Diane Ravitch writes, speaks and blogs about education reform. Not the kind of reform that jeopardizes education but the kind of reform that will make education a priority for all children (click on my education reform tab for more info). Ravitch is coordinating a Campaign for our Public Schools on her blog. She’s urging us to write letters to President Obama by October 17 to tell him what we think about No Child Left Behind (NCLB), Race to the Top (RTTT), and other so called reform efforts.
I drafted and sent the following to President Obama and I also sent a copy to my WA legislators, Senator Jim Hargrove, Representatives Kevin Van De Wege and Steve Tharinger as well as our State Senator Maria Cantwell:
Dear Mr. President,
I have been teaching for over 21 years. I started my career teaching elementary in South Central Los Angeles. I then moved to WA State and have taught at two middle schools in WA State. I am currently a Science teacher at Chimacum Middle School. I am certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards as an Early Adolescent Generalist, which I am working on re-certifying this year.
When you speak about education I agree with you. You are completely correct that our children should not be taught to pass a test at the exclusion of getting a good education. I think we agree that ALL children in this country deserve an excellent education. What does that look like?
ALL students need
- early childhood education that includes play and not testing or test prep.
- to learn to be critical thinkers that can do more than read and do basic arithmetic.
- to get feedback that will help them learn. That feedback should be information and not as rewards and punishments.
- to be assessed continuously, formatively, and not just tested. Students can show what they know in many ways such as portfolios, creating things and doing things.
- access to 21st Century tools and resources to prepare them for whatever their future.
Privatizing education, charter schools, voucher programs, and standardization are NOT the types of education reform this country needs. Our schools and our children should NOT be for sale. Instead of spending millions on charter schools put that money into making public schools better. No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top must be stopped. Students learn best when they get support and when they cooperate. Education is a cooperative effort and should NOT be a competition.
You yourself say that we should not teach to the test so donâ€™t make tests determine so much. Standardized, often multiple-choice, tests are a weak, lower form of assessment and do not tell us much about what our kids know and even less about what they can do. Those scores do NOT tell if a teacher or a school or a child is incapable or ineffective. Assessment, as education, should be differentiated.
As for me, I donâ€™t need merit pay or any other incentives to do my job and to do it well. All I need is to make enough money to support my family. I need to know that I will have the materials to educate my students and I donâ€™t want my job security to depend on a one-day-a-year test into which I had no input.
Thank you for your time.