10 Year Old Takes Down PARCC at Local Board of Education Meeting

Updated and with Backstory Below, 12/16/2014:

The public portion of our local school board meeting ran from 7:40 p.m. until 12:40 a.m. last night.  Included on the agenda was a first reading of a policy (a copy is attached below) to require the district to provide educationally appropriate and non-punitive alternatives for kids whose parents refuse to allow them to take the PARCC tests.  The policy will not be voted on until the next meeting, which is not until January 26, 2015.   My 10 year old 4th grader attended the meeting with me, and was the first speaker when public comment began around 9:45 p.m.  (She waited patiently and listened intently to a good chunk of the prior two hours of the meeting — and when she got bored, she read her book.)

Please watch the VIDEO of her describing her experience with PARCC preparation.  She speaks for herself quite eloquently, if I do say so myself!

10 Year Old Takes Down PARCC (in case the embedded video doesn’t work, here’s a link to a YouTube version).

A few thoughts today.

1.  I want to thank our local micronews blog, Baristanet, for promptly covering last night’s meeting, with its article comprehensively describing the Board meeting live on its site by this morning.  I’m glad that there was real — and relatively real-time — press coverage of last night’s meeting.  We can’t be an informed community without reliable journalists to report the news.  The Montclair Times and The Alternative Press -Montclair  have now filed stories as well. I am really hopeful that given this prompt response last month’s lack of full coverage was an aberration. Thank you to our local press — your job is critical.

2.  This morning Elizabeth’s story appeared on Valerie Strauss’s Washington Post education blog, The Answer Sheet.  I want to give Valerie the credit she deserves for this piece.  In early November, we took a family trip to Washington, D.C.  As some regular readers of this blog know, Valerie, who is a super-hero in the movement to push back against the current so-called “education reform” movement, published my second blog post ever — and a bunch of my blog posts since that time — on The Answer Sheet.  Coincidentally, it turned out that The Washington Post was on the route from our DC hotel to our nearest Metro stop.  I sent Valerie an email saying that it was a thrill to see the HQ of the newspaper that had published some of my work, and she graciously offered to give us a tour of the newsroom.  She came in on a Sunday and met us to give us our tour (my youngest adores her because she suckered Valerie into letting her abscond with a pink flamingo ornament from Valerie’s desk) and, as you can imagine, we talked education, teaching, policy, and politics.

Elizabeth was an active participant in that conversation.  I think Valerie was blown away when, after she’d told a story about using her role as a journalist to expose an inequitable situation faced by a boy with a physical disability in the DC schools, Elizabeth asked, “Do you think that the DC or the Philadelphia schools are worse these days?”  So Valerie encouraged Elizabeth to write about PARCC and PARCC test prep from a student’s perspective.  On our way home, Elizabeth was composing the first paragraph of what eventually became last night’s public comment to the Board.  She’s been working on it on and off ever since.  But when we learned this weekend that the Board had placed the PARCC parental refusal on its agenda, Elizabeth buckled down and finished the last bits of her piece.  My involvement was to add the explanatory note that appears in the WaPo piece, to fix about 3 typos, and to give Elizabeth a brief mini-lesson on embedded quotation marks.

After she finished, she read it aloud a few times, and we timed her and discussed some tips for public speaking.  I honestly wasn’t sure whether she would actually speak or not until she went up there.  And I couldn’t be prouder of my kid!  I think that last night demonstrated, far more comprehensively and concretely than any standardized test possible could, that Elizabeth is on track for college, career, and, most importantly, active and thoughtful participation in civic life.  I cannot begin to thank her teachers enough for their role in helping her to grow into the amazing little girl she is and continues to become.  I don’t need a standardized test to tell me that they’re doing wonderful work — but I can and will continue to do what’s within my power to ensure that they can do their work as unfettered as possible by mandates from those, such as Arne Duncan, David Hespe, and Penny MacCormack, with little or no classroom teaching experience.

17 thoughts on “10 Year Old Takes Down PARCC at Local Board of Education Meeting

  1. Well stated objections to the PARCC. The students get it, yet the state still does not. I was proud of the 150 middle school students in a neighboring school district who refused to take the NYS tests last year without their parents writing a letter. I hope this year, the number increases exponentially.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When a child can see the problems with Common Core, it must really “STINK”. Why are school authority’s around the country even espousing a very poor political education ideal???


  3. Great courage on your daughters part. I hope this common core atrocity will disappear. These liberal, indoctrinating school boards love this stuff. Anything that can’t be really understood and make no sense is great at keeping everyone in disarray of real progress. Good luck.


  4. Excellent presentation by your daughter and a wonderful account of support from Valerie Strauss and her first teachers at home. I took the grade 3 ELA test, I was no better off than your daughter was…the technology interface was a total distraction from the content and the task.


  5. Well Done! Thank you and I hope more will speak out against PARCC. On behalf of my six year old son, thank you!!

    During the last Englewood Cliffs Board of Education Meeting I informed the Board during public comment that my son will not be sitting for the PARCC testing (if they are still around) when he reaches third grade. I am quite serious as I feel PARCC and everything behind it is not in the best interest of any student. In fact, I feel that it is hurtful to students for several reasons not limited to these:

    1. PARCC will be administered on computer rather than paper which places pressure on our youngest of students to learn keyboarding and be exposed to computers even before they have had the experience and develop the proper motor skill to form letters correctly. The computer forms letters perfectly at the push of a button. In the perfect world I would prefer students be on a computer much later. In addition, tight school budgets are spending yet more hardware just to accommodate the computerized test.

    2. The type of questions I found on PARCC in taking a practice test caused me a huge headache as they were twisted and confusing. I would not subject a young mind to such an assessment.

    3. Data collection – I will not have 400 points of data collected on my son and held in a database somewhere for unknown future use. More than enough data to inform instruction can be obtained within the school itself.

    4. Two tests per year that will eventually be used to evaluate the teacher performance is a flawed logic. There are way too many variables. In addition, over evaluate and you will have no heart to inspire – no energy to motivate. Yet more tests, in most cases, are also administered for the so called „Student Growth Objectives“.

    An educational leader, in my opinion, must be a catalyst – must be the cause of positive excitement about the world – like of the world, real curiosity, knowing of the world! The American poet and philosopher Eli Siegel stated “The purpose of education is to like the world through knowing it“ and I wholeheartedly agree. I hope Mr. Hespe will find out more about his philosophy. I believe that we are presently in a situation where teachers are not lifted up – but instead, insulted through SGOs, endless data collection, performance rubrics, and more. A once more collegial relationship is being replaced by a corporate style data collecting and crunching top down management – filling out endless computerized evaluations of teachers digitally warehoused by a centralized and privatized third party company. If more weight were given to supporting and lifting our teachers – more resources given to motivating, exciting, and further educating them – it would, in my opinion, be very wise – as our students, our children, my child, would benefit.

    I intend to be a vocal critic / advocate for my son and all his classmates at Englewood Cliffs PTA meetings, Englewood Cliffs BOE meetings and even council meetings. I hope more parents will object to mandating of Common Core / PARCC / teacher evaluation, and hope that the state reconsiders how it sees its schools and all its young residents.

    Most importantly, in order to have more schools be successful, the state must work hard to close the financial gap between communities rather than attempting to run all the schools like a big business.


  6. I am so glad to find your blog. I am a parent just starting to write and expose the reform efforts. This brought me to a few tears. I’m also an educator seeing what this is doing to our children. In Gratitude,


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