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Saturday, November 14, 2015

"We’re destroying our kids — for nothing: Too much homework, too many tests, too much needless pressure "

 

If you have children who are stressed out in elementary, middle, or high school, this post is for you. If you have heard about the "new" SAT and have concerns, this post is for you. If you worry about high stakes standardized tests and the pressure cooker our government has thrown our kids into, this post is for you. If you wonder what is best for your children or grandchildren in education today, this post is for you.

Vicki Ables, the mom and filmmaker who brought us the award winning and eye opening documentary, Race to Nowhere, now brings us a new book, Beyond Measure.
Beyond Measure asks the important questions. The book is quite different from the film of the same name, and I found the book much stronger in content and facts.

"Rather than ask why our students fail to measure up, this film asks us to reconsider the greater purpose of education. What if our education system valued personal growth over test scores? Put inquiry over mimicry? Encouraged passion over rankings? What if we decided that the higher aim of school was not the transmission of facts or formulas, but the transformation of every student? And what if this paradigm-shift was driven from the ground up? By students, parents, and educators? By all of us?"

In this Salon article Ables states, "The most painful irony is how badly out of step our frenzied educational practices are with science. Psychology and neuroscience journals abound with studies about how children learn and thrive, and how their brains grow, and none of it bears a remote resemblance to the spirit-crushing contest we’re putting our kids through."

As if growing up weren't hard enough. As if the inherent stress of school courses weren't enough. As if the pressure of SAT's, ACT's and Keystones Exams weren't enough. We now find our kids at the precise moment in time when the corporate titan, The College Board, is messing with our children and aligning the new SAT (coming out in March 2016) with the controversial Common Core State Standards. There is no motivation in the "business" side of education these days except how to generate more profits on the backs of our children. The only people I trust are the teachers, professors, and school leaders who freely speak the truth—without the Orwellian Doublespeak.

Activist, public policy expert and ally, Jonathan Pelto, warns, "[David Colman] the 'primary author' of those Common Core Standards—a system that is causing so much controversy—took over as President of the College Board and immediately announced that he would do for the SAT what he did for the nation’s education standards. And many of the same problems and issues that have arisen with the Common Core SBAC and Common Core PARCC tests are likely to appear with the new SAT. Remember that the Common Core testing scheme was designed to fail the vast majority of public school students, and it did, because the tests included a significant amount of content that students had not learned prior to taking the tests."
If you are as sick as I am of the money grab in education (including in our public & private schools), you are likely to find this post by Drexel Professor, Scott Warnock, as helpful as I do. He writes:

"Recently, I read a book I think should be required reading for parents and students entering today’s college admissions trudge: Where You Go Is Not Who You Will Be, By Frank Bruni. Read this book: If it doesn’t change your life, it may make it at least a lot more pleasant. Using a variety of evidence, Bruni strongly builds the argument depicted in his title. For instance, he cites the Gallup-Perdue Index study of 30,000 U.S. college graduates; according to that study, graduates who had these experiences 'perform markedly better on every measure of long-term success compared with graduates who missed the mark on these experiences':
  1. professors who cared about them as a person
  2. a mentor who encouraged them to pursue their goals and dreams
  3. worked on a long-term project
  4. had a job or internship where they applied what they were learning
  5. were extremely involved in extra-curricular activities"
I just ordered my copy and it is on the way. Warnock sites the Gallup-Perdue Index study and it sure makes sense to remind ourselves, our school boards, and our school leaders that the six items on the list above are what parents want for our kids pre-k through grad school. It seems simple, and it should be. Unfortunately, in 2015, that is far from true.

Somewhere along the line we, the citizens of America, started to trust the school ranking of various "news" sources, such as US News and World Report. Just go ahead and google "US News rankings a sham" and see what comes up. The same goes for rankings of our public schools. The Atlantic has excellent articles about why we should ignore them, both here and here.


To all parents: We are being used, our children are pawns in the game, and not only must we educate ourselves, we must spread the truth. Please share this information with everyone you know. Write editorials, speak to school boards, speak firmly and loudly to politicians. Our voices are stronger together. We must protect our children and their schools (pre-k to 20).

The slick PR of the corporate education reform world is a sham. Let's take care of our kids, and fight to prevent our future grandchildren from suffering in this Madison Avenue marketed manipulation and destruction of our school systems (both private and public) that is stealing the joy of childhood from our children.










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