The widening achievement gap in New York

Here is my response to Carol Burris’/Valerie Strauss’ Common Core tests widen achievement gap in New York, published today (8/26/13) in The Washington Post’s The Answer Sheet

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Re: “Students will now need to be placed in remediation, or Academic Intervention Services. Schools that serve a predominately minority, poor student body will be fiscally overwhelmed as they try to meet the needs of so many children. Those who truly need the additional support will find that support is watered-down.”

Carol Burris is absolutely correct. I am a NYC ESL teacher in a Title I public elementary school in East New York, Brooklyn. My school has experienced deep budget cuts this year; in fact, we have no AIS (Academic Intervention Services) position this year to service the huge number of students who did not test proficient on the CCSS tests (students who received a score of 1). The NYC DOE’s response to this has been training us in RTI (Response to Intervention). We are told we can no longer rely on AIS services. “We are all RTI,” they tell us, and classroom teachers are now responsible for providing this service to their own students. We differentiate to meet the needs of individual students; this is not a new concept. However, our class sizes are going up due to budget cuts, and at the same time we are expected to use the new NYC Common Core math and ELA curriculum programs to prepare ALL students for the developmentally inappropriate NYS Common Core tests. More students, particularly those in Title I schools, will be left behind.

This poisonous Common Core package is indeed widening the achievement gap, and it will end up doing the opposite of what it purports to do. Beginning in elementary school, an increasing number of kids will find school repellent (due to round-the-clock test prep, lack of real world knowledge) and will burn out before they even start considering higher education options. As an educator, I am heartbroken for my students and will continue to fight for their right to a meaningful education that truly gives them what they need.

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Recognition for Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates

Dear all,

Susan and I so appreciate Valerie Strauss’ Washington Post profile of our website as well as Diane Ravitch’s strong endorsement on her blog. We also appreciate Anthony Cody’s recognition on his blog.

We recognize the healing powers of providing teachers with a space where they can share with one another stories about their struggles. Corporate education reform has been devastating to our profession, and it is our hope that teachers will find insight and inspiration through these pages.

Mr. Gates – we also hope you read our letters with an open mind and will respond to us in an authentic, meaningful way. We strongly urge you to spend as much time as possible in the “trenches,” in public schools, working directly with kids and dialoguing with educators. It’s the only way you’ll truly understand and appreciate what we dedicated, caring teachers are up against. We are teachers to the core – we feel it in every fiber of our being – but the Common Core together with its assessment, curriculum and teacher evaluation plans, are gutting us and our students.

Diane’s endorsement: http://dianeravitch.net/2013/06/19/an-amazing-website-teachers-letters-to-bill-gates/

Valerie’s article in the Washington Post:
http://m.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/06/14/teachers-letters-to-bill-gates/

Anthony’s blog:
http://mobile.edweek.org/c.jsp?DISPATCHED=true&cid=25983841&item=http%3A%2F%2Fblogs.edweek.org%2Fteachers%2Fliving-in-dialogue%2F2013%2F06%2Fbill_gates_discovers_money_can.html