Promise Neighborhoods and Harlem Child Zone… to be or not to be? That is the question for these communities.

To be or not to be?  Communities that applied for Obama’s Promise Neighborhood grants in the past have asked this question.  They wanted their communities to be more conducive to learning in order to help their students achieve in their … Continue reading

Hold the Right People Accountable

No Child Left Behind has been so widely publicized for so many years, and yet I never really understood it. Reading Chapter 6 of Diane Ravitch’s The Death And Life Of The Great American School System; How Testing And Choices Are Undermining Education I was fascinated by the idea that NCLB was brought about with the intent of helping students and holding schools accountable for their success, and yet the policies seemed so ridiculous. All of our schools are charged with this Sisyphean task, and are punished for being unable to fulfill their roles, while also being given little support from the government. Our schools are supposed to have reached 100% proficiency in only a year, and the chances of this happening are slim.

So then, is it a failure of our schools, for not doing what they were supposed to? Or is it a failure of our government, for setting unreachable goals?

There Should Always Be a Plan B (by Guest Blogger Teddie Garland)

Just recently, access to the morning after pill, or more formally known as “Plan B”, by high school students of all ages became readily available in several high schools across the country. “Last month, the Obama administration seemingly changed the … Continue reading

The DREAM Act: Is It Only a Dream? (by Guest Blogger Krista Nuro, Spring 2013)

After watching the short online “Teen DREAM Art Documentary”, I became further at a loss for why we continue to punish well-achieving students and take away their dreams of a higher education. This film touches upon the barriers that many … Continue reading

Grey Clouds Looming Over Education: Is There a Bright Future? (by Guest Blogger Meaghan McHill)

There is a lot of tension hovering over education in regards with Charter schools. They are privately owned, publicly funded schools that require an application to be filled in order to attend the school. If the school receives an abundance … Continue reading

A One-Size Fits All Approach Does Not Work: On Charter Schools & Standardized Testing (by Guest Blogger Kyle Billings)

At what point are we going to realize that the one-size fits all approach does not work? Students should get the option of what school they best fit into. Should it be a situation where schools are inherently better than other schools? I think not, however, there should be schools that focus on math and science, and others that focus on visual and musical arts. Some students want to be scientists, whereas others want to be artists. There should not be a problem here.

I think about this and I recall a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson. He speaks of a young lady who couldn’t sit still in class, (whom at this day of age would have been diagnosed with ADHD), and instead of determining that she was not a good student, she was taken to a school that fit her needs. Instead of trying to fit her into a mold that she does not fit into, she went to dance school. She thrived, grew and now she has been incredibly successful.

With standardized testing, we are trying to mine our youth for only one thing. Measurable results. We punish our teachers and schools if students cannot meet the expectations that are set by a testing board that seem to think that one size does fit all. Students are being stripped of their ability to think divergently and creatively so they can color in bubble ‘a’.

In an editorial piece by Bill Gates, Mr. Gates points out that despite what any common opinion, teachers WANT to be accountable to their students. It is just our way of measuring them that is not working. I also do not believe that monetary compensation is the most important thing to our educators. Do we give them opportunities for professional development? What if our educators received stipends so they also could continue their education? In other parts of the world teachers collaborate and mentor each other, teachers need to grow just as students do. Effective teachers will spread effective measures to other teachers given the opportunity. Do we give them that opportunity?

 

I do not believe that charter schools are an inherently bad thing. Having schools that have enable our youth to focus on what their interests are in can only boost their potential. We do need to have performance measurements, but their needs to be better ways.

 

In class evaluations by other educators, review by students, looking at artistic and academic improvement are just a few ways that we can move away from the standardized testing. While I agree that there is a certain breath of knowledge that our youth should have when they finish high school, there just needs to be a better way of delivering that knowledge, and evaluating them on it.

 

I read that Education Reform is going to be the Civil Rights battle of our generation. With everything that I have read recently I am beginning to believe that is correct.

 

Questions

After watching  ‘Do School Kill Creativity?’ do you agree with Sir Ken Robinson? After reading the editorial by Mr. Gates do you agree? Do you think we need to restructure our school systems to allow our youth to flourish? Is our educational system that hasn’t been revamped since the industrial revolution due for a serious look?

 

 

How You Can Help the Garfield Teachers & Keep Track of the PDX Test Boycott

Garfield teachers are still in the middle of their protest of the MAP (one of the standardized tests given to students at their Seattle-area high school) and are facing potential punishment in the form of having pay docked.  If you want to make a donation to this good cause, check out this link: How You Can Help the Garfield Teachers.

Also, know that Portland area students have been and continue to be in the spotlight (even in national news) for creating their own standardized testing boycott.

Do you support these boycotts?  How are you getting involved?

-Zapoura

Taking a Stand on Standardized Testing (by Guest Blogger Maryann Burton)

It is absolutely time that we take a stand on the standardized testing for school assessment system. As students and administrators in Seattle rally together to put an end to evaluating schools and teachers based on tests that were not intended for this purpose. Portland Public Schools and the Student Unions are following the footsteps of the courageous Garfield High School in Seattle and asking that all high schools in Portland opt-out of taking the standardized test this year.

The tests are an expensive waste of money. They do nothing but put more strain and stress on students and faculties; the results of these state standardized tests are not even looked at by colleges and universities when applying for admissions! PPS and the Student Unions are pushing for change, and in true social justice fashion, they are raising awareness of the fact that it is the system of assessment that needs to be changed—not the teachers administering the assessments.

So let’s stand behind these individuals, let’s make ALL of our schools look like they are “in need of improvement” so that we can focus on improving our means of assessing how a school or teacher is performing. Let’s get back to a time when attention could be paid to the individual student’s needs and direct ourselves away from spending precious time and money on assessments not worth their weight in accuracy.

Note: Maryann Burton is a student in the Educational Equity Capstone at Portland State University.  This course is facilitated by Deb Smith-Arthur. Thank you for joining us, Maryann!