Wars are won one battle at a time.
Yesterday nearly 100 people attended the State Board Meeting in Trenton, the overwhelming majority went to voice their concerns about the PARCC test slated to be administered in the Spring.
It may not seem like a large turnout, but it was. I have been attending local board meetings for two years now, and I can tell you that they are not well-attended events.
Many teachers do not feel comfortable going, because they worry about the consequences of voicing concerns. With teacher tenure now in jeopardy and evaluations tied to test scores, their fears are understandable, particularly since the test itself is riddled with problems.
Many parents don’t attend, because they don’t really know how much of an impact they can make by going, being educated, and voicing their opinions. Also, parents are tired; I get it. Many households have two working parents or if one parent stays home the other is working ridiculous hours. (And babysitters are expensive!) After a long day of work or caring for kids, there is homework,laundry, lunch boxes to clean, lunch to make, religious obligations, sports practices, talent shows, school concerts, and a million other things. Most board meetings start at 7:30/8pm on a weeknight, just when many parents are putting the kids to bed or getting a minute to actually relax a little. It takes dedication to make a cup of coffee and head out (especially in the dark, cold winter) to a school board meeting.
Therefore, the fact that nearly 100 people traveled to Trenton on a freezing cold weekday to attend a meeting that started at 10am was impressive. (The NJEA knew this and smartly offered free lunch to those registered to speak.) Those people waited for 4 hours until 2pm for the public comment portion to start, knowing that they would only be allowed to speak for 5 minutes.
Nearly 100 people!!!
This is IMPRESSIVE in this day and age where most business and even friendships are conducted from home via the computer. These people took time to write something and drive somewhere and speak publicly.
So many more people wanted to go, but couldn’t because they have jobs to go to and no ability to take a day off. Or like me they had children to take care of and to pick up from school and no one to fill in for them for the entire day. Or for a million other reasons, they couldn’t go. But they wanted to and that is important to recognize too.
There is a movement that is growing in numbers, and its collective voice will not be easily ignored. The PARCC test is not the answer to any of the problems in education; it IS the problem.
Yet as impressive as those nearly 100 people were to make the trip to speak out on behalf of our students and their teachers, many more will need to step up to the plate locally to keep the pressure on. Consider writing a refusal letter and attend your local meetings to voice your opinion and ask questions.
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Here’s an article about yesterday’s NJ State Board Meeting:
This is an article about Sarah Blaine a former teacher and full-time practicing attorney in NJ, which includes her testimony from the Board meeting (a video link as well).
Here’s a link about Ohio’s decision to delay the PARCC:
My past PARCC-related posts:
PARCC Only Drives Instruction Into the Ground