Dear Members and Friends of PEN:
Publication Date: 2009-02-11
Under the leadership of Juanita Doyon, The Parent Empowerment Network is an impressive organization. Join them--even from afar--and you will learn a lot about grassroots organizing--and about never giving up the fight for students.
In case you havenĂ˘€™t noticed, just about every newspaper editor or columnist in the state has an opinion on WASL and the changes being proposed and/or made-- and it's seldom the same opinion he or she had last year. Go figure. Yes, the voters all but voted WASL out by voting Randy Dorn in, and Mr. Dorn is doing his best to keep his campaign promises.
If you haven't read any of Gerald Bracey's several books and dozens of articles on school reform, you are missing out. His most recent piece appeared in the Seattle Times and will give you a taste of just how fortunate we are that Dr. Bracey has recently moved from Virginia to Port Townsend. Welcome, Jerry! I believe you came here to help us nudge our new State Superintendent into doing the right things. Thank you!
A Bevy of WASL Bills
If there is an idea out there for changing the WASL, including the graduation requirement, it is on the tables of the state capital. Shorten the test; remove the graduation requirement; combine test scores with other indicators of success; delay the math and science further; allow colleges to award diplomas; etcĂ˘€Â¦
SB 5414 Implementing recommendations of the WASL legislative work group.
HB 1758 Expanding options for students to earn high school diplomas.
HB 1976 Redesigning the statewide student assessment system.
HB 1646 Making adjustments pertaining to the high school Washington assessment of student learning in mathematics and science.
Companion bills: SB 5260 http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=5260&year=2009 and HB 1341 http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1341&year=2009 Motivating students through incentives to pursue postsecondary education by eliminating statewide assessments as a high school graduation requirement.
SB 5459 http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=5459&year=2009 Creating multiple measures to meet high school graduation requirements.
Companion bills: SB 5498 http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=5498&year=2009 and
HB 1562 http://apps.leg.wa.gov/billinfo/summary.aspx?bill=1562&year=2009 Changing the requirements for graduating without a certificate of academic achievement or a certificate of individual achievement.
Last Wednesday, I testified before the Senate and House Education committees, which were having public hearings on three WASL bills each. Companion bills SB 5414 and HB 1341--would remove the graduation requirement and use the money saved to implement an incentive program for graduating students to enter college. The testimony I gave was a plea to remove the graduation requirement, at least for the Class of 2009, and to address the issues still plaguing thousands of students in the Class of 2008, who are still in diploma-less limbo. I prepared a packet for each legislator, including a copy of Susan OhanianĂ˘€™s book, When Childhood Collides With NCLB. I also read into the record the following passage from a 1984 Washington Roundtable document. During my first presentation, to the Senate committee, I was at the table with Brian Jeffries, who was there testifying on behalf of the Roundtable.
How right they were! However, they went on to say that IF their other recommendations were not adopted, Ă˘€śthen a minimum competency testing program should be developed.Ă˘€ť In other words, if the state canĂ˘€™t do the right thing and actually implement an accountability system that will help students, then go ahead and spend lots of money to bring about low levels of achievement; stigmatize students who fail; increase the dropout rate; narrow the curriculum; shift resources to remedial training; and teach to the test, with no promise of benefit to students, schools, taxpayers.
Included in the packet I gave legislators was my list of questions and statements for their contemplation. I encourage all of you to scan through at least some of the WASL bills and voice your opinions to your representatives either by calling the hotline (1.800.562.6000), phoning legislators personally, or emailing http://apps.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/Default.aspx .
I believe the following are good guiding questions and statements as legislators make important decisions about our childrenĂ˘€™s education and the future of our state.
Questions for Contemplation as Student Testing in Washington State is Revised and Improved
February 4, 2009
Our children today deserve better than what we have given our children who have grown up through the WASL guinea pig years.
Thank you for your time and thoughtfulness as you make important decisions about the lives of our children and families and the future of our state.
Received this evening from Dr. Don Orlich
At least some of us in the Test Resistance manage to have lives beyond testing. Our good Dr. Orlich proves this with a brand new book. Take a look-- here--and smile. I ordered my very own signed copy from Ă˘€śthe man.Ă˘€ť
In closing, in case you think youĂ˘€™re aloneĂ˘€Â¦
A few weeks ago, I received an invitation through one of my new contacts in the Los Angeles TeachersĂ˘€™ Association. It was to a tri-national conference on testing, in Mexico City. I wished I could go, but decided I would send a few buttons for the LA teacher to share at the conference, instead.
Last week, I received a phone call and email from a Korean television network. They were looking for parents to interview, in the San Francisco area, who had opted their children out of state testing. I gave them contact information for teachers in Oakland who fought the state and won the right to inform parents of opt out provisions.
Our work is far from finished. Please support PENĂ˘€™s efforts: to help students, parents, and teachers; and to improve public schools in Washington State. Your small, large, or ongoing contribution will be put to good use in our fight for educational sanity and justice.
Juanita Doyon, Director
Parent Empowerment Network
Parent Empowerment Network is a nonprofit, public charity continuing to fight the good fight thanks to tax deductible contributions from good people like you. Please consider becoming a member or making a contribution today. http://www.mothersagainstwasl.org/member.html
Parent Empowerment Network
PO Box 494
Spanaway, WA 98387
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