My Letter to Senator Baumgartner February 18th, 2015… Please listen to SB6030

Good Morning Senator Baumgartner,

I am an accomplished, veteran educator of 25 years.   I am also a mommy of an 8 year old.  I have been rewarded with several national teaching awards including the United States Senate Innovative Teacher Award.   My full bio can be found (here).

I have taken it upon myself to research this past year regarding the Common Core State Standards and the SBAC test because things just weren’t sitting right in my gut.  I uncovered a wealth of information that raises red flags and I have become very, very concerned.  My concerns have heightened as I see what is happening in the walls of our public schools.  Webpages look wonderful as school districts highlight the wonderful things going on, but underneath the surface there is more to the story.

I am concerned regarding the lack of transparency to the public regarding the standards.   Randy Dorn agreed to adopt them on July 20, 2011.   Most of us educators didn’t hear a word until the year of 2012, ranging from the spring through the fall.  Why is this?  Why was there not a comprehensive review of these standards?

Why no elementary teachers on the writing committee?  Why no early childhood specialists?  500 Early Childhood specialists wrote a joint statement expressing their concerns with the K-3 standards.   I have heard many of them speak, and my awareness level has continued to increase.

Why the rush with these standards?  If they are so wonderful and so amazing, why no transparency?  Why the secrecy sworn by the validation committee?  Dr. Stotsky, the only ELA specialist serving on the validation committee did not endorse the standards and refused to sign.  This is true of the only Math specialists.  He wouldn’t sign either.

This is concerning.

Dr. Stotsky is speaking throughout the country to raise awareness.  She speaks eloquently as to why the standards are flawed.  They truly are Senator Baumgartner.  I have links and information showing how the SBAC test was written in a hurried manner and is being found to be invalid and unreliable.

I feel so strongly about this I have started a National Blog.  “My All Babies Walking By Six Months Old… A Satire on the Common Core Charade” has been read by 30,000 people across the United States and in about 86 countries, the last time my son looked at my stats.  Please read: (here).

I also have been so moved by the idea of teacher evaluations being linked to the SBAC.    I am so tired of people claiming it is because us teachers don’t want to be accountable…  I am accountable to my students every single day.   There are so many layers to tying test scores to teachers performance….  there are simply way to many variables.  I feel so strongly about this I wrote another article called:  A Tale of Two Teachers…. Linking Teacher Evaluations to a Test… Lunacy.

I am passionate about teaching and working with teachers… I have been an instructional coach for many years and served as a District Math Coordinator in my previous school district.   In October, I just switched schools and went to the poorest school in Spokane, WA…  90 poverty and given an F rating by Washington State….  We have 15 new staff members willing to teach these wonderful children.   Many come to us 2-3 years delayed.

I believe the SBAC test will be discriminatory and will not give accurate information about what our children know.   Doing a test on a computer, expecting children to type their reasoning of how they solved math problems and type algebra equations at 8, 9, 10, 11 is so unreasonable.  It will not get at the heart of what they know.  Their hands are developing fine motor skills, some more advanced, some less.   Will the better typers score better?

In my school only 2-4 kids in a class have access to the internet at home.   My son goes to a affluent school on the south hill.  He gets fed a hot breakfast every morning… goes to school with a packed healthy cold lunch… he is secure… so are all of his classmates.  My son spends time on his iPad and computer at home.  We research nightly…

The achievement gap widens.

How will my 8 year old perform compared to children that have none of what he has?

How can we compare?

My heart is so sickened by what I am seeing in the walls of the schools.  They truly are becoming test prep factories…  My district ordered the Amplify Testing…. It has 3 Interim Assessments and then there are checkpoints between the Interims.  Our children are funneled constantly into computer labs to test, to prepare for the test, to analyze data to see if they are on target to pass the SBAC.   I am the Amplify Testing Coordinator in my building.  Not one 3rd – 6th grade student passed.  All were red and a level one.

Why are we funneling children to troughs of failure?

How can we continue this ethically?

It is well known the SBAC is set at 70% to fail.  Why would we send our children to that kind of day?  Why bother?

I challenge all of us to look to countries like Finland…  their educational system is a haven.  I have been reading so much about this, as well as all the research around PLAY and movement for our youngest children.

Senator Baumgartner, I am so convicted about this, I have opted my own son out of all this testing…  I care about the classroom based evidence his teacher provides at this young age.  He is developing… growing… give our children a chance to mature.  The pre-frontal cortex of the human brain doesn’t solidify what we are asking of our children until 11/12ish years old.

I still teach higher order thinking skills.  I still challenge my students and have high expectations… I do this to help them develop their capacity to reason and think and learn.  However, to expect mastery of these things is near child abuse.  I have seen the tears in the testing labs.  It is profound.

This isn’t about accountability anymore… this is about going down a path that is harmful to children and their natural curiosity and love of learning….  until they hit this madness.

Thank you for your time.  I would love to speak with you personally if you would honor me with your time.

Please give SB 6030 a listen.  It isn’t perfect, but those putting it together, often are people like me that have full time jobs and don’t have the luxury of time like many lobbyists who are paid by special interests.

Passionately Written,

Raz

Mommy and Educator

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