THE RIGHTS OF SCHOOL CHILDREN
This quote reminds us, yet again, that there is more to the education of our children than school. Targeting teachers or “failing” schools ignores the main source of learning difficulties children have. Blaming parents or teachers unions doesn’t take into account the social aspects of a child’s life. Politicians and policy makers would do well to look in the mirror when they’re looking for reasons children struggle in school.
From Russ Walsh
It seems obvious that if we are going to improve public education in the economically struggling inner cities, we must take a holistic view. We must attack poverty with as much vigor and energy as the education reformers bring to their lobbying efforts in support of opening more charter schools. We must provide children in the inner cities with more services than schools in affluent areas because these children need more help to become proficient learners. This means wrap around services like medical and dental screenings, increased availability of counselors to help children navigate the trauma of their daily lives, home-school counselors that assist struggling families in providing experiences for their young children that will help them when they get to school, and professionally run and developmentally appropriate pre-school programs. All of these things will help and they will help much more than sending a child across town to a new charter school that has promised to raise student test scores.
WHERE DOES THE EXPERTISE LIE?
TEACHERS NEED TO SPEAK UP
Teachers need to find their voices.
There are consequences when teachers speak up. Sometimes they get push back from administrations and school boards. Sometimes they are treated unfairly.
But there are consequences when teachers don’t speak up. Our students lose. We are our students’ only political voice.
As Long As We’re Silent, Nothing Will Change
The so-called “accountability” of using tests to rank communities, schools, teachers, and students, is an inappropriate and invalid use of those tests. Simply put…
From Diane Ravitch
…a cardinal rule of testing is that tests should be used only for the specific purpose for which they were created.
The “choice” crowd insists that public tax revenue pay for their “choices” of charter or voucher supported parochial schools, but when parents “choose” to opt their children out of developmentally inappropriate, and generally invalid standardized tests, those same “reformers” demand “accountability.”
“Parents, students and teachers must remember that opting out is a form of civil disobedience. You are not asking for anyone’s permission. You are informing the school of the decision you made as a student, as a parent with your child, or as a teacher of conscience, who can no longer sit back and allow the test-and-punish system to destroy public education. By denying the testocracy the data they need to rank and label children as worker bees or managers, you reclaim public education as a system that educates all children to use their full potential to make the world a better place.”
“Make the tests harder.”
As Alfie Kohn said in 1999, “We’re Confusing Harder With Better.”
If children have trouble reading at what is currently considered “grade-level,” a lexile level of 450 for third grade for example, it doesn’t mean that they will learn more if we increase the difficulty of material for their grade. President Bush (2) decried the “soft bigotry of low expectations,” but he, and most “reformers” apparently, don’t understand the hard bigotry of inappropriate expectations.
from Steven Singer
Impoverished students have traditionally had a harder time scoring as well [on standardized tests] as their wealthier peers. But the policy response has been to make things MORE difficult. How does that help?
Consider this: If a malnourished runner couldn’t finish the 50 yard dash, forcing him to run 100 yards isn’t raising standards. It’s piling on.
The number one enemy of education is still on the loose in our schools: high stakes testing.
From Peg with Pen
[emphasis in original]
Next week our children will be subjected to a racist, classist test (PARCC/CMAS) that will be used to rank, sort, and order our children – ONCE AGAIN – to prove that our school is “failing” (not so – we are UNDER-RESOURCED). Once again we will subject ourselves to a vicious game that is meant to fail everyone – the children, the teachers, the district and the community. Our brilliant, creative children, many who speak two languages, many who come from homes lacking books, adequate nutrition, and health care, will be asked to “persevere” on a test that is developmentally inappropriate and demands that they sit for hours each day staring at a screen (7 days for 3rd/4th and 10 days for 5th). The children are not allowed to read when the test is done; this is educational malpractice upon education malpractice. How this decision was made I am unsure, as I am not a part of the testing team. I do hope that this decision will be abandoned before testing begins on Tuesday. These children deserve to read a book when this horrific test is done – and to require them to sit/stare rather than read, is denying them their right to learning time during the school day. I wonder if the parents know this is happening?
The fights and the battles to do what is best and right and just for children are never ending. Exhausting. And crushing.
A thoughtful and insightful piece…
As teachers, we are often privileged in ways our students aren’t…and will never be…and it’s often the case that we owe that privilege to the children we teach and their families.
From Peter Greene
I know there are teachers who feel once they’ve put in the school work that they’ve been paid to do, they are entitled to shut themselves up at home and that they owe the community nothing. I respectfully disagree. I have resources that many people in my community do not, and I have those resources precisely because those people gave some of their resources up. I owe them.
[Originally posted at Live Long and Prosper]