Dear Mr. Gates;
I have been a public education teacher for 17 years. I am a mom to two children, one in public middle school and one in public high school. I am looking to opt my children out of high-stakes testing because I am seeing what harm this is doing not only to the educational system but to individual children. And my children are the kinds of children who makes schools look good when they take said tests. The only people benefitting from the Common Core Standards and attached over-testing are those creating the tests and supporting materials. So the rich are making more money off of the backs of our children instead of truly doing something to improve public education. Or if the sincerity is there, the manner and lack of research behind the action is appalling.
I ask you to read the research. Listen to the voices of the Diane Ravitchs, Susan Ohanians, Dr. Stephen D. Krashens, Mark Naisons and many many others who know what these tests are doing to our children. It’s widening the gap between the haves and the have nots. Teacher creativity is being stifled and children are bored as there is less and less actual education in our classrooms and more and more test prep. Test preparation does not equal education! We are dooming our country’s future to a bunch of automatons whose main experience lies in bubbling in a bubble on a scantron. Not the creative, critical thinking that the real world NEEDS. You can keep WEIGHING the baby all that you want but unless you take the time to feed the baby, the baby will never gain weight. Testing takes time away from teaching – I lose more and more actual teaching time every single year for the need of “preparing” students for the almighty “tests”.
Please talk to real educators who are truly in the trenches and see daily what this is doing to America’s children. The “reformers” like Michelle Rhee (who couldn’t hack it in the classroom; taped children’s mouths shut with duct tape), Arne Duncan (who has no actual classroom experience) among many are not the voices to listen to as they have no experience with what really works in education. The public school systems that they were in charge of are testaments to this lack of experience, lack of understanding of good educational practice and general educational pedagogy. And can you please explain to me how a 10th grade math teacher’s assessment can truly be tied to a test that reflects that student’s educational experiences from kindergarten through 10 grade? Education doesn’t happen in a 9-month vacuum.
I grew up in Seattle and I am a proud product of the Seattle Public Schools. Just because public school didn’t work for you, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for millions of others. Some of us weren’t fortunate enough to attend exclusive schools like Lakeside, the Bush School, etc. And while those are excellent schools, nationally the research continues to show that public schools in general outperform private schools (other than the handful of elite college prep schools who have 1) more money than they know what to do with 2) class sizes around 15-16 versus the 40+ I and many public school teachers face daily in our classrooms), charter schools and parochial schools.
Education isn’t broken – the reformers are breaking it brick by brick until public education will be completely privatized and a shell of what it once was – a very ineffective shell at that.
If you want to fix education? 1) Talk to teachers and let their voices and experience guide your decisions and grants and 2) fix poverty – that is the one thing that will truly “fix” education.
Thank you for your time.
Carmen R. Andrews