Dear Bill and Melinda,
You are making history, Bill and Melinda. You have now reached a new level of notoriety. You two can now be known in history books as the American billionaire couple — with your seat on Air Force One and 80 senators in your pockets — who are forcing 5 year olds to sit behind a computer screen taking a Common Core MAP test for 5 hours. As the richest couple in the world, you have the hubris to think you have that right?
You can now be infamous for pushing a testing system of adaptive Common Core MAP tests down to the early childhood level. You are accountable because you have used your power and wealth to force feed the Common Core to the Department of Education, the State School Officers, and the state Governors with what amounts to as a whopping $2.3 BILLION as discovered recently by Jack Hassard, noted here by Diane Ravitch.
“We have long known on this site that Bill Gates’ foundation underwrote every aspect of the Common Core standards. Mercedes Schneider has documented nearly $200 million in grants specifically for the writing, evaluation, review, implementation, and advocacy for the Common Core standards.
Jack Hassard, a retired professor of science education, has scoured the Gates search engine and concluded that the investment of the Gates Foundation in the Common Core is actually $2.3 billion.”
You are pushing the inhumane and unnecessary NWEA Common Core MAP tests with major financial backing. Sara Littman wrote about your $5 million grant to the NWEA MAP tests in Connecticut here. Seattle Education Blog wrote about the Gates Foundation grants for MAP tests also.
Because of you — despite being in tears, these innocent 5 and 6 year old children — children who used to be finger painting, learning nursery rhymes, engaging in dramatic play with miniature kitchens, role playing with costumes and puppets, and building forts with large wooden blocks — endured FIVE hours of standardized testing. FIVE hours of standardized testing of 5 and 6 year olds? Do you really think American parents and teachers are going to allow this testing abuse?
As a kindergarten teacher and special education teacher with 20 years experience in early childhood education, I am outraged!
Every early childhood expert I know will be as well, but I want more than that! I want parents to be outraged! I want teachers and administrators to be outraged! I want them all to call Congress and demand #TESTHearingsNow!
And then I want Congress to be outraged enough to put a gate up between corporations and public education to preserve public education for our children, our parents, our teachers, our communities, and our very democracy.
So is this test really that bad? Here is a demo of the MAP test for primary grades. Just imagine being 5 or 6 years old, sitting behind a screen taking this test for 5 hours, then read the details below as written by the Badass Teacher who is sending out the alarm call to stop this madness!
“We had been told to set up each child with their own account on their numbered Chromebook. The Teacher on Special Assignment came around and spent about an hour in each class doing this in the previous weeks.
We didn’t know exactly when the test would be given, just that some time on Thursday or Friday, the proctors would come and test. I set out morning work for my kids today but before the bell rang, the proctor arrived. I quickly swept off the tables and she said we’d begin right away. I went out to pick up my class.
While the proctor set up the computers (disregarding what we had done — that hour the TOSA spent in each class was unnecessary), I went through the usual morning routine.
Parents who happened to be in the room scrambled to unpack the headphones, which had arrived in the office that morning, and distribute the computers. We started a half hour later. The kids were excited to be using the computers. That didn’t last for long.
The test is adaptive. When a child answers a question, the next batch of questions is slightly harder or easier depending on the correctness of their answer. The math and language arts sections each had 57 questions.
The kids didn’t understand that to hear the directions, you needed to click the speaker icon. We slipped around the room explaining.
Answers were selected by drop and drag with a trackpad, no mouse was available. A proctor in one room said that if a child indicated their answer, an adult could help. Other proctors didn’t allow this. I had trouble dragging and dropping myself on the little trackpads.
Kids in one class took five hours to finish. Kids were crying in 4 of 5 classes.
There were multiple computer crashes (“okay, you just sit right there while we fix it! Don’t talk to anyone!”). There were kids sitting for half hour with volume off on headsets but not saying anything. Kids accidentally swapped tangled headsets and didn’t seem to notice that what they heard had nothing to do with what they saw on the screen.
Kids had to solve 8+6 when the answer choices were 0-9 and had to DRAG AND DROP first a 1 then a 4 to form a 14. There were questions where it was only necessary to click an answer but the objects were movable (for no reason). There were kids tapping on their neighbor’s computers in frustration. To go to the next question, one clicks “next” in lower right-hand corner…..which is also where the pop-up menu comes up to take you to other programs or shut down, so there were many instances of shut-downs and kids winding up in a completely different program.
Is this what we want for our youngest children?” ~ Anonymous Badass Teacher
“Answering NPE’s call, Arizona Representative Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ-3), a member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, responded with a sentiment that has been echoed by parents and educators throughout the United States. The six-term Representative said, “The need for an impartial and transparent hearing on mandatory testing and privatization efforts directed at public education, is critical. We need to have an open discussion about the dismantling of public education. I hope the leadership of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives will hold hearings that allow our public schools and the families they serve the opportunity to have an open and honest hearing.”
We trended #1 for several hours, showing evidence of wide support for these Congressional hearings investigating testing abuse. The many horrific examples of the misuse and abuse of standardized testing — like the one above that I read about today on the Badass Teachers Association blog — become one more important reason we need to support these hearings.Bill and Melinda, it is time to stop this insanity!
We need a firewall between corporate education reform and public schools. We need a firewall between privatizers and public schools. We need a firewall between predatory philanthropists and public education!
Readers, it is time to take action! Join us in calling your Congressmen on Monday, March 24th and demand formal Congressional hearings on standardized testing! Use this Common Cause link to find your congressmen/women. And use the Network for Public Education Toolkit to assist you with this campaign.
Readers, it is time to demand #TESTHearingsNow!
Susan DuFresne – Full Day Integrated Kindergarten Teacher and Co-Author of Teachers’ Letters to Bill Gates