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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Schools shouldn't be one size fits all

From Build Better

by Mellisa Jones

Parents, it’s time to wake up and take a good, hard look at our school system. Is this standardized, one size fits all education what we really want for our non standard kids? I, for one, am done being complacent. I’m not allowing my children to take “the test” in the high stakes testing game. It’s just the first step in the right direction. Now I find myself needing to address the fact that my childrens’ entire school year boils down to test prep for the big test. I know this is the case because our district advertises its use of “aligned curricula”. Aligned to what? Take a guess! Instead of CSAP simply being a tool to measure what our kids are learning, it’s become the curriculum. Textbook publishers align their materials to reflect the standards on state tests. It’s called teaching to the test, it’s what our school district does, and it’s at the disservice of our kids. Schools exist to serve children and their needs, not to satisfy government standards and line the pockets of McGraw-Hill.

Take a look at the Mapleton school district in Thornton. They’ve transformed their schools into magnets, each offering something unique, and giving parents and children real choice. So we can do this another way! Check out Jefferson County Open School. It’s a public school. Who’s to say we can’t reinvent one of ours here in Greeley into that model? It can be done! Let’s all start talking to each other about what we really want for our kids. What does real learning look like? How do you know it’s happening? Can it be measured on a standardized test? Why should that be the goal? Don’t our children deserve more?

Students are not all the same. An educational approach that reduces learning to a uniform set of measurable indicators is wrong. Talk to other parents, bring up the issue at PTO meetings, imagine something new and exciting! The time has come to pull our heads from the sand and look at our schools with a critical eye. Don’t accept things as they are because you assume the experts know best. Parents, teachers, and students are the experts. Let’s all take our rightful place at the table, roll up our sleeves, and get to work in reclaiming our children’s education. It belongs to them, not the state, not the feds, not the politicians and businessmen. It’s our job as parents to take back that control.

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