It is time for teachers to take hold of their profession and reinvent it for the first time. So far all of the political so-called educational reformers have failed!! and Failed miserably. They have failed so horrifically that passionate teachers are either rebelling against the system (BATs) or exiting the profession in record numbers.
The event that might wake up the state of Michigan is happening right now in Lansing. A bill has been introduced to mandate that ALL 3rd graders reach proficiency on our state standardized test (the MEAP) or repeat the 3rd grade altogether. Sure a business person might see logic in this bill. Student need to learn to read. If students are behind in 3rd grade this is a primary indicator of struggles ahead, let’s help them and make sure they won’t struggle, hold them back till they are ready. The article says that if the law was in place over 36,000 students would have been held back this year. WOW! Just seeing that number is stunning. The author of the bill states she hope it would make schools provided MORE services to help students reach this target. (Of course the article fails to talk about all the budget cuts schools have been going through.) This bill won’t create better PUBLIC SCHOOLS, it will end their entire existence. Parents will take their students to charter schools or K-12 inc that don’t take the MEAP to save themselves the embarrassment.
Schools are trying their best to educate OUR children. My district has been working hard to educate every student that steps foot on our doorstep. Recently, I attended a meeting where data was presented about our kindergartners. They recently took letter recognition tests to check on their ability to be introduced to reading. 25% were ready, 50% were getting close. The shocking result to be was that 25% were not able to recognize more than 9 letter (out of 52 capital and lower cased). WOW! No wonder students some students aren’t reading at grade level in 3rd grade, they are starting so far behind.
Schools are facing budget cuts not having enough to pay their staffs fair wages, so let’s add another unfunded mandate. While continuing to cut taxes on businesses. This is the very definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over again and expecting different results, Hey wait a minute that is what this very law wants us to do!
We need to make a few fundamental changes to obtain the goals this very law is written to accomplish. The law want to create fluent readers and learners. So let’s try these instead:
- End the “Day Care” model of school- Schools should not go bell to bell and be set up to take care of the kids while mom and dad go to work. Have hours, schedule different courses have students show up based on need and interest. Create free time for reflection, reading and one on one help from teachers. Set up a school Offices, study spaces, classrooms and plenty of space to learn independently. Sure K-5 might look different than 6-12 but we need to move to this model.
- Change to mastery learning model- Stop the idea that students should move on just because of the time they have spent in a seat. If we believe that students need to learn something, they should not move on until they have. Some students will move up quickly others the journey will be slower. Allow students to learn at their pace, while holding them (no the teacher) accountable for the learning. If a student is doing “3rd grade” reading but “4th grade” math that is what they should be learning.
- Focus on student accountability- right now students are the least accountable person in the educational system. An education doesn’t make you, you make your education. Student need to realize all their opportunities and they are in the position to take advantage of it.
By making these 3 changes in our educational system, teachers will be reinvigorated. Passionate professionals will flock to the educational profession feeling empowered and respected, while accomplishing the SPIRIT of the Bill. Let’s start listening to teachers we reforming education and stop the “business-like” solutions, Education is not a business!
(Other items not addressed here: all students learn at different rates and the cultural biases of standardized tests)