Posted at WaPo:
By Ralph Ratto
Today was the first day I was ever ashamed to be a teacher.
Today I finished administering the sixth day of New York State Common Core assessments. I was a facilitator in a process that made my 10-year-old students struggle, to the point of frustration, to complete yet another 90-minute test.
I sat by as I watched my students attempt to answer questions today that were beyond their abilities. I knew the test booklets I put in front of them contained questions that were written in a way that 95 percent of them had no chance of solving. I even tried to give my students a pep talk, in hopes of alleviating their angst, when I knew damn well they didn’t stand a chance. Today I was part of the problem.
As I watched my students, I was angry that my efforts to stop this madness were not successful. I was angry at my students’ parents for not opting out their children. I was angry at my administrators for not stepping up to the plate and attempting to end this madness. I was angry at Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York Education Commissioner King, the N.Y. Board of Regents, my state senator, my state assemblyman, President Obama, and even my state union. I was angry that my students were victims in the abusive game to drive a political agenda.
I lost it today. I lost a little bit of my self-esteem. I lost my faith in my party. I lost my faith in my ability to protect my students. I lost my faith in our future.
I watched my students valiantly attempt math questions that most adults could not answer. These questions were wordy, and purposely confusing in a warped way to prove some point about our public education system.
Historically, my students excel on standardized tests, often finishing near the top of our district and state. Today I witnessed –, no I was part of!! – a situation in which students were forced to endure what amounted to what I would call an abusive situation.
Today I am ashamed. I am ashamed I didn’t do enough to stop this madness.
But I am not done. I am pledging to double my efforts to stop this form of institutional abuse. If my state senator and assemblyman do not work to end this madness, I will work to have them replaced. I will work to expose the governor’s education agenda. I will work to have King replaced.
Today is a dark day…but not for long.