“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.”
-John Adams in Defense of the British Soldiers on trial for the Boston Massacre, December 4, 1770 http://www.foundingfatherquotes.com/father/id/1#section=quotes
John Adams, one of our founding fathers, spoke fiercely, intelligently, and eloquently in defense of American freedoms. But no matter how well he spoke, the one spark that colonists needed to support the American Revolution was facts. Once the people knew the facts, the fire was inevitable.
But aside from rhetoric, back then, the facts were not manipulated as thoroughly as they are today. In today’s society, the facts are so obscured and people seem satisfied to live in a maelstrom of bias. Their televisions, computers, phones, newspapers, and radios exist in a realm dominated by bias and special interest. Not only do people not know the facts, they don’t even understand their own rights anymore.
Since the beginning of the PARCC test, I have been asking why don’t we just say no. The argument I most often heard was that we can’t, because it comes from the state. Oh, so if it comes from the state, then we must do it? Is that how it works? Really? I thought the state was made up of elected officials? If we as educators, parents, administrators, board members, mayors, etc. do not like what the state says (or even worse think the state’s policies are detrimental to our children) then are we not obligated to inform them of such? Anyone could write a letter,place a phone call, organize a meeting expressing their views.
No one had to tell Superintendent Dr. Joseph Rella of Comsewogue School District his right to speak up, because he took it upon himself to speak up. He wrote an open public letter to the State Education Department and even robo-called all of the families in his district to invite them to a rally against high-stakes testing. http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/ny-school-superintendent-on-common-core-stop-it-scrap-it-or-fix-it/
Dr. Rella’s letter went viral and should be revered as an example of what we need more superintendents to be. We need leaders not administrators content to collect a large paycheck for towing the line and complying with every changing mandate that comes down the line.
“Children should be educated and instructed in the principles of freedom.”
John Adams: Defense of the Constitutions, 1787
Well, how can we educate our children on the principles of freedom, if we as adults do not even understand or exercise them? Why don’t we see more teachers voicing their concerns at school board meetings. I was told by an administrator that speaking at a board meeting is just too political for a teacher. Really? Well, if it is then it shouldn’t be. Teacher tenure was designed to protect teachers’ freedom in the classroom.
Though tenure doesn’t guarantee lifetime employment, it does make firing teachers a difficult and costly process, one that involves the union, the school board, the principal, the judicial system and thousands of dollars in legal fees. In most states, a tenured teacher can’t be dismissed until charges are filed and months of evaluations, hearings and appeals have occurred. Meanwhile, school districts must shell out thousands of dollars for paid leave and substitute instructors. The system is deliberately slow and cumbersome, in order to dissuade school boards and parents from ousting a teacher for personal or political motives. http://content.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1859505,00.html
Tenure has been cited for the reason many bad teachers are still in classrooms, which I have certainly seen to be the case at times over the years. But the bigger problem I see is that more teachers do not use the power of tenure to advocate for what they know is right for their students. There is no reason a teacher should be afraid to stand up at a board meeting and speak. Though I realize not every teacher has the guts to refuse to administer a standardized test like this teacher from Florida did. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/09/11/florida-kindergarten-teacher-refuses-to-give-standardized-tests/ The fact is that she kept her job. Her passion and sincerity was acknowledged and respected.
The fate of high stakes tests tied to the Common Core standards is at this point uncertain, but I can tell you that the pressure is on. The evidence against the value of these tests is mounting quickly. See this article for an excellent synopsis of the arguments in favor of opting out of testing.
Facts are stubborn.
We need to be too.