats and the wealthy elite. Under the pretence of closing the achievement gap and leveling the playing field, these reforms are designed to demean and demoralize our teachers, fail our students, chip away at public education and legalize institutional racism.

Montclair doesn’t exist in a bubble. What is happening nationwide and statewide is happening here.

Almost three years ago, a Broad Superintendent Academy graduate, without any public input, was appointed Superintendent of our schools. The Broad Superintendents Academy isn’t certified, has no state approvals, isn’t subject to outside monitoring, doesn’t require a background in education and trains people in corporate disruption techniques. Broad Superintendents have consistently devastated school districts.

When Dr. MacCormack assumed her position, we had a significant surplus in our budget. Now, as she announces her resignation, we are left with a deficit of millions of dollars and our schools in ruins.

Montclair, once envied for our progressive and diverse schools has become an embarrassment. Class sizes have swelled, curriculum has been narrowed, test prep has run rampant and our schools are now facing horrendous budget cuts.

I want to know what happened to cause this situation and who is going to take responsibility for such an egregious and destructive lack of oversight.

An independent, internal audit should be conducted and Dr. MacCormack should be immediately relieved of her responsibilities. An interim Superintendent should be appointed who is familiar with and respects our magnet program and who values and respects public education.

The search for a new Superintendent should be open and involve input from our Principals, teachers and all stake holders and should lead us to an individual who will help rebuild our schools and return Montclair to its position as a leader in public education.


And this Letter to the Editor:

The Montclair Times letter by Chris McGoey: “Superintendent and her budget must go”

FEBRUARY 26, 2015    LAST UPDATED: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 26, 2015, 12:32 AM

THE MONTCLAIR TIMES

Superintendent and her budget must go

Board of Education President David Deutsch has announced Superintendent Penny MacCormack will stay in place until an interim is hired through a paid search. This is unacceptable.

The Principals’ Association has called for MacCormack’s immediate removal, dumbfounded by her insistence that millions of dollars of cuts must come from school programming and staff, leaving them “uncertain of how we possibly got to this place.” The Montclair Education Association and community have echoed that call.

With no confidence, MacCormack’s preliminary budget proposal (which she did not bother to come to present) has no credibility. Her budget claims a projected $10.9 million shortfall. The budget requires that certain unnamed classes be cut and others be combined, that related arts (physical education, art and music), middle and elementary school electives, and athletics be cut. The budget cuts books and supplies, makes kids with special needs give up current paraprofessional support, cuts speech and occupational therapy, cuts teachers and healthcare, and proposes that taxes be raised.

These are false choices framed by an untrusted leader with no vested interest in what happens to Montclair going forward.

Millions have been diverted from the classroom into support for continual assessing, PARCC testing, evaluation, data collection, consulting, legal fees and Common Core curriculum. That money lies hidden in layers of Central Office hires, unhelpful professional development, over-purchased and unplanned tech, and hidden off-budget-line expenditures like the $860,000 unbudgeted tech expenditure disclosed at the Nov. 17 BOE meeting.

This budget deprives children of education to pay for testing and reforms.

We don’t need to wait and pay to search for an interim.

We need to install Felice Harrison today as the NAACP has requested.

Get an independent auditor to look at the books.

Cut the money tied up in the reforms that are wreaking havoc on our schools and budget.

Chris McGoey

Montclair


 

Will we see you at the meeting tonight? Bring your questions and comments.

Stay well and warm,

Montclair Voices

 

 

Video

What people are saying about the PARCC and high stakes testing

NCLBtest

Dear Readers,

It’s going to take a while to unpack last night’s Board of Ed. meeting which didn’t end until well past midnight.

While we try to do that, bake, light candles, wrap gifts, cuddle with our kids, clean up spilled stuff, and play with kittens, we’ve got this:

A letter from a parent to the BOE, a ten  year old’s compelling and heartfelt comments at the meeting, a short animated film about what testing can feel like for a child, and an article written by  a teacher in Chicago that includes many points that hit home here in Montclair, NJ.


Letter sent to Board of Ed. members by email prior to BOE meeting on 12/15/2014:

Dear  Mr. Deutsch, Ms. Mernin, and all Members of the BOE,

I was a regular at Board meetings in spring 2013 through the end of February 2014. Since then, I have not been able to attend. As I’m unable to be there yet again tonight, I’m writing to express my support for the resolution scheduled for your vote this evening.

I respectfully urge all MBOE members to please vote YES for the
humane parental refusal resolution that
would not be punitive and will not include “sit and stare” policies.

My second grader is not yet subject to the PARCC exam,
but he and his classmates are already experiencing (for the second year
in a row) a narrowing of the curriculum and a loss of magnet richness,
increased stress,  and confusion for parents, children, and teachers.

There’s a hyper focus on math, writing, ELA, and a lot of worksheets and tests,
mostly created by Pearson.
Many of these (especially) math worksheets are developmentally inappropriate
and too wordy and confusing.

There’s barely time for art, music, social studies, science, library, and Spanish.
Our children need a much more engaging learning experience.
They need to play, experiment, and explore with hands on, project- based learning.

That once well known, progressive school district our family moved to Montclair
for appears to be disappearing. Authentic teaching and learning cannot be achieved by high stakes testing, PARCC prep, mini PARCCS, tests to practice for the PARCC or endless worksheets.

The joy has been gone from our schools now for almost two full years.
It’s time to bring it back. And in the meantime, it’s time to say YES to
a resolution that will allow parents to opt out/refuse the PARCC or any other standardized testing
that does nothing but sort and separate our children, informs us what socio economic background they might be from, and which does nothing to teach
them but turns them into people  following
test directions, filling in the bubbles–instead of blowing them.

The current landscape is rough for many of us who have children
with special needs in the system. They’re among the first to be hurt by these
changes, by high stakes testing, by standardization, by “rigor”, “college and career ready” data driven reforms.

I see the mind numbing worksheets. Wasting our children’s brains and imaginations on useless, stressful, busy work; lessons that serve Pearson, perhaps, but not our children.

Thank you for your consideration and your YES vote for a humane policy
for MPS.

Next, please consider a humane, educationally sound, progressive strategic plan for our district
instead of the race to nowhere and the many children being left behind plan that is currently in place.

Sincerely,

Elana Halberstadt


 

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Why is it we can’t we have our children run the BOE? 

A very smart and brave 10 year old student, Elizabeth Blaine spoke up against the PARCC at the BOE meeting.

Here’s what she had to say via The Washington Post:

And video, too.

http://youtu.be/m0hTl638Exg


 

Once again, we heard many teachers speak out at the BOE meeting. Visit Montclair Education Matters blog for more  local teacher voices.

Here a teacher from Chicago writes about PARCC damage. And, yes, it is relevant to New Jersey:

An excerpt via Diane Ravitch blog:

Katie Osgood, who teaches in Chicago, describes what the Common Core and PARCC have done to her classroom. Whatever the children read is decontextualized, lifeless, bare of interest, skill-based.

They are engaged in “close reading,” following David Coleman’s ideology.

She writes:

My school is drowning under the ridiculous Common Core Standards. Everything I know to do to inspire my students is forbidden. Instead, we are forced to deliver truly horrible curriculum in developmentally inappropriate ways with pacing charts that move so fast all our heads are spinning. My students with special needs are shutting down, acting out, or just giving up entirely. Sometimes I hear them whisper, “I hate school”. And they are right to think that. All the teachers are upset. And every time we ask “Why? Why are you making us do this?” the answer is always the same. PARCC is coming….


 

A lovely short-short film, The Testing Camera by Peter H. Reynolds:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PABNMIG5VJc&app=desktop


 

Happy Chanuka to all celebrating!

Warmest wishes from the team at Montclair Voices