Dear Mr. Gates and Foundation,
I am an educator of 15 years, the granddaughter and great-granddaughter of educators and the mother of 2 middle-school aged children. Ladies and gentlemen, our schools are not broken and they have never been. What is broken is the fascination with numbers and treating our children as if they are nothing more than data.
Children learn, and demonstrate that learning, in a variety of ways, and standardized tests measure only the smallest sliver of that. Students who do well on these tests tend to be those who already do school well, who are able to become complicit and toe the line. As we all know, these are not always the best employees, they are not always the best and the brightest and, in fact, those numbers mean very little to the world outside of educational deform.
We need the space to teach our children to think and to question. No single test can measure that. We need the space to teach our children to dream and imagine. No single test can measure that. We need the space to inspire and ignite the love of learning in our children. High stakes testing destroys that space and shrinks it to a small, mean bubble to be filled in. The only thing the tests are good for, piled on our students endlessly, is to present flawed data in order to “prove” a flawed hypothesis: that our schools are broken.
They are not broken. But they will be, and public education will end in the United States, as we teachers are forced to train children to take tests that will not prepare them for the real challenges and the real lives that await them beyond our classrooms and hallways. Please, stop pushing these tests and engage in real education practice or get out all together. Let us teach, as we’ve done for hundreds of years, without the Sword of Damocles threatening our careers and avocation.
Thank you for your kind attention.