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Ten Reasons to March on Washington

Posted 07-02-2011 at 07:33 PM by tangerine

Ten Reasons Why I am Marching on Washington on July 30 with Save our Schools

1. I want kids to have a rich, developmentally appropriate curriculum taught by dedicated, highly-qualified teachers who love what they do. I want teachers with good instincts and the ability to think on their feet versus teachers who will follow a script and make sure things "look good" when administrators visit. Learning is messy and a bit chaotic. I was teachers who relish some mess and chaos and know what to do with a teachable moment. Those teachable moments rarely have a scripted anticipatory set, people.

2. I don't want kids to be tested to death. Kids under 9 don't even standardized-test reliably. Yet, we do it. When a teacher suggests to an administrator or politician in the age of AYP and NCLB that standardized quarterly testing of primary-aged students does not provide any valuable data to inform our instruction - said administrator or politician blinks, stammers, and says something spiffy like, "But how will we know what they know?" I've tried speaking slower to these folks. It doesn't help.

3. I want kids to love learning. Visit a fourth grade classroom in the springtime as they take "released standardized tests" for practice day after day. See the joy? See the rich learning taking place? Hmm. No, no you don't.

4. I want kids to really be learning something of value. See that fourth grade classroom you were just peeking in? See the kids practicing reconstructing a multiplication table lickety-split over and over on graph paper? That's how we make sure they get all those pesky multiplication problems on the standardized tests right without actually y'know.....spending the time making sure they understand the whole concept of multiplication. No time for that. We have tests to take!

5. I am tired of lining the pockets of standardized test and prepackaged curriculum makers. They are one and the same. Let's not forget the big chunk of change going to all the nice tech folks who make those standardized tests all electronic with lots of nifty bells and whistles to make the tests seem more like video games and of course sell us the hardware to go with our software. Every time the standards are "revised" - schools need to buy new prepackaged curriculums and of course it makes the most sense to buy them from the companies who also have gotten the go ahead to make the standardized tests. They come with lots of cool practice tests, after all. Yay, more tests!

6. I want to be able to enrich the students who need enriching and remediate the students who need remediation without worrying about whether or not I'm hitting "target percentages" of proficiency. I don't want to be punished for the kid who came into my classroom already 2 years behind her peers without a snack or a smile when she doesn't pass her standardized tests. I want to be able to praise her for the progress she makes, and I want an administration backing me up for my efforts to get that child the help she needs.

7. I don't want to spend valuable teaching time and professional learning time concerning myself with kids "on the bubble" and pass rates. I want professional development that makes me a better teacher instead of better at looking at data.

8. I want to teach a curriculum that is rich and full and includes science and social studies and art and music. I want to have meaningful conversations with my students. I want to model thinking and learning. I don't want to concern myself with how much "wasted time" we have during transitions. Children need time to read and write and talk and think. When did those things become "wastes of time?"

9. I am tired of ill-prepared "Teach for America" teachers with minimal training and others coming in to teach after 6 or 8 weeks of "training." It is insulting to see someone from another career take a course, observe a classroom a couple of times, and then have the exact same teaching license that I have. Teaching is a science AND an art. You need both sides to be really good at what you do. Tell me what you know about childhood development, about how children learn math, about cognitive development, about the roles of class size and nutrition in learning.

10. If teachers and parents don't stand up NOW for kids, the impact on public education and therefore on our children will be devastating. We've been silent long enough. We've allowed people who have no business directing our education policy to stomp all over us and tarnish our reputations as they line their pockets.

Who will speak for those without political voices...our most vulnerable citizens....our children?

I will be there on July 30th. I have to be. I'm a mom, and I'm a teacher. I can't think of any place else TO be on that day. I hope you will be there, too.
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