Now the district is ADDING MORE TIME for Math and ELA???
Based on the Ken-Ton Middle School Schedule Overview 2016-2017 (found below), it appears that the Ken-Ton school district is EXTENDING time for Math and ELA. Just two days ago, 400 people attended a Ken-Ton School Board meeting where there was much objection to the excessive amount of time being focused on Math and ELA.
Now the district is ADDING MORE TIME for Math and ELA???
In a recent communication shared with me by faculty and staff (found below), Ken-Ton Superintendent, Dawn Mirand, attempts to calm the extreme lack of trust in her leadership that currently exists in our schools and community. But promises are NOT good enough.
Parents, teachers, and the community want REAL CHANGE, not promises. Members of the community, parents and teachers are banding together to make sure that necessary changes are made. We have the power as a community to resist what is wrong and the power to insist that our demands are met.
We have recently seen Governor Cuomo and the NYS Education Department employ strategies to attempt to quiet the opt-out movement. This attempt has failed miserably because there was no real change, just promises. The same is true of this situation in Ken-Ton. Until real change, designed by teachers and parents, is seen at classroom level and in the lives of children, parents and teachers will continue to resist. We will continue to resist until our demands are met.
Non-residents CAN speak at Ken-Ton School Board meetings.
Below is documentation from the NYS Committee on Open Government, the Ken-Ton Board District Policy Manual, and NYS School Board Association's 'School District Obligations Under the Open Meetings Law'. I have provided links to the actual documents as well as the pictures below.
From NYS Committee on Open Government:
"In short, it is my view that any member of the public has an equal opportunity to partake in an open meeting, and that an effort to distinguish among attendees by residence or any other qualifier would be inconsistent with the Open Meetings Law and, therefore, unreasonable."
From the Ken-Ton Board District Policy Manual:
"a) Who May Address the Board:
Anyone who places his/her name, address and topic on the sign in sheet."
From the NYS School Board Association's 'School District Obligations Under the Open Meetings Law':
"...but cautions that if a school board permits public participation, it may not discriminate between residents and non residents (NYS Department of State, Committe on Open Government, OML-AO-4141, Feb. 24, 2006)."
In a letter dated April 4, 2016 (also found below), Buffalo City Honors Principal, William Kresse, uses misleading information, bullying tactics, and degrading criticism of parents in an attempt to convince them to participate in the NYS Common Core Assessments that are destroying public education for our children. Mr. Kresse paints a picture where the NYS Education Department has magically fixed the NYS Testing disaster in the midst of the greatest education revolt in United States history. Last year, parents of nearly 250,000 students boycotted these NYS tests, and many groups predict that number to double this year.
In his letter, Mr. Kresse portrays these tests as now being valuable and important to parents, teachers and students because of a few VERY MINOR cosmetic changes that Education Commissioner Elia has made:
Then Mr. Kresse goes to tell how important these tests are to inform instruction. Let me remind you, Mr. Kresse, of what parents want their children to learn: collaboration skills, research skills, life skills, debating, reading out loud, public speaking, sociology, three dimensional thinking, respect, critical thinking, self-awareness, historical literature, current literature, planning skills, charity, philosophy, geography, keyboarding, empathy, foreign language, cooking, sewing, woodworking, math, enjoyment of learning, art, morals, trust, theater, intrapersonal skills, relationship management, ethics, self-confidence, music, history, physical education, health, ELA, spatial relations, naturalism, teamwork, work ethics, self-control, freedom, playing, science, creativity, psychology, technology, trust, business, government, and integrity.
How can a test, that only assesses ELA and Math, be used to inform instruction for the entire list above? It cannot, and therefore, the entire culture of school shifts from being centered on the whole child to being centered on ELA and Math test scores. That is why we refuse participation.
And finally, Mr. Kresse goes on to say, “As an International Baccalaureate principal who is formally charged with encouraging students to be ‘responsible risk-takers’ and develop future leaders for our city, I also cannot accept teaching our children to cower from reasonable challenges.” This is a terrible insult to parents and children. We do NOT refuse these tests to avoid a challenge. We refuse these tests because they use our children as political pawns in the employment marketplace to evaluate schools based only on ELA and Math test scores that do not represent what our schools actually do. We refuse because we stand against education malpractice.
Mr. Kresse has no business being in the education field in any way. He discriminates against parents that are rightfully teaching their children to stand against the unrighteous. He uses one-sided bullying tactics to try to scare parents into participating in a harmful system. He disseminates misleading information to try to trick parents into following his misguided agenda. Parents and children that refuse NYS assessments are the leaders of education in the state. These parents and children are the ones who are taking a stand and not blindly following a path that does not have the best interest of children in mind.
As we approach the 4th year of opting-out of NYS tests in the Ken-Ton school district, the district has now developed a consistent district-wide policy that treats opt-out students and parents with respect and dignity.
Thank you Ken-Ton!
When you walk into a school, what do expect to be the first thing you see? Student paintings, science projects, clay sculptures, drawings, or maybe a mural painted by students?
How about TEST SCORES?
At Lindbergh Elementary School in Ken-Ton, the first thing you see are test scores. Here are the pictures:
This is no surprise, however. According to the district website, the Number One Goal of Ken-Ton is “All students will reach mastery in literacy and numeracy.” That makes it quite clear that the district’s number one goal is to focus on higher test scores in ELA and Math.
Back in September of 2014, the district sent out a memo to all middle school teachers that said, “Our district and school student achievement results reveal that a large percentage of our middle school students are not achieving proficiency on state ELA and math examinations. It is, therefore, required that every ELA and math teacher in grade six (6) through eight (8) begin implementing the NY State ELA modules and math modules beginning Tuesday, October 14, 2014.” The district shifted to the use of scripted modules, instead of teacher designed lessons, simply to get higher test scores. The district put test scores ahead of children. The result has been a drastic reduction in learning for our children. Here is that memo and the district goals:
“How can this be,” you ask? Didn’t the Ken-Ton School Board unanimously pass a resolution against overreliance on standardized testing? Yes, on October 8, 2013, the Ken-Ton School Board unanimously passed a resolution titled “Resolution Regarding Overreliance on Standardized Testing”. In that resolution, the school board specifically stated, “standardized testing is adversely affecting students across all spectrums”, and “ standardized testing is eroding student learning time, and narrowing curriculum and jeopardizing the rich, meaningful education our students need and deserve.” Clearly, the district has NOT honored their resolution. They have acknowledged that a focus on standardized is hurting our children, and they are doing it anyway. Here is that resolution:
What was once a student-centered school district that valued each child has now turned into a factory designed to get higher test scores. The district even went so far as to hire Harris Beach Attorneys at Law to do a study to show what organizational changes could be made to reach the district goal above that “All students will reach mastery in literacy [ELA tests] and numeracy [Math tests]”. This is all funded with taxpayer dollars. To put it in simple terms, the district hired Harris Beach Attorneys at Law to show how the district can get better test scores using our money. Here is that district document: http://www.ktufsd.org/cms/lib/NY19000262/Centricity/Domain/9/Emphasizing%20Student%20Achievement%20Executive%20Summary.pdf
The district’s ‘Vision’, according to their website, is to “Be the premier school district in New York State by 2020.” I think we would all agree that TEST SCORES are NOT what makes a district premier. Here is a list of what the district should really be focusing on instead of test scores: collaboration skills, research skills, life skills, debating, reading out loud, public speaking, sociology, three dimensional thinking, respect, critical thinking, self-awareness, historical literature, current literature, planning skills, charity, philosophy, geography, keyboarding, empathy, foreign language, cooking, sewing, woodworking, math, enjoyment of learning, art, morals, trust, theater, intrapersonal skills, relationship management, ethics, self-confidence, music, history, physical education, health, ELA, spatial relations, naturalism, teamwork, work ethics, self-control, freedom, playing, science, creativity, psychology, technology, trust, business, government, and integrity.
OPT-OUT of the STAR tests and NYS tests!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Our children deserve it!!!
Eric Mihelbergel is one of the original founders of NYS Allies for Public, Western New Yorker's for Public Education, and NYS Refuse the Test. Eric has personally helped thousands of parents across the state of NY to fight against high-stakes testing. He is an avid public speaker on education issues including how to refuse NYS tests, and he has authored many articles. In the spring of 2015, Eric successfully helped parents of over 220,000 students coordinate the boycotting of NYS Common Core tests.