Tuesday, November 3, 2015



Approximately 6 years ago I said on my web page that if public education supporters did not develop a viable alternative to the testing fiasco, public schools would and should perish.  Alas the reality strikes home.  Since that time many public schools have closed, charters and private schools have opened and yet there is little emphasis on changing public schools to meet the real needs of all children.

On one side there are those, led by Diane Ravitch, who have done a remarkable job of pointing out the flaws in the current testing system of education.  They have also supported the “opt out” concept that has an increasing number of parents refusing to allow their children to take the test.  Those parents recognize the drudgery of the test and its lack of value to their children.

On the other side, the reformers continue to present the same rhetoric that public schools are failing and only if you change the name of the school to a charter or choice, all will be well.  Supported by civil rights groups odd bedfellows are formed with tea party activists siding with left leaning groups for a variety of reasons.

Regardless of the reasons, the battle goes on with name calling, finger pointing, the spewing of data that is twisted and turned to prove each side’s point.  It leads to the Ravitch group using test scores to proclaim victory when they denounce those very test scores on a regular basis.  The reformers have then allowed the manipulation of statistics and the exclusion of students to lead the way in their effort to increase test scores.

The battle rages on minus the one element that I stated on my web page 6 years ago.  Where is the viable alternative to the testing fiasco?  And why isn’t either side interested in developing and promoting that alternative?

There will be much speculation about the answer to that but my belief is that they are both so entrenched in warfare that they have lost sight of the fundamental purpose of education.  The first question that must be asked is “Who matters”.  Is it still the children?  If so that’s where the focus must return.  Not who wins or who is guilty by association, or who scored the most points on the pro con battles that have arisen. 

When we recognize who matters, we then must address the fundamental purpose of education.  Is it to be first or best or have the greatest test scores?  Or is it to prepare children for the future.  Those who choose the latter, will clearly be on a path worth following.  And that path will take us in a different direction than the one we now follow.

The reality is there are many educators chomping at the bit to do right by children if only the politicians would get out of the way.  And yes, those politicians include some from the two groups previously mentioned.

There are so many waiting in the wings to take on the challenge.  Dr. Nikki Woodson, superintendent of Indianapolis Public Schools told her schools not to wait for the test.  Prepare your plans with your assessments.  This can be done everywhere, now!  Dr. June Atkinson, State Superintendent of North Carolina schools wants an active curriculum in all her schools.  Dr. Angela Dye knows the importance of empowering children to seek their future, their way.  Principal Jamaal Bowman is supporting a holistic approach to his middle school, is taking the challenge to modernize and elevate the teaching profession and the list goes on and on. 

Even companies are preparing for a high quality education.  Achieve3000 emphasizes differentiated learning by providing 12 reading levels from the same periodical so students can read at their level and discuss the subject as a group.  Yes, taking every child from where they are, not from where we wish they were.

Educational innovators are everywhere and they must prevail.  And the reality is, they can prevail now.  Yes, I said now, regardless of the rules brought down from on high.  No longer can we wait for permission to serve children in the way they deserve.  What is being done today with the testing fiasco is not only unethical, it is immoral.  If we as educators follow the current leaders, we too are immoral.  The time for action is now.  

The time has come for innovative educators to take back their profession for the children, because we can’t wait for higher ups to give it to them.

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