Teacher Fired for Criticizing Standardized Test
Granite School District teacher Ann Florence has been fired during Spring Break so Granite School District could avoid as much of a media storm as possible. This action is unconscionable. Please read this post to the end and take action by emailing the people below your thoughts about them firing a wonderful and experienced teacher. As teachers find themselves reducing their teaching time (by as much as 20% of the school year by some accounts), in order to administer standardized tests, they are becoming increasingly worried about their students, as well as their own sanity as you’ll see below. Their free speech is curtailed just as it always is by narrowly-focused (I wanted to write small-minded but thought that might be perceived rudely) bureaucrats who have a very misplaced concern for children’s needs.
We must ask, what is the purpose of education? What is local control? I’ll tell you what it isn’t: It’s not bureaucrats and legislators trying to make teachers accountable through increased testing of children. Local control is a parent, responsible and concerned for the education of their children, communicating with a teacher about their children, and the three interested parties developing a plan that makes the teacher accountable to the parent and child to impart their knowledge. Testing is a part of education but that is best left to the teacher to evaluate students, and communicate with parents ensuring they know where their child has deficiencies to be able to appropriately address their children’s needs. Teachers need a quality program though. Fads like constructivist math damage children and Common Core has embraced this. The combination of good standards for a proper path of education, good teachers, good curriculum, parental involvement, and of course students’ needs, will do more to help educate children than anything else the state could implement.
Now to Ann. From all accounts, Ann was a superb teacher who was providing a wonderful educational experience for her students. Christel Swasey wrote up Ann’s being put on administrative leave days ago and noted that a year ago, Ann wrote an op-ed for the Tribune and said this:
“Managing teachers through intimidation is not working… teachers are looking for work elsewhere. Teachers who have loved their jobs are discouraging their own children from pursuing careers in education…. we feel exhausted and demoralized by the avalanche of mandates from the state and district… While legislators constantly raise expectations and think they can motivate us by publicly posting test scores, our time for teaching has shrunk….I now administer 19 days of standardized tests, costing me an entire month of instruction. This doesn’t include the days the testing site is down or the system crashes, eating up even more days…. I am held accountable for nine months of curriculum without enough time to teach it… Granite District has required teachers to learn the new Common Core, use a new grades program (which crashes regularly), design a new honors curriculum, use a new online system requiring the scanning and posting of all assignments and a daily summary of class activities, and learn to analyze complex data … No test score reflects the number of students who return to thank a teacher, the number who fall in love with reading again, gain new confidence to speak up in class, find solace in a teacher’s support, decide to try one more time just when they want to quit… We are tired of having our dedication reduced to a number.”
The Trib yesterday reported the firing of this teacher thus:
“Florence was placed on administrative leave March 27 after she told her first-period class that she was facing disciplinary action and might be fired. Spring break began March 28, and the letter was mailed March 31.
When students learned of the disciplinary action on March 27, they started a petition drive and obtained nearly 100 signatures in one day supporting their teacher.
Florence refused to grade the writing portion of the districtwide Acuity Test. She said the exam was a waste of students’ and teachers’ time, did not further any education agenda and that it was unethical to have teachers grade their own students on a standardized test that then would be used to judge the teacher.
In a letter to her students, she said she loved her career but had to stand up for principle.”
Hmmmm, now why would this teacher be fired for criticizing a standardized test??? Could it be that she is interfering with district revenue? Looks like McGraw-Hill is offering a reward to help pilot their exam.
State Superintendent Menlove just sent out this letter across the state as a stern warning to teachers.
“Testing environments need to be maintained to assure accurate testing of students without outside interference. Only those authorized educators should be in the room(s) while testing is occurring.
I sent a document Monday concerning opting-out of testing. Parents have the right to opt students out of testing. However, this right is not extended to anyone other than a child’s parent or guardian. I believe it is a violation of testing protocol and educator ethics for a licensed educator to encourage or suggest that individual students or groups of students not participate fully in State administered testing.
Please communicate with all licensed educators that those involved in sharing, or allowing the sharing, of any SAGE, DWA or other State assessment items will be referred to the Utah Professional Practices Commission and action may be taken against their teacher license. This includes the requirement that all testing protocols will be followed.
Additionally, those who do not honor a parent’s right to opt out of testing, or those who inappropriately encourage or facilitate opting-out will also be referred to the Utah Professional Practices Commission for possible action against their license.”
Teachers should honor a parent’s right to opt out. But they should also be more concerned about the students in their care than some bureaucrat who wants to feed “big data” with a monstrous stream of data to the detriment of children.Please read this article by Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project on “Common Core and Data Collection” which contains this troubling quote from Sec. of Ed. Arne Duncan:
“Hopefully, some day, we can track children from preschool to high school and from high school to college and college to career . . . . We want to see more states build comprehensive systems that track students from pre-K through college and then link school data to workforce data. We want to know know whether Johnny participated in an early learning program and then completed college on time and whether those things have any bearing on his earnings as an adult.”
Help protect our teachers
Please take a moment and write a polite email of support for Ann and other teachers to the following. Send emails separately or put them on the BCC (Blind carbon copy) line of your email.
Granite’s Superintendent Martin Bates: firstname.lastname@example.org
State Superintendent Dr. Martell Menlove: Martell.Menlove@schools.utah.gov
Wasatch Jr High Principal Christine Judd: email@example.com
Wasatch Jr High Asst. Principal John Anderson: firstname.lastname@example.org
State School Board:
email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; jeffersonRmoss@gmail.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com;
Granite School Board:
Governor Herbert: http://governor.utah.gov/goca/form_comment.html (copy/paste your email into this form to send it to the Governor)
Your legislators: http://le.utah.gov (lookup by address here)