There seems to be a pretty evident theme in my blogging. But I'm feeling the urge to take a turn today and write on a different subject. Being 100% out of my comfort zone, this comes deep from my heart and in the end has everything to do with my kids....so I guess you could say, I'll still be tagging Emma and Hope in this one.
Please don't stop reading just because I say the word election. "Election."
I couldn't be more tired of political shout outs any more than anyone else. Admittedly, I never have been an active voter. Voting in presidential elections, with usually a straight ticket, has been my pathetic record. I am saddened and embarrassed. This year, I am learning an informed vote can make a difference. So putting all political parties aside....lets talk about people.
Dr. Tony Bennett is our current IN Superintendent of Schools. He is up for re-election. His opponent is Glenda Ritz. I have caught wind of upset people in regards to the current served term of Dr. Bennett. Having a child in the public schools and another on her way, this stopped me for a second to question what is really going on. No better way to find out than to go directly to the source.
I resourced a wide variety of teachers - retired, soon to retire, young, experienced, elementary and secondary, from northern/southern/and eastern districts of the state. Coming out of the teaching career before my kids were born, I understand there are teachers out there "for the summers", but I also know of teachers that are A+ and always put kids first. (The kind that go above and beyond, after hours, spending their own money on classroom supplies, and do anything to get a kid to smile.) These are the ones I highly respect and collected information from. If you don't read the rest of the post, please talk to the respected teachers in your district and learn first hand the conditions of our classrooms.
When asked about Dr. Bennett 9 out of 10 replied with one word - arrogant. Can't argue with that, when I get totally separate emails from people that don't even know each other. Red flag. BIG red flag.
To continue, Dr. Bennett is testing our kids to death. While testing and monitoring student growth, I feel is necessary for child improvement, there must be a line drawn. Dr. Bennett has been testing, and will continue to test, our kids so much that many teachers say it is all they can do but just "teach to the test." This is leaving VERY little room in the classroom for other teaching that is crucial to prepare students for the next level. It leaves virtually no room for creativity in the classroom. It is taking ALL our teachers time. The paper trail is miles long. Teachers are unable to do their job well due to the time commitment being forced upon them with testing.
These test are referred to as the Common Core Testing.
Go in a classroom of 30 kids....find one thing that they all have in common and I'll erase this blog right now. I think one of my favorite quotes from a high school FACS teacher is "I have a elephant, snake, and dolphin in my class. Today's test is - Go Climb A Tree." How is that fair?
These test scores are being used to determine teacher accountability (and yes I do believe in some kind of teacher accountability). But using these test scores to say whether or not our teachers are competent or incompetent is absurd.
Susie's mom is in the hospital with cancer, while Billy's family doesn't have electricity for a warm place to sleep, don't forget Jane that ate a candy bar for breakfast, and oh ya, Zak who could care less about school and never brings his pencil or books. They all take the test. Low scores. So according to Dr. Bennett their teacher is incompetent. I just might barf for a second.
Seriously, do we get to blame the dentist when our kid has a cavity?
If student test scores will be a determining factors in school ratings and teacher performance (I hate to imagine) is cheating far from around the corner? That sure isn't a subject I'd like my child to learn.
Not long after Dr. Bennett was in office he was quoted, "the IPS (Indianapolis Public School) have low graduation rates because of incompetent teachers. Unlike the schools in Carmel and Fishers where the teachers are better." This makes me sick. Switch the teachers for one year....then see if the shoe still fits buddy.
Teacher moral is way down. Good teachers are retiring early and other are looking to move on. I can't stand to hear that. No one, in any job, does a good performance when they feel unsupported and degraded. This is definitely not how I want my daughter's teacher to feel when she greets her classroom in the morning.
Just yesterday, I received a News Brief from my daughter's school sharing information regarding some of this new scoring. Her school received an A. It further went to share this information:
Union ISTEP English/Language Arts passage rate for grade three = 98.8%
Union ISTEP English/Language Arts passage rate for grade four = 96.1%
Union ISTEP Math passage rate for grade three = 97.5%
Union ISTEP Math passage rate for grade four = 96.1%
Union average attendance* rate for 2011-2012 school year = 97.3%
Union average attendance* rate for current school year-to-date = 97.98%
Union I-Read* (retention mandate test) passage rate for grade three = 95.3%
*These data are not included in the state’s A-F calculations. Further, performance data reflective of Union grades K-2 students’ successes are not included in the state’s A-F calculations. We heartily celebrate all of these successes as essential building blocks to student achievement and overall growth. State officials have not yet indicated the fate of the Four Star School recognition program.
Thanks Dr. Bennett for clearly stating that my first grader means nothing to you or how you grade her school. It's nice to know you see her efforts as worthless. [angry parent in room]
I mentioned we would talk people, and so far I seem to have only mentioned one. So bring out the opponent Glenda Ritz. Unlike Bennett, she IS encouraging more local power in the schools and the move to take less stress off of testing. Bravo. Bravo. I can already hear a sigh of relief from my nervous test-taking daughter and her creative juices.
Is this a plea to try to get you to vote for someone just so my daughter doesn't have to sit through hours of testing everyday at school? Nope.
It is a plea for you to understand you have the right to vote. And you do not have to vote a straight ticket.
It is a plea for you to ask questions, talk to your kid's teachers and your grandkid's teachers, find out what is going on, find out the conditions of the classroom and make an informed vote for Indiana State Superintendent. Make a difference.
Before my shaking knees fall off this soapbox, let me end with a fact found out today. My children attend Zionsville Community Schools. The ZCS high school graduation rate is 97.4% and is the 2nd highest in the state for large public high schools. That's pretty impressive news. I could sit back with these statistics and say "my daughter loves school....she does very well....what's to worry...we've got it made."
Nope, that would put me right back into my old voting ways....and that didn't seem to turn out so good four years ago, now did it?
A big thank you to the teachers, school officials, and administrators that continue to hold heads high and make things work. Your efforts are not overlooked. You are important. You do make a difference. I am forever grateful.
Thank you to involved parents. Involvement from the mom/dad that volunteers every second, to the mom/dad that simply reads a book to their child every night. Your efforts are never overlooked from those in the front of the classroom.
Shew. If you made it through and read it all - kudos. I hope you aren't as tired as I am! ;)