It seems that not only are Joel Klein and company turning their tail and running from their problems. It seems the US Department of Education and Arne Duncan are doing the same thing.
Back in late July, around the time I posted this fiery piece on the cancellation of New York State tests in Social Studies for 5th and 8th grade, I had sent letters to the Board of Regents and the US Department of Education’s pointperson for Race to the Top, James Butler. This is the letter I sent to the Board of Regents on July 20th:
Honorable Members of the Board of Regents,I write to you to express my disgust and dismay at your recent decision to cut social studies testing in grades 5 and 8. In so doing, I have written a post on my blog that has been sent to thousands of my readers explaining the plight of this situation, the text of which can be found here:
https://mrdsneighborhood.com/2010/07/20/jim-crow-ism-at-the-board-of-regents-new-york-state-votes-to-end-social-studies-tests-in-5th-and-8th-grade/I do not want to belittle the fact that in a recession, cuts need to be made. Of course, costs must be diminished in severe economic times. Yet I ask you honorable members one question: How is cutting testing in grades 5 and 8 “appropriate and responsible”, in Commissioner Steiner’s words? If you do care about our high school graduates, who need this knowledge to succeed in the wider world, why take away an effective early indicator of their social studies readiness? Why take away an impetus for instruction from teachers that understand the importance of history, economics, geography and government.?Let us be completely honest with each other. In this world of assessment, if a subject is not assessed in a standardized way, it is not important. Your action has deemed social studies not only unimportant, but unnecessary. Social studies cannot be taught out of the goodness of teacher’s hearts: assessment is necessary to make sure children are ready for higher education. Your action will create children so underprepared that it will make New York the laughingstock of the United States in terms of education.
I leave you with a request: please find an alternative solution to this financial problem that does not affect our students. DO NOT blame President Obama or NCLB, for that is an excuse that is too tired to even contemplate. What can YOU, as one of the oldest institutions in the state, predating the US constitution, do to solve this problem?
Thank you very much for your time.
My name is [Mr. D’s real name] and I am a teacher in New York City public schools. I wanted to bring to your attention an inaccuracy in New York State’s application for Phase II RTTT funds.
In page 106 of New York’s June 1, 2010 application, it states that:“New York collects yearly test records of individual students under section 1111(b) of the ESEA [20 U.S.C. 6311(b)] program in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies, as well as scores obtained on NewYork’s secondary-level Regents examinations (see Appendix C_1_2).”
Yet on June 22, the NY Board of Regents voted to approve the suspension of social studies testing in grades 5 and 8, a serious blow to the achievement of our students. In a more specific way, however, NY is now no longer compliant with the criteria for funding. The NY Board of Regents, just like administrators across the country, must be held accountable to their actions.
Please make sure NY does NOT get any RTTT funds unless it returns to compliance and restores full testing on all levels.
Thank you for your time.
Thank you for your email. We appreciate your attention to the New York Race to the Top application. We deeply appreciate the contributions of teachers like you, who are involved in shaping the education system for our nation’s children. You play the most vital role in ensuring that the next generation is fully prepared for the challenges it will face. Thank you again for sharing your concerns.
Race to the Top Team
Now, I don’t blame Jessica McKinney. My guess is that she’s an eager, go get-em intern type that did what she was told and sent me a form letter acknowledging that they did receive my concerns, albeit almost a month late. She probably’s going off to TFA after her internship is up, so watch out Compton or southside Chicago!
What I am pissed about is that this problem with cutting testing–while at the same time stating the exact opposite on a federal application for funding–isn’t taken more seriously. Isn’t that perjury? I mean, New York State outright lied to the federal government. Yet it seems that the folks running Race to the Top couldn’t care less.
I don’t hate New York: I want it to get the money it should get as one of the larger states. But damnit, it should be doing it in the best interests of children getting a COMPLETE education. I urge everyone in the Neighborhood to spread the word about this tepid response to a travesty occurring among social studies instruction in this state and possibly this country.
Race to the Top can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. E-mail Jessica directly and see if it helps.
Still haven’t heard from the Board of Regents, so here’s there contact info one more time:
To contact the Regents as a whole, use the following:
New York State Education Department
89 Washington Avenue
Board of Regents, Room 110 EB
Albany, New York 12234
The following are the individual Regents and the areas they represent:
2011* Tisch, Merryl H.; B.A., M.A., Ed.D.
Chancellor; At Large
9 East 79th Street, N.Y., N.Y. 10075
Phone: (212) 879-9414 Email: RegentTisch@mail.nysed.gov
2012* Cofield, Milton L.; B.S., M.B.A., Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor; Judicial District VII – Cayuga, Livingston, Monroe, Ontario, Seneca, Steuben, Wayne, Yates
98 Hickory Ridge Road, Rochester, N.Y. 14625
Phone (585) 200-6284 Email: RegentCofield@mail.nysed.gov
2015* Bennett, Robert M.; B.A., M.S.
Chancellor Emeritus; Judicial District VIII — Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming
201 Millwood Lane, Tonawanda, NY 14150
Phone: (716) 645-1344 Email: RegentBennett@mail.nysed.gov
2014* Cohen, Saul B.; B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
14 North Chatsworth Avenue, Apt. 3E, Larchmont, NY 10538
Phone: (914) 834-0615 Email: RegentCohen@mail.nysed.gov
2015* Dawson, James C.; A.A, B.A., M.S., Ph.D.
Judicial District IV — Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Fulton, Hamilton, Montgomery, St. Lawrence, Saratoga, Schenectady, Warren and Washington
166 U.S. Oval, Plattsburgh, NY 12903
Phone: (518) 324-2401 Email: RegentDawson@mail.nysed.gov
2011* Bottar, Anthony S.; B.A., J.D.
Judicial District V — Herkimer, Jefferson, Lewis, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego
120 Madison Street, Suite 1600, AXA Tower II, Syracuse, NY 13202
Phone: (315) 422-3466 Email: RegentBottar@mail.nysed.gov
2013* Chapey, Geraldine, D.; B.A., M.A., Ed.D.
Judicial District XI — Queens
107-10 Shore Front Parkway, Apt. 9C, Belle Harbor, NY 11694
Phone: (718) 634-8471 Email: RegentChapey@mail.nysed.gov
2015* Phillips 3rd, Harry; B.A., M.S.F.S.
Judicial District IX — Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester
71 Hawthorne Way, Hartsdale, NY 10530
Phone: (914) 948-2228 Email: RegentPhillips@mail.nysed.gov
2012* Tallon, Jr., James R. ; B.A., M.A.
Judicial District VI – Broome, Chemung, Chenango, Cortland, Delaware, Madison, Otsego, Schuyler, Tioga, Tompkins
United Hospital Fund, Empire State Building, 350 Fifth Avenue, 23rd Floor, New York, N.Y. 10118-0110
Phone (212) 494-0777 Email: RegentTallon@mail.nysed.gov
2015* Tilles, Roger; B.A., J.D.
Judicial District X – Nassau, Suffolk
100 Crossways Park West, Suite 107, Woodbury, N.Y. 11797
Phone (516) 364-2533 Email: RegentTilles@mail.nysed.gov
2015* Brooks Hopkins, Karen; B.A., M.F.A.
Judicial District II – Kings
30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11217
Phone (718) 636-4135 Email: RegentHopkins@mail.nysed.gov
2012* Bendit, Charles R.; B.A.
Judicial District I – New York
111 Eighth Avenue, Suite 1500, New York, N.Y. 10011
Phone (212) 220-9945 Email: RegentBendit@mail.nysed.gov
2013* Rosa, Betty A., B.A., M.S. in Ed., M.S. in Ed., M.Ed., Ed.D.
Judicial District XII – Bronx
Chambreleng Hall, Fordham University, 441 East Fordham Road, Bronx, N.Y. 10458
Phone (718) 817-5053 Email: RegentRosa@mail.nysed.gov
2015* Young, Jr., Lester W., B.S., M.S., Ed.D.
55 Hanson Place, Suite 400, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11217
Phone (718) 722-2796 Email: RegentYoung@mail.nysed.gov
2014* Cea, Christine D., B.A., M.A., Ph.D.
Judicial District XIII – Richmond
NYS Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities
1050 Forest Hill Road, Staten Island, NY 10314
Phone (718) 494-5306 Email: RegentCea@mail.nysed.gov
2014* Norwood, Wade S., B.A.
74 Appleton Street, Rochester, NY 14611
Phone (585) 461-3520 Email: RegentNorwood@mail.nysed.gov
The End of the Line for Social Studies Tests in NYS–for now.
The NY Board of Regents on their way to chapel (just kidding)
Well, I think we found something close to closure in the social studies test saga. It won’t be back for a while…but there’s still hope.
Since we last left the saga of the missing state social studies tests, I have been badgering the Regents to give a more intelligent response than the terse, one-line cast-off I was given. Apparently, it must have touched a nerve to e-mail over the Jewish holiday, because today I receive a response from Dr. John King, Senior Deputy Commissioner for P-12 Education at the NYS Education Department. Dr. King wrote:
This response was a whopping two-paragraphs longer than the last note I received from one of the Regents. In spite of all the jerking around this summer, I really did appreciate Dr. King being frank with me about the reason why the tests were cancelled. Still, I didn’t exactly want to let him off the hook. Here was my response:
I think this was an appropriate ending–albeit unwanted–for this summer’s social studies drama in New York.
However, that doesn’t mean we will give up the fight to restore social studies’ rightful status in the education of New York’s schoolchildren. If you want to contact Dr. King and give your reasons to protect social studies in this state, here’s his contact info:
Senior Deputy Commissioner
89 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY 12234
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