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NCLB Outrages

Teri Pinney: In the name of 'greatness'

You can hear an audio of Teri Pinney's statement here

According to the Palm Beach Post, the principal, a first year rookie, "has made no secret of his goal to move D-rated Westwood to a B in one year, or of his intention to change what he described as a school culture 'that made excuses for our kids.'"

by Teri Pinney

My statement made to the St. Lucie County School Board recently as to why I had decided to resign as assistant principal of Fort Pierce Westwood High School was met with both tremendous support on one hand and a lot of anger on the other. The online blogs revealed commentaries calling me everything from a beloved hero to an outright loser. Well, I need to clarify something. Iâm neither.

Iâm not a hero, because my statement merely scratched at the surface of the ignominious practices that are taking place within the schools in this district. In an aggressive effort to boost school grades or hike up student FCAT scores, Machiavellian-type administrators have been unleashed to wreak havoc upon faculty, staff and students.

Teachers are told when, what and how to teach; their names are flagged and they risk losing their positions if their student scores do not show improvement. Never mind the fact that the students are actually learning from them or have developed a special connection with them. If the FCAT numbers arenât there, out goes that teacher.

Another thing: Every day, students are being relentlessly pushed. Regardless of whether the high school kid works or has obligations that keep him up late, he is supposed to show up on campus by the first bell, which is at 6:55 a.m. That means he has had to wake up at least by 5 a.m.; some who catch the bus need to be awake as early as 4:30 a.m.

At Westwood, if theyâre late, the students are written up and punished in the form of an after-school campus cleaning.

While theyâre on campus, they are hammered with a barrage of messages to do well on the FCAT or Benchmarks or any other standardized testing thatâs being given to them, which is just about every two weeks.

Because I felt so strongly against the way people were being treated and because I could no longer, as an administrator, condone the methods with which changes were being implemented at Westwood, I did the unthinkable. I questioned this practice and I even comforted those teachers who felt mistreated.

And because of this, I was branded as being distrustful, regardless of my hard work at school operations.

I donât think that standing up for what you believe is right and speaking out in public against what you know is wrong makes me a loser.

But there will be the district supporters who will keep their blindfolds on and turn a deaf ear to all of the hostility and anguish they know is taking place on our campuses â all in the name of better student test results and, of course, "greatness."

Pinney is a resident of Port St. Lucie.

— Teri Pinney
TCPalm Staff


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