The news was so bad last week for privatizers and the testing industry that we had to make sure our representatives in Congress didn’t miss any of it as they move to finalize ESEA. Thanks to Jeff Bryant of the Educational Opportunity Network for pulling these news items all together in one place for us.
We sent the following fax out to the full Congress. You can cut and paste it from here or download a pdf here to share with your own Senators and Congresspersons:
It’s not too late to stop funding failed “reforms” in new ESEA
Over the past few days, several studies and reports have come out which call into question the two pillars of corporate reform: privatization of our public schools through charter schools, and use of high-stakes standardized testing to judge students, teachers, schools and districts. Both of these “reforms” have been shown to be expensive failures, yet both are slated to receive continued generous funding from the federal government in both Senate and House revisions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, unless Congress acts to stop funding failure in a reauthorized ESEA. Here are examples of these findings:
On charter schools:
- The Center for Media and Democracy reported that more than $3.7 billion in federal funding has been poured into charter schools with virtually no accountability.
- An Education Week report on online charter schools found that their students “make dramatically less academic progress than their counterparts in traditional schools.”
- The heavily-touted “Success Academy” charter schools franchise was caught by the New York Times systematically pushing out unwanted students, including a high suspension rate of kindergarteners.
- Notably, President Obama issued a “mea culpa” on overtesting in the nation’s schools.
- NAEP scores were out and showed some of the most significant downturns in decades, including continued large achievement gaps between poor and affluent children.
- A study by Education Week found too many tests that are “redundant…misaligned.. and don’t address students’ mastery of specific content.”
What can Congress do?
For several years, PAA has been urging Congress to stop funding programs that don’t work and can be harmful, and redirect those funds to policies and programs that improve educational opportunity for all children. This includes replacing annual testing mandates with grade-span testing, allowing parents to opt their children out of any standardized test, supporting and strengthening local public schools rather than establishing processes to close and/or privatize them, promoting educationally-sound, healthy, child-centered programs including increased social services, and providing more meaningful opportunities for a strong parent role in school, district, and statewide education policy-making.