Here are some graphic images from around the net -- plus my own 2 cents worth of comments. Click on any image to see the full sized version.
Our Society's Soul
Most enlightened nations in the world direct more of their education resources towards the children who need them the most. In the US we provide more for those who already have more. It's not "rewarding success" like "reformers" would have us believe. It's rewarding wealth with more wealth and punishing the poor for being poor.
President Bush II referred to the "soft bigotry of low expectations" when he lit the fire to destroy the nation's public education system through No Child Left Behind. The fact is that
- No Child Left Behind
- Race to the Top
- state and federal support of charters
- state voucher schemes
- evaluation of teachers using test scores which reflect family income more than actual achievement
- state rules reducing requirements for educators
- municipal and state actions to lay off veteran teachers and hire TFA temps
- grading schools based on test scores
...all reflect the hard bigotry of neglect and denial towards the nearly 25% of our nation's children who live in poverty. What does this say about our society's soul?
The priority of our nation is not education. Politicians, pundits and policy makers may bluster about "failing schools," and "bad teachers," but our nation's real obsession is with getting money now, not the future of our nation based on the success of our children.
We've lost sight of our goal of securing "...the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity..." Instead we've developed into a people focused only on ourselves and the immediate gratification of our desire for material things. In the long term, this focus will leave our Posterity searching for wisdom in a world of greed. We have become a nation of short-sighted, selfish people.
Thought Without Learning is Perilous
"Don't label a school as failing one day and then throw your hands up and walk away from it the next. Don't tell us that the only way to teach a child is to spend too much of a year preparing him to fill out a few bubbles in a standardized test...You didn't devote your lives to testing. You devoted it to teaching, and teaching is what you should be allowed to do." -- Candidate Barack Obama, Summer 2007.
A Handsaw vs. Sequoia
Bill Gates, the Koch Brothers, Eli Broad, the Walton Family...It sometimes feels like those of us trying to cut down the tree of "reform" are using a handsaw against a sequoia. Perseverance is key, however. We have to keep the goal in mind -- fully funded, equitable, free and appropriate public education for all of America's children.
Standing up to Money
Fighting money from Gates, Broad, Walton, et al, is difficult, but not futile. We can't give up!
Not everyone learns at the same rate. Standardized tests, by definition, rank students based on the assumption that every child will learn exactly the same thing at the same time.
Sick Days are Hard Work
Teaching is such a personal job...that's why even the best teachers have trouble making substitute plans. Just writing down page numbers, listing lesson plans, or setting a schedule isn't sufficient to replace the relationships a good teacher builds with her students.
Play is Children's Work
Play is the young child's most important medium for learning (and it works for older children and adults, too!). Kindergarteners shouldn't be practicing filling in bubbles on test prep worksheets. For more on the importance of play see Play and Children's Learning from the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
All who envision a more just, progressive and fair society cannot ignore the battle for our nation’s educational future. Principals fighting for better schools, teachers fighting for better classrooms, students fighting for greater opportunities, parents fighting for a future worthy of their child’s promise: their fight is our fight. We must all join in.
Stop the Testing Insanity!