Growing up, I went to my neighborhood elementary school. Then, I moved onto one of the middle schools in our district for two years. After that, I went to the giant high school where I had amazing opportunities that many other kids my age did not receive. Teachers in my life made such an impact on me that I wanted to be like them. I hoped to one day be in a classroom where I could be creative and teach to watch children grow and learn.
Of course, these days the world of education has changed a lot. As a parent, I have watched a dramatic change over the last five years. The difference from my oldest son’s experience in kindergarten to my youngest son’s current classroom is alarming. My youngest son is being forced to take 30+ minute tests on a computer several times a year to see how well he has been taught. The tests are not developmentally appropriate and most definitely will not show how well all children are doing academically. I know my son’s teacher is an amazing woman, but she is being held back. She is helpless if she wants to keep her job. Rather than teach the kids in creative ways that reach each of them, teachers must do it the way the curriculum guide tells her.
Looking into her eyes, I can see the level of frustration and it makes me sad. I am sad that my kindergarten kid did not experience things before the change. I am angry. My anger stems from teachers being told how to do things when they are the ones that know their students best. They should be able to create authentic ways to assess how well their kids are learning. Instead, we pay companies millions of dollars each year to frustrate our children.
I also see my older son with a year before he goes to middle school being taught for state tests. As a teacher, I know the drill and it breaks my heart. It hurts to know that kids are not taught to be free thinkers and look outside of the box. Instead, they are being shown how to systemically dissect a specific high stakes test. I do not blame his teacher or any of the others, it goes above them. I saw how stressed my son’s fourth grade teacher was each morning of the NY State exams (three days of ELA, three days of Math, and two days of Science). No child should be put through this, nor should the teachers.
This is why we will be going as a family to the One Voice United Rally in Albany at the Empire State Plaza on June 8, 2013. We will be walking side by side with people from our school letting them know that we have to be heard and that we support them. We need our children to be creative thinkers and not limited to the test. Grammy Award winner, Tom Chapin will also be at the rally. Mr. Chapin recorded the song Not on the Test which really does hit a strong note. Here is the video of the song and you will see why.
Once again, I urge more people from throughout New York to make a trip to Albany on June 8 to teach your children a valuable lesson.