Friday, April 29, 2005

Open Letter to Ed Week --

This is another post taken from the great Susan O'hanian's web site. Read this one. This letter is one of the most articulate pieces that I have seen on this subject. It is from an eighth grade teacher in California but can easily be applied to every other state.

"...Statistics prove the lowest performing schools are located in areas with the highest number of children living in poverty while highest performing schools are in wealthier districts. Students living in poverty, whose primary language is not English, who are transients, learning, physically or emotionally disabled perform poorly on standardized tests. More testing will not improve their academic achievement, but will reinforce their abandonment by the government and the system. More testing will make their "failure" more official, so the schools they attend and the teachers who work with them can be cast as the scapegoats. In reality, the under-funding of Head Start, nutrition, health, tutoring, after-school programs counseling and other vital services is what has adversely impacted their ability to bridge the achievement gap. The National Research Council (in a congressionally mandated report) found high-stakes testing has the unwanted result of "punishing and undermining the academic achievement of students who already face unequal educational opportunities." Furthermore this report stated: such testing is a bipartisan betrayal, reinforcing the worst aspects of the status-quo, categorizing millions of students as failures, while holding educators accountable (who have no control over socio-economic or other factors affecting student "performance"). This is akin to holding meteorologists accountable for the weather conditions (rather than for the accuracy of their own reporting or forecasting).

Public schools are held hostage by corporate interests. Businesses want highly-skilled, well-educated workers, but they want them without being taxed or investing in education; they have lobbied for these pseudo-reforms to evade their responsibility to children, schools and communities while expanding their influence and self-serving interests upon them. Educators and school administrators are simultaneously given more responsibility, increasing demands, constraints or mandates, and held accountable as their resources and decision-making latitude have diminished...

...Can anyone be na├»ve enough to believe the reduced funding of public education (on federal and state levels) has no correlation with a decline in levels of student achievement? When funding levels in our state were among the highest, our rankings were consistently 1st nationwide. Current levels of funding in our state are well below the national average with California ranking 48th of all 50 states, and student achievement rankings 46th. Yet prevailing rhetoric insists there’s no relationship in the parity of adequate funding and student achievement...

...Contrary to former Secretary Paige’s assertion that educators’ unions are “terrorists,” public school districts, dedicated administrators and educators who work with children are the ones being threatened and terrorized by NCLB and similar initiatives deceptively designed to dismantle public education in favor of vouchers that will be exploited by the savvy, influential or wealthy to fund private education for their own children (at public expense), causing an even wider chasm between affluent and indigent children... "

Read the whole letter. This teacher knows and is helping to get the word out.

1 comment:

EdWonk said...

Good Site. I think that I'll make her one of my regular reads.