Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home


[Susan notes: ]

Published in
03/12/2008

Dear Dean _______,


Here is the letter we all need to write. For starters, write to the dean of the college where you were educated. This letter writer included a recent column by a superintendent of schools expressing his anguish as a point of reference.

Bobbie suggests that a good alumni movement (as in "Get rid of NCLB or we won't donate to your tea party any more") might motivate a few college people, at least a little bit.


Dear Dr.________,

I'm just a random Idaho educator, living in Boise, trying to understand what it is that the USA, and Idaho in particular, has against knowledge, education and the lives of little children.

Is there anything that Deans of Colleges of Education are doing to protest, roll back or reverse the atrocities that are being committed against our young people, our democracy and our public schools in the name of "accountability" under the the so-called NCLB law?

Why do people who have devoted their lives to educational research allow politicians to ignore it all and install boneheaded, prehistoric, factory-model programs in place of the things that we know will work? The things that will help children live and grow?

Do professors of higher education care that their work is being completely ignored (or worse, misinterpreted and used for evil ends)?

Why aren't you all standing up against this standardized testing stuff -- this "test 'em till they drop" insanity? Are all of you just moving along with the death march to standardized minds, trampling the arts, drama, music, recess, the joy of learning -- and cloning more drudges to proctor more fill-in-the-bubble tests -- or does someone in higher education care about what is happening in elementary school?

I wish you folks could know how terrible it feels to be a school kid -- or a school teacher -- these days.

I am sending along an article about what standardized testing has done for the State of Texas -- and how happy it is making people there. Not so different from where we live.

I know you're just a powerless person yourself -- perhaps just "another brick in the wall" as Pink Floyd would say -- but if you don't speak up, and if I don't speak up -- then nothing will change and kids will never know that school doesn't have to be a miserable experience.

Thanks for your Attention,

NOTE: Bobbie sent this column with the letter.

by Michael Stevens: TAKS beat down everyone's morale

Amarillo Globe-News, March 10, 2008


HEREFORD - In conjunction with the TAKS testing, the State of Texas needs a morale-improvement program for its 4.3 million students and 350,000 or so professional educators.

After due consideration and deliberation there can be only one title for the program -"The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves."

I am exceptionally saddened and disappointed. Wednesday marked the beginning of "TAKS Season."

I have observed visibly shaken children and adults enter into the annual testing season with what can only be described as raw fear. Eight- and 10-year-old children are taking a test that will inexorably impact their future.

The testing started at 8:30 a.m. Some of the students finished at 6:30 p.m. A child works as hard as possible to pass a test that truly measures nothing of consequence. Yet, if she or he fails, the test has to be taken again. If, after three attempts, a passing score has not been attained the child is supposed to repeat the grade. This is true even though we know that if a child is retained in a grade level there is little likelihood that she/he will complete high school. The child is labeled a "failure," a label that will last a lifetime.

What do we know about children, schools and/or school districts that do not meet the testing and accountability standards established by the state and federal government? First, and foremost, we know that virtually every child that fails the test comes from families that are not blessed economically. Every child can learn well what is being taught - time is the variable.

As I approach the final few months of my career in public education I can only look back and ask the question: How did we get here? What started out in the 1980s as a tool to measure student progress has evolved into an incredible monster that is causing far more harm than good. Through some misguided notion that tests actually are indicators of quality we now use testing to measure the quality of a student and a school. It's insane!

Our public education system should be allowed to educate children, not merely test them. We spend about 50 to 60 school days each year either testing or preparing to test our children. Could we not reallocate the billions of dollars spent each year spent on testing and allow our wonderful educators to make learning fun, exciting and relevant. Children might actually learn!

Testing schools into quality, much the same as beating people until morale improves, hasn't worked. The time has come to change. To the policymakers in this state - I implore you to sit with an elementary principal when the scores are received as she has to tell a child that he failed.

You cannot possibly imagine the anguish!

Michael Stevens is superintendent of the Hereford Independent Schools.

Bobbie


FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.