Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Group Launches Petition Drive on Superintendent Search

Among the input provided the Fayette County Board of Education in their search for a new superintendent is an online petition. A new group calling itself the Fayette Advocates for Balance in the Classroom™ (FayetteABC™) has launched a petition drive in hopes of influencing the board in their choice of superintendent.

FayetteABC was founded by Erik and Cheryl Myrup and other Fayette County Public School parents "concerned that test-driven instruction could compromise the quality of education in our public schools." They note that no FayetteABC founding members have ever been employees of Fayette County Public Schools.
We are residents of Fayette County, Kentucky who are concerned that our public schools have become too focused on standardized testing at the expense of Kentucky's broader educational goals, which include preparing students for future employment and adult life.

Our petition asks the Fayette County Board of Education to keep these concerns in mind as they choose a new superintendent and pursue their own goals as a board.
FayetteABC describes their core beliefs saying:
  • Public education should have the broad goal of preparing students to be successful in future employment and adult life.
  • Standardized tests provide useful but incomplete measures of how well schools are preparing students to meet these goals.
  • When classroom instruction focuses primarily on tested content and mimics standardized test formats, it deprives students of many of the most rigorous, lasting, and inspiring learning opportunities.
The FayetteABC website provides answers to frequently asked questions, information about relevant Kentucky data and laws, and related research and reading. Here's the FayetteABC Facebook page.

Here's the petition:
To: Fayette County Board of Education

We are concerned that our schools have become too focused on standardized testing at the expense of Kentucky's broader educational goals, which include preparing students for future employment and adult life. Please keep this concern in mind as you choose a new superintendent and pursue your own goals as a board.

We urge you to take a balanced approach to meeting educational goals. This approach should be informed by data from mandated standardized tests, but should focus squarely on ensuring that students have access to rigorous, relevant, rich instruction.

What are some signs of a system that is out of balance?

* Students spend too much time taking standardized tests and practicing skills in a testing format

* Teachers report less time for teaching students to apply concepts, solve problems, and think critically and creatively

* Teachers and principals are under more pressure to raise scores on standardized tests than they are to use teaching methods likely to promote deep understanding and love of learning; teachers committed to such methods may be frustrated and demoralized

* Standardized test achievement is considered the goal of learning

* Subjects not tested for state and federal accountability systems receive inadequate attention

Superintendents, board members, and school personnel may all be feeling more pressure to demonstrate success on standardized tests than to monitor the unintended consequences of a test-driven system. That is why we are making our concerns known. We acknowledge and thank the many Fayette County teachers, administrators, and board members who work hard every day to ensure that our children do have rigorous, engaging, and varied learning opportunities beyond what is necessary for success on standardized tests. We realize that these efforts are not always recognized publicly, but they are preparing our children to be successful in life.

We believe that all of us truly want what is best for our children, and we expect our elected officials and our next superintendent to have the courage and the vision necessary to take a balanced approach...

Sincerely,

The Undersigned
Those inclined can join the drive and add their names here.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh, Richard, isn't this group simply taking a swipe at Stu Silberman? They don't want a repeat in a superintendent!

FayetteABC said...

FayetteABC is keenly interested in a new superintendent who, with public support, can initiate conversations about the many steps necessary to improve learning and the dangers of focusing on test scores alone as indicators of schools' success.

The founders of FayetteABC have strong concerns about test-driven instruction as described in our petition. However, we acknowledge and are grateful for Stu Silberman's positive contributions and his strong commitment to education. We can not speak for all petition signers. However, we feel strongly that, as a community, we will move forward by acknowledging each other's strengths and having frank and respectful conversations about our different viewpoints.

We should be able to discuss these issues without reference to any individual. Please see our webpage for research and readings that are helpful in considering the role of assessment in education: http://fayetteabc.web.officelive.com

Anonymous said...

I encourage FayetteABC to send bulk emails to the schools to enlist the support of teachers. Most teachers do not know about your blog, but they are gainst this testing madness! This is the way you do it: Get the names of the people you want to send it to and use this format:

jack.hayes@fayette.kyschools.us

Fayette said...

We have spoken with many teachers who feel that their teaching has been compromised. However, we are not encouraging teachers to sign this petition. We want to make clear that these are parent and community concerns.

We do hope that teachers are aware of our petition and that they feel free to talk about these concerns in their own communities.

Richard Day said...

My apologies to someone.

I accidentally deleted a perfectly good comment earlier today because my fat fingers hit the wrong button on my cell phone. Please resend.

Anonymous said...

Teachers not encouraged to sign the petition? Here we go again! Those who are most responsible for education are encouraged to play no role in policy. Sounds like life under Mr. Silberman...

Richard Day said...

April 23, 2011 10:33 PM: I think that's probably an incorrect reading of where their heads are. I hear them echoing many of the same complaints we have heard from teachers.

I'd say, by all means, sign the petition if it reflects your feelings. ...but wonder if one who posts anonymously here, would they sign their names there?

If teachers have something to say about life with Stu, stand up and say it to the board. But I get the impression that FayetteABC doesn't want to make it about the outgoing superintendent, so much as the next one.

Anonymous said...

I feel that there is a need for some transparency. Dr. Myrup, a founder of Fayette ABC, is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Kentucky.

It is therefore completely unacceptable that an organization, whose founder is a teacher as well as a researcher, would suggest teachers not sign the petition.

No thinking person would want to abridge Dr. Myrup's academic freedom inside or outside the classroom or suggest how he teach or assess students in his history seminars. Classroom teachers have a vested interest in the testing process and they must be allowed to sign a petition if they are so inclined. Like Dr. Myrup, FCPS teachers are taxpayers and parents as well.

Moreover, the Supreme Court has affirmed the rights of public school teachers to criticize not only school boards, but also superintendents.(Pickering vs. Board of Education)

Thanks, Dr. Day, for encouraging public school teachers to sign the petition if they are so inclined.