We are lacing up our sneakers with bright green laces as part of the Lace to the Top project – join us. Lace to the Top is a simple way to demonstrate that you support children and their schools and that students are more than a test score.
The new school year is a perfect time for a frank discussion about public education. Our children are just starting out in school and we’re concerned that the policies being shaped in Albany and Washington are hurting our public education system and, by extension, our kids, teachers and communities.
As widely reported in the local media, only 31 percent of students statewide earned “proficient” (3) or “highly proficient” (4) status on the new New York state assessments given this spring. Stated a different way, seven out of 10 students “failed” these tests. We have questions, as do many other parents and teachers, about the tests’ validity and reliability. If you want to evaluate the tests yourself, think again. They are under lock and key by Pearson Corporation, a profitable company with a more than $30 million state contract.
Current educational policy ties teacher evaluations to student test performance, and district performance to state funding; the results are cause for concern about our kids’ educational experience, our teachers’ work environment and the future of the public school system.
A movement has begun among parents, teachers, school administrators and community members that questions and challenges the current, high-stakes testing model. This movement is forming through dozens of Facebook groups – Lace to the Top and New York State Allies for Public Education among them – and locally with the Partnership for Smarter Schools. We think that this movement will succeed – it has to. Our schools are going to thrive in spite of current educational policies, not because of them.
As parents you can be a part of the discussion in many different ways. Talk to your child’s teachers about how state mandates and budget crunches affect their classrooms. Educate yourself about state funding, Common Core curricula, and mandates handed down from NYSED and the N.Y.S. legislature. Start asking questions and when you come across answers that you know are not good for kids, speak out. Look for others wearing green laces and start a conversation.
And, mark your calendars for an Oct. 2 education forum at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo hosted by the Partnership for Smarter Schools.