I am certain the path that education reform is taking is the wrong one, and I am thankful for the national community of activists that are fighting to change this. I have been thinking a lot lately about how to convey my concerns about education to other parents, particularly parents in my district or nearby districts. In my district, I am the first one to commit to opting out of the testing craze sweeping public schools across the nation. I have also vocalized my disdain for the new Common Core Learning Standards that I feel will deaden education. I have some friends who understand where I’m coming from, but many people look at me like I am crazy whenever I start talking about education. Do you know that glazed-over look? It can range from slight discomfort, where I think they just want me to stop talking, to extreme annoyance, where they simply can’t understand why I’m so worked up.
The last four months of 2012 were a crash course in what is going on in public schools today. Like many a parent with young children just starting school, I entered completely unaware of any of the issues surrounding education and how those issues will affect my children. My son is in Pre-K and my daughter is only one.
Pre-K orientation tells you a bit about what to expect. New parents learn how the meal program works. We are asked to send in a blanket and a change of clothes for our child on the first day. We are also asked to remember to send in a snack and juice on each school day. We are assured that tears at the door are normal and not to worry. For most of us who don’t have older children already in school, there are fears about sending our babies off to school that are very real. We worry about our children. We wonder how they will fit in and if they will miss us. We know we will miss them. But in these early days, most of us aren’t even thinking about tests and assessments. We don’t know what VAM is, and although we know that Race To The Top (RTTT) exists, we don’t know what that means for our children, and the Common Core Learning Standards have yet to be explained. Most of us have never heard of them. Acronyms like AYP, SLO, and APPR are meaningless.
It was apparent during orientation that I was destined to look at everything with a critical eye. After all, it was stated that breakfast would be served in the classroom and it was assumed that all children would be eating it. That was my first experience with the look! Apparently I was rocking the boat for no reason when I stated I would be serving breakfast at home AND I would also be sending lunch in (another uncommon notion). Okay, so meal choices aren’t really world-altering events. But…
…With the critical eye, one quickly becomes concerned with serious matters like the corporate-driven reforms being promoted in education. With a little research one learns that the Common Core Learning standards that our state adopted in order to receive meager Race To The Top (RTTT) grant money are not based in research and completely untested. Real educators weren’t even involved in their creation. Schools and teachers are being asked to align their lessons to these new standards and everyone, our kids included, is under the gun to perform according to this ONE system of standards. And this results in massive amounts of testing that our children will have to endure. Not only are our children under a lot of pressure to do well, the scores of these tests are being used to rate their teachers and their schools. My previous posts went into more detail and there are certainly better, more informed sources out there unmasking the real truths of the Common Core and education reforms and policies.
It isn’t my intent with this blog to appear as an authority on the matter. I’m far from that! I’m learning every day, and many of the disastrous results of education reform have yet to affect me or my children first-hand. But I know that it will as they move up through the grades, and I know that our school will face tough decisions in the years ahead as tight budgets necessitate cuts in programs and faculty. I will continue to opt my children out from all state tests and assessments. And I will continue to be involved with the various national groups of educators and parents who are also outraged by what they see happening to our schools. I’ll be here, ready, when other local parents or teachers start to see what I see. Perhaps then my perspective will be of value.
Until then, I will continue to add my voice to certain aspects of education. Hopefully my voice will evolve in a way that is inique to me, my experiences, and my identity in this world.