Public opposition to education reform initiatives is widespread although it receives little national news coverage. Legislators at all levels are unresponsive, uninterested, or part of the problem. The numbers of parents, non-educators, community members, and taxpayers who are becoming informed and organizing are increasing nationwide.
Weakening and undermining local control over education are outcomes of the education reform efforts. Local control is a cornerstone to our democracy and a constant in communities. There is broad agreement across ideologies on that fact.
In an effort to bring public opposition to education reform initiatives out of the shadows, below are some areas of consensus:
1. End the expensive, ineffective, and punitive high stakes assessment.
2. End classroom environments that have been converted into test prep and testing centers.
3. Use the savings from #1 and 2 to return interesting and valuable electives - drama, art, home economics, computer skills, physical education, and vocational education courses.
4. Use the savings from #1 and 2 to maintain manageable class sizes so that teachers are able to meet individual needs.
5. Stop sending large sums of dollars going to Pearson, McGraw-Hill and other companies for the purpose of implementing unfunded and unfundable compliance and data-driven mandates.
6. Use the savings in #5, to restore reasonable class size for core classes, vocational education, and electives.
7. Hold Pearson, McGraw-Hill, and these other companies accountable to the same degree as schools are being held accountable.
8. Apply greater transparency regarding deals and paid for "junkets" made with Pearson, McGraw-Hill and other companies jumping into the profitable education sector. Unsure on the "junkets"? Read about 10 state commissioners of education who traveled around the world on Pearson's tab, "When Free Trips Overlap With Commercial Purposes."
9.Ensure meaningful school-based accountability that meets the NUT principle (No Unnecessary Testing).
10. Use existing measures, such as NAEP, to give a snapshot of student achievement and to report on sub-group accountability.
11. Support local control via publicly elected School Board members and maintain a reasonable salary for those elected positions.
12. Ditch the preschool through college longitudinal database and maintain parent rights guaranteed under FERPA, requiring consent for sharing of student data.
13. Ensure parent rights to opt out of any and all assessments, punitive-free.
14. Leave it to local control to implement teacher evaluation systems that are not dependent on students taking high stakes assessment.
15. Support communities and families so that all students are fed, housed, and receive medical care versus supporting runaway testing initiatives.