About Raz

Hi.About Raz

I’m Raz.

… 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

About Raz 3My son is a third grader…  the first year he will be subject 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.

About Raz 3I 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 25 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 26 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 (90%) elementary school in Spokane, Washington.

Common Core and Testing

With the onset of the five-year old Common Core State Standards, and my observance of the impact these 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.

Ugh.

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.

About Raz 4On 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

20 thoughts on “About Raz

  1. Pardon me, I was referring to the crying pig cartoon with the teacher’s letter to the principal. However, the content of your blog is top notch and you have a great background in education. I am very happy to subscribe to your blog and thank you for your contribution to education and for informing teachers, parents and public education advocates so well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Sandra… I’m giggling a little. The picture is horrid. I utilized the picture in the context of my letter… the mandated, constant testing is harmful enough to be captured with this horrid picture. I feel those tears in myself, my fellow teachers, and our precious children.

      Like

      1. too cutesy and silly for such a well written letter. When I shared your post on my facebook page, I used a more professional looking image. Perhaps you should have just folded it into the essay without making it the lead image.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Loved your satire on baby walking at 6 months. One of my teammates can’t stop talking about it. So funny, but yet sad as I can see where we might be heading if major changes are not made. Glad to see you started your blog, I remember seeing the comments you made on a Schoolhouse Live Event, I think back in October, and you said you wanted to start a blog. You have a great start! If you need material, I would be happy to chat.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Raz, I would like to say thank you for fighting against Common Core. Secondly I saw an article about leaving you a story about a child’s experience with Common Core. I’m not sure if this is the place to leave it but here it goes.
    The first year when my son was introduced to Common Core he was in 5th grade. That year he started having panic attacks in the morning before school that I would let him stay home. He missed alot of school days that year. So much that I got a warning letter that to many missed days then the proper authorities would have to start looking into his absences. It was because of Common Core not from neglect. After that warning letter I made sure I took him to the doctor for even the sniffles just so I had a doctor’s note. It scared me seeing him crying that his chest hurts. At that time I didn’t know why so I took him to a cardiologist and they put him on a heart monitor for a few days. Now after that year he’s not getting panic attacks and it’s not that he understands Common Core because he still don’t. It’s because he don’t care or respect education anymore. He struggles only a little to get the lowest passing grade. Panic attacks for a child is a very scary thing.Thanks Cuomo for destroying my son’s desire for education, to strive to be the best he can be and for killing his desire to learn.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing your story. I do believe this is happening to many of our children. I hope you are opting your child out of the state tests. Have you found a good support group where you live to learn more about your options?

      -Raz

      Like

  4. I was extremely impressed with the spoof you had on the Core Curriculum from Peeta’s point of view. It was what brought me to your site. I do not have school age children anymore but I hope to be a grandmother one day. What we are doing to our educational system is absolutely frightening! I have many teacher friends who have convinced me that all our children are doing is learning how to take tests. That is not education! What ever happened to reading, writing and arithmetic? I will definitely follow your blog and help any way I can in your fight to change this!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello RAZ, I am the lead contact for Grandparents Against High Stakes Testing (aka–AGAHST) and a steering committee member for Parents Across America Oregon (the first state-wide chapter in the nation). We are sponsoring a visit by Dr. David C. Berliner to Portland, OR the last week in March. He is coming to help kickoff our Myth Busting Public Ed. Forum Series (Berliner is co-author of “50 Myths & Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools: the Real Crisis in Education”. Would you be interested in participating in this series in the future?
    We are just getting this up and going. We have a producer connected to 3 community media studios in our county. We have taped psa’s and a forum “One Size Does Not Fit All” which are now available on YouTube.
    If you are interested, I think we can share psa’s, lectures, forums etc. remotely, and at times meet advocates from the NW for a regional share/plan session.
    Paul “Pat” Eck

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I would like to meet you, if possible. I was a teacher at Rogers for two years. Before that I taught in Tacoma. After winning the Milken, Terry Bergeson asked me to come work for her. She didn’t get re-elected but Randy Dorn promoted me to cabinet. I left just as CCSS was being implemented. I am not in favor of the SBA. I have watched the devastation to our most vulnerable children. I am NOT in favor of a cookie cutter approach to learning or expecting every student to be in the same place at the same time. We talk about differentiation but then have expectations (particularly in math) that everyone be on the same lesson (especially in elementary and middle) at the same time.

    There’s so much more…

    I am running for OSPI and, like you, I am one who appreciates listening to and hearing from as many people and perspectives as possible. I would love to connect with you when I’m in Spokane in June.

    What’s the best way to connect with you?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Erin. I am familiar with your work and know you are running for State Superintendent. I know how misinformation can be spread and believe the truth needs to be fully exposed. There are those worried you promote data collection of children and the tests… I would love to meet and hear your response. I worked on some state committees while Dr. Terry Bergeson was State Superintendent. – Raz DivineSparkIgnites@yahoo.com

      Liked by 1 person

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