Tuesday, January 8, 2008

So Much To Say (pt 2 - ELA Protest letter)

This is linked into my previous posts, because it was one of the thoughts rumbling around my head this past weekend... it's just I had already written so much and overwhelmed everyone including myself, I needed to take a breath. Later on, I hope to actually show how all this crap in my head is related (like that bowl of spaghetti I was talking about) but in the meantime I need to get this out quickly.

Today is the first day of a series of three tests that NYC Third-through-Fifth graders are required to take. Now, if you know me at all by now, any time I am required to do anything, there better be a damn good reason. And for the moment, I don't the validity of the reasons that the NYC Dept of Education is laying out. But I'll have to get to that later, cuz I have to leave in 10 minutes to get the Sun to get to karate. I think.

I thought about boycotting the tests, but a little research revealed that the DOE could really come down on the school and the principal specifically, even if all of the 3rd grade parents posed a united front. Plus, I figured it might do more good if the Sun actually did well (which I expect him to do) AND I protested.

So here's a letter I wrote to my principal (names have been changed to protect the innocent). If you are a 3-5th grade parent in NYC, I highly recommend you visit TimeOutFromTesting's website. I also encourage you to copy this letter and modify it and send it to your principal over the next two days. And if you're not in NYC, I think you should be aware of this issue cuz it could be coming to a theater near you very soon... (italics indicate where specific names should go)

January 8, 2008

The Sun's Elementary School
New York, NY

Dear Principal:

I am aware that the New York City Department of Education is planning to use the third grade Reading, Writing and Math Assessments to make high stakes decisions about whether to promote our children to fourth grade.

Because of this, I seriously considered protesting the ELA by not allowing The Sun to be tested. I object to my son being subjected to this form of high stakes testing in third grade when it will have no significant bearing on his Middle School applications, unless of course he is held over because he did poorly. I object to his being forced to take the test, afraid that if he doesn’t, the lack of a score would count against you and the school. I object to such an “important” test being given in the middle of the school year, and the results coming back too late to do sort of any remedial action, if he did poorly. I object to these scores being held up as a guide to how our school is doing.

Like our sister school, our school
• creates life-long learners and life-long readers
• teaches our children how to work together as a community
• helps our children become problem solvers
• gives our children an excellent education in the arts
• welcomes parental involvement
• supports multiple learning styles
• looks at the whole child-not just a score
• values diversity and difference

and how can these invaluable things be measured by a test?

I decided against boycotting the test because of my extremely high personal regard for you as our school’s principal, and my love for our school. I would not want to do anything that would jeopardize your position here, or jeopardize our school community. I am also confident that because of what The Sun has learned at our school he will do quite well on this test.

I have faith that as our school’s principal you would not use these test scores by themselves to determine who gets promoted to fourth grade, but I am extremely concerned that at some point in time, you may be forced to do so by the Department of Education.

Therefore, I am sending this letter with The Sun today as a formal protest, and would like this letter to follow his answer sheet.

Very Truly Yours,
The BearMaiden
The chick that loves a good fight....

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