Dear NCGA, The Feds Waived Mandatory Standardized Tests – Time For You To Waive State Tests (And School Performance Grades)

Just issued by the Department of Education:

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And just posted by the News & Observer:

“Neither students nor teachers need to be focused on high-stakes tests during this difficult time,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a news release Friday. “Students are simply too unlikely to be able to perform their best in this environment.

“Our actions today provide turnkey flexibilities for state and local leaders to focus on the immediate needs of their students and educators without worrying about federal repercussions.”

States around the nation have submitted waiver requests from testing requirements. State Superintendent Mark Johnson told ABC11, the News & Observer’s media partner, on Thursday that he would submit a waiver request for North Carolina.

The exams are still required under state law. They’re used by the state for things such as evaluating teachers, giving bonuses to principals and teachers and giving A-F letter grades to schools based on their performance.

It was not immediately clear Friday whether the General Assembly will agree to waive the exams this school year.

Waive the state exams for this year.

And stop giving school performance grades for this year.

And every year after that.

 

A Cross-Curricular Virtual Lesson For North Carolina High School Students From Senator Richard Burr

Here’s some background material. Think of it as the standards you will be covering.

  1. From the official Twitter account of Lt. Gov. Dan Forest last summer.

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2. The “Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act of 2012

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3. Coronovirus Properties

“There’s one thing that I can tell you about this: It is much more aggressive in its transmission than anything that we have seen in recent history,” he said, according to a secret recording of the remarks obtained by NPR. “It is probably more akin to the 1918 pandemic.”

Here’s the instructor:

 

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Care To Make A Comment About This Sen. Burr?

It has been a while since Senator Richard Burr has been discussed in this blog. In fact it has been over three years since he helped to place Betsy DeVos into President Trump’s cabinet and then praised her for her “efforts.” In fact he made this statement:

I’m glad that we had a lively discussion with Betsy DeVos about her vision for the Department of Education,” said Senator Burr. “Her commitment to improving education and expanding opportunity for our students is unmatched. Betsy DeVos is the person we need for this job and I am proud to support her nomination.” 

Our children are the future of North Carolina, and they represent the best of us. I am proud to be an avid defender of North Carolina students in the Senate.”

As a part of my commitment to defending North Carolina students, I was proud to offer an amendment to fix a long-standing inequality in education funding that has shortchanged North Carolina’s teachers, schools and low-income students for over 15 years.”
We have made great strides this Congress to deliver control of K-12 education back to local communities, while making sure limited federal education funding is going to the communities that need it the most. But making sure that our children are getting the best education possible is going to be an ongoing fight for North Carolina families in Washington. I’m pledging to continue fighting for North Carolina’s schools, teachers and students, because a brighter future for North Carolina students means a brighter future for North Carolina.”

The son of a public school teacher was making comments about “funding” and resources.

And then this today from ProPublica:

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“Soon after he offered public assurances that the government was ready to battle the coronavirus, the powerful chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr, sold off a significant percentage of his stocks, unloading between $582,029 and $1.56 million of his holdings on Feb. 13 in 29 separate transactions.

As the head of the intelligence committee, Burr, a North Carolina Republican, has access to the government’s most highly classified information about threats to America’s security. His committee was receiving daily coronavirus briefings around this time, according to a Reuters story.”

Sen. Burr, would you care to explain?

 

Stuart Egan: Teachers in North Carolina Raised All the Right Issues When They Protested Last Year

Thanks as always to Dr. Ravitch

Diane Ravitch's blog

Stuart Egan, an NBCT high school teacher in North Carolina, reminds us of why teachers protested last year and how the elected officials responded (mostly with silence).

Fortunately, the people of North Carolina have a chance to change the state’s direction by electing a genuine and experience advocate for public education as state superintendent: Jen Mangrum won the Democratic nomination and she will campaign vigorously to restore the state’s once-esteemed public schools as great places for students and teachers and communities.

If you live in North Carolina and you are tired of politicians tearing down the public schools and shifting public money to entrepreneurs and religious schools, vote for Jen Mangrum in November.

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Dear Betsy DeVos, Do One Positive Action For Public Schools: Waive The Requirement For Standardized Testing For All States

In the eyes of this public school teacher, Betsy DeVos’s policies and lack of actual perspective when it comes to education have been worse for our public schools than Dolores Umbridge was to Hogwarts.

But she has the capability of doing one really positive action for our nation’s public schools in the wake of the CONVID-19 epidemic: waive the requirement for standardized testing for all states.

Even her home state of Michigan has asked for her to do so.

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Tell your representatives and legislators to help convince DeVos to waive the requirement for ALL states.

 

Every Public School Teacher Should Be Awarded Digital Learning Credits After This Week

One of the teachers I admire the most actually teaches at the high school whose attendance zone adjoins mine.

Tripp Jeffers has been (and still is) a tireless advocate for NC public schools for longer than I have been in North Carolina. He posted this today.

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In just the last three days in setting up a virtual classroom for each of my three different preps, I imagine that I have learned at least five new technological tools to facilitate learning.

That’s not counting the continued use of other applications I have learned this year.

In the last two days alone, I have spent hours creating videos in different venues to test and see what is best for my classes which will also use Zoom for actual class meetings.

And finding resources online that engage students with curriculum instead of just giving them something to do to pass the time actually takes time. Furthermore, adjusting how assignments are given and finished assignments received and then offering feedback will be an ongoing endeavor.

But the collaboration that has been occurring is amazing. And part of the digital learning requirements deals with sharing what we have found and showing how it has helped classes.

By the end of next week, I imagine every teacher in public schools helping to facilitate learning for students at home will have done more than is required for the mandatory digital learning credits.

The state should award them.

Our Students Need Us Now More Than Ever

Teaching is not easy.

Never has been, Never will be.

And with the current situation of schools closing and people having to confront this epidemic, teaching now will be more than “not easy.” Yet our students need us more than ever.

What we teach is so much more than curriculum and tests. For many of our students our presence both physically and now virtually is a stabilizing factor in their lives. They watch and observe us even when we are not the person delivering a lesson. We are constantly modeling for them what it is to be someone of service and someone whose calling concerns the well-being of others – not just the intellectual part. In fact, many students are watching us and learning how to care for themselves by observing what we do for ourselves.

In the last two days, I have received more emails, Remind messages, and correspondence from students than any other two days that I can remember. They are coming at all times of the day and night. Some students are looking for answers to questions about curriculum r schedules or how to use the programs needed for virtual classrooms; all are looking to maintain a connection with their school and its people.

If anything, we teachers and support personnel are needed now more than ever.

Close a school for a while and the community instantly feels the effects. Shut them down across the state and everybody has to adjust.

Our students look to us for guidance, direction, assistance, validation, answers, and the ability to use voice. Nothing has changed in that respect.

Educators advocate for students and schools. Nothing has changed in that respect.

We collaborate with each other and remove obstacles for our students. Nothing has changed in that respect.

We will adapt. We will overcome this obstacle. No one adapts to situations and change like we do.

Because it’s all about the students.

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Texas Yesterday And Georgia Today. North Carolina Should Be Next – Suspend State Testing This School Year And…

ask the federal government to waive requirements for federal national tests.

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The Georgia Department of Education will seek the maximum authority and waivers afforded by the U.S. Department of Education and other federal agencies to accommodate this ever-evolving situation,” the statement said (from today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution).

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In an unprecedented move, Gov. Greg Abbott announced Monday he would waive testing requirements for this year’s STAAR exam, as many schools expect to be closed at least through the April testing window due to the new coronavirus.

He also said he would ask the federal government to waive this year’s federal standardized testing requirements, which apply to all states (yesterday from The Texas Tribune).

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End-of-the-year K-12 school testing is canceled in Colorado for the remainder of the academic year as dozens of school districts across the state have shuttered in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic, the Colorado Department of Education announced Tuesday (from today’s Denver Post).

And there’s even Indiana, which might be a bigger player in the education reform business than NC and where Mike Pence did as much damage to public schools as Betsy DeVos tried to do with Michigan’s.

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Do the right thing, North Carolina!

 

Public School Teachers: 10-Month Employees, But 12-Month Educators

Many times over the last 20-plus summers, I have heard from many well-intentioned people that it must be nice to have a job that allows one to only work 10 months out of a year.

And most of those people do not understand what all is done outside of the classroom by teachers in order to maximize student achievement. Teaching is not a just walk into the classroom at 8, do a job, leave at 4, and leave it all at the school.

Not this teacher. Lots to do outside of a classroom at times not necessarily defined in the job description – if there actually is a job description out there that covers what we actually do.

Write a blog or some op-eds about conditions of the teaching profession and the state of public schools in North Carolina and one of the first counterarguments you will receive is that you only have to “work 10 months a year, but get paid for twelve. “

Yes, we might be what is termed “ten-month” employees, but we are 12 month educators. And to set the record straight, teachers are paid for ten months, some just spread it out over twelve month increments. (Furthermore, if we were hourly employees, then most of us would be able to collect a lot pay. It is not uncommon for teachers to to work 60 hour weeks – easily.)

One of the obviously overlooked aspects of this 10-month calendar is that it is a system that society has created, not teachers. If you want teachers to teach 12 months, then open schools for twelve months. Change the law about the number of days students have to be in school. Be willing to invest more tax money into keeping schools fully operational for that time.

There’s bus transportation, food, extracurriculars, etc. that must be resourced. If someone wants schools to be teaching students twelve months a year, then finance it.

One would also have to convince the tourism industry that having a vast majority of students go to school during prime travel and vacation months will have no bearing on the economy. The calendar as it stands today for traditional public schools is somewhat driven by the tourism industry.

What about those “year-round” schools? Well, they go the same number of days as traditional schools, but it’s just spread out over the entire year. Same with those teachers.

But to think that when school is not in “session,” teachers do not do anything professionally speaking is ludicrous. What many mistake is that that “eight weeks of vacation” is actually unemployment. Teachers have 10-month contracts. What one may call “vacation” is actually unpaid time that is spent getting renewed certification, professional development, or advanced degrees—all of which are paid with teachers’ own money that gets taxed by the state. Until recently, the only way teachers could get a pay increase is to fund their own advanced education. But even that is no longer the case because of a crusade led the current NCGA to eliminate advanced-degree pay increases.

And don’t even begin to quantify what coaches in any sport are doing as far as camps, workouts, summer leagues, and fundraising to get teams ready for the next year. And most every coach at any given high school is also a full-time teacher.

Yes, we might be 10-month “employees.”

But we are 12-month educators.Image result for full year calendar

After This Unprecedented Time In Public Education, We Should Have A Totally New Teacher Working Condition Survey

Amid meetings, gathering of resources, communications with students, creating lesson plans to deliver online, amid other concerns, I and every other public school teacher received this email:

Working Conditions Survey

This is not even appropriate at this moment especially when the letter begins with something like “We know you are very busy with trying to deal with this pandemic, but can you answer some questions that deal with nothing about how the state has been supporting public education?”

Just two days ago I had more sample standardized test copies in my classroom to help students get ready for an end of year test than the entire state had kits to actually test if people in a state of over 10 million people had CONVID -19.

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Yep, after this unprecedented time in public education, we should have a totally new teacher working condition survey.

Because what some of our local districts and schools are doing to help keep students fed and feel cared for could never be reflected in what DPI asked to be filled out today.