Meet the Teacher Night 2012
l teach fifth grade in a small suburban K-6 district and last night was our meet the teacher night. I had several options before me, give my standard spiel on my procedures and expectations , explain the new Common Core State Standards, or educate parents on how, so called , education reform, will really affect their children. I had to decide whether or not I was willing to choose this mountain to take a stand.
Please keep in mind, I work in a very conservative Republican district. It is so conservative, that when President Obama gave his famous speech to students at the start of his first school year as president, I was given a directive not to show that speech to my students. After much debate, I was threatened with insubordination charges if I dared to show that speech. ( Just so you know, I read the speech to my class, I posted President Obama’s picture with an excerpt from the speech in my classroom, and it’s still there since 2009.)
After much contemplation as to what to present to parents, I decided to do all three. I went for that mountaintop. I give a quick run down on procedures and expectations. I then explained the new Common Core State Standards, and went on to educate them on how, so called , education reform, will really affect their children.
I explained to these parents that this year will be like no other. I went through how the Common Core assumes that their children have skills that they don’t have yet. I explained how they must robotic-ally answer questions with specifics from texts while leaving out their own personal feelings. Because as David Coleman has stated, no body gives a sheet as to what you feel. I explained how their children will have to learn a new expanded math curriculum and that I need to teach more than one lesson a day at times, because there aren’t enough days to teach 1 lesson per day before the ‘big test’. I told them that learning how to divide fractions is now not enough, their children will have to create models to demonstrate how that actually works. All because someone thinks that’s what is done in the real world.
When I described how New York State now has a new teacher evaluation program called APPR, I could see some parents were quite uncomfortable. I then explained to them that APPR will rob their children of lesson time. I showed them how I must take attendance 5-6 times each day to collect data , and how at 1 minute each it would rob their children of the time equal to 9 lessons. I then informed that of all the testing that their children will have to endure and that is designed to test teachers rather their children. I told them that their children could lose up to 90 lessons this school year due to APPR tests, data, training, grading and more.
Our school was labeled a “Reward School” this year. That means that out of over 4600 public schools in NYS, our school was one of approximately 230 that were rated at the very top. Despite this, we are being treated as if we don’t know how to teach, our teachers must be evaluated to weed out the possible ineffective ones, and their children are not doing well enough.
I informed these parents that it was time for them to get involved. It was time to step up and contact those at the state level that this path we are on is leading the wrong way.
Needless to say, there were some parents who were quite upset.
Hopefully not with me. It looks like it could be a wild ride this year. Stay tuned.