Latest News from TREE

Pro-Education Groups Call for TVAAS Grace Period for Teachers

Group Says Waiver for Students Should Mean Waiver for Teachers

SIGN THE PETITION

(Nashville, TN) – A coalition of groups supporting public education today launched an online petition asking the Tennessee General Assembly and Governor Bill Haslam to grant teachers a grace period from the use of student test scores in their evaluations in the first year of new TNReady tests. The petition tracks language adopted unanimously by the Knox County School Board, which passed a resolution last week opposing the use of student test scores in teacher evaluation for this academic year.

“The state has granted waivers so that TNReady scores aren’t required to be counted in student grades for this year,” said Lyn Hoyt, president of Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence (TREE). “If TNReady won’t count in student grades, it’s only fair that it shouldn’t count for teacher evaluation.” Hoyt noted that the transition to the new test means entering uncharted territory in terms of student scores and impact on teacher evaluation scores. As such, she said, there should be a one year or more grace period to allow for adjustment to the new testing regime.

“TNReady is different than the standardized tests we’ve had in the past,” Hoyt said. “Our students and teachers both deserve a reasonable transition period. We support the Knox County resolution and we are calling on the General Assembly to take notice and take action. Taking a thoughtful path transitioning to the new test can also build confidence and trust in the process.”

Hoyt also cited a recent policy statement by the American Educational Research Association that cautions against using value-added data in teacher evaluations and for high-stakes purposes. “Researchers who study value-added data are urging states to be cautious in how it is used to evaluate teachers,” Hoyt said. “The transition to TNReady is the perfect time to take a closer look at how test scores are used in teacher evaluations. Let’s take a year off, and give our students and teachers time to adjust. It’s a matter of fundamental fairness.”

TREE and a growing list of organizations released the petition today. State-wide organizations continue to sign on to support this ask. Contact us if you want to be added. lynhoyt@treetn.org
Strong Schools (Sumner County)
Williamson Strong (Williamson County)
SPEAK (Students, Parents, Educators Across Knox County)
SOCM (Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment)
Momma Bears Blog
Advocates for Change in Education (Hamilton County)
Concerned Parents of Franklin County (Franklin County)
Parents of Wilson County, TN, Schools
Friends of Oak Ridge Schools (City of Oak Ridge Schools)
TNBATs (State branch of National BATs)
TREE (Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence)
CAPE (Middle Tennessee Coalition Advocating for Public Education)
TEA (Tennessee Education Association)

SIGN THE PETITION

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TREE, CAPE & SOCM to HOST Discipline Panel Nov 17th

The panel will discuss the discipline practices of no-excuses versus restorative justice methods. CLICK ON THE FLYER AND MEET OUR PANEL!

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

 

Nashville, TN – November 3, 2015 — Public school discipline in Nashville is a topic of discussion among parents, city leaders and educators in MNPS. What is the best way to keep children on task and learning in the classroom? What can reduce suspension rates and drop out rates?

There are two methods at work in MNPS and in local charter schools. One is a very strict approach called “No-Excuses Discipline”, lauded for results that improve classroom control. But, is criticized for an oppressive approach to zero-tolerance and punitive measures. The other method is restorative justice that works to lower rates of suspension and expulsion and to foster positive school climates with the goal of eliminating racially disproportionate discipline practices and the resulting push-out of students into the prison pipeline. Both methods are used in charters and in MNPS.

“We are pleased to bring together advocates locally and from across the country to discuss different discipline efforts we are seeing in MNPS.” says Lyn Hoyt, president of TREE. “As a community we need to understand what is working and what is not. We hope this panel can share stories and methods to better refine the social emotional growth of our children.”

National experts on charter school discipline, along with local parents and teachers who have experienced no-excuses and restorative justice school environments will make up the panel set to convene November 17th at Margaret Allen Middle School, 500 Spence Lane in Nashville at 6:30 pm.

Joining the panel is a Chicago area native Ramon M. Gri­ffin, a third-year Ph.D student in K-12 Educational Administration at Michigan State University. His research interests include urban education, urban community engagement and the intersection between trauma exposure, PTSD and discipline policies in no-excuses charter school culture.

From the Annenberg Standards: ” Community-based groups have fought for, and in many cases won, new district-wide discipline policies that focus on restorative practices, eliminate or reduce the role of police in schools, and end out-of-school suspension. But most of these new discipline policies apply only to traditional public schools. Charter schools in most states are free to design their own protocols for student discipline. Increasingly, community-based and youth organizing groups are expanding their campaigns for just and fair discipline policies to include charter schools.”

Middle Tennessee Coalition Advocating for Public Education (CAPE) is a regional coalition that organizes actions advocating for public education. facebook.com/MTCAPE

Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence (TREE) is a state-wide volunteer advocacy organization rooted in fighting for strong, equitable public education and is committed to growing child-centered education policy. treetn.org

Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment (SOCM) is a member-run organization that encourages civic involvement and collective action so that the people of Tennessee have a greater voice in determining their future. We have been working for social, economic, and environmental justice in Tennessee for more than 40 years. http://www.socm.org/

 

 

Call to Action: Write TN State Board of Ed TODAY! Be a Voice for Local Control

 Tennessee_state_capitol

Attention Nashville and Tennessee Education Advocates! We need you to write the Tennessee State Board of Education TODAY! Be a voice for local control. Metro Schools recently approved two of fourteen charter applications.  Among the ten who were denied were KIPP, Rocketship and The International Academy of Excellence.

The International Academy of Excellence filled out an incorrect form and should have not been considered at all but was for legal reasons. These three charter companies are asking the State Board of Education to overrule the Nashville school board and divert funds from the Metro Schools budget to pay for opening their six proposed charter schools.

If you would like to see the local school board retain the ability to decide how to spend local tax dollars, and what schools should operate in Nashville, you must speak up NOW. Public comments are being received until October 7. Please copy this email into your email recipient box:
CharterSchool.Appeals@tn.gov

It is fine to be brief. A few points you might to make:

1. Note if you are a Nashville taxpayer and/or public school parent.
2. Nashville currently has 8,112 charter school seats and will open another 8,157 over the next few years, under current approved charter contracts, effectively doubling the amount of charter school seats without ever approving another charter.
3. There is no evidence of demand for more charters and in fact there are currently many empty seats in Nashville charter schools.
4. If the state board of education overrules the local school board, it will force our city to fund a privatized public school.  A school that can not be shut down by our locally elected board if problems arise.
5. Nashville must be free to put its schools budget to the best use to improve education for ALL students. Under the law MNPS must adhere to their contract with approved charters and fully fund them.  Whatever amount is left gets divvied up among the remaining schools in the district continuing the trend of systematic under-funding which means not meeting the needs of our schools.

Thank you for your time and quick attention. Your voice is needed TODAY!
TREE

 

Join TREE for a Screening of the Movie “Education Inc.”

Education-Inc-691x1024

Nashville community invited to Education Inc. screening and discussion
Film highlights corporate takeover of community schools

Students, parents, teachers, and public education advocates are gathering Tuesday, Sept. 1, for a screening and discussion on the trend of corporate takeovers of American public schools examined in the documentary Education, Inc. Screening of the film begins at 6:00 p.m. followed by a panel discussion at Vanderbilt Wilson Hall 103, located at the intersection of Terrace Place and 21st Ave. S. (Metered parking is available around the building.)

Panelists include Nashville School Board member Will Pinkston, Nashville Schools teacher Amanda Kail, and Nashville Schools parent Chelle Baldwin.  Several groups from Tennessee have come together to sponsor the event:  Tennesseans Reclaiming Educational Excellence, Metro Nashville Education Association, Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, Vanderbilt Students of Nonviolence, and Vanderbilt Students Engaging in Education Dialogue (SEED).

“As public schools nationwide struggle for funding, complicated by the impact of poverty and politics, corporate reformers see opportunity to take away local control of our community schools,” said Lyn Hoyt, president of Tennesseans Reclaiming Education Excellence (TREE). “It’s important we stop and take a look at what’s happening here in Tennessee.”

Education, Inc. was produced by documentary filmmakers and public school parents Brian and Cindy Malone. The Malones made the film to inform and engage local communities across the country. They have made the film available for house parties and community screenings by simply purchasing a DVD. Their hope is that students, parents, citizens, and public school advocacy groups will use the film to help start an important conversation about the role and value of public education in America.

Please join us.

For questions contact Anne Marie Farmer, 615-295-8733, annemarie.farmer@treetn.org

 
Quick score batman

Grassroots Groups Across Tennessee Call for Testing Transparency

Quick score batman

TCAP questions spark call for accountability

Tennessee’s public education system finds itself mired in TCAP controversy for the second year in a row. The Tennessee Department of Education’s (TDOE) release of seemingly inflated quick scores, without clarification on how they were calculated, left educators and parents befuddled and upset.

After considerable questioning of the TDOE’s actions they released a statement attempting to clarify the situation, claiming a lack of communication on their part as the culprit, but didn’t actually address the gross deficits of a testing system that is completely lacking in transparency and accountability. The TDOE continues to move the goal posts of a high stakes testing system that remains off limits for public scrutiny. Tennesseans are tired of blindly accepting TCAP results from the TDOE. So, TREE has joined with more than a dozen grassroots organizations that support strong public schools across Tennessee to demand accountability from the TDOE in the wake of confusion created by the latest release of “quick scores” and associated raw “cut scores” from recent TCAP tests. [view press release]

We also want to draw attention to another concerning problem with standardized testing: Our children are losing immeasurable amounts of instruction time due to test preparation and administration. Please review the graphic attached to this post, based on the 2014-15 school year.

The TN Department of Education’s state testing calendar and information from teachers were used as reference.
The TN Department of Education’s state testing calendar and information from teachers were used as reference to create this calendar.
2015-16 TDOE testing calendar>>

As you can see, our children are spending the large majority of their school year taking or preparing for tests. It is unfair to our children, teachers, and our society that data collection and high stakes testing has trumped instruction time.

Public education was created to provide our society with a well-educated electorate and work force. It is the single most important factor in making our country the world leader it is today. But our nation’s leaders are fixated on excessive data collection with a focus solely on subjects covered on high stakes tests.  This has led to the devaluation of a well-rounded education and in some instances the removal of arts, language and music education in our schools. Our reputation for being the most creative and innovative country in the world is in jeopardy as our nation now values honing test scores over fostering critical thinking and creativity.

There are ways of evaluating the academic growth of a student that do not limit instruction and enable our teachers to hone their education delivery in turn fostering student achievement. Some examples include portfolio reviews, research projects, peer review committees, and standards-based evaluations, etc.


Sign the petition to demand transparency.

E-mail Commissioner McQueen and Governor Haslam and tell them you want our tax dollars to go to teaching, not testing.
Commissioner McQueen – Commissioner.McQueen@tn.gov 
Governor Haslam – bill.haslam@tn.gov 

Then contact your legislators and send them a copy of this testing calendar and post. Tell them why you are concerned about the excessive testing and demand transparency for the standardized tests that our state’s legislature and department of education require our students to take. Let them know you are holding them accountable and urge them to explore alternatives to boxing in our students and schools with high stakes testing. With their and your help, we can take back our schools and turn them into breeding grounds for a level of creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving that has never before been seen in human history.


Thank you to our growing number of grassroots organizations coming together to support strong public schools across Tennessee and demand accountability from the TDOE.

Groups participating in this network include:
Strong Schools (Sumner County)
Williamson Strong (Williamson County)
SPEAK (Students, Parents, Educators Across Knox County)
SOCM (Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment)
Momma Bears Blog
Gideon’s Army, Grassroots Army for Children (Nashville)
Advocates for Change in Education (Hamilton County)
Concerned Parents of Franklin County (Franklin County)
The Dyslexia Spot
Parents of Wilson County, TN, Schools
Friends of Oak Ridge Schools (City of Oak Ridge Schools)
TNBATs (State branch of National BATs)
East Nashville United
Tennessee Against Common Core (Statewide)


Update June 4, 2015
The petition has topped 1,000 signatures. News coverage:

The Tennessean
Franklin, TN Home Page
Times-Free Press
Associated Press
Chalkbeat (related story)
Dad Gone Wild Blog (related story)