Sunday, April 28, 2013

Just Breathe

For the past year I have educated myself, gotten involved, publicly stood up for what I believed in, severely doubted myself, allowed disappointment to set in when a major detour showed up, got back up and brushed myself off before setting off again, and also in the process gave my son a first hand lesson in civil disobedience.

All in the name of public education.

Over the past two weeks, my son has sat for 270 minutes in school and done...nothing.  He did not read, he did not write, he did not speak.  He sat there.  Because that's what his school administration said he must do.

Over the past two weeks, I have found myself talking to anyone who would listen about how the New York state assessments are severely flawed, and how this Race To The Top that we're in is a catastrophe waiting to happen.  A few parents have stepped forward and joined this movement...okay, it's more than a few.  More like a few THOUSAND.  We're from all across the state but our message is the same:

New York state and the Pearson Corporation will NOT use our children!

This is what happens when any parent is backed into a corner.  We fight back.  The parents throughout this state have fought hard over the past two weeks.  Some are still in the fight until the make-up days for these tests are over, and I can't wait until we can all breathe out a collective sigh knowing that this battle is over, even if the war is far from it's end.

I still firmly believe that I am doing the right thing for my children's education, as I whole-heartedly believe in public education.  But I do not believe that my 7 and 8 year old need to be on track for college or careers at this age.  I do not believe that one assessment can be used to measure learning for all children, and I guarantee that my 12 year old and your 12 year old are not the same individual and they do not learn at the same pace.  That's what makes our kids unique and amazing.

NY state, Governor Cuomo, and Commissioner King haven't got a clue about these fantastic individuals known as D-Man, the princess, and lil' D.  My daughter is only a mere number to this group after she participated in her first set of state assessments this year,  and more than likely they will never see her for her brilliant self - especially as these exams tested the children on some material the teachers have not yet had the opportunity to teach, they were age-inappropriate on multiple levels, and let's face it...8 year olds were not meant to sit for 70 minutes without being able to take a break.

Each day for the past two weeks I have looked across my back yard and over to the elementary school, just waiting to see signs of children doing what they should be doing during these early spring days.

Playing.

It was when I heard the laughter and playful screams of children on the playground - it was then that I knew that the exams and make-up sessions were done for that day, and my kids were able to just enjoy being kids at school.

And it was then I felt I could breathe again.

C.