Dear President Obama,
I am disheartened by the state of education and the course we are heading as a nation.
Today, I was forced to administer an assessment which will be used to judge me, as a professional educator. I watched eight year olds crumble under the pressure for fear of getting an answer wrong. I held a young girl who burst into tears because she couldn’t decipher a term she will not be exposed to until January. As a compassionate human being, I reassured her, but deep down inside I was sickened, disgusted and angry knowing this is the path that education has taken. This assessment will be used to determine whether I am highly qualified and effective enough to carry out the responsibilities of my job.
This test will be compared with a second assessment given in the spring, created by a testing company led by individuals who consistently demonstrate a true disconnect from the reality of education, as they are more interested in making money than fostering learning centered on the whole child. Gone is the creativity that once ran free in our schools.
Walk our halls and you will discover test-taking taught as a genre. You will find children forced to engage in learning for exorbitant amounts of time even though they are not developmentally ready as this builds stamina and stamina is required for the six, ninety minute assessment sessions my third graders will be required to take this spring.
If you are lucky enough to witness children on a playground, you will quickly observe they struggle to act socially because time for play has been tossed aside making room for more and more curricular demands. As educators, our plates are full. We spend countless hours beyond the school day trying to plan purposeful and meaningful lessons, correcting the numerous assessments we administer while keeping up-to-date on our forever changing professional development. The state of exhaustion runs rampant in this profession.
When I look at my colleagues, I see the flame of hope and empowerment slowly fading away because we are being forced to make miracles from the six hours we work with children full knowing when a child is at home his greatest teacher, the parent(s) is making the most profound effects on his future.
It is time to reconfigure education and make decisions based on sound educational research. A school is not a business; we cannot expect children to perform above and beyond their intellectual abilities. Educational decisions must be made with the voices and knowledge of those on the front lines, in the classrooms, working with the children and communities to whom we serve; the teachers.
Respectfully submitted, Robyn Brydalski Third Grade Teacher Kenmore, New York