Appendix B: A summary of concerns expressed by parents who attended the community feedback session
•Education – Testimony by Yongling, PhD in Ed, Minneapolis, a mother of twoelementary kids
I am here today to share my experience and opinion on the policy and implementation of data disaggregation. I come from a bilingual, biracial and bicultural family and my children are raised with both of their Chinese heritage and their American identity. The diversity of this nation is what makes us strong and united, and I fully believe that the identity politics, as manifested in the practice of separating, rather than uniting people, will not only divide us, but make us weaker, as a community and as a nation.
I am trained as an educator and have a doctorate in educational policy and administration from the University of Minnesota. I currently work at the University of Minnesota’s Confucius Institute, where the core mission is to promote Chinese language and culture. I have taken many courses during my graduate studies and still keep myself abreast of the current educational trends. I would like to cite an international study to inform and discuss with you, what are the factors that MATTERS in improving our education and education system.
TMISS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) is an international assessment of math and science at 4th and 8th grades that has been conducted every four years since 1995. The most recent one, TIMSS 2015 is the 6th assessment in the series monitoring 20 years of trends in educational achievement, together with comprehensive data on students’ context for learning math and science. In 2015, 57 countries and 7 benchmarking entities (regional jurisdictions of countries such as states or provinces) participated in TMISS. In total, more than 580,000 students participated in TIMSS 2015. TMISS has a standardized average score of 500. The top two countries/benchmarking entities are Singapore and Hong Kong with average students scores of 618 and 615 respectively, and United States’ average score is 539.
Educators examined a variety of school-based factors that are associated with students’ success, such as school climate, teacher preparation, school composition, and TIMSS also included a chapter on the home environment support and its correlation with students’ success in math and science. As the study results indicated (results can be found at: http://timss2015.org/wp-content/uploads/filebase/full%20pdfs/T15-International-Results-in-Mathematics-Grade-4.pdf, chapter 4 is on home environment support) , for 4th graders, students has successes in math and science are: those whose parents reported more home resources for learning, whose parents often spending time with them early literacy and numeracy, and those who attended more years of preschool. However, there was no mention of any specific ethnic groups that may result in differentiated math and science achievement.
As policy makers, we take interventions to help improve the education for our children on the factors that we can make a change. We can help parents with more resources of learning at home, we can encourage parents to send their children to attend more years of preschool.
However, we can NOT change who we are, what our racial and ethnic belonging. Therefore, I really do not see any practical implication for which obtaining more information on detailed, specific ethnic composition, I do not see how and why it will benefit our children, and our school.
I also want to point out that the so-called disaggregation is not scientific. For example, it separates people of Chinese background to Mainland Chinese, Taiwanese, Cantonese, etc. I do not see any reasonable rationale in this categorization except for politics. In education, we collect basic data on students such as home language (i.e., whether they speak English at home), whether they receive free or reduced lunch at school, or their individual education plan (IEP, or 504, for special education). Mainland Chinese and Taiwanese people both speak Mandarin! Why separate the two groups? IT DOES NOT MAKE ANEY SENSE!
As a tax payer, I have the right to input where and how the tax dollars should be spent. Spending tax dollars on disaggregated data is not only expensive, but also extremely ineffective. I do not see any practical implications, and MDE does not have a good answer either. As Senator Eric Pratt has said, this is a terribly mismanaged process. Therefore, I strongly oppose to the implementation of collecting data on sub-ethnic groups. Let’s work together to see how we can fix this problem and put us back on the right track.