It’s 35 minutes until midnight as I start this blog post. This is the busiest day I’ve had in two weeks, and the closest I’ve come to not posting a blog for the daily Slice of Life Challenge. After a full day of teaching, and racing home to get dinner ready for my kids, my wife and I raced out the door again just as quickly.
We just arrived home from attending a local meeting for parents seeking more information about the New York State ELA and Math Assessments that are due to begin on April 5th. After the meeting, we met another couple out for a bite to eat. We hadn’t seen them much in the past few years, so the night grew later and later. This is the first chance I’ve had today to collect my thoughts and write a little something for my blog.
Last year, about 240,000 students opted out of the NYS exams. My son was one of them. Last year was the first year any of my children opted out of the exams. As a parent, my outrage at the unfair use of these poorly written exams to evaluate teachers reached a tipping point. This year, organizers of the opt out movement in NYS are hoping that at least 500,000 students refuse the tests.
I was particularly impressed with the speakers tonight at this forum on the state of education in NYS. One is a current public school principal. The other is a retired teacher. Both of them have other things to do on a Tuesday night at 9pm. One of them is putting his livelihood at risk by speaking out against state testing, and the other could be enjoying her retirement without worrying about the state of affairs in her former profession. They both refuse to be quiet in the face of injustice. They exemplify the passion that I find in the colleagues I work with. We are teachers because we care for young people and we want to help them reach their full potential. In my opinion, standardized tests impede our ability to do that and it is time to speak out against them.
As I sat in the audience tonight I was reminded of a saying I saw posted somewhere recently – Whenever one person stands up and says, “Wait a minute, this is wrong,” it helps other people to do the same.