Saturday, April 23, 2011

Preaching to the Choir, New Tack

Educations circles are rife with discussion about the detriments, the frustrations, the looming threats of mandated testing.  I am infinitely flabbergasted, overflowing with disbelief, that legislators, governors and our President (who on every other platform I adore) continue support for the manner (test scores) with which we fund our schools.  So is every other educator I have spoken with.
My pedicure dates with a girlfriend are a blast.  And so random particularly for me.  Wonderfully full of gossip and girly chit chat.  Until a "neighboring pedicure client" overheard us talking about school and classrooms.  
"You guys are teachers, right?"
"Well, yeah, mostly."  (I am retired, but forever a teacher.)
"Can I ask you a question?  My kids go to B--- school and I'm concerned about their AYP and test scores.  I'm considering moving them and driving to C--- schools, but it's so far.  But I want them in the best schools of course."
Pregnant pause here.  What to say?  Scary that this is even a consideration.  Of course we attacked with the value (less-ness) of test scores, the quality of teachers and small schools, the power of public community schools, ad nauseum infinitum and etc., etc.
We were silent when we left the shop.  And in such despair.

Thoughts:  before we continue to flock in support of independent, private and charter schools, and before we abandon great public school classrooms filled qualified and passionate teachers, we must consider the quality of the teachers, the education, the connectedness, the hard work, and all the implications of democracy that our public schools offer.  If parents and community worked as hard at maintaining quality education at their local schools as they give to starting and supporting independent schools, I dare say current concerns would be moot.  And to base the quality of education on the inaccuracy of what test scores actually measure is inane.  The public needs to be advised about what test scores specifically measure AND what the actual aims of standardized testing are.

Please read Diane Ravitch's articulate and well researched book: 

The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education 

I have a dream.  I dream that education and learning remains as rich and rewarding as it was during the many years I've been involved.  I dream that our neighborhoods once again become places of community, of sharing and caring.   I dream that our public schools receive adequate and active support from all community members.   And I dream that the administrative and legislative focuses on mandates and accountability loosen their death grip and return the passion of teaching and learning to the teachers and students.

No comments:

Post a Comment