Tennessee Mama Bears Review Their New State Commissioner

After Kevin Huffman stepped down as state commissioner in Tennessee, Governor Haslam selected Candace McQueen as his successor.

The Momma Bears of Trnnessee–the state’s parent activists—here figures out who she is, what she believes, and hopes for the best.

She is a Common Core cheerleader. The Mama Bears say poo to that.

She testified to the state legislature on behalf of Common Core and PARCC. Mama Bears say poo again.

“Finally, the announcement was made that the heir to the throne would be… Dr. Candice McQueen! A woman! A mom! A person who spent 5 years as a real teacher! We knew a little bit already about her from writing a past Momma Bear blog, but we researched her even more. There wasn’t much new to learn. We were disheartened to see that she has been a tireless cheerleader for Common Core. She testified to the TN legislature in support of the Common Core and the high-stakes PARCC test. Pooey. She is serving on the board of SCORE (the organization funded by Bill Gates to support Common Core and reformy stuff). Double pooey. She’s also served on boards that profit from Common Core (like the Ayers Foundation who received a huge chunk of the Race to the Top prize money to develop Common Core videos). Triple pooey. She’s involved with Pearson (a British mega-corporation) through Pearson’s EDTPA program that grants teaching licenses to people who can pass Pearson’s tests. Quadruple pooey. That’s a whole lot of poo, people!”

“On the other hand, her own private school, Lipscomb, was not doing Common Core; Lipscomb’s three private schools have their OWN standards. In fact, there was nearly a parent revolt at Lipscomb when the private school parents thought their little darlings would be doing the same Common Core standards as public school darlings… but Candice wiggled her way out of that one, assuring them there is no way in H-E-double-hockey sticks that Common Core has been adopted at Lipscomb and there are no plans for Common Core ever at Lipscomb, saying, “We make decisions about what’s going to be best within the context of our community. I would say that’s absolutely what we’re going to do now and for the future.” (insert applause from the Momma Bear gallery).”

The Mama Bears also read her doctoral dissertation on parent involvement.

Their conclusion is a home run:

Momma Bears have a whole bunch of questions that nobody will know the answers to for a few years:

Will she be the Governor’s puppet?

Will she still be a champion for the Common Core initiative? Will she defend and strengthen the battered teaching profession? Will she be an advocate for children or for business interests? Will she listen to parents when we tell her the testing is excessive? Will she understand and act wisely upon what she hears? Will she see parents as the enemies as Kevin Huffman did? Will she truly listen?

If we could ask her some literal questions, we’d like to know:

What were McQueen’s TVAAS scores were when she taught? Was she a level 5?

Why didn’t she teach longer? 2 years at one private school + 3 years at a public elementary school don’t seem to be very long at all. That’s not even long enough to gain tenure. Why did she quit so soon?

What happened to the 5th grade student she wrote about in her dissertation who was frustrated to tears over math homework? Would Sue Dugger, the student’s mother, rate McQueen as an excellent or poor teacher?

Does McQueen keep in touch with any of her former public school students? (we’re not talking about the adult students in her grad programs, but want to know about the children she taught because teaching is a lot about building relationships) Did her students feel valued, respected, and did they enjoy learning?

Where do her own children attend school? Is she involved as a parent there? Does she volunteer with the PTO/PTA?

What does parental involvement mean to her? Private schools often have different expectations than public schools.

What would she do if her own child was overwhelmed with testing and/or homework?

Would McQueen support suspending TCAP testing for 2015, or at least make it a no-consequences test since it is not aligned with the standards that are in limbo?

Would McQueen support throwing the secretive TVAAS formula and evaluation system out?

Will McQueen push the Governor for increasing teacher pay in Tennessee as he promised to do years ago?

Will she advocate for smaller class sizes and more support staff in schools?

Will she be a supporter of Art, Music, and sports in every school in TN?

Will she respect a parent’s choice to opt-out of standardized testing for their child?

Will she get rid of all these expensive benchmark assessments and screener tests that are eating up instructional time and recess for our children?

Will she take an honest look at the new RTI2 program mandated in TN? Is it really helping students, or is it helping the testing companies? Is it hurting students with disabilities and special needs?

Will she hire qualified, experienced people within the Tennessee Department of Education, or will she favor young, inexperienced Teach For America yes-man types like Huffman did?

Will she strengthen our locally elected school boards or seek to further revoke their power?

Will she favor charter schools over public schools?

Will she have the guts to close failing or corrupt charter schools, including the online K12 virtual school that is making so much money for its owner and for politicians’ campaigns?

Will she get rid of the ASD and give failing, poor schools the support they desperately need to help their students succeed?

Will she sign a multi-million dollar no-bid contract with Teach For America with our tax dollars?

Goodness, that’s a whole lot of unanswered questions!

and a whole lot of poo!!!

Momma Bears will be watching…

via Diane Ravitch’s blog http://dianeravitch.net/2014/12/28/tennessee-mama-bears-review-their-new-state-commussioner/

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