THE BLOG
07/22/2015 03:29 pm ET Updated Jul 22, 2016

Open Letter to Senator Sanders

Many of us, public school teachers and parents, have enthusiastically supported Senator Sanders for President. We were encouraged by his opposition to NCLB, but disappointed when he voted for the Murphy Amendment, which would have imposed many of the conditions we've consistently opposed. Our students have been through more than enough of this already. Therefore we've written the following:

Dear Senator Sanders,

We are educators and supporters of yours, from across the country. Many of your positions on the issues that are the most significant facing the American populace resonate with us, inclusive of but not limited to economic inequality and the plutocratic maldistribution of political power.

In addition to being supporters and organizers for your campaign and the issues above, we are also some of the educators who are fighting against the privatization of public education and the test and punish philosophy that has become pervasive with far too many politicians. We champion this fight because our students, our profession, and the future of this country depend upon our changing the conditions that exist today under the failed No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top policies.

We are disappointed with your recent votes in the senate that contain provisions which perpetuate quantitatively based measures of education. Your Tennessee senatorial colleague Lamar Alexander correctly stated that what you just recently voted for, "Instead of fixing No Child Left Behind, it keeps the worst parts of it."

Quantitative measures are invalid. They are masks for social inequalities. They merely highlight and then reflect economic and racial inequalities. Mel Riddile, "PISA: It's Still 'Poverty Not Stupid'" at the blog, "The Principal's Corner", found that numerical performance of districts mirrors the scale of economic inequalities of those districts. Statisticians have proven over and over again that the use of value added modeling is logically flawed. NCLB drove the use of value-added modeling (VAM) which negatively transformed the teaching and learning processes in the nation's schools.

Furthermore, as union members we believe that the current education "reform" agenda is a relentless and insidious attack on unionism itself. This agenda's usurpation of the language and iconography of the Civil Rights struggle and the limitlessness financial resources of the billionaires, hedge funders, and corporations who are championing and bank rolling it are reprehensible. It is therefore, sir, not merely an attack on children, teachers, and public education, but an undermining of the noblest and most progressive movements in American history: union rights and civil rights. We implore you to rethink your recent vote, which is wholly and utterly incongruous to your noble and progressive defense of the American working class.

In order for us to continue to organize and mobilize our communities' voters to support you, we need you to clearly articulate a position that is anti Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and high-stakes testing (HST) and in favor of decoupling testing from teacher evaluations.

The CCSS were written by two lobbying entities, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and David Coleman, all of whom were interested in making money, rather than by K-12 educators who work with students in the classroom every day. The adoption of these standards by the states happened because the Obama administration was able to capitalize on the recession and the states' need for an influx of federal monies for their statewide education programs. As the economy is improving and the awful realization of the CCSS testing standard charade becomes more obvious, states are abandoning the CCSS and the abusive testing regime that is embedded in it.

Senator Sanders, these standards do not facilitate conventional and/or appropriate student understanding in core curriculum and in many cases singularly serve to alienate educators and students from the very subjects they need to understand to function in society. Please accept this letter as a formal request that you begin publicly, in the Senate Chamber and on the campaign trail, stipulating that you stand with teachers against CCSS, HST and VAM. Please feel free to contact any or all of us if you need further information.

Respectfully, (organizations, for affiliation)

Alexandra Alves, UFT Chapter Leader, PS 2, Movement of Rank and File Educators (UFT), STCaucus (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
Gina Amodeo (CFT, AFT), BAT
Karen Arneson, Movement of Rank and File Educators (UFT), STCaucus (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
Fredrick Bertz, Board Member, United Teachers Los Angeles, (NEA, AFT - For identification only)
Lyn Bigelow, Natomas Teachers Association (CTA, NEA)
Judy Bjorke, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (AFT, NEA)
Brenda Borge, Natomas Teachers' Association (CTA, NEA)
Tandy Braid, PEA,FLEA (AFT, NEA)
Beth Chetney, President Baldwinsville, Teachers Association, STCaucus Treasurer (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
Rob Connaire, Philadelphia, Local 3 (AFT)
Gina Jeanne Damone, Canajoharie United School Employees (AFT, NEA, NYSUT), NYBAT, BAT
Albert Delgado, Chicago Teachers Union, Local 1 (AFT)
Beth Dimino, President, Port Jefferson Station Teachers Association, Chair STCaucus (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
Pat Dobosz, Movement of Rank and File Educators (UFT), STCaucus (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
Helen Farias, VP Sweetwater Education Association (CTA/NEA)
Nick Ferraioli, Brentwood Teachers Association (AFT, NEA, NYSUT) and Connetquot School Board Trustee
Amy Fried, Philadelphia, Local 3 (AFT)
Arthur Goldstein, UFT Chapter Leader, Francis Lewis High School, Movement of Rank and File Educators (UFT), STCaucus (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
Larry Graykin, Barrington EA (NEA-NH, NEA), BAT
Elias Hadjiminas, Movement of Rank and File Educators; Solidarity (UFT), (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
Nathaniel Hathaway, Malone Federation of Teachers, Vice chair STCaucus (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
Caroline Hooper, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (AFT, NEA)
Terry Kalb, Retiree Vice President of my NYSUT local BOCES Educators of Eastern Suffolk
Joseph Karb, President, Springville-Griffith Faculty Association, Vice Chair STCaucus (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
David Kaufman, West Islip Teachers'Association Vice a president for Secondary Schools, member of STCaucus (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
Nonie Kouneski, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (AFT, NEA)
Gayle Lakin, Prince Georges County (NEA)
Jia Lee, Movement of Rank and File Educators (UFT), (AFT, NEA, NYSUT) and Change the Stakes
August Leppelmeier, Movement of Rank and File Educators (UFT), STCaucus (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
Michael Lillis, President, Lakeland Federation of Teachers, Vice Chair STCaucus (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
Carl Makower, Retiree Advocate (RTC/UFT)
Barbara Mandeloni
Jo Marley, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers PFT Local 3 (AFT) and PA BATs
Louise Martin, Tal Lindenhurst (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
Corinth Matera, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (AFT, NEA)
Suzanne Mears, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (AFT, NEA)
Kristen Konrad Mendoza, Buffalo Teachers Federation, NYSUT (AFT)
Rebecca Miller, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers MFT, Education Minnesota (AFT and NEA)
Jodi Szenda Monday, AAFMCC Local 6533 (AFT)
Nate Morgan, President Hastings Teachers Association, Vice Chair STCaucus (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
Margaret Moschell, OEA (NEA), BAT
Lisa Muntean, LEAD Caucus NV (NEA), BATs of NV
Jon Parker, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers Building Representative (AFT) BAT (PA BATs Admin)
Pia Payne-Shannon, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (MFT, AFT, NEA)
Roberta Reid, Movement of Rank and File Educators (UFT), STCaucus (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
Valerie Rittler, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (AFT, NEA)
Mindy Rosier, Movement of Rank and File Educators (UFT), STCaucus (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
Patricia Rydeen, Minneapolis Federation of Teacher (AFT, NEA)
Mike Schirtzer, Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE-UFT), STCaucus Vice Chair (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
Karyn Schnaible-Coelho, FMEA (CTA, NEA), BAT
Jolinda Simes, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (AFT, NEA)
Steven Singer, Steel Valley Education Association (NEA), BAT
Lynne Siqueiros, Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers (CFT, AFT), BAT
Yvonne Lieberman Spector, BTU (NEA)
Melissa Marini Svigelj-Smith, Local CTU 279 (Cleveland), OFT (Ohio, AFT), Refuse of Cuyahoga County (RoCC), Teachers for Social Justice, Opt Out Ohio, BAT Delegate
Jane Swatosh, Minneapolis Federation of Teacher (AFT, NEA)
Anna Tenaglia (PFT Local 3, AFT), BAT
Jim Thomas, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers (AFT, NEA)
Patrick Walsh, UFT Chapter Leader, Movement of Rank and File Educators (UFT), STCaucus, (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
Lesa Aloan Wilbert, President, Adirondack Teachers Association (AFT, NEA, NYSUT), BAT and NYBAT
Richard Willis, North Babylon Teachers Organization (AFT, NEA, NYSUT)
Mary Wester Wurl, FCFT Local 2401 (AFT), and BAT
Janine Sopp, parent, Change the Stakes, NYC Opt Out