October 17, 2012
Dear President Obama:
Have your educational policies ushered in an Age of Enlightenment? Sadly, no.
Have your educational policies ushered in an Age of Reason? Sadly, no.
Have your educational policies ushered in an Age of Discovery? Sadly, no.
Your educational policies have ushered in an Age of Measurement, and that is sad.
Your policies have sided with those in the educational testing industry, from those profit and non-profit stakeholders who believe that the measure of a student’s education can be reduced to the results of a single metric test. This thinking is simply not the thinking that will propel our nation’s education system forward. Your current policies are a retrograde fit to a system that demands 21st Century skill development instead, with assessments that measure skills needed in our new economy: collaboration, communication, and creative problem solving.
Consider that the reliability of tests used to measure student achievement have been widely disputed because of influences beyond the classroom; poverty, race, the influence of previous teachers, the attitudes of peers, and parental support are influential factors that are not accounted for on single metric tests. Furthermore, the unrelenting focus on testing demands an unprecedented amount of the teacher and students’ classroom time being given over to the collection and review of data.
Our public schools need educational policies that return power to the educational professionals in the classroom. Our public schools need to recruit highly educated professionals to the teaching profession who are paid accordingly. Our public schools need to be re-imagined and reengineered to move from the agrarian school model to year round schools that are flexible in meeting the specific needs of the communities they serve. Our public schools need to serve all members of a community, not the few who remain because of a flawed voucher system.
Mark Twain once stated that, “We believe that out of the public school grows the greatness of a nation.” I believe that is true. I believe that with good educational policies and your support of the ideas I mentioned above we can successfully grow the greatness of the nation. I believe that you can shift from this futile educational emphasis on testing and turn to usher reason, discovery, and enlightenment back into public education.
Very truly yours,
Colette Marie Bennett
Biography: Colette Marie Bennett is the English Department Chair at Wamogo High School (Region 6) in Northwest Connecticut. She has also served as the Social Studies Department Chair. She has over 21 years of experience in the classroom grades 6-12.
She blogs @www.usedbooksinclass.com