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Monday, October 14, 2013

Just give me something to write about...

Hey now!!  It has been several weeks since my last post and I could attribute it to several reasons.  Things have been busy here at home with my children starting school and beginning weekend activities which has me shuttling them to their various scheduled events.  This has left me with less time for my occasional blogpost. 

I have also not been motivated to write a post.  Why make another comment about our dysfunctional government in Washington?  Currently the federal government is shutdown.  Negotiations to fund the government to meet its debt obligations have not produced a solution so we'll see what this week will bring.  Perhaps it is time to vote all of these clowns out of office.  The public really needs to make their voice heard.

Another news topic I have been following relates to the Common Core State Standards in Education and Testing.  Just last week, the New York State Commissioner of Education, John King had an open forum, the first of several, in Poughkeepsie.  The attendees were quite vocal with their criticism of the Common Core and the emphasis on assessment.  Following this contentious meeting, it was announced that the remaining open forums would be cancelled.  I guess the heat in the kitchen was too hot for Commissioner King.

I have seen how this new Common Core has affected my daughters who are in first grade.  Their teachers in their first weeks of schools, have given them test after test to get some benchmark which will be compared later in the school year to show that progress has been made and therefore the teachers are doing their job and will receive a favorable evaluation.

Well, what should have been an exciting time for my twin girls, at least for the first month, quickly turned into a nightmare as they have had trouble getting to sleep, they are clearly stressed and quick to anger at home. 

I always thought that the elementary level, at least in the early grade, was a foundational level where children learned thru hands on and stimulating work.  The emphasis on testing does not afford teachers to structure their class and lessons in this engaging way. 

Where is the data that supports this wholesale change in our state's education system?  It's a Race for Money, not a Race to the Top.  New York always had a strong education system.  The New York State Regents exams were always the standard, at least when I was in High School.  Now, we have given up so much to for profit companies like Pearson, inBloom and non-profits like The Gates Foundation.

I have always maintained that the jobs and industries that will be created in this century will only come from creative thinkers.  These thinkers will not be created from following a mind numbing series of standardized tests.  Schools need to light the spark that will one day grow into a flame for life long learning and critical analysis. 

Once again the call is made for the citizenry to get more informed at what's going on.  Turn off the TV and attend Board of Education meetings with like minded neighbors.  Write to your local politicos and ask them to define their positions on the Common Core and testing.  Only when we resolve to take control of these decisions locally and not from outside special interests will we finally see a positive change.

My children are my special interest.