We are a group of Centerville City School parents whose MAIN GOAL is to START A CONVERSATION. To start many conversations. We are not experts and we are in the process of information gathering. We want to SHARE information and get Centerville parents involved in the conversation.
Some things we’re talking about:
1. High-stakes testing and assessment are hurting education.
The problem is also BI-PARTISAN. The current streak of high-stakes testing began under George W. Bush and his policy, No Child Left Behind (NCLB.) It began the high-powered focus on test scores instead of a more comprehensive look at the whole child with a variety of diagnostic tools. NCLB began assessing teachers based on how their students performed on test scores. Through NCLB, schools were forced to begin teaching to the test or risk losing funding. Bad test scores=lower school grade=teachers losing jobs, districts losing funding, etc.
Barack Obama’s and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s policy, Race to the Top, made the stakes even higher. Same wolf, different clothing. Under the current administration, children have more tests to take, and if teachers don’t show at least 30% growth rate for the year, their jobs are at stake. Principal’s jobs are at stake. Schools can be closed. That’s a 30% growth rate ON THE TESTS. On one week’s worth of testing that your child may or may not do well on because: they’re tired, they’re sick, they’re 7, or 8, or 9, they’re nervous, they’re hungry, they’re distracted, or a myriad of other reasons.
These type of stakes placed on student performance make the environment ripe for failure. And then what happens? Cue the Superhero Charter School.
2. Privatization widens the gap.
Once a district proves they are struggling, the “market” of education becomes a free-for-all. Charter schools begin to open, promising student achievement and great test scores, which they can provide. What you may not know, however, is that Charter schools can attain great test scores because they can CHOOSE who to let in and who to keep. If your child doesn’t test well, they can be kicked out and sent back to public school. Which leaves our public schools filled with children that don’t test well, children with learning disabilities, children in economically disadvantaged homes whose parents don’t realize or care that choice in education is available to them. Instead of continuing to close the achievement gap between minorities and class the gap widens, leaving the public school system with less Government funding, fewer teachers, and a place for the “have-nots.”
3. Schools as business.
Once privatization begins, anyone wanting to make a quick buck can get in on education. Charter schools can be opened by anyone with enough money to do so. Teachers get fast tracked through their education which leads to a lower quality teaching staff. What you’re left with is an education community focused less on teaching children, and more on making money, and competing for funding, turning our kids into automatons of test-taking.
With Race to the Top, states already had to compete for government funding. Those states that implemented the Common Core Standards received extra funding. The CC testing will require computers and software to take the tests. Sensing a theme? Race to see who can make the new software fast enough. To the top, indeed.
4. The Common Core
This is a great idea that is floundering in its implementation. It’s a novel idea to have all states on the same chapter so kids aren’t missing out on valued pieces of curriculum. It’s a great idea to require certain educational standards that children should meet. However, the Common Core is like trying to fit the step-sisters’ feet into Cinderella’s shoes. One size does not fit all.
Common Core is currently being field-tested on our kids. That’s correct, it was not tested before it was adopted, nor was it written by educators. However, it’s adoption earned districts’ much needed resource money, and it’s assessment implementation will require software and computers.
5. Parents in the dark
Local districts and staff are bound by the state and federal mandates being handed down that suggest they need to teach harder and better to make kids “pass” tests. Their jobs are at risk, their hands are tied. As parents, ours are not. We owe it to our kids and to their great teachers to understand the facts behind Education Reform and it’s opponents.
It’s time to organize as a community and start paying attention. All opinions are welcomed here.