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!

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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.

UNESCO and the Education Technology Industry: A Recipe for Making Public Education a Profiteering Enterprise. PART III

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through the decades UNESCO policy and influence have yielded partnerships with well-known education privatizers and profiteers-something that bears deeper examination and consideration.

via UNESCO and the Education Technology Industry: A Recipe for Making Public Education a Profiteering Enterprise. PART III.

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.

MY RESPONSE TO A LESSON PLAN FOR A+ TEACHERS BY JOEL KLEIN IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

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I save The Wall Street Journal and read it when I have time, which explains my delay in responding to an article that was posted five days ago. The article A Lesson Plan for A+ Teachers by Joel Klein grabbed my attention.

First, Klein says,

“Harvard economist Raj Chetty noted that good teachers aren’t only “effective at teaching to the test and raising students’ performance on tests”; they also have a long-term impact “on outcomes we ultimately care about from education,” such as encouraging students to avoid teen pregnancy and putting them on the path to college and middle-class earnings.”

This starts the article on some assumptions that will directly affect the direction of his argument. Since when are these the goals for education? And if they are for some, that doesn’t mean the general population should be spoke for. Our goal for education is NOT to avoid teen pregnancy OR aimed for the college path OR the struggle of middle-class. We want more than this. I want my kids to challenge and be challenged, to enjoy themselves, to find new ways of living that include a deeper human connection.

My second issue with Klein’s essay is his advice is to create yet ANOTHER exam. Pierson is making millions of dollars on our education system. This is privatization going on right now, while everyone is crying about charter schools, it’s happening. We’re all screaming to get away from testing and he’s saying to require more testing. I believe his intentions are well founded, however, I think we must walk away from testing as validation for ourselves. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have any testing, we just need to have higher quality tests and higher quality analysis of the tests results that we have collected over the years.

Thirdly, the reform argument is just another bullet on the list of ways to improve a large complex representation of our social values. Yes, education or schools mirror our values as a country, and there it is folks, the starting point. Now let’s discuss shifting our values in such an out-right finger pointing manner as we do education and see how effective it is at change.

Kiein’s article is just another to throw in the pile. It offers no realistic plan, just another White-male perspective on a social construct that could go away if we as individuals and a community were able to identify ourselves as just that. Good luck!

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?

Questions

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For a while I’ve been following James Clear, he even sends me emails (yes, it’s a subscription but I like to think the posts are for me). The most recent post was about a workshop that he attended. In the post he lists out some questions and I’ll attempt to answer them here, for myself.

If you spent the next 20 years creating the most beauty in the world that you possibly could, how would you do it?

  • I would begin with social justice work through education and art. I would support restoration of our environment.

If you spent the next 20 years creating the most knowledge in the world that you possibly could, how would you do it?

  • I would work to offer life-long learning to all that want it. This is learning through experience and I would work to invoke experiences that would be fulfilling and character building.

If you spent the next 20 years creating the most good in the world that you possibly could, how would you do it?

  • Sparking change in our society, through the acceptance of difference and nurturing each other to promote self-love.

In the same 20 years, if you had to increase your impact by 10x — spread 10x the beauty, 10x the knowledge, and 10x the good — how would you do it?

  • Through action of any type. Right now I’m studying at the university and would love to get into some work with people who share my visions.