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On Education, Biden Is Making Sure ‘Nothing Will Fundamentally Change’

When it comes to education policy, Joe Biden is following through on his promise that nothing will fundamentally change. While he expressed support for some progressive measures on the campaign trail, like ending the high-stakes testing mandate for K-12 and giving relief to higher education students and borrowers, his actions so far have led some to surmise that corporatists and reformers are running the show at the Department of Education. Secretary Miguel Cardona has taken a prolonged “Help is Here” tour, but urgent demands from students, parents, and teachers are going unmet. Here’s a breakdown of the administration’s handling of key education issues so far.

The Country Moves Forward, Education Falls Back

There’s hope in the air, a scent of spring, anticipation of change, democracy may pull through. Why, then, with K-12 public schools, the broken promise, the dismay? Biden raised hopes when he promised, Dec 16, 2019, that he’d “commit to ending the use of standardized testing in public schools,” saying (rightly) that “teaching to a test underestimates and discounts the things that are most important for students to know.” Yet on Feb 22, his Department of Education did an about-face, announcing, “we need to understand the impact COVID-19 has had on learning …parents need information on how their children are doing.” How the children are doing? They’re struggling, that’s how, doing their best, and so are teachers and parents.

San Francisco Lab Launches New Era Of Glyphosate Testing In Food

By Staff of Sustainable Pulse - Anresco Laboratories in San Francisco has launched unique low detection testing program for glyphosate residues in final food products and soil samples from all over the World. The unique glyphosate testing, which uses a regulatory recognized LC/MS/MS method, is available to both NGOs and commercial companies. Anresco Laboratories, working in coordination with The Detox Project, has started a new era of transparent, accurate and affordable glyphosate testing, which enables consumers to find out the truth about the levels of glyphosate in their food.

U.S. Military Releases High School Testing Data

By Pat Elder for World Beyond War - Data released by the Department of Defense on August 1st shows the military administered its 3-hour enlistment exam to nearly 700,000 students in 12,000 high schools during the 2013-14 school year, a 2% increase over the prior year. The Military Entrance Processing Command (MEPCOM) administers the exam, known as the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery, (ASVAB). The database was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Anti-Common Core Fury Rages As Latest Exams Given Across NY

By Jaime Franchi for Long Island Press - The parking field at Stony Brook University overflowed with minivans and sedans of parents and educators who’d gotten last-minute word of a “listening tour” critical to informing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new Common Core Task Force about necessary modifications to the controversial education program—and ultimately, helping shape policy across the state—flooded the campus. Filled to capacity, New York State troopers directed the still oncoming traffic to impromptu curbside spots...

Houston Opt-Out Movement Ramps Up Boycott This Testing Season

By Laura Isensee for Houston Public Media - There’s no official state policy on opting out, but the Houston school district says students won’t be disciplined for missing the exam. This week, thousands of students in Texas public schools will take the state’s standardized exams. They’re called the “STAAR.” Except some parents want their children to boycott the exams. Earlier this month, a few dozen people rallied outside of the headquarters of the Houston Independent School District.

Should Teachers Join In Building “Learning Management Systems”?

By Anthony Cody for Living In Dialogue - The rise of Competency Based Education as a supposed alternative to schooling driven by standardized tests is prompting an interesting debate. I first wrote about CBE last November, in response to a version offered by tech-ed entrepreneur Tom Vander Ark.My primary concern was that teacher and student autonomy will inevitably suffer when learning is defined as a series of outcomes, and systems are built to constantly monitor student progress towards these results.

Opt-Out Activists Aim To Build On Momentum In States

By Andrew Ujifusa for Education Week. Activists driving the resistance to state exams are attempting to build on their state-level momentum over the past year, while also venturing into a new political landscape that will test whether the energy behind their initial victories will last. And they say they’re forging ahead with their plans regardless of how much support they get from traditional education advocacy groups, including teachers’ unions. Several leaders within the so-called testing opt-out movement, which has gained considerable traction in New York and also found a foothold in states like Colorado and Connecticut, say they will continue to push parents to refuse to allow their children to take standardized exams, particularly state tests, for as long as it’s necessary.

From Compassionate Schools To A Compassionate Society

By Susan DuFresne, for Living in Dialogue. I connect the dots of EduActivists’ work to other movements through Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed and collaborative activist work I engaged in this summer. Here I make the point that in order to have Compassionate Schools, we also need a compassionate society. In this post I will discuss the liberation involved in developing compassionate schools and how that liberation is connected to the development of a compassionate society. Who are the leaders and who must be involved in the struggle as examples? How are the genres of activist movements connected to the struggle for a compassionate society? Our public schools are becoming schools of trauma. The reformers’ policies have dehumanized schooling, the children, and teachers to the point where schooling itself is traumatic. Children who cry and vomit over high stakes tests. Children and teachers who are punished over test scores. Schools closed causing actual deaths in Chicago for children who must cross gang lines to attend their new schools. Zero Tolerance policies that imprison children for minor infractions.

USDOE Threatens Low-Income Families Over Opt Out

By Marla Kilfoyle for Badass Teachers Association - As much as corporate education reformers (and we will include the USDOE in this category) want you to believe that standardized testing is used to help children, educators know the truth. What the USDOE issued on Dec. 22nd shows in full transparency that the testing agenda is not about helping children but more about making sure testing companies get their profits, and data mongers get their data. On December 22nd, the USDOE sent a threatening letter to the Chief State School Officers regarding opt out. Ann Whelan wrote the letter and specifically stated, “ED may take enforcement action.

To Black Parents: Time For Civil Disobedience

By Diane Ravitch. Jamaal Bowman, principal of the Cornerstone Academy for Social Action Middle School in the Bronx, gives a dynamite interview aimed at black families about how to change the quality of education for their children. He says we are investing billions in standardized testing and ignoring what we should be doing in our communities. Black and brown children are being miseducated by current policies. High Stakes Testing and the Black Community: Just Say No! Standardized tests? Principal Jamaal Bowman says 'Know your rights'. President Obama recently spoke out against excessive standardized testing. The POTUS claimed that this issue, "takes the joy out of teaching and learning, both for them (teachers) and for the students".

Educators Challenge Pearson’s Corporate Take-Over

By Lee Stewart for Popular Resistance. Minneapolis, MN - On Saturday afternoon (Nov. 21) as the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) gathered in Minneapolis, Minnesota for their annual convention, the floor of Exhibit Hall erupted in protest. Dozens of teachers and education professors occupied the space for over 30 mins to protest British-based publishing giant Pearson’s influence on public education in America. One particular issue that was held up at the protest was Pearson’s contribution to shaping the Teacher Performance Assessment (edTPA). The edTPA is a standardized test for teachers administered by Pearson in many states for teacher certification. The test has been marketed as a way to professionalize teaching, but it’s riddled with problems.

What Sort Of Assessment DOES Enhance Learning?

By Anthony Cody for Living in Dialogue - In recent weeks we have heard President Obama talk about the value of tests – even as he acknowledges that they have become too pervasive. President Obama suggested we should have tests that “enhance instruction,” and “enhance teaching and learning.” Unfortunately, the standardized tests his administration has promoted and continues to require do none of these things. There are, however, ways to assess learning that DO enhance learning, rather than stifle it.

Obama Admits Too Much Student Testing: Too Little Too Late

By Diane Ravitch for Diane Ravitch's Blog - The Obama administration acknowledged that students are spending too much time on testing and recommended that no more than 2% of classroom instructional time be devoted to testing. Apparently the administration is reacting to bipartisan opposition and widespread parent protests against the diversion of time and billions of dollars to high-stakes testing. Public sentiment, as recorded in recent polls, opposes the overuse of standardized testing. In addition, the Times reports, the administration was reacting to a new report from the Council of Great City Schools, which found that the current regime of testing has not improved achievement.

Common Core PR Offensive Rewrites History To Ignore Failures

By Anthony Cody for Living Dialogue - This week we have seen a renewed attempt to rehabilitate the beleaguered Common Core standards, just as the scores arrive in many states, largely meeting projections that they would yield increased failure rates and a wider “achievement gap.” These results are the most basic problem that the Common Core has. These standards were designed to deliver massive failure, and the tests are delivering as promised. But rather than question these results, some advocates are trying to shift the focus onto a brighter view. The headline from Think Progress is beyond belief. “People Like Common Core Better Once They Know What It Is.” But when you read the article, you discover that support for Common Core is actually continuing to drop.
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