Tag Archives: New York City

New York City Council votes to replace high-stakes tests with multiple measures

Press Contact: Jane Hirschmann, 917 679 8343

The New York City Council passed today Resolution 1394. This is historic because it is the first time that a legislative body has sent a clear directive to the DOE, NYSED and Governor that high stakes standardized tests must be replaced by multiple measures. As heard in testimony endorsing the Resolution, “Learning is complex, assessment should be too. A one-size fits all approach to learning and testing fails children, teachers and families. And, as we have seen, the so-called testing reform approach used by Bloomberg/Klein for the last 12 years resulted in many negative unintended consequences and failed to deliver quality education.

Resolution 1394 was modelled on a national piece of legislation that has been endorsed by many Boards of Education across the country, and more than 500 organizations. In Texas alone more than 80% of the school boards endorsed a similar position. “The New York City resolution is an important step in the growing, grassroots-powered national movement seeking to replace testing overkill with better, educationally sound forms of assessment. Across the U.S. parents, students, teachers, community leaders and, increasingly, local elected officials, are saying ‘Enough is enough!’ to politically mandated standardized exam misuse and overuse, said Robert Schaeffer, Public Education Director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FairTest)

“Our New York City electeds have taken the lead by passing Resolution 1394, ” said Evelyn Cruz of Time Out >From Testing. “The City Council is sending a loud and clear message that we have had enough of this testing mania which drives curriculum. When these tests have such high stakes attached to them —graduation, promotion, school grade, teacher evaluations, school closings and even principal bonuses—there is no question that teachers will teach to the test. This is not a 21st Century education. We want more for our children.”

“All of us think our children should be challenged by difficult tasks in school and that the performance of teachers in the classroom should be judged by the highest standards, but there is no scientific validity whatsoever to the use of high stakes tests as the primary instrument for evaluating children and teachers. We cannot kid ourselves that just because high-stakes testing has become predominant in our schools, it is moral or even rational,” said Jeff Nichols of Change the Stakes.

” This action by the City Council is of central importance to all those who care about public education. Since NYC has been seen as the leader of the so called “reform” movement, the fact that our City Council took action will be regarded nationally as a critical moment—turning around a 12 year failed experiment, said Dani Gonzalez, Co-chair of Time Out From Testing.

[Note: the National Resolution Against High-Stakes Testing is on the web at http://fairtest.org/national-resolution-highstakes-testing – get your school board or other organization to endorse it!]

Is an Emancipatory Communism Possible?

Is an Emancipatory Communism Possible?
A talk by Allan Armstrong

Wednesday, April 13th at 7:00 PM

at TRS, Inc, 44 East 32nd Street, 11th Floor
Manhattan (between Madison & Park Avenues)

Presented by Marxist-Humanist Initiative & The New SPACE


Mention of the word “Communism” today conjures up visions of tyrants. Young people, even when they clash violently with the representatives of global capitalism in Seattle or London, call their protests “anti-capitalist,” not communist. However, anti-capitalism is not enough. Revolutions can lead to
immediate feelings of intense liberation, but they are usually followed by much longer periods of defense, setbacks, and painful reconstruction. The 20th century was the “Century of Revolutions,” but it eventually produced so little for humanity at such a high cost, that it is not surprising that many are very cautious, despite growing barbarism.

Allan Armstrong will argue that it is vital that we outline a genuine new human emancipatory communism, which takes full stock of the failings of both “official” and “dissident Communism,” and which can persuasively show that human liberation can still be achieved. He will explore Marx’s vision, particularly as detailed in his “Critique of the Gotha Program,” which emphasizes the need to break with capitalist production relations rather than expecting a new society to come about through political changes.

Allan Armstrong, a republican, Scottish internationalist, and communist, is currently co-editor of Emancipation & Liberation, the journal of the Republican Communist Network. He is also involved with the commune, a collective dedicated to outlining a new communism for the 21st century. Armstrong is the author of “Why We Need a New Emancipatory Communism” and “The Communist Case for ‘Internationalism from Below

One way NCLB transforms public money into private profit

Today the New York Daily News reports that Champion Learning Center pulled in more than $21 million dollars from the New York City Education Department in the past two years for tutoring NYC students.

The No Child Left Behind Act requires outsourcing of tutoring for students in schools that don’t meet their test score targets.

Champion’s contract with NY Ed Department shows they received $79 per hour for tutoring sessions and that each student could receive up to four hours of tutoring per week—or $320 per student, per week.

Champion paid its part-time tutors an average of $17 an hour—the tutors are mostly college students with no teaching experience. That’s a cool $62 in overhead for Champion for every hour its employees spent tutoring a child.

“We received very little training in our orientation,” said one college student hired by Champion. “They just told us to follow the instructions in the test prep workbooks they gave us.”

Champion hired the student and one of her friends at the same time. Both say they were offered only $15 per hour for their work. In addition, they were told they would have to pay transportation costs to each child’s home and they were required to pay a $150 fee each for the cost of fingerprinting and a security check before they could start work.

The Daily News reports that Champion has tutored nearly 9,000 city students this year and is one of dozens of private, for-profit companies with state approval to provide tutoring services under the No Child Left Behind Act.

Yet another example of education deform in the USA. And Obama and his Education Secretary Arne Duncan are only ramping up the emphasis that NCLB puts on test scores and the shift of public money in to private profits.