This past week I have been talking to several moms of children that are not yet school age. I can see the worry in their eyes, when I say that I am frustrated with public schools. But when I get into the nitty-gritty of the tests and why they are bad and how they have influenced curriculum….their eyes glaze over.
I get it.
For me, even after teaching for 12 years, I still have to put in an exorbitant amount of effort when it comes to understanding education reform these days. Between Common Core, PARCC, Smarter Balance, SGP’s, mSGP’s, SGO’s and everything in between, it is exhausting and confusing. Plus you have to wade through the articles, blog posts, and Facebook friends on both sides of the debate that seem to live on the brink of hysteria.
The war raging about the testing, curriculum, and teacher evaluations does not have clear sides. Democrats who love our president are attacking his education policies, yet find they are joining some Facebook groups where members swear President Obama is a Muslim communist trying to take over the world. I unknowingly joined a group vehemently against Teach for America and posted a blog post only to be attacked. Some love the Common Core but hate the tests. Some hate both. Some think the whole reform is great, but just needed to move more slowly. Some think charter schools and school choice are great while others think they are a threat to public education. Some think testing is a necessary evil. Some would much rather their children play in the mud.
So, if I could boil it all down for the parents out there whose children have not yet entered kindergarten, what would I say?
I would say that the biggest challenge that kindergartners face are the grown-ups around them.
The grown-ups that are driving developmentally inappropriate reform. The grown-ups that profit from those reforms. The teacher and parent grown-ups that aren’t speaking up and fighting back against these reforms. The grown-ups that worry, but do not act. The grown-ups that ask what is the best way for my 5-year-old child to learn typing skills at home rather than asking why there aren’t more field trips or less worksheets.
You see, while we adults are arguing, their childhood and love of learning are being wasted away.