The Other PARCC: A Short Film by Michael Elliot

Michael Elliott, parent, activist, film editor, brings it all home here in his latests short doc about the PARCC exam. Thank you Michael, for standing up for not only your own children, but ALL children in the War on Public Education. Thank you for producing these grassroots films- with no financial support from any organization at all- to raise awareness about the PARCC exam and other abuses that are inflicted on our children by the testing regime.

parentingthecore

Back in January, I was asked to be one of many interviewees for Michael Elliot’s short film (5 minutes) about New Jersey’s test refusal movement, which kicked into high gear this January as the state began gearing up for the PARCC tests (which begin tomorrow here in Montclair). The film was released today. If I was more technologically savvy, I’d embed it here, but just click on the link — and please watch it — it it definitely worth seeing.

Michael shot over 25 hours of video for the final 5 minute product. He did a great job editing together a wide range of voices united around a common theme. This afternoon, Montclair Cares About Schools hosted a premiere event for the film with Michael. I attended along with my family and many of the other people whose voices contributed to the film. We had a full house despite…

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ATTENTION ALL READERS – I saw the web film that is going to bring down the PARCC test!

Poetic Justice

I just previewed a short (about four minutes) but very powerful and moving web film that I truly believe is going to bring down the PARCC test. The video is on the continuous test preparation and the deleterious effects on our students and how parents are crying out for the abuse to be stopped now. It is full of parents voicing the truth about how their precious children are being damaged and how the love of learning is being destroyed before it has a chance to bud and blossom.

When I watched the film, it brought tears to my eyes and it also made me extremely angry. I felt really angry because just stopping the PARCC/SBAC tests is not going to stop the abuse. We have to stop the test – the evaluations – and the intrusion of profiteers into our classrooms. This film is one huge step in this…

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Howard Charter Firings: Racist Error or Business as Usual

By Wayne Jebian

It quacks like racism, at least in the short version.

Three social studies teachers, who are black, were planning lessons for Black History Month at Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science, a predominantly black charter school on a Historically black college campus in Washington, D.C. Given pink slips in front of their students, these teachers’ sudden dismissal upset parents and moved the students to stage a demonstration of their displeasure. According to news reports, the students stood on the lawn of the main quad of Howard University. Blogs reported the students chanting:

“We Want a School, Not a Business.”

The NAACP has launched an investigation of the incident, but paying attention to the students’ words, the important question about the event is not “did a black school make a racist call?” but rather, “can a charter school not make a racist call?”

The problem is the business model. The kids nailed it.

In the business model of education, you might be working with a particular supplier of a curriculum, and therefore be reluctant to go off menu to teach about Marion Barry, for instance. Howard Charter made a point of defending its curriculum in a statement paraphrased by the Washington Post. In a business model, competing lesson content will always be just that, competition, and will be received hostilely.

The crush of competition and all of its unforeseen consequences may be close to the top of the “Stupid Business Tricks” list, but it has company. At-will termination and lack of free speech protections are bad enough separately, while the combination becomes combustible when racial content is involved. That certainly was the case at Howard this year, and it has been for years.

In 2007, according to the Los Angeles Times, charter school administrators in that city stopped students from reciting the poem “A Wreath for Emmett Till” during a Black History Month program. The students circulated a letter of protest, and two teachers, Marisol Alba and Sean Strauss, were fired for signing it. The Times described a school administrator explaining that Emmett Till was inappropriate subject matter to celebrate because he had whistled at a woman.

After Emmett Till, a young black teenager visiting the south in 1955, allegedly whistled at a white woman, he was murdered and his body mutilated. His mother’s decision – to have an open coffin and put the full horrors of lynching on display — is credited with jumpstarting the Civil Rights movement. The lesson of Emmett Till to school administrators is that social studies and history aren’t pretty, but they have a value greater than the white-washed curriculum being peddled by the next corporate officer in the chain of command.

Marion Barry may not be pretty, but for the middle school students of Washington D.C., there could be a significance that an outsider has no business judging (and no curriculum publisher thinks of including). So until charter operators find better ways than off-the-shelf answers and corporate compliance to grapple with the issues on the ground that matter to their students and their communities, charters will continue to be viewed as racist institutions that fail to deliver the variety and quality of education our teachers of color an dour students of color deserve.

Marshawn Lynch, Carl Heastie and the Media: Is the New Speaker As Tough as the Seattle Running Back?

Ed In The Apple

Marshawn Lynch is the all-star running back for the almost two time Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. Lynch grew up in Oakland, attended the University of California, Berkeley, and left after his junior year to play professional football, first in Buffalo, now in Seattle, and, ” … his teammates joke that he loves chain restaurants … [and] is also known for his frequent community involvement. In 2013 he was featured in Red Bull’s campaign ‘Athletes Give Back’ when he put together a very successful food drive for his home town.” However, he has always been reticent to speak to the media, The NFL fined him a number of times, at the required press availability at the Super Bowl Lynch showed up and answered every question with “I’m just here so I won’t get fined”

The room, full of media, asked him question again and again knowing full well that he…

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Naison Rants!

Once you understand how much money there is to be made from dismantling public education, filling schools with tests, and making neighborhoods ripe for gentrification by closing schools and opening charters, you will see why both political parties buy into and promote the School Reform Myth . Not only have the School Reform measures endorsed by both parties failed to reduce gaps in educational achievement and income by race and class, they have magnified those gaps. I defy any economist to show me evidence which shows that the US has become a more egalitarian society since the passage of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top. Whether you look at child poverty, income distribution, or wealth gaps by race, the US has experienced the largest redistribution of wealth upward in modern history in the very years School Reform has been at its peak.

We have more children living in poverty, lower wages, and a higher percentage of national income controlled by the top 1 Percent than we did in 2001, or 2008. Yet our elected officials continue to push their toxic mix of National Testing, Charters, and Test Based Accountability as though it were some kind of anti-poverty program rather than a huge opportunity for profit by publishers, software manufacturers, real estate investors and “educational entrepreneurs.”

It is time to pull the mask away and see the profound corruption that lies at the heart of dominant School Policies- whether they are pushed by Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Andrew Cuomo, Rahm Emmanuel, Michael Bloomberg or Barack Obama.

– Mark Naison