Nothing gets me testier than testing. As you might know, I served on the North Carolina Statewide Task Force for Summative Assessment. If you’ve ever proctored a high stakes EOG test, you’ll know what a dismal experience it is for students and teachers alike. My own sons refused the test (no official opt out in North Carolina). We put children as young as eight under duress and use the scores to punish the very teachers who nurture, support, and celebrate them. Testing has become a money making venture for companies and a punitive brandishing iron for legislators who seek to belittle the teaching profession.

As part of the Race to the Top program, the U.S. Department of Education pressured states to adopt a teacher evaluation system that had numerous shortcomings and no track record of success. North Carolina has spent significant amounts of time, money, and energy trying to make this problematic system work, all at the expense of our schools, the very institutions we should be bolstering. Now that more power over educational policy has been returned to the states, it is time for our state leaders to start undoing the damage.

This week, the North Carolina State Board of Education can take the first step toward reducing the state-required testing that burdens our students, teachers, and schools.

I urge you to please take a few minutes early this week to encourage board members to take this important step. There’s a sample letter from Mecklenburg Acts and list of email addresses below so I’ve made it very easy for you. Your voices have a made a difference so far. Let’s not lose momentum now!

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) has recommended that the Board eliminate Standard 6 from state teacher evaluations. This standard requires that every teacher in the state be given a ranking based on student standardized test results.

The addition of Standard 6, under pressure from the federal government, led to a massive expansion of standardized testing in our state. That expansion included the North Carolina Final Exams given in many high school courses, and many other exams in earlier grades. Read to Achieve adds hours of testing and immeasurable stress to our state’s third graders.

NCDPI has not yet decided to eliminate any state tests, but eliminating Standard 6 will make it far more possible to reduce testing down the road. It is an extremely important step on the path we are forging.

The Board will take up the issue on Thursday, February 4. Please email all the state board members (email addresses below). Also have a look at this list of members and their biographies and make a second contact with those board members who live in your area.

More detailed information on the problems with test-based teacher evaluation is available here. The text of the NCDPI recommendation is available here.

Sample Letter
Subject: Remove Standard 6 from state teacher evaluations

Dear Board of Education member,

At the NC Board of Education meeting this week, please support the NCDPI recommendation to eliminate Standard 6 from state teacher evaluations. Trying to give every teacher in the state a ranking based on student test scores has produced multiple technical and logistical problems. It has also required a massive expansion of high-stakes testing that has had profoundly negative effects on our North Carolina students.

[If possible include some brief details about your own experiences with the problems of over-testing. Personal stories always make the greatest impact.]

In our state and across the nation, excessive testing has led to increased stress, a narrowed curriculum, and widespread teaching to the test. It has caused students to lose interest in school and learning, driven excellent teachers from the profession, discouraged young people from pursuing teaching careers, and diverted time, energy and resources from other educational goals.

Now that the federal government has returned more power over education to the states, you have the chance to fix this problem. Please take the first step by eliminating Standard 6.

Thank you.

Board Member Email Addresses (Comma separated):

william.cobey@dpi.nc.gov, Al.Collins@dpi.nc.gov, dan.forest@dpi.nc.gov, janet.cowell@dpi.nc.gov, becky.taylor@dpi.nc.gov, reginald.kenan@dpi.nc.gov, kevin.howell@dpi.nc.gov, gregory.alcorn@dpi.nc.gov, wayne.mcdevitt@dpi.nc.gov, patricia.willoughby@dpi.nc.gov, ericc.davis@cms.k12.nc.us, june.atkinson@dpi.nc.gov, rshotwell@rock.k12.nc.us, drclfedd@yahoo.com, lassits@pitt.k12.nc.us, jamesefordnctoy@gmail.com, keanatriplettnctoy@gmail.com

 

 

Semicolon separated:

william.cobey@dpi.nc.gov; Al.Collins@dpi.nc.gov; dan.forest@dpi.nc.gov; janet.cowell@dpi.nc.gov; becky.taylor@dpi.nc.gov; reginald.kenan@dpi.nc.gov; kevin.howell@dpi.nc.gov; gregory.alcorn@dpi.nc.gov; wayne.mcdevitt@dpi.nc.gov; patricia.willoughby@dpi.nc.gov; ericc.davis@cms.k12.nc.us; june.atkinson@dpi.nc.gov; rshotwell@rock.k12.nc.us; drclfedd@yahoo.com; lassits@pitt.k12.nc.us; jamesefordnctoy@gmail.com; keanatriplettnctoy@gmail.com

 

{ 3 comments }

Snow Days Spark New Reverence for Teachers

by Ilinap on January 28, 2016

We missed a couple days of school here in North Carolina. We had more ice than snow, and regardless how much Northern driving experience you have, there’s no way you’re getting around safely on a highway that’s morphed into a skating rink. And so we hunker down. It’s expected once a year down in these parts. Points north of us have been hit harder. Snow piles up akin to what I remember from my years in Minnesota. Record breaking snowfall means a week of cancelled school. We missed two weeks in a row last year due to some pesky snow with ice layered on top like slippery fondant. I feel the pain of parents struggling with antsy kids and demanding jobs. Wrangling kids is no cake walk.

It’s on these days we find ourselves valuing teachers even more. Amiright? But here’s the thing, teachers are not babysitters. Their job is harder than mine. I have two kids to manage and I complain about that. Imagine what our teachers do every day with grace, joy, and pride. On snow days many teachers venture out to deliver food and coats to students who are in need. They call to deliver news of assignments or to offer tutoring help via Skype. They never quite shirk their responsibilities.

As fresh snow darkens to muck and school resumes, I am left with fresh reverence for teachers. As a country and as a state (I’m talking to you North Carolina GOP), we continue to belittle teachers. We are telling them that they, the very foundation of where learning begins and higher thinking evolves, are not worthy. We complain about teachers, schools, school closings, curriculum, snow days, bell schedules, grades, tests, homework, the list goes on… Alas, our ire is misdirected.

We should be pissed at the legislators. Teachers work amidst extraordinarily difficult circumstances. No one does more with so little. Yet at every turn our legislature demeans the profession and slashes compensation. Teachers provide inspiration and encouragement and even a safe haven for students who have no such thing at home. Teachers provide nurturing and comfort that many students don’t experience in their personal lives for myriad reasons. Teachers are our children’s champions and cheerleaders. They lift spirits, raise hopes, and boost confidence. It is teachers who leave an indelible mark on our lives. I happily still stay in touch with several high school teachers, and I’m toasting my 30th reunion this year. My own sons have had marvelous teachers who have become personal family friends.

When is the last time you had such reverence for a politician? I’m lucky to know a few, but none in the NC GOP. Thankfully it’s an election year so we can vote those cronies out. Our community and our kids deserve better.

It’s so very easy to point to all the ways teachers impact our outcome. Now it’s time to pay them a worthy income.

{ 0 comments }

Making A World of Difference, Starting in the Classroom

January 25, 2016

There’s been a lot of chatter in the media about helicopter parenting and raising kids with empathy. It seems we have upon us a generation of entitled kids who don’t know how to cope or feel or dare I say, behave. Mac Daddy and I have always believed we are raising adults, not children. The […]

Read the full article →

A Week of Loss

January 14, 2016

It’s been a rough week for muggles and music fans. The planet has become a tish less cool of late, and not due to global warming. The loss of David Bowie and Alan Rickman has us all staring at our screens, mouth agape. Their loss is proof that art of all kinds matters. We mourn […]

Read the full article →

Non-Sequitors aka A Minute in My Brain

January 12, 2016

We finally went to the MC Escher exhibit at the NC Museum of Art. It was crazy crowded (yeah for people seeing art!), and I learned a lot about this man whose art transcends the staircase and hand optical illusions he’s known for. MC Escher was the first hipster. I mean really, just look at […]

Read the full article →

Time May Change Me

January 11, 2016

Before there were Internet memes and inspirational quotes painted on distressed reclaimed wood, I jotted down favorite quotes in a journal. I have a series of journals from my teen years filled with angst, longing, and a yearning for belonging. The year was 1985. I scribbled David Bowie lyrics onto some paper and tacked it […]

Read the full article →

Jay Chaudhuri – Career Citizen for NC Senate Applauds President’s New Gun Violence Reduction Measures (#AsianMomBloggers)

January 8, 2016

Every year the new year seems to start on a bit of a somber note. The vitriol abounds; the new year isn’t necessarily a new slate for many. I see my fair share of trolls and haters based on the content I post. I realize that comes with the territory, and after all these years […]

Read the full article →

Not All Children Are Blanketed in Love – Support SAFEchild

December 29, 2015

The other day two gigantic boxes arrived on the doorstep of SAFEchild. It appeared to be a mass quantity of toilet paper (Stranger things have happened, and yes, toilet paper is a need at any non-profit so there’s that.). Upon further inspection of the boxes, we uncovered the most beautiful blankets tucked inside. The staff audibly gasped. The […]

Read the full article →

It’s OK to Have a Toy Gun…If You’re a White Kid

December 28, 2015

I see preppy white boys the same age as Tamir Rice carrying air soft guns in my neighborhood and in affluent neighborhoods near me. The longish hair swooshed over their eyes, ever so effortlessly coiffed. They are decked out in Nike shirts or Vineyard T-shirts emblazoned with the iconic whale. Elite socks in bright colors […]

Read the full article →

Merry Consumer

December 23, 2015

  One of the hardest parts of parenting is imparting lessons to our children that we hope will stick and carry on through their lives. These are trying times, the height of the holiday season. Consumerism abounds as we substitute the cash register for the altar at which we pray. Children are bombarded with myriad […]

Read the full article →