Sunday, February 17, 2013

Why Am I Going to D.C.?

This is such an emotionally charged question. 

I am going because I feel as though I am on a mission that chose me and I am simply one of the vessels to help it reach its destination.

I am going because I watch my sons watch me. I see them examine the choices I make. I see them watching me refuse to back down and demand the truth out of all that life brings forth.  I cannot let them down.

I am going because I have been told all of my years of teaching to simply “shut my door.”  Simply shut my door and do what is right for children. This is not enough. I open my door wide. I scream to the world what I am doing for these children - I scream that I am giving them what they are rightfully owed – a whole and equitable education. I scream to the world that I am allowing them to make choices, give input, become a part of their learning experience and become empowered by their voice and their ability to make a difference in this world. I do so because it is the truth and because it is important to model for other women who have spent their lives believing they must stay quiet, be agreeable, and do as they are told. I am not one of those women and deep down, no women are that way – I hope to help them find their voices.

I am going because my community around me is dying on the vine. And there are a few fellow activists here working with me to determine how to make the vine grow – not just upward – but outward and inward and in ways that were never imagined before in the public schools. We have hopes to not only preserve public schools but improve them and create democratic schools - which is what should have existed all along.

I am going because I am surrounded by the truth. I cannot turn from it. And I am determined to expose it and wake the masses up. I am determined to help those who cannot speak for themselves – the children, the families, and the educators who live in fear of losing their jobs.

I am going because I have seen too many children harmed by these mandates. I remember them. I wonder what happened to them. And I wonder what else I could have done to help them.

I am going because I selfishly need to surround myself by those whom I consider to be a part of my community. I need their support, their guidance, their knowledge and their love.

I am going because every time I speak to a fellow activist I find myself growing a bit stronger – and this strength turns to action.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Listen up Mainstream Media. Teachers Know How to Assess.

We do not need better tests.

We do not need teachers to grade Pearson's tests.

We do not need any of these tests.

And we do not need an alternative - the alternative is what we once did and can still do - real learning assessed through portfolio, project, performance and more.

Teacher friends, we must make sure this message is clear - teachers know how to assess - mainstream media via the corporations and ALEC have created mass amnesia - they seem to have forgotten that teachers once upon a time actually assessed their learners. Isn't this convenient? Without teachers viewed as capable of assessing, how quickly the shift to teacher as technician will occur.

The general public keeps asking - but without the tests - how will we know? The reporters say, but is there an alternative? Oh dear oh dear what will we do???? Pearson? Can you help us???

Teachers - remind them of what you know how to do.

They have left the teacher completely out of the discussion - this is intentional. Remind them that we are HERE and we know how to assess, evaluate, plan and teach.  My students also know how to collaborate with me as they reflect on their own learning - together we are able to determine student strengths, attempts and next steps. And guess what - my students' parents communicate with me to determine what is best for their children. Together, as a community we support our learners.  Pearson is not a part of my community. Neither is ALEC. I need them to get out of my way so I can make professional decisions about my students.

I am not going anywhere - and each day teachers are getting louder - we will be heard. We are professionals who care about our learners. I stand firm. Just try me. I'll be in DC from April 4-7.

Join us mainstream media. I dare you. Come and listen to some real educators, students and citizens share what they know - broadcast it to the world and end this mass amnesia.