… and I am on fire.
RAZ ON FIRE.
I am a wife, a mommy, and an educator.
I am concerned.
Very, very concerned.
“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” –Albert Einstein
My son is a sixth grader… and has never been subjected to the Smarter Balance Assessment (SBA). I have made the choice to opt him out of this assessment because I believe it to be an invalid and unreliable test. I also consider it to be developmentally inappropriate. The portion of the brain that reasons is not solidified for most children until around 12 years old. Children are developing the capacity to reason, compare, and analyze through life experiences and solid instruction. However, to be measured for mastery on these things too early is inappropriate and setting children up for failure. My son is a bright, curious, and creative boy. I’m not interested in contributing to the standardization of our children.
I feel I have an ethical obligation to make a courageous stand for all children throughout our country. This is where I put on my educator hat. I have spent 28.5 years teaching young children how to learn and understand mathematics. Did the people who wrote the mathematics portion of the Common Core Standards have any early childhood education under their belts? Nope. Three of them had “some” secondary experience, and the others? Drum roll please…. business men and women who work for educational businesses and the testing industry.
Here are just a few tidbits regarding my educational background:
I am an accomplished 29.5 year educator recognized with the National Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics, National Congressional Teacher Scholar, National Christa McAuliffe Fellowship Award, United States Senate Innovative Teacher Award, and the Washington State Christa McAuliffe Teaching Award. I was one of the first 60 educators to achieve National Board Certification in Washington State in 2001. I attended University of Washington and then transferred to Whitworth University completing a Bachelor of Arts in Education with endorsements in Elementary Education, Special Education, Mathematics, and Psychology. I then went on to do my graduate work at Gonzaga University (Go Zags!) and achieved a Master’s Degree in Teaching with an emphasis in Mathematics.
I taught several years of self-contained 4th – 6th grade at the elementary level, was in a middle school for three years teaching 6th grade, mathematics, and had a section of special education mathematics. I created a SMART Lab and a SMART Museum in two elementary schools in which I saw all 1st through 4th grade classes for integrated science, math, and technology instruction. I’ve been a math specialist and coach in several schools, taught K-4 math intervention for four years, and was a District Math Coordinator K-12 for three years.
I was also featured in the book, “Teachers with the Courage To Give,” edited by Jackie Waldman. My short story is captured in Chapter 21, Pages 95-98.
I am currently a math specialist and a K-6 instructional math coach in a high poverty (95%) elementary school in Spokane, Washington.
Common Core and Testing
With the onset of the Common Core State Standards, and my observance of the impact they are having upon our classrooms and children, my concern has heightened to alarming levels. Programs are seeping into our schools lock stepping teachers into rigid instruction. Children are taking even more tests to prepare for the big “Test”. All this under the guise that we are preparing them for college. So…. the children are stuffed like turkeys… and only what is measurable weighed.
Only what is weighed…. counts.
Test. Test. Test.
Weigh. Weigh. Weigh.
Weighing the turkey does not make it fatter. Feeding it does.
Teaching and Learning
I believe our classrooms should be living, breathing museums of discovery, thought, and imagination. Our classrooms need to be alive with science and inquiry and filled with the history of our nation. Learning is exciting and fun. Young children are capable of incredible things and the current “Common Core Aligned Programs” are boring and dry. Fortunately, teachers are amazing people, and although they are drowning implementing these new programs, many are shifting their practice to do what they know is right for kids. Following the programs as written will kill children’s natural curiosity and love of learning.
On a personal note…
Raz lives in Spokane, Washington with her husband and son. In the current educational climate she decompresses by watching her son play basketball and soccer, going to the lake, power walking, and devouring books of all kinds.
Most recently… she has been reading way too much… researching way too much… about the impact Common Core is having upon school districts across our nation as well as whom is profiting off the backs of our children.
My real name means Divine Spark…
And I am IGNITING.
RAZ ON FIRE