An Open Response to the Michigan School Report Cards
In the past few weeks I have seen various memos, letters, and faxes all prepping, outlining and providing school administrators ďtalking pointsĒ on how to respond to the newly released Michigan School Report Cards. Everyone is heavily armed with answers, possible solutions and changes, but the real problem is: no one is truly listening.
I represent 255 of the finest teachers in the state of Michigan. These teachers are the true heroes that work in the trenches on a daily basis providing a quality, well-planned education to each and every one of the students in Romulus. We donít pick and choose whom we will educate and we certainly do not need the state and federal government to remind us to ďleave no child behindĒ.
Our teaching staff is highly qualified, highly dedicated, continuously learning and improving methods, implementing comprehensive, researched based programs to meet the social, academic, and emotional needs of the Romulus children. We donít do this for one day, give a MEAP test, and then judge our students as failures or successes. But this is exactly what the Michigan School Report Cards have done. They have judged us, almost entirely on a test given on a single day and then question us, as we self assess ourselves higher than what our MEAP scores demonstrate.
Our schools and children are more than test scores. We view our buildings as educational centers, not testing sites. We look at the whole child including the environmental, social or financial factors that have a tremendous impact on their learning; we donít just label them as proficient or not proficient. We work to continuously improve, not because someone tells us to, but because we do what is best for the students we educate. We are not a business or for profit agency. There is no bottom line. We canít simply reject the materials we are given. We must embrace and relentlessly work to improve the children we teach and push them to achieve their fullest potential. We didnít need someone to tell us that, itís part of what we do.
Teachers and public schools are the backbone of our society. We are the ones who teach future doctors, business people, legislatures, judges, park rangers, auto workers, and yes-even presidents. We provide the tools kids need to be productive members of our society. We should not be judged by a single test, labeled by the government or used as scapegoats to provide talking points for politicians. Our voices, united in solidarity, must be heard. We are not pawns in the political process. We are teachers. Our job is to inspire and educate children.
Our schools in Romulus are outstanding. The services we provide and programs we implement can go head to head with any school district in the United States. From Reading First, to the Boys and Girls Club, to receiving the esteemed NCA Transitions Accreditation, to our involvement in the Learning to Give Project, to the Comprehensive School Reform grant we implement, and to the countless hours of professional development our teachers attend, I challenge you to find a harder working district that is continuously improving to meet the needs of all children in our district. I stand with my colleagues and urge the community to not allow our children to simply become a letter grade or be punished based on one test, given on one day. Our teachers are committed to seeing the success of all children. Then again, I didnít need someone to remind me of that.
President, Speaking on behalf of the Romulus Education Association
* This professional opinion was adopted and approved unanimously by the representative council of the Romulus Education Association at its meeting on February 4, 2004.
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