The Silence of the Teachers… While the Lambs are Slaughtered

The last day of the SBA test for my school was this past Friday.  There may be a few makeups and loose ends to tie… but for all sakes and purposes we all made it through another Hurricane Season.  The “Testing Coordinator” for our school, a teacher who maintained her real job during the storm, ripped the testing schedule into tiny pieces in celebration as a handful of us looked on.  The pressure this test creates in our schools is indescribable.  The time it steals from real and joyful learning even more tragic.

And the silencing of the teachers … is loud.

One teacher expressed on their personal Facebook page:

“Right now in our state hundreds of thousands of students and tens of thousands of educators are engaged in giving or taking a test. None of those adults or students involved – and the students are as young as eight – may ever discuss what was on the test. This thing that the state and federal government has spent literally billions developing and implementing can’t be discussed by those involved in it. If they do, the kids could have their scores invalidated, educators could lose their licenses and, if they talk about it in some ways, they could be sued by the corporations that created the tests. Educators can be punished if they suspect someone is talking about it and they don’t report that.

Vast numbers of people compelled to never discuss the specifics of days they spent in school, under threat of punishment, and to report on those who might be talking.

When did this become normal? Acceptable?”

Exactly.

When DID this become normal? Acceptable?

The public at large must grasp the silence being imposed on professionals and children.  Any of us involved in the testing in any way had to do a proctor training.  Thank Golly our testing coordinator whittled down the PowerPoint sent out by OSPI (Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction) from over 100 slides to about 50.  Still… we are in the business of teaching… and yet this is just another time zapper robbing educators of precious planning time and a hoop we all must jump through.

Then… we all must sign “The Form” swearing our “Oath to Secrecy”.

See:

We walk up and down the aisles, ensuring there is no cheating, pat a few shoulders of the students sighing throughout the five hours of testing in ONE day (knowing they will face three more), wipe tears off the faces of those who cry, clean the vomit from the mouths of children who can not handle the stress, and deal with escalated behavior problems during the testing window.

Reality.

But, Alas!… We have the Badass Teachers (BATs) who resist this slaughtering of our precious lambs.  We are shouting from the rooftops about how insane this system has become and exposing this mental child abuse for what it is.

One fourth grade BAT tried to resist signing “The Oath to Secrecy Form”…

She writes:

“I just went through this at school. Threatened to NOT SIGN the non-disclosure statement. Talked with admin as well as local and state union reps. Ultimately was assured that I could speak out anytime anywhere, but could not QUOTE secure content. We need parents, our union leadership, legislators, and anyone else in positions of influence to be active in this issue. WHO gets to see their secure content that is so creating the data that is DRIVING decisions affecting kids’ lives? Driving school ratings. Driving real estate values. Apparently I don’t, or I risk being fired for insubordination.”

Albert Einstein Quote

A few weeks ago a teacher came into my office and said, “I know we aren’t suppose to talk about anything on the test, but the performance task my students just had to complete today was horrible.”  It did not align with the Common Core “Standard” for her grade level, and the readability level was above the student’s current grade level.

See:

Then there is this strange world for those of us who read the test to students.

I personally had the awful “pleasure” of reading some of the SBA to a few students this year.  They are on IEPs and it is an accommodation.  Think about it.  I read the test items to students, but I sign a form saying I won’t look at or discuss the items.

Twilight Zone Strange.

And from my humble and professional judgment, many of the test items were outright ridiculous.  I found myself saying, “Wait, What?” on more than one occasion… and I’m an adult with a Master’s Degree… not a special needs child or an eight, nine, or ten year old.

Sigh.

Another teacher puts it this way:

finger whisper“I am one of those who lives in the strange world of reading ‘the test’ to students who have IEP accommodations. What I read makes me frustrated, crazy, and sad. Its even worse for the students I teach. Ever since the testing mania started in our state (think WASL), I have had students melt to tears at some point during testing. But I’m not supposed to talk about that.”

What is all this demand for silence about?

Giving an assessment is suppose to inform a teacher’s instruction…  allow teachers to analyze strengths and weakness of their students.  If a test is given in which:

  • test items are above grade level in readability
  • the testing platform is complicated
  • the interfaces of the test intricate
  • it expects children to type answers when they don’t know how to type
  • children are tested to the point of exhaustion
  • test items can not be analyzed by the very people who give it

Then…

What. Is. The. Point?

Another teacher laments:

“It is a travesty, a rape of public education by the corporate elite. Fear tactics to destroy public education. Let’s get back to teaching and learning in engaging, creative ways. Nobody wants to be a teacher anymore. Where is the fun?”

As our precious lambs are led to the Testing Slaughter Houses… teachers, the one’s entrusted with our children, are silenced.

lambs-2-slaughter

*All educators quoted gave permission to use their words and are in classrooms across Washington State.

*We will not be silenced.

Passionately Submitted,

RAZ ON FIRE

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15 thoughts on “The Silence of the Teachers… While the Lambs are Slaughtered

  1. There is no virtue in making children so brave that they might withstand the idiocy of adults. Nor is there any virtue in lying to children so as to protect adult ridiculousness. And when adults trip over their own commandments and reason away the subtle wounding of children … then they themselves have committed a great sin.

    What has become of us? Why have we arrived at this moment when children become fair game in an adult controversy? Instinct tells us never to place children in the middle of a muddle. But here we are. And teachers are nearly voiceless.

    Where is the wisdom in gluing children to desks for hours as they squirm their way through some asinine educational gauntlet that has no real purpose other than to pay homage to some testing god? Who thought that a good idea? Where are the teacher voices?

    Moreover, how is that testing has been elevated to the modern Baal … a false educational god? Test are instruments. Informing instruments. They should never have such impact for children of this age. Do I hear any objections from teachers? A teacher uproar?

    Should the fragility of childhood be so manhandled by pseudo-educators who have never spent a full week in a real classroom? Is this healthy stuff? And why do teaching professionals stand for this?

    That state officials and disconnected bureaucrats … who no nothing of classrooms and learning and children … are now pounding out edict after edict in legalese no less! … is proof-positive that this entire reform has traveled into a special and frightening Twilight Zone. And teachers slog through their instructions … and squirm to their own finish lines.

    Regardless of what chest-thumping officials might demand or even push out for public consumption, teachers are the real deal in education. And they know the real story of every child they teach. And they don’t need torture-tests to inform them of anything that will actually help them … or their students … in their classrooms. In fact, they need to be left alone.

    Left alone by suddenly inspired politicians, beard-scratching eggheads, and pencil-pushing bureaucrats who … as a team … wouldn’t be able to locate a light switch in a classroom.

    State governments and their bureaucratic mechanics have sabotaged teachers and their classrooms with this race to testing madness … and caught up in this warped competition for control are these small learners.

    For every reformer out there … some loud advice. There is no undiscovered Holy Grail of education … and testing is not the new elixir of learning. This mad rush to reinvent what does not need re-inventing has been foamed by monied entrepreneurs and whored-out politicians and then packaged by an out-of-control federal government.

    For teachers … some obvious advice. If you stand by and allow these educational saboteurs to shred your profession and malign your reputations, then, perhaps, you are worthy of the ugliness that is in your near future. You had better take a cue from those irate and resisting parents that have coalesced all across the country. They’re rushing to the aid of their children. You’ll have to rush to the aid of your own profession. And your own livelihoods. You are the masters of your own destiny.

    For every politician out there … some very loud advice. Stop complicating that which needs no complicating … and for God’s sakes, get out of the way of those professionals who live with these young learners week after week after week. Teachers and parents should be the ultimate arbiters of a child’s performance and progress decisions … not some squinty-eyed bureaucrat or some half-informed politician. The state should never cast such a dark shadow.

    For children, school is a majestic cathedral. A near shrine where every minute should be crammed with as much wonder as a minute might hold. To disturb that atmosphere is to violate the inviolate,

    A school has no place or space for anyone unable to plug into their memory bank for recollections of their own childhood. If one cannot stay linked with the memories of their own past, perhaps they shouldn’t be in the memory-making business at all.

    Denis Ian

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Raz – thank you so much for featuring BATs in this story. We do work very hard as an organization to shine a light on this abuse. I would like to reblog this on our blog if that is OK. – Marla Kilfoyle, Executive Director The Badass Teachers Association.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Well done, insightful, spot on. My child did not suffer this year, we kept her home for 17 days to avoid this CRAP ABUSE. HOWEVER, the teachers are administering the poison, and they are ALLOWING themselves to SILENCED. These are the very people who need to STOP being pushed around? Do Teachers have a moral stopping point? I mean really, if they are asked to administer poison, or beatings, are they going to do that too? I know I am going to get some people angry with this, so be it. This is abuse of children, and the teachers know it, and yet they serve it up. If they would all get together and revolt, fight back, then maybe it will stop. Maybe not, but at least the teachers would know in their hearts that they tried, and they could live with themselves. I have no respect left for the teachers who are silenced and DO NOTHING

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    1. Many of us are doing something Julia… and more are coming on board. I often think about the Hunger Games and how The Capital used fear to keep every one under their control. I think of the first year teachers through third year teachers who are probationary… and they can be fired with no real reason. We are told we can not speak about Opt Out during contract hours… to do so would be insubordination. Many are finding ways. Just like Katniss did.

      -Raz

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  4. I retired last June, for a number of good reasons. I miss my students, I miss my friends, I miss “Read Aloud” and holidays and morning meeting. But I have never felt freer than I do now. I am happy to scream out to parents, readers, friends: OPT OUT. And to report on the fact that teachers are now living under what sounds to me like totalitarian rule.
    Be strong. Be sarcastic. Tell parents what you think through your facial expressions and through what you don’t say.
    I remember once telling a group of parents, “Under the law, I’m not allowed to tell you any specifics about why I’m so against these tests. But if I could tell you what’s on them, you’d be horrified.”

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi Kellianne,
        I started attended school board meetings, town hall meetings, senate hearings, writing legislators, making dates to meet with them personally, and of course this blog. Show up. Sign up to speak. It is scary at first, but once I signed up, I knew my name would be called. I just wrote a simple message with questions and then walked up to the people and left them a copy of an article with links to information I felt they needed to have.

        My Best to You. This is about our Nations Future. I’ve protected my child, but we must be a voice for others.

        A Tiny Spark Can Burst a Flame,
        Raz

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      2. Great question! As parents, you have a voice that teachers can’t use. Write to your local papers, write and call your school board, write and call your state dept. of education and all of your elected officials. Talk to other parents and get them to do the same. The teachers will (silently) love you for it, and you will be advocating for the kids. Good luck!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I get all the hype about the test or agunging of takin test….so what is the big ordeal……if youre no longer a Teacher, then say it….”whats on this test?” .,..it sounds more like an evluation of sorts. Our childrens freedom right being violated?…are they being threaten in any way?….parents and public cannot help you…if you keep this to your self. Someone needs to speak up!

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    1. Hi Christina, I am unclear of your intent in your comment. I would like to hear more. Parents and the public can help by reading and becoming informed. By attending school board meeting and paying attention to who they are voting into office. Parents do have a loud voice and many have made changes in their states by using it. I appreciate your contribution Christina. I always learn and gain perspective.

      -Raz

      Like

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