CAPE, the Community Alliance for Public Education, is an organization based in Eugene, Oregon. We are a coalition of parents, teachers, professors, students and community members who challenge the many assaults on public education. We believe in a strong public education as the foundation for American democracy.
There is a place in America to take a stand: it is public education. It is the underpinning of our cultural and political system. It is the great common ground. Public education after all is the engine that moves us as a society toward a common destiny … It is in public education the American dream begins to take shape.
Yet public education today is besieged by dangerous forces: the defunding of public education; the impact of large corporations who profit from promoting ever-increasing standardized testing; corporations who create and promote Common Core to sell textbooks, educational software, etc.; overreaching government intrusion into community-based school decisions; and corporations that work to replace neighborhood schools with commercial charter school chains. Privatization, standardization and commercialization are the results. Unelected officials, corporate executives, and politicians, without classroom experience or even children in public school, are bypassing democratically elected school boards and superintendents to push these ends. Sales pitches dominate teacher education seminars. Months of for-profit standardized tests, like Smarter Balanced, gobble up precious time and money.
Students and teachers strain under “drill and kill” practice for tests that last twice as long as the SAT – even for little kids! Further, the billions spent on Smarter Balanced drain our schools of funds desperately needed for school upkeep, smaller class sizes and electives. Starved of money -- and of importance in the testing age -- music, art, shop, PE, health, social studies, even computer classes and clubs are diminished and eliminated. No reliable scientific studies prove Smarter Balanced to be valid, reliable, fair or useful. This test is peppered with errors in logic, spelling, punctuation and math, and is confusing even for adults. Despite its ten-hour length, it produces no useful details about individual strengths and weakness. It does not recognize individual progress.
Why is Smarter Balanced being pushed? Who benefits? These high-stakes standardized tests are enormously profitable products, with billions at stake for corporations like the British giant, Pearson. These companies then turn around and replace so-called failing schools with the charters they own, along with pushing new textbooks and testing tutorials. Their lobbyists spend millions persuading Congress to support the activities and agendas of these businesses.
The increasingly high-stakes tests are used to evaluate teachers and schools, too often resulting in closing schools and firing teachers whose students are not deemed “college and career ready” by an arbitrary score. This is particularly damaging to schools with high numbers of English Language Learners, low income, disabled and other children who need to progress at their own pace. Public education is dedicated to serving all students, but many charter schools are allowed to cherry pick high achievers while profiting off of public funds.
The CAPE website is designed to keep YOU informed. We hope you will join us in supporting public education, that you will speak with your friends, ask your school principal questions, attend a school board meeting, or contact your legislators. YOU can choose to opt your student out of Smarter Balanced testing. No matter what you have heard, opting out is now protected under Oregon law. Your school will not be penalized, and colleges do not require Smarter Balanced results for admission. YOU can be part of this grassroots movement to stop the dismantling of American public education.
Please attend our CAPE events - all are open to the public. To pay for guest speakers and location rentals, please help us with a donation. Thank you!