Saturday, December 8, 2012
A Warning to the Nation's Parents
School Reform is coming to a town near you, quite possibly to the school your children attend. Perhaps it is already there. It promises better results for your children through increased testing, evaluation of teachers based on test results, merit pay for teachers, closing of allegedly failing schools, and increasing the number of charter schools and on line learning options. ******It sounds very progressive, using the language of equity and national renewal. It promises to make our country more competitive in a global economy, give new opportunities to children from low income backgrounds, and to make communities where it is implemented more likely to experience economic growth. ********Unfortunately, the actual impact of these policies can be very different that what is promised. Here are some of the things that education scholars and parent/teacher activists have observed in communities where School Reform policies have been implemented *** A sharp ratcheting up in the number of tests in all grades, and in all subjects *** A reduction in the number of school counselors, along with rising class sizes *** The elimination of art, music, history, recess and gym to make room for test-prep *** The marginzalization and humiliation of Special Needs Students and English Language Learners. *** A rise in stress related symptoms ( depression, anxiety etc) among students and teachers. *** The departure and/or early retirement of the districts best teachers as competition between teachers is promoted and mentoring and collaborative practices are discouraged. ******Because School Reformers depend on Fear, Intimidation, Competition and Material Incentives to achieve results, and only value results that can be tested and measured, the result is that the joy, creativity and imagination will be squeezed out of students and teachers attending and working in the schools they create. ******To put it bluntly, these reforms will make your children HATE GOING TO SCHOOL. *****Do not lest this happen to your children and the children in your community. Protest, resist, Opt Out of State Tests, and reach out to teachers who are organizing to resist these soul-destroying measures.