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Sat Jul 5, 2014, 05:10 PM

Gotta love this Florida mom. Supports teachers, slams TPTB for testing extremism.

She takes her kids out of public schools because of the experience of her 3rd grader with the new infusion of Common Core into the curriculum. She has been involved in the education of all of her 5 children, appreciates teachers, recognizes the true problems are coming from higher up sources.

First she wrote a letter to Governor Scott, Mr. Griffin, Mrs. Stewart, David Simmons, Karen Castor Dentel, Mr. Agosto and Mrs. Brouillard and Seminole County School Board Members. She posted it at her personal blog. By a few weeks ago it had over 150,000 views, and most were totally supportive.

The 2nd link is from the Tampa Bay Times with a video and an interview.

From her blog:

Why I am pulling my kids from public elementary school: a letter to the powers that be.

You see, I’ve been okay with FCAT…show what you know, I get it….some sort of accountability. That was until this year. My third grade son, Jackson, the fourth of my four boys has had mostly As, a scattering of Bs through his Bear Lake career, much like his brothers. However, he has had the Discovery Education tests added to his school year. I saw his score on DE in first grade and it was scary low, in the 20s. But he had 1s and his teacher said that she knows him and he was doing fine with nothing to worry about. Same thing in 2nd grade, though, knowing that FCAT was looming, I began to panic a bit. We read out loud together each night through the summer, talked about the books as we read and I believed that that would pay off on the first DE test of 3rd grade because he was doing really well. I was wrong. His first DE test was similar to others but now his teachers start panicking because their pay depends on it. He is sent to remedial LEAP and ultimately a math pullout group. All the while, he has mostly As and a few Bs.

....Shouldn’t I, as a 40 year old mom with an education degree, whose current job is to write instructional lessons for adults, be able to take a test for 8 and 9 year olds in a matter of minutes without thought or “oh, wait, that’s not right?!” moments? Yes, I should, but that was not the case. If I can defend how two answers are correct on a question, then the test is flawed.

I haven't seen the new test from Pearson, but I taught the 4th grade when FCAT began. I also could see problems that seemed to have a couple of answers, some that seemed to have none at all.....my test monitors later told me they were stymied.

Why should we have felt that way? Something wrong there....the Mom is right.

Jackson’s brothers had 4s and 5s on all their FCATs, perhaps a 3 thrown in here and there. All of which I accepted without hesitation. FCAT was no big deal in our house. They’re smart boys, we are involved parents, they have no stress, their lives are good. But now I pause. Did Carson not make it into GEMS because of an inverse operation problem that my mother-in-law, the former LBHS Pre-Calculus teacher, said was flawed on the 3rd grade test? The problem that my husband, a Georgia Tech graduate, said that there had to be a typo because the right answer wasn’t there? On a THIRD grade problem? Suddenly I want to see my kids tests, see where they went wrong, see what they did right, but parents aren’t afforded that option and neither are teachers. If the test is truly a good indicator of student ability, then the parents and teachers should be able to see the actual test and the student work to help the students moving forward?

She found a item on practice tests and had her 10th grade gifted son read it. She tried to find the grade level, but she was surprised.

I typed the whole thing into a grade and reading level decoder and it averaged at 10th grade with all its indicators. For my 8 year old. In fact, I gave it to my “gifted” 10th grader to read and he looked at it for a minute and tossed it aside because he didn’t want to have to really think for the 3rd grade work.

She puts the blame on the testing atmosphere where it belongs.

The test emphasis is coming from the higher-ups, the State and Federal Government (that’s another topic all together). I get it. I do not blame the school or the county. Obama’s “Race to the Top” dictates these tests and Common Core through funding. But education is not a race – it is a journey – why must we hurry it along?

In June she was asked to contribute to the Tampa Bay Times. There is a good video there of the mother speaking.

Why I'm pulling my kids out of public school (video)

This post is a condensed version of her original letter, but it gives a chance to post something important from it.

This brings us to the elephant in the room. Common Core, or the Florida Standards which are aligned to Common Core. The materials remain the same. Jackson has the same text books as his cousin in California. It all sounds great. It is nice that kids can move on a Friday from New Jersey and go to school in California the following Monday and pick up right where they left off. And every kid will be career and college ready at the end of high school and all on the same page? SIGN ME UP.

It sounds fantastic when you gloss over it like that. But let's really look at our implementation of Common Core. I've seen it first hand with my third grader this year. Jackson's first- and second-grade lessons were based on the older curriculum. This year a new curriculum is thrown in. Teach it with "fidelity," Seminole County tells teachers — that means that they used only the Pearson materials (you know, the Pearson that has spent nearly $4.4 million in lobbying in recent years) and only Pearson materials, for the first 12 weeks of the school year. And get this, then we'll use the FCAT 2.0 which is aligned with the former standards to decide if this group of third graders is worthy of fourth-grade placement.

Only Pearson materials for the first 12 weeks? And yes, they did give the old FCAT test at the end of the year which had nothing to do with the new Common Core curriculum they were learning. Wow, that is really good planning on the part of the county.

Today's public school atmosphere is all about accountability and not about the actual needs of the child. Not everything in education can be quantified. Teacher pay is being affected by those factors, factors that they cannot control. Art and music teachers are being "graded" on how well the kids who come to them once every seven days do on their math and language arts FCAT. That is nonsense.

The goal of education is to foster the child's fullest potential. I'm lucky, I guess. My kids generally do fit into your perfect little box because they pass tests, they never get into trouble, they will do "fine" at whatever curriculum you throw at them. But I want them to be excited about some aspects of learning, I want my kids in high school to take some classes because the topic interests them without the threat of failing a standardized test associated with an elective.

I think I love this lady. I had a few like her when I was teaching....they helped me survive the punitive kind of administration the last several years before I retired.

6 replies, 1718 views

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Reply Gotta love this Florida mom. Supports teachers, slams TPTB for testing extremism. (Original post)
madfloridian Jul 2014 OP
femmocrat Jul 2014 #1
madfloridian Jul 2014 #6
madfloridian Jul 2014 #2
BrotherIvan Jul 2014 #3
madfloridian Jul 2014 #4
BrotherIvan Jul 2014 #5

Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Sat Jul 5, 2014, 05:18 PM

1. She is very knowledgable about the problems that teachers face.

Unfortunately, most parents do not have the background to decipher the tangled web of standards, testing, accountability, etc. If they could see what testing really does to the children and the curriculum, many would feel the same as this mother.

Elementary school today is a far cry from when the parents attended in the 1980s and 90s.

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Response to femmocrat (Reply #1)

Sun Jul 6, 2014, 09:42 AM

6. Probably right.

And the worst part is that those who pay attention the least blame the teacher, never their kid.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Sat Jul 5, 2014, 06:29 PM

2. Posted this at DKos.


On the rec list, at least temporarily...they don't stay too long as a rule.

That pleases me, because the last one I posted got hit by those who mindlessly repeat....if you don't support reforms you support the "failed status quo". So tired of that.

It's been a major talking point since day one...the favorite of the privatizers.

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Response to madfloridian (Original post)

Sat Jul 5, 2014, 09:01 PM

3. If I had school aged children I would consider private school as well

These students are being deprived of a first-rate education. If you want your child to learn how to take a test, then it's good for that. But I would probably move to Europe first.

Parents have the most skin in the game. They need to get very involved and quit buying this crap.

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Response to BrotherIvan (Reply #3)

Sat Jul 5, 2014, 09:46 PM

4. Trouble is in FL there are no regulations on private schools.

They can hire who they want, teach what they want. There are some good ones of course.

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Response to madfloridian (Reply #4)

Sat Jul 5, 2014, 09:47 PM

5. Absolutely agree and religious schools as well

I'm glad I don't have to make that choice. Plus it is so expensive it is out of reach for almost everyone. Just burns me up that we've let it get so bad!

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