Time to Slow Down Testing

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Friend,

I wrote a letter for the Action Network letter campaign “Roll Back Standardized Testing”.

Your voice can help make a difference! Use this letter to urge your Senators and Representative in the U.S. Congress to support a reduction in standardized testing to once each in elementary, middle and high schools, while ending punitive sanctions. The House and Senate education committees plan to start re-writing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (also known as NCLB) by mid-February. You can strengthen your message by adding your own comments, such as your and your children’s personal experiences with overtesting. Thank you.

Can you join me and write a letter? Click here: https://actionnetwork.org/letters/910b45d4859b862719b32e627813e9cb912af79d?source=email&referrer=david-mirabella

Thanks!

Reflections on Standards in Teacher Education and where it leaves me.

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In the article “The Standards Made Me Do It: Reculturing Teacher Education to Redeem the Curriculum” by Kevin Talbert and Terah Moore the authors create the scenario where the teachers defend their lackluster education practices with the imposed standards. They say that “teachers become dummified, minimized to generic statements crafted by others”. In my hypothesis the behavior and standards of what teaching entails are taught much earlier than in the university or the training classroom. I think these behaviors are taught over years of the child’s school experience.

Last semester I spent many hours watching student-teachers on video and reading their papers. They are very steadfast to acting out teaching similar to their mentoring teacher and what they saw as a child in school. The mandatory in-field work that student-teachers have in their certification programs reinforces these behaviors learned as a child. The standards have indeed been used as an excuse for teachers. Truly, in many ways standards have stripped down the teaching profession.

The state’s influence on education is stronger than the intellectual stimulation of the university. Even through many hours of study and work, student-teachers rarely disregard their ingrained ideas in favor of an exploration of what is relevant to students and how children prefer to learn. Talbert and Moore say, “[T]heir preparation as teachers…has betrayed them.” Many teachers give the profession a try for a few years and then quickly retreat. I’ve found that teachers aren’t adequately prepared for the work of the job. Young students naively enter a degree program with optimistic ideas of helping kids, when in reality teaching is no longer about children or for children. How disappointing.

The authors go on to claim, “In our experience, teacher education students are rarely asked to consider issues of ultimate significance.” This is also my experience. What is education for? What are these tests telling us about our students? Will this work prepare these children? What are we preparing them for?
It feels like no one wants to confront these questions because the answers will lead to the deconstruction of institutions, power and money. That’s about as anti-humanitarian you can get in an institution that proclaims that exact opposite.

Where does all this enlightenment take me? Seeing the corruption, speaking out about the inequalities, and wanting the long-term disservice that education has offered to change, has brought me many hours of introspection. Having this knowledge hasn’t led me to action and it doesn’t lead most into action for change. It’s led me to a frustrated view of humanity. Helplessly watching universities, social institutions and media continue to manipulate us.

It’s everywhere but we can’t see it. Racism.

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Here are a couple of articles from Wednesday’s paper that perpetuate the problems within our country:

“A Look at Looking Different” http://nyti.ms/1yKsJuv
To be different, there must be a same. We all look different and the same. This title is supporting a binary view that is harmful. Possibly it’s a societal abnormality to think there is a “normal”?

“A Longtime Umpire Says He Is Gay” http://nyti.ms/1yJjESq sits at the top of the Sports Wednesday section while at the bottom of the page is the article “2 Witnesses at Winston Hearing Said to Have Refused to Testify” http://nyti.ms/1rWuKOf. In the article Scott is elevated on his umpiring abilities and history of great work. Then WHY is his sexuality published as news? You know why.

Where’s the coverage of historical events in race relations? After the many pages on college costs you can find an article on A17 called, “As Guard Begins Pullout, Stepfather of Ferguson Victim is Under Investigation” http://nyti.ms/1FLNB6D. Really?

These are from The New York Times but there are many news sources that are just as discriminatory.

What he said.

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This afternoon I was chatting with my oldest son about his day. He said he cried through two periods of school. He didn’t realize there were additional parts to a project that he was to submit today and only turned in a third of what was due. He then went on to tell me that he felt like a failure, that he wasn’t doing what he was supposed to be doing or doing it well enough. I’m not sure if many of you have had these parenting moments but this is how I responded:

1) Failure is good. You might draw one of the best art pieces or think of some very unique exciting idea in the near future, in response to these feelings. Maybe feeling failure is good for a person?

2) Think about why you feel this way. Are you comparing yourself to others or to your best person? (At this point to pulled him away from the table and drew IMAG0616

I asked how things could be better. He said, “if I could learn about interesting things, instead of things I already know.” Tears welled up in his eyes. This make my heartache, I can only tell him that it’s temporary and that next year and the rest of his life will be better. I have to make it better. We plan to return to home schooling and joining a co-op. He says, “when that happens, I’ll be free.”

Straight from the stakeholders mouth.

more than a bump in the road, the first of many

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We’ve all heard the grumblings about education. The droning on since — The Beginning. Well maybe not since the very beginning of institutionalized education but not far from it. These grumblings of the incompetent administration, debilitated teachers and victimized students are common place. In recent news and not so recent has education taken a beating. People from all dimensions of education have been ignited to action. Whether it has been changes to the common core or student activism, there’s movement.

I don’t want to offer you another personal story or complaint. I’m writing this to offer an approach, a mindset of education that I feel is critical for change. The first step is the way we view the current education system. Instead of ranting about the faculties, how about we look at some positives.

First, the public school system has allowed many of us a way to pursue careers at the expense of the human collection. We may voice our concerns when we vote down tax increases, when we should appreciate all the tax payers that don’t or never have used the school system but pays into the local districts. There is no exemptions that I’m aware of.

Second, schools are the only place children congregate in such large volumes. This is a huge resource of us interested in social justice, debunking the status quo or facilitators of change. Where else in this country will you find this? It’s a field of possibilities if we only get past our issues and see this gift.

first from a positive voice, then from a constructive voice

These are just the first two positives that come to mind about public education. Feel grateful for our schools, not bullied or enslaved. If as parents and community leaders we collect with constructive plans I believe our ideas are stronger. You can join the opt out movement, home school or attend school board meetings to make your stand. But there needs to be a constructive next step in any of these routes. That’s what I hold everyone accountable for, the next step. What’s yours?

Debate on Embracing the Common Core

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Intelligence Squared Debates recently hosted a debate Embracing the Common Core. I took the time to listen to the debate because I’m searching for inspiration and motivation to understand the struggle that exists between DoE and many others. There were some decent points made in the debate but I felt with the exclusion of one comment, the group lacked focus on who the Common Core is created for. To great fault most of the discussion was by adults, on the interests of adults, about the education of children by adults. See a common thread?

Some points to consider:
1. Bureaucracy doesn’t make something more legitimate.
2. Education should be discussed across many age ranges, not just children.
3. Children “deserve” a good education? How has this idea affected our standards and measures of education in our country?
4. Personal stories only reach a very limited audience, when in debate bring on the big guns.
5. Teachers and parents, not administrators, should be working to develop standards for children. Administrators should be acting to support those standards.

I have many more, but as to not overwhelm you I’ll stop there.

Educate Yourself.

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After reading this article I had to post my reaction.

1. Not every child needs to go to college. Stop pushing.

2. If children have basic need met, the school/community needs to work as hard as possible to do that, OVER pushing the Common Core agenda.

3. We must stop teaching all kids the same material, in the same fashion at the same age. We’re not robots!

4. We must educate our child from the foundation of our greatest CURRENT advances. Not from the idea that “the old way is better”.

5. Academics should be second place in education. First, should be how to solve challenges, how to be brave and how to debate.