Friday, March 28, 2014

Making an imPACT






After fighting as Stop Common Core in Oregon for a year, we realized that our depth of impact needs to expand beyond Common Core.  Many states are renaming the Common Core and it won't be long before people in those states forget what the furor over the Common Core was.  We didn't want that to happen in Oregon, so we have decided to beat them to the punch and rebrand ourselves before they rebrand the Common Core in Oregon.

We are now PACT, Parents Advocating for Children and Teachers.  It is our sincere hope that we can work hand in hand with Oregon parents and educators to effect change in our education system.  Who knows the nuances of our children's learning better than their parents and teachers?  For far too long educrats and bureaucrats have shoved both parents and teachers into the backseat as they took the wheel.  We are not going along for the ride any longer.  It is time for parents and teachers to stand shoulder to shoulder and fight for quality education, personal education, innovative education, Oregon education.

Let's make an imPACT in our children's future!

Follow us over to our new home at  http://oregonimpact.blogspot.com/


Monday, March 3, 2014

Don't Let Your Child Be A Guinea Pig -- OPT OUT OF THE TEST


March 18- June 6 marks the three week window for the test drive of the new Smarter Balanced Assessment Field Test (SBFT).  The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC www.smarterbalanced.org) has this to say about the SBFT in their publication "Smarter News" :



" While the Smarter Balanced assessment is untimed, each subject area is expected to take 3-4 hours to complete. Schools may administer the Field Test over multiple days. Because the Field Test is a “test of the test” that will result in some questions being revised or dropped, students will not receive scores. "

Did you catch that?

It's a field test and therefore STUDENTS WILL NOT RECEIVE SCORES.

What is the point of having your child subjected to an 8 hour long test if they don't receive a score?

Check with your school district officials to find out if the SBFT is being piloted in your district.  20% of students in a given district will be subjected to this pointless test.  Make sure yours isn't one of them!

Opting out is legal in Oregon.  Exercise your right to do so.  
Visit http://unitedoptout.com/ to make sure your child doesn't end up a guinea pig.

Oregon-specific opt out forms available here


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

In Support of HB4062

Bill introduced by Lew Frederick

Frederick’s bill seeks to mitigate the damage done by the FERPA amendment in 2011 which makes your child’s educational data literally open to anyone who may want it.

The bill specifically states that educational data only be used for educational purposes.
Perhaps the most important part of this bill is the following:

(a) Permit a student or a parent or legal guardian of the student to view the information
contained in the student education record as allowed under state and federal law;
(b) Permit a parent or legal guardian of the student to challenge and request a correction
of incorrect information in the student education record;
(c) Require the educational institution that has custody of the student education record,
or that compiles and retains the student education record, to disclose to a parent or legal
guardian of the student, upon the request of a parent or legal guardian of the student, how
the information in the student education record may be used and who is authorized to access
the student education record;
Permit a student or a parent or legal guardian of the student to view the information
contained in the student education record as allowed under state and federal law;

It goes without saying that it should be common sense that parents and legal guardians have access to their student’s personal educational records, however they currently do not.

That is one of the biggest reasons Parent Led Reform Oregon is in full support of this bill. 

It is a small and positive step in the right direction for parents to have more of a voice in the data collected on their children.

Here is what you can do to help support this bill:
1   1)    Contact your legislator and ask them to support this bill: http://www.oregonlegislature.gov/FindYourLegislator/leg-districts.html

2  2)       Contact your school board members and ask them to support this bill.

The only way we can try to regain control of our children’s education is to start making noise. Without the voices of the parents the State will do what it wants.

It is time for us to stand up and let them know what WE want.


For more information, go to Oregon SOS

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Where Are the Men?

In this battle of the parents of America versus the Common Core, you hear a lot about the moms who are marching on state capitols, the moms who are speaking up at school board meetings, the moms who are passing out flyers in the pick up lines at school.  And some people have asked, "Where are the dads?"

Well, I will tell you where the men are.

The dads are working at their jobs to provide money for flyers, meetings, and lots of ink cartridges! (Because the moms don't have Bill Gates to bankroll their efforts unlike the opponents.)

The husbands are staying at home with all the kids so that their wives can go speak at informational meetings all across the state, and never complaining once.

The dads are helping their kids with homework, even Common Core math.

The husbands are spreading the truth about Common Core to their coworkers

The husbands are whispering words of encouragement to their battle-weary wives on those nights when she wants to give up.

The dads are helping with the laundry, washing dishes and generally making sure the house doesn't fall apart while mom is busy.

The husbands are listening to their wives rehearse their speeches, even if it is for the one hundredth time.

The husbands are busy designing amazing websites to help their wife's message get heard.

The dads are attending parent teacher meetings and witnessing firsthand the CCS destruction being wrought on their kids and the teachers.

The dads are researching CCS-free schools late into the night, crunching bank account numbers, and agonizing over when they should pull their kids out of their current school.

The husbands are busy listening to their wife's latest educational reform rant about Outcomes Based Education or curriculum and not dismissing her opinions, but echoing them.

The husbands are busy reassuring their wives that they will do awesome because they know she is terrified of messing up.

The husbands are helping their wives laugh off the latest personal attack against her in the newspaper, because they remind her that it's not about her but about getting the word out.

The husbands are lovingly pushing their wives to accept offers from news reporters, because they know she is terrified of being on camera.

The husbands are busy reminding their wives that Common Core, though it is important, is not THE most important thing in life, even when it seems all-consuming.

The husbands are watching their wives overcome obstacles, personal fears, and reaching for dreams they didn't dare hope for; all the while cheering them on.


(My own amazing husband, Francisco, with our incredible children)

The men are here.  You just have to look for them a little bit harder because they are busy supporting their wives behind the scenes.

Thank you to all the men who make what we do possible!

**This post includes all those men who are not dads or husbands but still fight anyway! Whatever part you play in this fight, we are grateful.**

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Data on the Down Low.... Students Take Survey Without Parental Knowledge

Imagine this. Your child gets off the bus and you ask how their day was at school.  “We took a survey test today.  It had a lot of questions.” is their reply.  Sounds pretty innocuous, right? Now imagine you manage to get your hands on the survey and as you scan it you see questions like:

  • How often do your parents/ guardians talk to you about jobs you can have when  you grow up?
  • If you have talked with your parents/ guardians about college, please mark all the topics below that you have discussed with them.
- Specific college (name, location, etc.)
- Degree options
- Tuition costs
- Ways to pay for college
- Years of schooling requirements
- I have not talked to them about college.


  • Do you eat dinner at home, with your family, at the table?
  • How many days a week are you usually home by yourself for more than a few minutes?
  • Outside of school, what type of community involvement are you in?
-Soup kitchen and/ or shelters
- Church/ religious affiliation
- Mission trips
- Elderly assistance
- Nursing homes
- Other : ______________
  • During the past twelve months, have you seen another student with a weapon, like a gun or a knife, at this school?
  • Have you ever smoke [sic] a cigarette, even one or two puffs?
These are just a fraction of the questions on the 13 page PBIS Student Survey that was administered to fourth and sixth graders at Leo Elementary in Leo, Indiana.  One mother, who was outraged at the invasive questionnaire, stated, “ My fourth grade daughter came home and said she took a survey test at school that asked some very personal questions….  The first questions seem benign but the first question is are you a girl or a boy with an option to not answer if you don't want to.  The rest of the test does NOT give the option to not answer.


When she questioned the origins of the survey, she was, “ told by her [daughter’s] teacher that the counselor, the principal, and two sixth grade teachers came up with the test.”  Further inquiry into the survey prompted the mother to contact the school counselor who was credited with the collaboration of creating of it.


“I left a message for the school counselor yesterday after school and did not hear back until today at noon.  I tried to call...left a message again today and no response.  I was told that the students had an option to take the test and not to answer questions If they didn't want to.  I asked my daughter..it was never an option, it was presented as a test.  I emailed the teacher to confirm:  she said that the test was given yesterday and that a memo was sent out today stating that it was optional.  My sixth grader on the other hand took the test today and it again was NOT an option.”


No parental consent was given before the children were subjected to the survey.

 
(Photo credit Google images)



This Indiana mother believes that they are ‘tracking and profiling’ the children. She was told by the principal that the children had to log onto a secure server through Google however further investigation by this diligent parent, revealed that the students were required to log onto My Big Campus with their individual student ID’s.  Given the evidence, we would agree with this mother’s assertions.  

Though these questions seem ordinary, you must ask yourself, where is all of this data going? This mother asked that very question and was told that the test results 'didn't leave the school.' Well that response begs the question: why does one elementary school need a 13 page survey on each child? And why did the survey have to be done without parental consent? What action will be taken with this survey? If a child answered yes to something that is against the law, such as underage drinking, will they be prosecuted for the infraction?


At what point does data collection on minors, without parental consent, become privacy invasion?


Teach your children that they don’t have to answer any personal questions EVEN IF it is on a test.  Reassure them that you will deal with the teacher or principal if there is a disagreement of their refusal.  And make sure that you make it known, in writing, to your school district that you absolutely do not give consent for any surveys to be done on your child.


Shut the door on invasive data mining. *Parent's name and information was withheld by request

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Who is Listening To Us?


Do you want to see what happens when you voice concerns to your elected officials about Common Core?

Take a look.

(Personal information has been redacted to protect privacy)

And here you can read the full text of his letter:

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about Common Core Standard testing in Oregon schools.  I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.
As you may know, the State of Oregon adopted Common Core Standard testing in 2010.  The aim of the Common Core Standards Initiative is to give students a clear understanding of the expected proficiency levels in reading, writing and mathematics while in school.  It is important to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter college programs and the workforce as soon as they graduate.
I have heard from many Oregonians in opposition of these standards for many well thought out reasons.  I understand how Oregonians can be frustrated with a national policy that compels states into heavy testing, and how that testing could handcuff local curricula.  At the same time, I believe our schools need to be held to a standard that promotes success for all Oregon students.  We need the policies in place that tell parents and teachers where each student stands, and what each student needs to work on for future success.  While this debate continues, and while we wait to see the results of the Common Core Standards in Oregon schools, I want you to know that I will not stop fighting for education reform and proper funding for Oregon schools as long as I am in office.
Please rest assured that I will continue to do all I can on the federal level to ensure Oregon students receive the highest quality education, but I also encourage you to contact your state legislators because the Common Core Standards are adopted by states independently.  Their contact information can be found at the Oregon State Legislature’s website atwww.leg.state.or.us or by contacting your county election official.  
Again, thank you for keeping me apprised of issues that are important to you.  If I may be of further assistance in the future, please do not hesitate to contact me.  


                        Sincerely,
 
                        
     
                        Ron Wyden
                        United States Senator
 


Does that sound like a dismissal to you too?  Oh wait, and yes -- condescension!  He knows better than we do what our concerns are and which ones are valid.  Our government officials need to tell us what we should be concerned about. *rolls eyes*

Let's break down the letter a little further.  First of all, it is not only the testing that was adopted in 2010 it was the whole Common Core State Standards Initiative.  This initiative includes standards and assessments.  And as we all know, standards and assessments drive curriculum choices which means the Common Core is dictating curriculum as well.

From what Senator Wyden says, the only issue Oregonians have with the Common Core is the testing.  Um, Senator, perhaps you didn't read my letter closely enough.  Or maybe you forgot what it said (seven months ago) by the time you got around to sending out a canned email to your constituents.  Let me refresh your memory:



Senator Wyden,

Please join with Senator Grassley of Iowa and co-sign his request to the Senate Appropriations Committee on Education to halt future funding for the Common Core Standards.

Common Core is a dangerous overreach of our federal government into education and it must be stopped.  

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/contact-your-senators-to-co-sign-grassleys-request-to-halt-common-core-funding/

Thank you for your consideration in this matter.

I appreciate your hard work on the behalf of the people of Oregon.

So did I mention testing in there at all?  No.  I asked him to partner with courageous Senator Grassley to halt the funding of Common Core, which is federal overreach into education.  But Senator Wyden, or more probably, his assistant email-writer, decided that this was the perfect opportunity to spin the rhetoric to fit his agenda.

I doubt he even read the article, that I linked to, which held Senator Grassley's letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee.  He probably didn't even bother to see what a fellow United States Senator's concerns were with the Common Core.

Personally, if I were a senator, I think that taking my colleagues' concerns into consideration is a sound political practice.  If my esteemed fellow elected officials have issues with something, I would pay attention.

But no one is paying attention. Perhaps if we were paying them to pay attention....oh wait, we are.  Never mind.