"The lawsuit will be worth watching because it is taking on the entire notion of VAM. If VAM were to fall in New York, more legal challenges would be likely in other states."
"The heck with Brown v Board of Education—as long as kids have the civil right to be tested each year, social justice is served... So why is the preservation of
No Child Left Behind testing so important to Arne Duncan and the reformer Chiefs? Tests are the rock on which all of their reforms are built—tests to evaluate school
quality, tests to evaluate teachers, and of course the two national tests to measure the implementation of the Common Core.... And that really sums up the thinking of Duncan
and his cheerleading Chiefs. Their distrust of public schools and the democratic control of schooling run deep. It colors every solution that they propose. They have no idea
how to effect school improvement other than by making tests harder and making sticks bigger. When punishing the school did not work, it morphed into punish the teacher through
evaluations based on test scores. The reality that no country has ever improved student learning using test and punish strategies is lost on those who refuse to address the greater
social issues that we who do the work confront every day... When one argues that testing 8-year-olds for nine hours is the way to give a child his civil rights, then moral authority is
surely gone. The public knows it. Moms, of all colors and neighborhoods, are a heck of a lot smarter than Mr. Duncan and his reform supporters believe."
"There is something deeply wrong with a system in which teachers and principals are afraid to act in the best interest of children... "
Tweets from parents, teachers and others about why they don't want their children or students to take high-stakes standardized tests:
"#whyIrefuse because I did not get a masters degree to teach to an invalid test." ̶ I ♥ to teach @ BAT_teacher
"#whyIrefuse - teachers should NOT be evaluated on worthless test scores" ̶ Badass Teachers Asso @ BadassTeachersA (full article)
"... Implementation of the standards has been severely troubled, the testing regime that is supposed to be aligned with the Core is falling apart and increasingly people from
different parts of the political spectrum have distanced themselves from the enterprise... So now what? Where does the Core go from here? In the following post, award-winning
New York Principal Carol Burris offers three first steps toward cleaning up the Core mess... "
"Kyle Ferris is a student at Columbine High School in Jefferson County, Colo., and a leader of protests that have been rocking the school system there for weeks. In the following Q&A,
Ferris explains why he started protests at his school and what he and others hope to achieve from their demonstrations as well as what he is learning about American democracy."
Why, given the continuing assault on the teaching profession, would anyone suggest to young people that they consider becoming teachers? Here’s why,
from Mark Naison, a professor of African American Studies and History at Fordham University and director of Fordham’s Urban Studies Program. He is the author
of three books and over 100 articles on African American History, urban history, and the history of sports. He is also a co-founder of the Badass Teachers
Association, an organization formed to resist corporate school reform and school accountability” systems that rely on standardized test scores for high-stakes purposes.
"Janet Garrett is a veteran kindergarten teacher in Oberlin, Ohio. She just started her 35th year of teaching — which will be her last. She is running as a Democrat for a seat in the U.S.
House of Representatives from the 4th Congressional District of Ohio, challenging the conservative Republican incumbent, Jim Jordan. In this post she talks about the fads in education that
she has seen come and go, and her concerns about what is happening in kindergarten classes today and the huge amount of testing being given to 5- and 6-year-old students."
"Award-winning Principal Carol Burris of South Side High School in New York was once a supporter of the Common Core but came to be a critic after her state began to implement the initiative.
(You can read some of her work on the botched implementation in New York here, here, here and here.) Burris was named New York’s 2013 High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators
Association of New York and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and in 2010, tapped as the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of
New York State. In this post she looks at what she calls the “Four Flimflams of the Common Core.”"
"... teacher Susan Bowles of Lawton Chiles Elementary School in Gainesville, Fla., posted on Facebook telling parents that she was refusing to administer the Florida Assessments
for Instruction in Reading, or FAIR. She explained what she said were serious problems with administering the test to young students, and said that taking this stance was worth risking
her job... "
"Thomas Scarice, the superintendent of Madison Public Schools in Connecticut, has been a vocal critic of high-stakes test-based school reform...
he attempts to separate myth from truth about the Common Core State Standards. This appeared on the website of Scarice’s school district and in the Shoreline Times."
"Teachers are increasingly speaking up about the onslaught of standardized tests that students in all grades — including kindergarten — are required to take in public schools today.
Some are refusing to administer the tests, which can result in a teacher being dismissed for a breach of contract. Here is a letter that a Florida kindergarten teacher, Susan Bowles of
Lawton Chiles Elementary School in Gainesville, Florida, posted on Facebook to the parents of the students in her class... "
"The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent billions of dollars on various initiatives that Gates thought would help improve public education,
including a small schools initiative that he abandoned when he didn’t get the results he wanted; pilot programs in creating controversial teacher evaluation
systems linked to student standardized test scores; and promotion of the Common Core State Standards."
"A new report on growing resistance to high-stakes standardized testing around the country finds that the movement is growing and meeting some success in numerous states where
officials have decided to cut back on the numbers of tests students must take and/or the consequences for students and educators."
"The Urban Teacher Education Consortium is a national consortium of teacher educators who are dedicated to development strong preparation
programs for cities across the country. Members of the consortium have just released a position paper on the training of teachers, releasing
it at a time of “encroaching dehumanization and disempowerment of both teachers and their students.”"
"It may seem to make sense to hold back for a year a student who can't read well but a mountain of research shows that it doesn't actually help.
Unfortunately, school reformers don't seem to care what the research says... "
"... has voted 6-1 to end its relationship with Teach For America after the 2015-16 school year... "
"Florida's Lee County became on Wednesday night the first school district in the state to vote to opt out of all state-mandated... "
"The business community is the consumer of the educational product. Students are the educational product.
They are going through the educational system so that they can be an attractive product for business to
consume and hire as a workforce in the future." (full article)
"... Support for President Obama on education issues is waning
̶ with only 27 percent giving him an A or B ̶
and a majority of the public saying they oppose the Common Core State Standards and have more
trust in their local school board than in the federal government... "
"Anybody watching the escalating battle across the country over Common Core State Standards and aligned
standardized testing will hardly be surprised by a new national poll which reveals a significant loss of support
over the last year ̶. especially among teachers, whose approval rating dropped from 76
percent in 2013 to only 46 percent in 2014. Overall support for the core dropped from 65 percent last year to 53 percent in 2014... "
We strive to inform, mentor and help all Americans who care to understand what is
honestly wrong in K-12 public and charter
school education today
and how to help make it the best it can be for all students, including the "academically" disadvantaged.
Stop high-stakes standardized testing (refer
to our Stop High-Stakes Standardized Testing package)!
Parents and Students for Music and Arts (PSMA) actively advocates that every student should receive a complete and well-balanced "whole-student" education, with equal access for all, including music and other arts pre-K through 12th grade. More arts = better futures.
Yes, you can make a difference, and together we will make a difference.
"You must be the 'change' you wish to see in the world."
When started in earliest education levels, pre-K and beyond music and other arts integrated produces student creativity,
ingenuity, resourcefulness, imagination, enthusiasm and so much more, plus it sends the young off with a lasting love of
learning. Emphasis on math and English standardized testing barely scratches the surface of kids' intellectual potential.
Maximum performance, not the minimum standards measured by tests, should be the institution's aim.
Arts Education: Legislative findings: "The Legislature finds and declares that there is a need to include
the arts in the school curriculum as a means of improving the quality of education offered in California's public schools
and reinforcing basic skills, knowledge and understanding." (CA EDUC CODE § 8810)|
Areas of study, grades 1-6: "Describes subjects that must be taught in grades 1-6 as part of the course study, which include "Visual and performing arts, including instruction in the subjects of dance, music, theater and visual arts aimed at the development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression." (CA EDUC CODE § 51210)
Areas of study, grades 7-12: "Describe subjects that must be taught in grades 7-12 as part of the course of study, which include "Visual and performing arts, including dance, music, theater and visual arts, with emphasis upon development of aesthetic appreciation and the skills of creative expression." (CA EDUC CODE § 51220)
Definitions: "'Academic Achievement' means to improve one's ability to engage in academic endeavors and to accomplish study in core curriculum areas such as reading, writing, mathematics, fine arts*, science, vocational education, technology, history or social science." (Cal Code Regs. tit. 2 § 1859.2) *music, visual arts, dance and theater.
Requirements for Graduation: Commencing with the 1988-89 school year, requires one course in visual or performing arts or foreign language. (CA EDUC CODE §51225.3)
Target: Boards of Education
Sponsored by: Parents for Music and Arts (PMA)
I, the undersigned parent/guardian, agree that every student should receive a complete and well-balanced "whole-child" education, which includes equal access for all children to music and other arts pre-K through 12th grade.
|NAACP, "A Call for Action"|
"Resource equity in public education is indeed the next most important civil rights island to be conquered. By spending public education monies in a fair and equitable manner, we can ensure that minority students are not shortchanged academically."
|Christopher Knaus, "Still Segregated, Still Unequal" from the National Urban League|
"Federal assessments are not required for critical thinking, art history, biology or anything specifically related to participating in democratic society, and NCLB provides incentives to eliminate such curricula from 'failing schools.' Increasingly absent from low-income urban schools across the country are creative, flexible, curricula that allows students to express themselves outside the arena of whether or not what they say is on the test. "
|Diane Ravitch, education historian, author of "The Death and Life of the Great American School System"|
"No nation with successful schools ignores everything but basic skills and testing. "
|Alhambra USD Board President, January 6, 2010|
"The foundation of academic success is based on the core academic subjects, specifically in math and English. "
"The American College Testing Service compared the value of four factors in predicting success after high school. 'Success' was defined as self-satisfaction and participation in a variety of community activities two years after college. The one yardstick that could be used to predict later success in life was achievement in school activities [such as music, sports, debate, drama]. Not as useful predictors were high grades in high school, high grades in college or high ACT scores."
"Instead of pitting one subject against another, look at the comprehensive needs of students in the context of education of the whole child."
"Children learn better with arts as part of the curriculum. They learn all their subjects better. They're more engaged. Teacher attendance goes up. The child is happier; the teacher is
-Jane Alexander, former chair of National Endowment for the Arts
"Together we can and should do better for America's students."
"I write to bring to your attention the importance of arts as a core academic subject and part of a complete education for all students."
"The Elementary and Secondary Act (ESEA) defines the arts as a core subject, and the arts play a significant role in children's development and learning process…The arts can help students become tenacious, team-oriented problem solvers who are confident and able to think creatively. These qualities can be especially important in improving learning among students from economically disadvantaged circumstances."
"Parents must demand and influence decision makers with grassroots advocacy."
"Most students are not having ethical access to the arts."
"Change must happen at the state and local levels."
"Educators must close the achievement gap and raise the bar with arts."
-Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education (taken from the 2009 teleconference and letter)
"Rhythm students learn math fractions easier."
-Neurological Research, March 165, 1999
"Music lessons help students more than computer training."
-Neurological Research, February 28, 1997
"Band members get better math, science and language grades."
-ETSU study by Daryl Erick Trent, 2000
"Substance abuse lowest in music students"
-Boston Chronicle, January 11, 1998
"Music making earns 'A's' with Americans."
-Gallup Organization, March 2000
"Music students score higher on SATs."
-The College Board, compiled by MENC, 2001, 1996
"Music training helps underachievers."
-American Music Conference
"Music makes brain grow."
-Nature, April 23, 1998
"As a high school senior, I've been lucky to have the arts in my school. However, it saddens me to think that it might be gone in the near future. I've been involved with
band most of my life, and it has definitely been the most rewarding experience of my life. Please keep this program in schools to ensure that many more students have the
opportunity to have the most complete, and exciting, education they could possibly have."
"I've been waiting from 2nd grade to play music. I'm so excited."
"I think that music/arts should be introduced at around 1st or 2nd grade so children can find a way to express themselves."
"Why not start students in the 3rd or even 4th grade? There used to be programs in those grades, too. If I had been forced to wait until the 6th grade to start playing a stringed instrument, I never would have chosen to play. If you start earlier, you're freer to experiment and be adventurous. But, by the time you get to the 6th grade, you're concerned about not being noticed and about fitting in. The cello is such a big part of my life now; I really cannot imagine life without it."
"Band is one of the few reasons I come to school, it is also my favorite class. The music arts is like math you need to start from the beginning to understand the lessons later on. For example you read a book left to right in America reading the ending is 'noob sauce' and can not be done."
"I've been taking music for 4 year and currently taking art class. I believe every student should have the opportunity to learn music & art at school. Not all students is rich enough for private lesson."
"I have found a family in marching band. I have learned a lot, and I love what I do with them."
"I love my music class."
"I really appreciate my opportunity to learn a new instrument."
"I believe music is just as important to my education as math or English, because it helps me with memorization, creativity, and even social skills."
"We need music!"
"I think that music and other arts are vital to build children's character. They learn that doing something different like playing an instrument or participating in a local play, will help them gain skills they cant in a classroom. The arts help us as student express ourselves in different way. We also stay out of trouble and gain responsibilities. Therefore making us more responsible I think that having a place like the band room, or a choir room or a theater to call home is worth every penny."
"I think music is very important to any kids, no matter how old they are. Also, music can affect a child’s manner in a positive way. No school should cut music class. It is our students' enjoyment in school."
"Education is needed for our future!!"
"I enjoy music class, even if this is my first year. This opportunity is a great opportunity because there may be other students who would like to pursue with music in their future."
"I believe that all children should always have music in lives and it should not be taken away from them. Music is important and it can inspire them to become the best of themselves."
"To me music calms me down and lowers my stress. I really appreciate music and I hope it stays."
"I never really took instruments, but I do love listening to music, & I want to learn. So I hope that we will be able to keep music and arts at school, because other than school, I do not get the chance to learn music."
"I think that having the chance to freely be able to learn how to play musical instruments in school is important."
"I appreciate the opportunity to be able to learn an instrument in school and I believe that it would be something I would continue in the future."
"Music and Art classes keep interest in students and helps stimulate creative thinking and innovative ideas, and should be kept under any circumstance."
"Please save the arts! Kids need an outlet for school, and I think arts such as music or painting is a great way to relieve stress and supports creativity."
"I am very thankful to be apart of the music class or any fine arts class I could have taken. I've always wanted to further my knowledge of music and finally have the opportunity because I couldn’t afford outside classes. So thank you. YYY =) It is much appreciated!!!"
"I tried to get music class Freshman year, but I couldn't. Now I have & its really fun. I love it."
"Arts in general is what everybody lives for, or would want to live for, whether you are a math major or science major, art is the foundation of our sane existence. Besides, where else would I hang out if not the band room? (metaphorically and literally)."
"I really agree that students should receive a musical and artistic education. Because I am student that attends high school seem and feel like doing better every time I listen and play in band. It helps me with my focus. That is also one reason why teachers sometimes play classical music in class."
"Marching in the Rose Parade with the AUSD Band was a very rewarding experience for me, music is such a great part of public education."
"Music has united the world and without it, there would be no cultural experiences."
"The arts should be preserved so that all children are able to express their creative sides and enjoy music and other arts."
"I really enjoyed all the activities that we have done over the years. They have all been truly an experience that an average person will never experience and hope that future years will experience stuff that I will never forget."
"Never in my life have I ever worked so hard to perfect something no where near perfection."
"Music is my inspiration. Without music, I’d be the same as the other kids. It makes me who I am today!"
"Being in marching band has been an experience I will never forget. It allows me to take a break from the stresses of school work. As a result of the band program, I have been able to march in an internationally televised parade (Rose Parade 2009) and made a handful of lifelong friends. Every student should have the choice to be in a music program."
"I believe that music and arts are an equal subject to any of the other subjects at school. Arts can give us a steady focus of learning and gives us a new passion."
"I like band, and it would suck if it got cancelled."
"Band's awesome. It totally changed my life."
"I look forward to my fourth period because it gives me a chance to play an instrument that I love. And I get to play with the school and get instruction on how to play correctly."
"People who have join any art related programs have had a better futures."
"Hi! Thanks for supporting our school! Without you helpers we wouldn't be able to play music anymore. So thank you very much!"
"It is crucial for the district to fund The Arts. The Arts can help us excel in college and in the future. Please help all students/musicians and I to have a proper funding."
"As a high school senior, I've been lucky to have the arts in my school. However, it saddens me to think that it might be gone in the near future. I've been involved with the band most of my life, and it has definitely been the most rewarding experience of my life. Please keep this program in schools to ensure that many more students have the opportunity to have the most complete, and exciting education they could possibly have."
"I think music theory should be introduced in 4th grade so that they can easily pick up an instrument by 8th grade."
"Art encourages imagination, creativity and individuality and should be a regular contributor to a student's curriculum as early as possible."
"My fondest hope is that my grandchildren will have teachers who know that the truly valuable elements of a public education cannot be measured
by machine-scored tests, and that their value as human beings cannot be reduced to those test scores."
-Education Week, August 10, 2011, "Community Comment of the Day"
"We spend millions developing and administering a test, we prep kids for it, and we still hear from businesses that kids don't have the job skills because what they learned was how to take a test.
-Ed Amundsen, Special Education Teacher, Sacramento, CA
"The farther away from the children in the classroom, the more unrealistic the 'fix' ideas become. Those of us in classrooms know any reform is slow, and painstaking."
-sek1949, Comment of the Day, Education Week, September 13, 2011
When children have the opportunity and equal access to whole-child balanced education, which includes music and arts, they develop a sense of fulfillment and real pride, leading them to a life-long love of learning and successful lives. Balance not only improves test results but far-more importantly, massive accumulation of research data indicates that the arts help grow personal individuality, self expression and social skills, self esteem, discipline, independent thinking, analytical, global, collaborative, conceptual and visual thinking, memory, focus, concentration, patience, stress release and anger management, entrepreneurship, healthy competitiveness, cooperation, self control, initiative, persistence, team spirit, attention to detail, handling of pressure, alertness, conquering challenges, problem solving, hand-eye coordination, character, confidence, creativity, ingenuity, innovation, resourcefulness, imagination, enthusiasm, leadership and combining all of the above when students become complete human beings capable of leading successful and productive lives in a free society.
These are attributes and characteristics that stifling high-stakes* standardized testing does not build, but equal access to music and arts does, particularly when started from the earliest ages and continued through middle and high school. If educators make classroom-curriculum challenging but creative at the same time, education will be fun and encourage personal growth of students’ individualities, and create truly visible students for life, in all subjects and challenges in life. The opposite is true for students bombarded with teaching-to-the-test boredom and remedial / double-dosing punishment from the demands of ever-higher test results, while being deprived of balanced classroom curriculum and opportunities to develop into full individual potentials.
10 years of experience and research data continue to demonstrate that dumb-downed curriculum from high-stakes standardized testing is one of the primary causes of the decline in public K-12 American education, today. The tragedy of the misguided grand-federal experiment known as “No Child Left Behind” law, and most recently unfair “Race to the Top” federal competition, continues to marginalize, standardize and invisibilize students, especially the economically and academically disadvantaged, thereby denying them of the individuality and leadership abilities that they will need to survive and thrive ahead of the pack in the 21st century.
Johnny Thompson, on behalf of
Parents for Music and Arts (PMA)
Vision for students - voice for parents
*The term high-stakes means that children and their teachers, principals and superintendents are judged, punished and rewarded solely by Federal and state student standardized test results, as teachers are forced to "teach to the test" and "what gets tested gets taught"
Their Big-Gov Unequal and Denied-Access and the Invisible Disadvantaged: Beware of the High-Stakes Education Rule: What is tested with “high-stakes” accountability gets taught; what is not tested gets unequal or denied-access.† While the K-12 student of “socio-academic advantage” [high(er) test score] gets whole-student curriculum unequal access or can outsource to learn, the “invisible” disadvantaged [low(er) test score] learns to grow up with narrow, separate and disabling denied-access education (A4).
"At first they came for my neighbor's kid, but then they came for mine." – John Charles Thompson, 2014 (adaptation from M. Niemöller, 1946)
Parents and Students for Music and Arts is not affiliated with, or endorsed by any school district. PSMA is a combined effort of local parents and community leaders in support of whole-student education which includes music and other arts for all.
To: Secretary Duncan,* OCR, DOJ and c.c.
Subject: The Great Selective Testing Bubble
The selective testing of English and math along with competitive funding is unconstitutional. Whole-child ed is dead - especially for the "disadvantaged" - but working together, we can activate on a journey for fundamental reform to public education. To know more, begin by reading the attached table of contents and introduction to the Great Selective Testing Bubble. Please join us!
*Secretary Duncan: your personal response is requested. Thank you.
John C. Thompson
Parents for Music and Arts (PMA)
Students for Music and Arts (SMA)
(626) 280-1613 (626) 280-4600 (Fax)
222 E. Garvey Ave., Monterey Park, CA 91755
c.c.: policy and law makers, advocates and activists, educators.
A resolution of the City Council of the City of Monterey Park, California, in support of independent Parents and Students for Music and Arts (PSMA) and their mission to advocate that every Alhambra Unified School District should receive a complete and well-rounded education that includes Equal Access to Music and other Arts.