April 27, 2014 Standardized Screening And Round Table Discussion w/Bianca Tanis & Dr. Katie Zahedi Highlights and Links, Poughkeepsie NY


For decades, standardized testing has been a part of public education. Within the last ten years, however, education reform has promoted even more testing. Test scores, mistakenly viewed as effective assessments of student ability and teacher/school effectiveness, are anything but. STANDARDIZED sheds light on the invalid nature of these tests, the terrible consequences of high-stakes testing, and the big money that’s involved.
http://www.standardizedthefilm.com/ *Please note, that the 75 min Standardized film was not taped due to license restrictions and is not a part of this video. To view the film, please go to the Standardized website.

On April 27, 2014, parents and educators in the Hudson Valley got together to watch the film and engage in dialogue about these issues. Here are some of the highlights from that screening and the round table that followed.
We refuse the test not becuase it is hard, but because it is wrong.
Bianca Tanis aptly pointed out that this is a civil rights movement. She said that “Just as I would not allow my family to patronize a segrated movie theater, I would not support my child to participate in a practice that diminishes equity for every child in the community.”

I agree.

It is becoming clear, whether people are ready to admit it or not, that the “opt out” movement is very much a “Civil Rights” movement and should be taken just as seriously. Advocating is not only for your child but for EVERY child –  the dreamers, the artists, the musically inclined all those who have strengths but may not be cognitively inclined to meet the standards that are expected of them under education policies. This includes those who may be special needs and are systematically being weeded out and/or prejudiced by these highly flawed policies one by one. This is unacceptable.

Refusing the test is an act of civil disobedience because all other efforts have been stymied and, simply put, we MUST do this for our kids. Educators and parents have a responsibility to ALL our nation’s children to make policy decisions that are in their best interest, attainable and that are equitable.

Current edu policies, violates those very obligations.

There are many poignant moments in the film. It is a MUST see.

The round table was informative and educational. Those of us who attended found strength in one another, became allies and have found new comrades in this fight. I am so glad to have met these people and proud of what they stand up for.

To be honest, the film is deep and sometimes personal. Im not going to lie, the film brought to life how the testing industry and the money behind it is systematically bastardizing public education policy manifesting in segregation and abuse of our children right before our very eyes.

This is an undeniable reality that is hard to surpress in your mind or to look away from. Yet, every day, I meet someone who is unaware or prefers to remain “blissfully ignorant”.

Frankly, I cant imagine how anyone could ignore the truth and the reality. Brought to life on screen, this revelation brought tears to my eyes, the reality is hard to ignore. What I took away from the film and the round table, is that testing is not best for our children or our nation and refusing the test is not an option, it is a MUST.

Here are some reasons why.

At approximately the 12 minute mark, Anna Shah discusses a letter that was sent by Administrators from Elwood UFSD that explains why a Kindergarten show was cancelled in that district. According to the letter, the administrators felt that it was in the best interest of students to cancel the Kindergarten show to make room for academics so that the Kindergarten students would be college and career ready.

Does it even make sense that the Kindergarten talent show was cancelled so that 5 year olds can be better prepared for college and career? This explanation is both mind boggling and telling, at the same time.

Dr Katie Zahedi mentions that global benchmarking is the force behind RTT and other policies here in the US. She dsicusses the organization OECD in her speech at about the 15 minute mark discussing how policy making that arises out of this organization drives global competition through test scores but has not mandate to improve the lives of children. OECD has no particular stated interest or charter to address the welfare of children. This is a problem that manifests in the testing craze here in the USA.

The US prides itself on being non conformists. Then, why the craze for our children to conform?

Here are the links to the policy organization that drives HST, OECD, as Dr. Zahedi mentioned, the focus and impetus for driving the education policy is for economic development their concern is not about the welfare of children. Keep that in mind.

Dr Schleicher Bio

Dr. Schleicher PPT http://www.pisaday.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/PISA-2012-US-Schleicher.pdf

Update: 4/1/14 Alliance for Excellence in Education interviews OECDs Andreas Schleicher adresses an updated report dated 2014: http://youtu.be/WdE4vISrz2o “The World economy does not pay you for what you know, the world economy pays you for what you can do with what you know.” http://youtu.be/WdE4vISrz2o

Bianca Tanis points out that every child who comes to school has the right to feel safe and respected. What is at the heart of this, is testing is taking away from that.

Bianca discusses NYSESLAT and how ELL students are double tested subject to very harsh CC based testing conditions and points out how unfair this is to this vulnerable population of students. http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/nyseslat/ http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/nysitell/ http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/lab_r/

Bianca discusses that students who dont pass Regents exams are no longer eligible for a diploma. NYSED is not obligated to provide one, but will offer students with disability a CDOS credential which automatically identifies the child as a person with a disability who is eligible for entry level employment.
Bianca found this startling and explains why.

Here is NYSEDS explanation of CDOS http://www.p12.nysed.gov/specialed/gradrequirements/CDOS-QA-1113.htm

At approx 1 hour 25 min, Bianca discusses Picket in the Pines taking place the weekend of May 4-6, 2014. Here is the POJO article about it and NYSUT link. Essentially, educators were shut out of the chance to attend an “education policy” pow wow which the NYS Gov plans to use as a conduit to direct and move edu decision and policy moving forward. Join Bianca, Cheryl and Katie at PICKET IN THE PINES if you want to challenge and speak out!

According to Ken Mitchell, South Orangetown Superintendent: “Maybe we need an educational version of the FDA to ensure that the products and practices that vendors and philanthropic dilettantes advance are tested before they are legislated and then used on children,” Mitchell said. “Our political leaders need to demand the research behind any reforms such as assessing teachers through student test data, over-testing, charter schools or the Common Core.” POJO Retreat Protest Article http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/…/education…/8328231/
NYSUT Links to Picket in the Pines Parents, educators and community members: NYSUT is organizing Picket in the Pines to protest @ Camp Philos. If you are interested in taking a bus, call your regional NYSUT office. For the Hudson Valley, that would be (845) 339-4450. You can find other regional offices here:http://www.nysut.org/about/regional-offices You can also visit nysut.org for more info.

Tom mentions “The Central Planners”. Central Planning with its rigid rules has NEVER worked and will NEVER work.
The world is a very dynamic and ever changing place. Those who call themselves “Progressives” are really the ones locked into their Statist or Static Group Think positions and ideas. It is that simple.
Here is Tom’s link: http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/04/obamacare_and_common_core.html#.U10Wsx3MJug.facebook

In the video, Tom Sipos mentions a piece called “I Pencil http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/rdPncl1.html“.
According to Tom, there are a few variations of I Pencil and there is even a Youtube video. It is a fascinating story to read and ponder all of the people and innovations that come together through self organizing systems without any centralized control. We can then buy this complex thing called a pencil for a few pennies. Tom furthers that the Afterward to I Pencil is especially important and gives insights to the “simplistic” thinkers who created Common Core and Obamacare.http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/rdPncl2.html

Tom discusses his interview with Sen. Gipson in which Gipson referred to Tom as a “conspiracy theorist” due to his views and concerns over CC. Here is a podcast of Tom’s interview with NYS Senator Terry Gipson as discussed in the video. http://www.1450wkip.com/…/ny-state-senator-terry…/

A parent had concerns that CC amounts to Agenda 21. At the risk of sounding ignorant, I am not very familiar with this theory. So, I need to research that angle some more before I comment on it.

We talked politics. We discussed that more parents and educators needs to speak out and get involved.

Several educators joined parents and spoke out at this event. One teacher pointed out that “Teacher’s working environment becomes the child’s learning environment”. That speaks volumes.

I would like to personally thank each one of the few educators who joined us. Too long parents and educators have stood on opposite sides of the line when it comes to public education. What I took away from our conversation tonight was that, parents and educators must cross that line and stand side by side.

Our children are relying on us to do that for them and we owe them that much. Thank YOU to Principal Zahedi and the teachers who joined us. I am grateful for their courage, dedication and conviction.

Thanks to the parents who took the time away from family and obligations to join us. Several brought their children who had fun mingling and playing in a side room while we round tabled.

In my view, our children are worth the sacrifices we have to make in this fight. As Katie said, if parents only knew what is happening – this is much too important for parents or educators to take lightly.

The time has come for more parents and educators to take time out of their busy, appointment filled lives to open their eyes and find out what is going on so they can get involved and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Please join us in this fight for our children because:

For every Kindergarten show that is cancelled because of a system that forces 5 year old co-workers to pursue myopic academic paths toward “college and career readiness”, a precious opportunity is lost for that child to grow, learn, imagine, dream create, find her individual strengths and shine.

“I never saw the things my child couldnt do. I only imagined what she could” says this mom in this clip.

Children deserve the chance to find out what they can do, not to be tested summarily only to be told by an “exam” what they are not capable of.

That is another reason, we must refuse the test.



In his speech on stage, Tom says: Think about the “rigor” of Common Core as in rigor mortis. “Men are born soft and supple; dead they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail.” Lao Tzu

We will prevail.


Info on the Forum and our panelists:

Sunday April 27, 2014

3:00 pm – 6:00 pm 

Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center Theater

12 Vassar Steet, Poughkeepsie NY 12601

About the panel:

Dr. Katie Zahedi is principal at Linden Avenue Middle School in Red Hook, NY. She recently provided testimony at the Capital Region Education Forum held in Albany before the Assembly Minority panel. At that hearing, she expressed strong concerns about CCSS, APPR, data mining, education policy, the hiring of the Regents Fellows and Commissioner King’s oversight of NYSED among other things. Dr. Zahedi is a strong advocate for students and teachers having traveled to Finland to examine education policy there. Her work has been published by Diane Ravitch and others. Dr Zahedi lives in Ulster County with her family.

Bianca Tanis is a public school parent in the Hudson Valley as well as an elementary special education teacher. She is a strong advocate for special needs students and is a frequent speaker on education policy at forums and events in the Hudson Valley and beyond. Her work has been published by Diane Ravitch and others. She is a frequent conrtibuter to several advocacy organizations that lobby against HST in NYS. Bianca oversees the advocacy organization Rethinking Testing Md Hudson.

Sponsors: Thanks to Tom Sipos, his wife Joanne and the Cuneen Hackett Center for their generosity and support in making this event possible. The Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center is a regional cultural resource and a historic landmark that boasts a theater that has amazing acoustics and a 200 seat capacity. The venue is wheelchair accessible. http://cunneen-hackett.org/12vassar.shtml

Tom Sipos has been a tour de force in the Hudson Valley talking about issues that NO ONE else in the Mid Hudson region  will touch. He has given many of us a voice! Please follow this link over to Tom’s page Hudson Valley Focus LIVE and LIKE it! Then, call him and TELL HIM WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT COMMON CORE, TESTING AND EDUCATION POLICY EVERY TUESDAY 6-9 AM, Common Core Tuesdays.  The studio call in line is 845 471-WKIP. 845 471-9547. Hudson Valley Focus Live CC Tuesdays: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Hudson-Valley-Focus-LIVE/52879956381328 http://www.iheart.com/live/Newstalk-1450-WKIP-5877/ http://www.1450wkip.com/onair/tom-sipos-49447/

The event is hosted by Hudson Valley Parent/Educator Initiative/HVACC is a bipartisan advocacy organization of parents, educators, officials and community members spanning a number of school districts in the Hudson Valley. Join us on FB: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HudsonValleyAgainstCommonCore/


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