Thursday, March 15, 2012

Opting In

As a parent, I have thought deeply about what to do with my daughter next year. She will be a third grader.  Last night, I caught her grinding her teeth in her sleep.  What does a second grader have to be stressed out about?  The 44 AR tests that she has to take this nine weeks in order to reach her AR goal? Perhaps?  I have told her not to worry about her AR goal.  The pressure she, however, gets from the teacher easily surpasses my disregard for this.  Unfortunately the AR tests are only a first in a litany of tests that will consume her entire public school career if things keep going the same way that they are in education, especially in the state of Florida. 

When I had a chance to speak to one of the leaders, Kathleen Oropeza, of  Fund Education Now, she asked, "Why not consider opting out of the testing?"  Being a teacher, I know it isn't as simple as that.  Next year, the third grade year, the madness begins!  My daughter will have to demonstrate that she is on grade level by taking the FCAT.  Sadly just missing testing day, does not mean missing the madness that surrounds testing throughout the entire school year.  There are FAIR tests (an oxymoron) and benchmarks to take.   I had been considering opting out all together.  Which makes me cringe! Isn't this what they want?  Parents get mad about testing or get mad about the failure of schools to make the grade.

I love my daughter's school, for all the right reasons. It is small. It is a community school where student live within a two mile distance.  They have art. They have music. They have PE. They have social studies. They have science.  Of course, they also have reading and math.  Did you know some elementary schools opt out of teaching social studies at certain grades because it is not tested?  Have we come down to that?  Scary?  Or is that exactly what they want us to do?  In places where we do not learn from the past, we still continue to make the same mistakes.

Today, I am opting in.  Opting in for public education.  There is a dedicated group of women, founders of Fund Educate Now, who were instrumental in organizing parents to stop the parent trigger law that miraculously did not pass during this legislative section. It will be back with a vengeance next year.  In the meanwhile, consider opting in. Check out the Fund Education Now and think about how you can make a difference in the state of education. I am.

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