Head U Gator News

April 19, 2015

OPT out movement.

In many areas of the country, there is a growing movement from parents who are refusing to have their children take state tests. This has been very evident the past week in NY state, where up to 88% of students in one district "opted out."


This has not grown as large in Texas, possibly because the Legislature did make some positive reforms in 2013 to the number of tests. Currently, it is "illegal" for parents to opt out of STAAR, but there is no consequence for students if they do so. I felt this was something of which you should be aware.


Below is a poem from a teacher in NY state, patterned after Dr. Suess' "Did I Ever Tell you How Lucky You Are?" She beautifully expresses her opinion about standardized tests, and I thought you might enjoy reading.


"After graduating from Colgate University in the small town of Hamilton, NY, I was given the opportunity to stay in Hamilton and pursue my career as an English teacher. I have taught at HCS, the community's P-12 public school, for 14 years. I'm proud of our creative and talented students, of our incredibly dedicated faculty and staff, and of the broader Hamilton community that supports us.

"As a teacher, and as a parent with two children in elementary school, corporate education reform is often on my mind, especially during testing season. One evening in early March, I was reading a few Dr. Seuss books to my children. I paused in the middle of the book "Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?" after reading the following passage:

Out west, near Hawtch-Hawtch,
there's a Hawtch-Hawtcher Bee-Watcher.
His job is to watch...
is to keep both his eyes on the lazy town bee.
A bee that is watched will work harder, you see.

Well...he watched and he watched.
But, in spite of his watch,
that bee didn't work any harder. Not mawtch.

So then somebody said,
"Our old bee-watching man
just isn't bee-watching as hard as he can.
He ought to be watched by another Hawtch-Hawtcher!
The thing that we need
is a Bee-Watcher-Watcher!

"After tucking my kids into bed, I still couldn’t shake the image of the Hawtch-Hawtchers lining up to watch the “lazy town bee.” I pulled out my laptop and--attempting to channel Seuss’s use of verbal irony and absurdity--wrote for the next four hours."


A Portrait of Education Reform, Inspired by Dr. Seuss


We said students would be proficient, all 100 percent!

But the year 2014, it came and it went...
There’d been little improvement after 12 years of tests,

So we searched till we found the most “rigorous” ones yet.

What those teachers must need is more accountability,

Then they’ll surely work harder, every he and each she.

As soon as they hear about APPR,

They’ll take their feet off their desks, make their lessons five-star,

And strive to earn back the public’s trust

(A tough task, since they’ve been treated with scorn and disgust).

Once they know that we’re watching, and changing cut scores,

And counting all the 1's, 2's, 3's, and 4's,

They’ll teach and they’ll prep and they’ll drill for the test,

They’ll strive for a HEDI score that shows they’re the best,

They’ll cut back on art, science, creative writing

(The things they say students find most exciting).

They’ll overcome all of those pitiful excuses:

Poverty? Absenteeism? Hunger? Abuses?

Learning disabilities? Disobedient teens?

And kids who don’t read, but just stare at their screens?

Each student is different, learns at his own pace?

What’s that you say - learning isn’t a race?

No more excuses! With 40 minutes a day,

They can mold kids and shape them in every which way

(They can start in first grade, which is no place for play).

And all the while, schools’ funding will slow,

Because the harder we make things, the better they’ll go.

Each student will succeed, a year’s worth they’ll grow,

They’ll all factor trinomials and use "soak-a-toe"

If their teacher works hard like a real go-getter,

If she only works harder and faster and better…

But here I must pause in this poetic pretense,

(It’s been hard not to laugh while spouting nonsense).

Silly teachers, good luck being “highly effective,”

The system’s designed to say you’re flawed and defective.

The problem is, as by now you can probably tell,

Who’d want “reforms” if they knew teachers were doing well?

That just like most doctors, nurses, and crossing guards,

Most teachers are competent and already work hard.

What would happen to Pearson, McGraw, hedge fund investors,
Charter schools, EMOs, boards of directors?

Education’s a great source of new revenue,

The possibilities abound, and profits accrue.

But please, keep this between us; no one else needs to know.

As long as no one speaks up, then onward we’ll go…

by Holly White, HCS teacher


"The function of a civil resistance is to provoke response and we will continue to provoke until they respond or change the law. They are not in control; we are. - Gandhi

"NY State has sent a message. We need other states to reinforce "they are not in control, we are."

Moving!

I am close to finalizing room assignments for next year. As I shared earlier, this will require quite a bit of moving for quite a few people.


We did some preliminary planning Friday, and it looks like planning a moving day on Wednesday, June 3rd will be the best date for us to try and accomplish this. We have sent out a request for athletes at GHS to come and help. We will order pizza for everyone and try to get extra dollies here so that we can make quick work of things. I will task Molly with working on a plan for who would need to go first so that we have things planned out with precision. I anticipate this taking 2-3 hours. That would give you Thursday afternoon and Friday's work day to get used to your new surroundings. We can't do the physical move on Thursday because several people have seniors and will need to be at graduation.


Molly has started saving boxes but if you have access to others you might want to hang on to them.

Gator Gallop

We had the best turn out and the best weather I think we've ever had for the Dad's Club Gator Gallop. Thanks to Jayne and Karen for showing up, to Michael for leading and helping the Dad's Club, and to the Dad's Club for the terrific event.
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PDAS sections 2 and 3

If you're appraised using PDAS, please be sure you've completed sections 2 and 3 so we can write your summative reports and share them with you before we need to meet in order to comply with deadlines.

This week:

Tomorrow, April 20:

Math Lab and Culture Club: 2:45

CEC: 3:15

STAAR grade 5

Tuesday, April 21:

GTU 2 POSTPONED

STAAR grades 3,4,5

Wednesday, April 22:

Progress reports

second grade to PARR Park

Choir 2:45

STAAR grades 3,4,5

Thursday, April 23:

Gator Tales/PTA meeting, 6:30

5th grade field trip

ASPIRE Academy retreat- out of building

Friday, April 24:

Gatorville (last one of the year)