Sometimes stories start bad… and end well.
The mean ole’ step sisters wouldn’t let Cinderella go to the ball… yet in the end, the glass slipper fits, and she lived happily ever after with the prince. Or…
The kingdom is saved when the knight slays the dragon.
The mystery is solved.
The bad guy is caught.
The treasure is found.
In this story… A Snake is Beheaded.
And for me that is definitely a very good ending.
I’ve been writing stories regarding the SBA Snake and its impact on our children. I pretty much classify snakes in the “do not like, close to hate” category. The image of the slithering, tongue flicking reptiles are the nearest metaphorical picture I could conjure up when I thought about the SBA. A scaly, toxic, harmful, serpent … injecting poison into our schools.
Then Story Seven came my way, and I realized a den full of snakes lurk.
Especially for our high school students.
The End Of Course (EOC) Biology Test… one of the vipers.
The Quick Short Story
A frustrated mom sends out a cry for help for her son. The words are written and shared. A science teacher in Western Washington provides guidance, and an amazing retired teacher reads the story. Within one week, the mom, courageous son, and darling kindergarten daughter find themselves on a road trip to Seattle from Spokane. The amazing retired teacher opens her home, hosts the family for their stay, and they are invited to a retired teacher’s dinner. The courageous son is asked to speak.
None other than Randy Dorn, Superintendent of OSPI, would also be in attendance at the retirement dinner.
The evening of May 26, 2015 begins and the climax of the story arrives.
The courageous junior is introduced, hands Superintendent Dorn a letter, and takes the mike.
In two minutes he Beheads the EOC Biology Test:
And his letter completely slays the beast:
Dear Superintendent Dorn,
My name is Tomie Leeds; I am currently a junior attending John R. Rogers High School. I am writing to you today about my experience with the problems that the EOC testing has created for many others and me. I have felt extreme tension due to the qualifications that have been put on my graduation and future progress.
Speaking for many other students and myself, I think its safe to say, that we are angry, irritated, and being considered “Not College Ready”, because we are not able to pass one or more of the EOC tests required for graduation.
I have currently taken the EOC Biology test twice and have gotten the scores of “385” and “390”. Although these are high numbers, they don’t meet the requirements of a “passing” score of “400” – which is required for being able to graduate with a High School Diploma! In the event of failing once, or multiple times, it is a stressful and seemingly impossible road when trying to study for any of the EOC tests or retests. Our teachers are required to “prepare” their students to be ready for the test, but they aren’t privy to what will be in the test, are not allowed to review the tests, or to grade them. How then, can a teacher truly be able to “prepare” others, or myself to be ready for testing!?!
I’d like to address my own testing failures. I have taken the Biology EOC 2 times, and failed, as previously mentioned. I will take it again on Thursday when I return home to Spokane. However, I have no idea what I got right and what I got wrong the last two times, so I am unsure how to prepare this time or on future preparations and test taking, in the event that I fail again.
Mr. Dorn, I am not a stranger to working hard and pressing through. Until 3 ½ years ago I was being raised in an abusive, neglectful, and unsanitary environment (to be gentle). I had not attended most of the 7th grade, but “No Child Left Behind” sent me through to the 8th grade. I dropped out of the 8th grade just weeks after it began and locked myself in a “safe place” in my room and disappeared into a role-playing video game for hours and days on end. In February of 2012 I relocated to Washington State where I moved in with my Uncle Michael and his wife Jenn. I attended only 6 weeks of the 8th grade, and because I had a 3.5 GPA, again, they pushed me through to attend High School. I completed my freshman year with a 3.975 GPA. At that point it was decided that I ”must be bored out of his head” and I was then placed and have been placed in honors and AP classes ever since. This has not been easy for me but I have done well. I am not a 4.0 perfect scoring student. I don’t believe I am just average either. I have performed to the best of my abilities, with a lot of push from Jenn. But recently, having learned that my opportunity to graduate was on the line because of EOC testing, not even Jenn’s pushing was helping.
To be honest, sir, I had given up. It felt like it didn’t matter what I did or didn’t do because no amount of success and achievement on my part would compensate for failing the EOC in any of the 3 areas. I am an individual with abilities that do not match anyone else. My testing in class should be sufficient and if I pass, I pass. My success, or passing grade is not the result of my teacher’s abilities or lack thereof. My success and my failure have everything to do with what I put into my education. I am fortunate to not have learning disabilities, to not have been born under the influence of drugs or alcohol or to live homeless, though my situation was close. But, there are many that have been. These testing and forms of Education “reform” makes it impossible for those to meet the standards of “passing” scores unless the education system is brought to their level. Education is and should continue to be a limitless universe of possibilities. It should be designed or returned to the education that encourages fun in learning, flexibility to teach and discover at an individual level while meeting the class as a whole in the middle somewhere. Education cannot be confined to a tiny, limited space. Put a goldfish in a bowl and he will grow only to his spatial limits, but give him a tank or fresh water pond and his size is limitless. Each child from my little sister in kindergarten to myself and beyond has all been given different talents, levels of ability both physically and academically. We cannot sit and think that each child born is simply a number to be passed through a system of data and data regurgitation. We need each child to be seen as what they are, an individual with limitless possibilities that will vary from one to another with the opportunity to succeed as such!
It is my hope that my family’s visit today will help to make this process begin in a direction that reform becomes restore. I would appreciate a written response from you to my inquiries and concerns. Thank you for your time and I’ll be looking forward to your response.
Tomie E.T. Leeds
Junior at John R. Rogers High School
RAZ ON FIRE