As I sit here writing my last post for the week, my daughter is in the next room packing for college. She will be a freshman at Brandeis University, a small liberal arts college located in a suburb of Boston.
One of the reasons I decided to go back to school to become a high school history and social studies teacher was because I wanted to share my love for the subject and inspire my students to become active, engaged citizens so maybe one day they would make a difference. After spending many years in the corporate world, I was looking forward to having autonomy and control over what I would be doing every day and over how and what I would teach.
Much to my surprise, I soon realized that the relentless push to raise test scores and to use standardized tests as the sole measure of the quality of education would have a great impact on what I might be able to do in the classroom. After spending nearly a year researching No Child Left Behind, it soon became clear that this country is in the midst of a war. The war being waged over education and the aims and purposes of schooling. The relentless push for more testing, privatization and accountability for teachers with virtually no discussion in the public discourse over the common good, the effects of poverty, health care, housing and the environment on student learning is outrageous. These issues must be addressed if there is going to be any chance of ever closing the achievement gap.
I hope that Schools Matter can become a place for that discussion to take place so that maybe one day real education reform will take the whole child into consideration. My daughter, along with the millions of other students who have hopes and dreams, who want to be educated and have opportunities, are much more than a test score. Children are not specimens in a petri dish to be measured. The politicians and business leaders who have hijacked education and who are profiting financially from this empty, meaningless reform, are stealing something very precious-- our collective future. It is time to hold them accountable for their failure to address the real problems in education.