State news roundup for February 21, 2015

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Massachusetts – MTA thrilled by decision not to advance charters

MTACommissioner Mitchell Chester announced today that he will not be recommending that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approve the New Heights Charter School in Brockton or the regional Academy for the Whole Child Charter School, which was to be based in Fitchburg. This marks the first time in at least 15 years that no proposals for independently run charter schools will go to the BESE for a vote.

Both proposals were strongly opposed by MTA members in the affected communities and fellow educators throughout the state.

“We are thrilled by the commissioner’s decision not to advance the Commonwealth charter school applications in Brockton and Fitchburg,” said MTA President Barbara Madeloni. “This was the right decision for the students and residents in these communities.”

In both Brockton and the region that would have been served by the Academy, teachers, school administrators, parents, local elected leaders and students came out in force against the charter applications.

They argued that the charter schools would offer nothing new and would drain resources from districts that have demonstrated success in serving the needs of their diverse student populations. They testified at public hearings and submitted reams of written testimony against the applications.

Get the full story at MassTeacher.org.

Pennsylvania – PSEA urges state legislators to fix the Keystone Exams

Pennsylvania-PSEA-logo[1]PSEA believes that using Keystone Exams as a high-stakes graduation requirement creates negative consequences for students and takes graduation decisions away from local school districts and educators who know students best.

PSEA Vice President Jerry Oleksiak and Cumberland Valley teacher Jake Miller delivered that message in their testimony before the House Education Committee at a Feb. 12 hearing regarding the state’s academic standards and the Keystone Exams.

“For years, PSEA has maintained that it is inappropriate to base high school graduation decisions on state test results rather than the complete academic record of a student over the course of his/her academic career,” Oleksiak said. “High-stakes exit exams are associated with increased dropout rates; narrowed curricula; decreases in student motivation to learn; and disproportionate harm to some of our most vulnerable students – those living in poverty, minority students, English language learners, and special needs students.”

Miller, an American History teacher, described the ways high-stakes exit exams can hurt the overall education of his students. “To the student who fails these exams, the fallout can be absolutely awful. Those who fail the Keystone are placed in remedial courses to ensure that they will pass the exam. Oftentimes, these courses come at the expense of elective courses – like art, technology education, agriculture, engineering, and more.”

Visit PSEA.org to learn more about the Keystone Exams.

Maine – Standardized testing facts

Maine ME MEA logoIt costs $1.3 million to administer tests to 90,000 students in Maine, according to the Maine Department of Education.

Nationwide testing costs $1.2 billion dollars. If the nation spent that same amount of money on teacher salaries, every teacher, according to the Brown Center on Education Policy, would receive a $550 raise.

According to fairtest.org, more than 800 four-year-colleges do not use the SAT or ACT to admit substantial numbers of bachelor degree applicants.

For the first time in Maine, students will take a new, unproven standardized test administered by a company called Smarter Balanced. The state Department of Education (DOE) is calling the test the Maine Educational Assessment or MEA. This is not the same MEA students used to take in years past.

Get all the facts at Maine.nea.org.

Washington – Message to Congress: Less testing provides more time for students to learn

Patty-Murray-with-kids-576x324Educators know promoting a love of learning is more important than a test score. We also know focusing too much on standardized tests takes valuable time away from student learning.

So here’s some good news: Congress is poised to finally update the controversial and flawed No Child Left Behind Act, also known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). It’s the law that promotes over-testing students and punishing schools. Last fall, the law’s unrealistic testing requirements resulted in nearly every Washington school being labeled a “failure” by US Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

Fortunately, Sen. Patty Murray, our senior US senator, is the lead Democratic senator working to update ESEA.

Sen. Murray needs to hear from you. Email her right now and urge her to help Congress get it right this time. By sharing your personal perspective with Sen. Murray, you can help shape the discussion in Washington, DC so the updated law actually helps our students and schools instead of punishing them.

Get involved in the fight at OurVoiceWashingtonEA.org.

Reader Comments

  1. I believe who should stand for this is the President and all the Democrats who knows that the only way to progress and the economy is the result of the education children gets. That the Educational Programs is important and a priority in a PLUS Sense. More teachers means more attention by the students. Small rooms for to many children is not right; nor help each children. New Curriculums be to be made with new ways of teaching so children can understand better the issues of each curriculum class. What is their health education there education is a must. The Republicans who tackle the progress for learning programs ,school needs , and teachers that without them there is no progress in the future of those children and the economy that is always there waiting for new entrepreneurs and the work force that can not progress without the new generations. Assisting for the progress of schools and children ability to learn more. Not preparing better the students today to better the future of their career will not help built better economy these representatives are 110% wrong to say they are representing the people, the progress of this country , the children for tomorrow’s business and careers their living future economy and the economy that must be keep secure for the nation for future generations whom will be the strong force for the Work force as a whole.
    These representative are acting wrong and in the opposite of the progress and stability this country needs further down the row for a better future. This is something all should be concern and try to step against the next vote for them. These is not how America was born for. But born to make a better secure economy, fruitful ,stable ,progressive protected , America and it’s people. To progress and stabilize the economy ,Congress, Representatives and the Schools Agencies Educational programs must stand forward and face reality. The reality that if they do not start to take the step and put the priority education deserves , There will be a great fall in the future. Not only for those children are left back but the economy that moves the nation. Education and its tools ,health , nutrition and the protection they need Is important for the government and the future of America. If this are not in the curriculum of the Representatives Republicans and the majority Leader of the republicans and their senate , America will not move or progress. This is why I am Not a Republican; because they do not care for the protection , the progress , the health ,the education and what is really important for this country its children and the children’s future.MCH 2-22-2015

  2. Teachers need to be held IN a higher esteem in the United States and everyone from the President down to local governments, media, & anyone who has influence in the USA SHOULD BE DOING THIEIR DUTY TO PROCLIAM HOW IMPORTANT THEY ARE !!! Unless we do this we will not have a healthyUSA. . We have people out there that have a war on our education system, we cannot let them take over the defining of our system. THIS IS EVIL AND WILL DESTROY OUR COUNTRY. TEACHERS IN OUR SCHOOL SYSTEM ARE REALLY THE BACKBONE OF THE USA AND WE HAVE BEEN DOING AN EXCELLENT JOB IN TEACHING THE STUDENTS OF THUS COUNTRY. DO NOT LET THE GREEDY EVIL PEOPLE THAT ONLY HAVE THEIR SELF INTEREST TAKE OVER OUR STSTEM, BECAUSE THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT THEY ARE TRYING TO DO. WE NEED TO WAKE UP AND PROTECT WHAT WE HAVE!!!! Wake up people and do your investigating and homework or you children and your children’s children will suffer!!!!! START ACTION TODAY.

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