Archive | April 1, 2015

More Teachers Speak Out against the New Common Core Tests*

More Teachers Speak Out against the New Common Core Tests*

By Valerie Strauss

With the spring standardized testing season under way, we are hearing from a growing number of teachers, principals and even superintendents who are speaking out about the negative effects of high-stakes testing on teaching and learning.  For example, Steve Kramer,  superintendent of Madeira City Schools in Ohio, recently wrote an open letter about why he is “profoundly concerned” about new Common Core testing. The following post is an open letter signed by 20 teachers at Barbieri Elementary School in Framingham, Massachusetts, who detail how Common Core testing is affecting their classrooms.

Here’s the open letter:

We are teachers at Barbieri Elementary School who want to make clear what is happening in your children’s classrooms as a result of decisions made in offices far away.

This year, 3rd-8th graders in Framingham Public Schools will be taking the test known as PARCC, which will be replacing the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS).

PARCC was created by the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, one of two multi-state consortia given $360 million in federal funds to design new standardized tests to hold students, schools and teachers “accountable.”

As teachers we cannot stay silent as PARCC makes its way into our classrooms.

In the words of Soujourner Truth at the 1851 Women’s Convention,

“Where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter.” Nationally, we’re hearing a racket about the problem of standardized tests driving instruction, knocking the process of education clearly out of kilter. Here are a few reasons why:

  1. Test Prep takes time away from REAL Reading, Writing and Math Instruction.

For example, leading up to the PARCC exam, regular instruction is suspended in reading and writing classes in order to prepare our students for the kind of passages and questions they will encounter. On average we will cancel six weeks of reading and writing instruction to prepare for the tests. The time for independent reading, read-alouds and word study is replaced with repeated practice answering multiple choice questions and writing multi-paragraph essays in less time than they will ever be asked to do in high school or college. This does not even account for the instruction time lost to actually taking the PARCC tests. This year students will lose seven additional learning days in Grade Three, eight days in Grade Four and nine days in Grade Five, while the children take the PARCC exam (in addition to science MCAS in fifth grade). Some say that because students will only be allowed 75 minutes to complete the test, there will still be plenty of time for regular instruction. However, it will take at least an additional 40 minutes to get students appropriately seated, hand out the materials and read the lengthy directions. This also does not account for the fact that some students are allowed up to the entire school day to complete the tests, and we cannot introduce new concepts with part of the class still testing. Furthermore, PARCC is only one of many state and district mandated tests that your children have to take each year.

  1. Test Prep Negatively Affects Children’s Love of Learning

We became elementary school teachers because we wanted to help foster a love of learning. We teach our students that reading can bring joy and that math is magical. But that message is nullified when we start to prepare our students for standardized tests. We tell our students that they can no longer talk with their friends to puzzle out a math solution, or consult the word wall to help them understand unfamiliar words. We tell our students that they need to read quickly because on testing days they will have a mere 75 minutes to read two or three stories, answer multiple choice questions and write an essay. As we completely undermine what we have spent so much time building, our students begin to lose their passion for reading and math. If we extinguish the passion to learn at such a young age, how are we preparing them for “college and careers?”

  1. Standardized Tests Punish English Language Learners, Students with Special Needs and Students with Anxiety

As teachers, we constantly strive to meet the individual needs of our students by differentiating instruction so that everyone can access the curriculum. But that is not the message during testing time. For the first time in the school year, all students are expected to read independently at their given grade level. Students with special needs and those whose first language is not English are likely to struggle. Every year, children who are anxious about school freeze up, become ill, and/or are reduced to tears by these types of tests. Russ Walsh, a literacy expert, recently determined that the majority of passages and questions on the sample PARCC tests are two years beyond the expected reading level for the grade. He summarized his findings by saying that the tests will provide very limited information for parents and teachers, and a tremendous amount of frustration for students.

  1. PARCC= Failing our Teachers and Students

The results of the PARCC tests will no doubt feed into the education reform mantra that our kids, teachers and schools are failing. Each year, there are wholesale changes to curriculum because the goal of education has become “passing the test.” We have to scramble to create lesson plans for these constantly changing expectations. How can we do our best work if we are not properly trained in the curriculum? A new lesson requires time for teachers to understand the concept deeply and determine how best to present it. It requires time to think about how to engage students in the lesson, how to accommodate for individual student needs, and to gather the necessary materials. We need time to create visual supports, and to consider how to assess students’ understanding of what is taught. Multiply that time by four or more subjects in a day, and you can see how it becomes impossible for teachers to be effective when curriculum is changed every year to fit a test.

Excellent teaching is aligned to the individual learning needs of students, and it is out of kilter to have to teach to the expectations of a standardized test. These sterile tests and the accompanying weeks of artificial test-prep stand in stark contrast to the rich and varied learning experiences we strive for in the classroom. By way of this testing, we see the curriculum narrowing, a false definition of educational success expanding, and the appreciation of school and life-long learning vanishing.

Pat Kryzak, 3rd Grade Teacher

Antonella D’Eramo, 3rd Grade Teacher

Laura Molina Camarasa, 3rd Grade Teacher

Sarah Pogson, 3rd Grade Teacher

Rebecca Lally, 3rd Grade Teacher

Jocelynne Mackay, 3rd Grade Teacher

Megan Gage, 3rd Grade Teacher

Jean Mulcahey, 3rd Grade Teacher

Lisie Haustein, 4th Grade Teacher

Katy Shander-Reynolds, 4th Grade Teacher

Monica Viteri-Harutunian, 4th Grade Teacher

Ned Sawyer, 4th Grade Teacher

Kirstin Veeder, 4th Grade Teacher

Ann Croatti, 4th Grade Teacher

Susan Quemere, 4th Grade Teacher

Tamar Szmuilowicz, 5th Grade Teacher

Laura Goldman, 5th Grade Teacher

Susan Rosser, 5th Grade Teacher

Teresa Burke, 5th Grade Teacher

Cristina Sandza-Donovan, 5th Grade Teacher


Related Topics:

The Essential Facts about How Common Core Became a Reality and Its Rebranding*

Parent Forced to Call 911 When School Refuses to Release Child over Common Core Testing*

Top Teachers Resigning because of Common Core*

Brick-by-brick: Missouri Judge Rules Common Core Unconstitutional*

A Loophole that Could Save Maryland From Common Core*

Arizona State Nullifies Common Core, 34-23*

One Mother Shows How 2012 Top Maths Students Fail in Common Core Maths*

Ontario Teacher Disciplined for Criticizing Child Sex Ed. – Paedophilia Program*

Common Core Free 10-year-old Math Genius is in College*

Protestors Shut down Nestlé Plant in Drought Stricken California*

Protestors Shut down Nestlé Plant in Drought Stricken California*

By Dan Bacher

Representatives of the “Crunch Nestlé Alliance” said the company is draining up to 80 million gallons of water a year from Sacramento aquifers during a record drought. They claim Sacramento City Hall has made it possible through a “corporate welfare giveaway.”

Environmental and human rights activists, holding plastic “torches” and “pitchforks,” formed human barricades at both entrances to the Nestlé Waters bottling plant in Sacramento at 5:00 a.m. on Friday, March 20, effectively shutting down the company’s operations for the day.

Members of the “Crunch Nestlé Alliance” shouted out a number of chants, including “We got to fight for our right to water,” “Nestlé, Stop It, Water Not For Profit,” and “Agua Para Quien? Para Nuestra Gente.”

The protesters stayed until about 1 pm, but there were no arrests.

“This corporate welfare giveaway is an outrage and warrants a major investigation,” Coalition spokesperson Andy Conn said.

“For more than five months we have requested data on Nestlé water use. City Hall has not complied with our request, or given any indication that it will. Sacramentans deserve to know how their money is being spent and what they’re getting for it. In this case, they’re getting ripped off.”

Lola Ellis of 99 Rise Sacramento, who spoke on the bullhorn at the protest, said, “Nestlé’s bottling of water in Sacramento is unsustainable in the current state of drought. We really don’t’ know how much water they are taking from the aquifer and that is a scary thing.”

“The water needs to be used for the local community. If there is not enough water for the local community, the Nestlé corporation should not be making a profit,” she emphasized.

The coalition protested what they call Nestlé’s “virtually unlimited use of water” while Sacramentans (like other Californians) who use a mere 7 – 10% of total water used in the State of California, have had severe restrictions and limitations forced upon them.

The coalition is calling on Nestlé to pay rates commensurate with its enormous profit, or voluntarily close down.

“Nestlé pays only 65 cents for each 470 gallons it pumps out of the ground – the same rate as an average residential water user. But the company can turn the area’s water around, and sell it back to Sacramento at mammoth profit,” according to a news release from the activists
They said Sacramento officials have refused attempts to obtain details of Nestlé’s water use. Coalition members have addressed the Sacramento City Council and requested that Nestlé either pay a commercial rate under a two tier level, or pay a tax on its profit.

A call to the Sacramento City Department of Utilities about the details of Nestlés water use hadn’t been returned as of press time.

But according to Fox 40 News,

“In 2014 Nestlé says it used 50 million gallons from the Sacramento Municipal Water Supply, which they say is a fraction of one percent of total water demand within the city of Sacramento.”

“Nestlé can claim any amount of water they want, but we haven’t seen any documentation of the amount of water they’re using,” said Bob Saunders, also with the Crunch Nestlé Alliance. “We do know they’re allowed to take up to 80 million gallons per year.”

Mauro Oliveira, known as “Red Sun,” showed up at the protest with his children, including Rise, Aren and Mahai’a, and connected the battle of local activists against Nestlé with the struggle of Indian Tribes, family farmers, grassroots environmental activists and fishermen to stop fracking, the Shasta Dam raise, and Governor Jerry Brown’s Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the twin tunnels, the most environmentally destructive public works project in California history.

“This whole idea of bottling water goes against Indigenous Peoples’ concept of water is sacred,” said Oliveira. “The 20,000-year-old water in aquifers belongs to the last generation on earth. We don’t have the right to tap into this water.”

“The Governor said we should conserve, but millions of gallons of fracking waste are being re-injected into the aquifer in California. The Governor talks out of both sides of his mouth. Polluting our water supplies is a violation of human rights,” said Oliveira.

Raiding pristine water from a National Forest stream

The bottling plant in Sacramento is not the only one in California. A recent investigation in the Desert Sun found that Nestlé Waters North America has been pumping water from pristine streams of the San Bernardino National Forest with little to no oversight by the U.S. Forestry Service.

“Nestlé Waters North America holds a longstanding right to use this water from the national forest near San Bernardino,” according to the Sun.

“But the U.S. Forest Service hasn’t been keeping an eye on whether the taking of water is harming Strawberry Creek and the wildlife that depends on it. In fact, Nestle’s permit to transport water across the national forest expired in 1988. It hasn’t been reviewed since, and the Forest Service hasn’t examined the ecological effects of drawing tens of millions of gallons each year from the springs.”

On its website, Nestlé claims that it is committed to “environmental stewardship.”

“36 years of experience promoting healthy hydration, Nestlé Waters North America has 15 leading U.S. and Canadian bottled water brands,” according to the company.

“The company’s commitment to environmental stewardship, especially in the areas of water use, packaging and energy, as well as its dedication to partnering in the communities where it operates, have led Nestlé Waters to achieve the number one bottled drinking water position in the U.S.”

Activists disagree strongly with the company’s claims of commitment to “environmental stewardship.” In October, the “Crunch Nestlé” coalition released a “white paper” highlighting predatory water profiteering actions taken by Nestle’ Water Bottling Company in various cities, counties, states and countries.

Most of those great “deals” yielded mega profits for Nestlé at the expense of the public. Additionally, the environmental impact on many of those areas yielded “disastrous results,” the paper stated.

Nestlé is currently the leading supplier of the world’s bottled water, including such brands as Perrier and San Pellegrino. It has 7,500 employees and 29 bottled water facilities across the U.S. and Canada, and annual revenues were $4.0 billion in 2012, up 6.8% from 2011. For nearly four decades, activists from an array of organizations have criticized the company for its human rights violations throughout the world.

For example, Food and Water Watch and other organizations blasted Nestlé’s “Human Rights Impact Assessment,” released at the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights in December 2013, as a “public relations stunt.”

“The failure to examine Nestlé’s track record on the human right to water is not surprising given recent statements by its chair Peter Brabeck-Letmath challenging the human right to water,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch.

She noted that the company famously declared at the 2000 World Water Forum in the Netherlands that water should be defined as a need—not as a human right.

Watch Nestlé’s CEO declare water “food that should be privatized, and not a human right.”

More recently Brabeck-Letmathe, after facing international criticism for his remarks, reversed course and now said he thinks that “water is a human right and that everyone, everywhere in the world, has the right to clean, safe water for drinking and sanitation.”

But activists continue to cite the company’s bad human rights record, noting that Nestlé workers who have protested unjust labour conditions at the corporation’s facilities in Colombia have been assassinated by paramilitary death squads.

“In November 2013, Colombian trade unionist Oscar Lopez Trivino became the fifteenth Nestlé worker to be assassinated by a paramilitary organization while many of his fellow workers were in the midst of a hunger strike protesting the corporation’s refusal to hear their grievances,” according to the groups.

Taking the water from aquifers throughout the world and the deaths of workers protesting Nestlé policies are not the only violation of human rights that activists charge the corporation with. Groups including the International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN) and Save the Children claim that the promotion of Nestlé infant formula over breastfeeding has led to health problems and deaths among infants in less economically developed countries.

The Drought and The Tunnels

The Sacramento protest took place just days after Jay Famiglietti, the senior water scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory/Caltech and a professor of Earth system science at UC Irvine, revealed in an op-ed in the LA Times on March 12 that California has only one year of water supply left in its reservoirs.

The protest also made the news as Governor Jerry Brown continues to fast-track his Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels to ship Sacramento River water to corporate agribusiness, Southern California water agencies, and oil companies conducting fracking operations.

The $67 billion plan won’t create one single drop of new water, but it will take vast tracts of Delta farm land out of production under the guise of “habitat restoration” in order to irrigate drainage-impaired soil owned by corporate mega-growers on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

The tunnel plan will also hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Klamath and Trinity rivers. The peripheral tunnels will be good for agribusiness, water privateers, oil companies and the 1%, but will be bad for the fish, wildlife, people and environment of California and the public trust.


Related Topics:

Nestlé’s Selling You Your Water!

Illegal to Collect Rain Water, yet Bottled Water Comes from Drought-Riddled Areas*

Nestle ‘Liberating’ Water from Drought Stricken Indian Reservation*

A Small Town Fights Back When Nestlé Tries to Sell Them Their Own Water*

U.S. Running out of Water*

It Didn’t Stop at Detroit: For Your Water Pay Up or Die *

Nestlé Removes GMOs from South African Baby Foods not U.S. Baby Foods*

Palestine Becomes Member of International Criminal Court*

Palestine Becomes Member of International Criminal Court*

By Jim W. Dean

My, my…this certainly came as a big surprise today. This news follows the non-UN sanctioned intervention into Yemen by the Saudis and their fellow travellers, the formal creation of an Arab League-Zionist-US  new mayhem participant…the new Arab NATO with Egypt’s Sisi at the helm, and the White house quickly releasing $1.3 billion in frozen Egyptian military aid.

Gosh, I wonder if any of this might be connected or orchestrated. Does it have anything to do with the reducing of Iran tensions about to go off the top ten list of “threats”, where a replacement was needed to keep the world tension meters active?

The last thing I expected to see today was the Palestinians becoming the newest member of the ICC when no less than Speaker of the House John Boehner in Tel Aviv meeting with his handler, Bibi Netanyahu. You just can’t make this stuff up.

I would assume that the Palestinian Authority’s Abbas and his legal team have some initial charges ready to file, or they might just give the court a whole filing cabinet full of them. Israel’s response will probably be to do the usual smirk routine and laugh about how they are not under ICC jurisdiction, or anyone else’s for that matter, including their puppets on a string in the US Congress.

I apologize in advance if this is an April Fools joke by Press TV, but that is not their style. But then again…there is always the first time

Palestinians have formally become a member of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a membership that enables Palestinians to sue Israeli officials for war crimes.

The Palestinian Authority officially joined the ICC on Wednesday, becoming the 123rd member of the Hague-based court.

The membership enables the Palestinians to file lawsuits against Israeli officials over crimes committed on Palestinian territory, including offenses committed during Tel Aviv’s war on the besieged Gaza Strip last year.

The Palestinian decision to join the ICC was made in January after decades of negotiations with Israel failed to put an end to Tel Aviv’s policy of expanding settlements on the occupied Palestinian lands.

In response to the decision, Tel Aviv cut off more than USD 120 millions in tax funds to the Palestinian Authority.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) submitted a detailed report to the ICC slamming Israel for war crimes and crimes against humanity during its devastating military onslaught on Gaza last summer.

The Paris-based nongovernmental rights body, which was the first organization that gained access to the Gaza Strip following a ceasefire in August last year, pointed in the report to the examples of indiscriminate and direct attacks against civilians and civilian objects, the disproportionate use of force as well as deliberate attacks targeting medical services during the Israeli war on Gaza, which was codenamed by the Israeli regime as “Operation Protective Edge.”

The rights body’s report also presented testimonies collected from the victims of the 50-day Israeli war on the coastal enclave.

Furthermore, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat announced on March 30 that the ICC started investigating war crimes committed by Israel during the war on Gaza.

Israel started its latest war on the Gaza Strip in early July last year. The offensive ended on August 26, 2014, with a truce that took effect after indirect negotiations in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

Nearly 2,200 Palestinians, including 577 children, were killed in Israel’s 50-day onslaught. Over 11,100 others – including 3,374 children, 2,088 women and 410 elderly people – were also injured.


Related Topics:

Palestinians Now Forced to Live in Caves*

Palestine to Become a Member of ICC*

Surprise – ICC Drops Case against Israel*

Palestine from Sovereignty to an Israeli Enclave*

Palestine Opens First European Embassy*

Neo-Nazis Help Israel Block Recognition of Palestine*

Israel Imprisons an 11-month Old*

Israel Says “Go to Hell” to E.U. Recognition of Palestinian Statehood*

Tools of Israeli Torture of Palestinian Children*

Jon Stewart’s Take on the Current Gaza-Israeli Conflict

Israel Changes Bar Code To Avoid Boycott*

Trial of Murder Most Horrid of Palestinian boy starts in Israel*

Former Israeli Combat Soldier’s Life Threatened for Speaking the Truth*

Former Israeli Foreign Minister, Livni, Reveals Israel – Egypt Pact to Strangle Hamas*

Not in our Name: 225 Jewish Survivors of Nazi Genocide Condemn Israel*

US Pressuring ICC Not to Open War Crimes Probe Against Israel*

The U.S. Electromagnetic Pulse Bomb*

The U.S. Electromagnetic Pulse Bomb*

The Trail of Tears might stand out in the re-writing of indigenous American history, but this Trail laced with blood, and broken souls has never had a chance to dry let alone heal with the U.S. invested interest in finding new means to carry out the same task since its invasion at home and abroad…

What is the purpose of owning all the world if in trying to do so you bludgeon it to death?

EMP is high-altitude nuclear detonation, which is probably why corporate media has remained silent on Fukushima i.e. experiment in progress On July 9, 1962, the Atomic Energy Commission detonated a 1.4-megaton Hydrogen Bomb resulting EMP shorted out streetlights in Oahu


E-Bomb Effects

The United States is drawn to EMP technology because it is potentially non-lethal, but is still highly destructive. An E-bomb attack would leave buildings standing and spare lives, but it could destroy a sizeable military.

There is a range of possible attack scenarios. Low-level electromagnetic pulses would temporarily jam electronics systems, more intense pulses would corrupt important computer data and very powerful bursts would completely fry electric and electronic equipment.

In modern warfare, the various levels of attack could accomplish a number of important combat missions without racking up many casualties. For example, an e-bomb could effectively neutralize:

Vehicle control systems

Targeting systems, on the ground and on missiles and bombs

Communications systems

Navigation systems

Long and short-range sensor systems.

“We needed to protect our ballistic missiles, B1 bombers, and communications systems for command and control. A decade later I laid out design of how you made an even stronger enhanced EMP weapon. That was almost 50 years ago.”

Coupling of the three EMP components to ground systems

An EMP affects electrical systems by “coupling” to them: in effect, electrical devices, and their attachments (e.g. power cables), simply acts like antennas which pick-up the EMP signal. The different types of EMP—E1, E2, and E3—couple in different ways to the various types of electrical systems.

The prompt E1 couples well to local antennas, short (1–10 m) cable runs, equipment in buildings (through apertures), and can disrupt or damage integrated circuit (IC)-based control systems, sensors, communication systems, protective systems, computers, and similar devices. The most common protection against the effects of E1 is the use of electromagnetic shielding, filters, and surge arresters.

E2 couples well to longer conductive lines, vertical antenna towers, and aircraft with trailing wire antennas. It is similar to lightning in its time-dependence, but would, of course, be more geographically widespread, while being lower in intensity, especially for a low-yield weapon. As the EMP commission acknowledges, the E2 pulse would not, in general, be an issue for critical infrastructure systems since they already have protective measures for defense against occasional lightning strikes.

The E3 pulse couples well to power and long communications lines including undersea and underground cables. The low frequencies (sub-Hertz) of E3 makes shielding and isolation difficult. Experience from both geomagnetic storms and 1960s-era Russian and American nuclear testing indicates that there is a great likelihood of commercial power and landline disruption from E3 pulses of powerful (>100 kt) nuclear devices. Small isolated systems will however, typically, be unaffected by E3. The E3 environment is so slowly varying that quasi-DC analysis models are appropriate for estimating the behaviour of the induced power system responses.

Dr. Radsaky and Mr. Kappenman have summarized the effects of E1 and E3 from a large nuclear device in their statement before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Emerging Threats, Cyber-security, and Science and Technology:

For the operation of the electric power grid, the… E1 and E3 pulses are the most important. Research performed for the EMP Commission clearly indicates the following concerns:

1) Malfunctions and damage to solid-state relays in electric substations (E1)

2) Malfunctions and damage to computer controls in power generation facilities, substations, and control centers (E1)

3) Malfunctions and damage to power system communications (E1)

4) Flashover and damage to distribution class insulators (E1)

5) Voltage collapse of the power grid due to transformer saturation (E3)

6) Damage to [High Voltage] HV and [Extremely High Voltage] EHV transformers due to internal heating (E3)


Related Topics:

Death Ray Unleashed on Gaza*

How Many Muslim Countries Has the U.S. Bombed Or Occupied Since 1980?*

Military Expert: Israel is Using Three Internationally Banned Weapons*

UFO’s … Fake It!

The U.S. Expanding its Domain to Space and Cyberspace*

And One Ring to Bind Them All*