Cold nights, warm bed
I got involved with the Hood River Warming Shelter program last year as a volunteer. It is one of those experiences that just leaves you feeling good. To be able to offer someone a warm cot on a cold night is a small thing to those of us with our own beds. But getting a chance to be warm and dry for awhile is everything to them. There are a variety of shifts available starting in the early evening. My personal choice is the late night when all I need to do is be there in a comfortable chair with my book and computer. There is Wifi available. All that is required is a little generosity of spirit. Please contact the Site Coordinators at email@example.com for more information.
A vision of peace
What an inspiration it was this Sunday to see the people in Paris and France join together to say, “Je Suis Charlie!” This was a spontaneous people’s march — people of different faiths and ethnic backgrounds, the “silent majority” — more than 2.5 million people who came out on the street to show their unity. People like us.
It was a wonderful image, a vision to hold on to — all people working together in peace, standing for freedom with respect for others. Even though we may not see each other out on the street, I believe, the majority of us share this vision. That it will live on in our imagination in the coming years.
Good job, Obama
News flash: I am not a fan of Obama, but that being said, it gets me when the news media blasts Obama for not going to Paris to support France after the shootings. I did not see French or any of the leaders of any other nation standing on US soil after 911, so I say good job Mr. President.
Standardized testing a disservice
Standardized testing in schools has become increasingly harmful to your children and your public schools for reasons including unwarranted stress on children, loss of instructional time, and narrowing of curriculum. Recently, Superintendent Goldman extolled the virtues of Common Core Standards and Smarter Balance standardized tests. If he had stopped with Common Core, I wouldn’t be writing. Since these standards are new, teachers’ opinions are still developing. In general, though, teachers support and maintain high standards for students — provided they are developmentally appropriate.
However, the overwhelming majority of educators working directly with children believe our decades long experiment in high stakes standardized testing is not only a complete failure but also harmful to children — so harmful that some Hood River teachers are taking the extraordinary step of exempting their own children from testing.
Supt. Goldman states he is “willing to be disturbed if it means [he] can help our children succeed later on.” The problem with this statement is that there is absolutely no evidence these new tests — any more than the previous tests — will help our children succeed. What we know for certain, however, is that we now spend more time assessing our students and less time instructing. I hear from our high school that we set aside 16 hours for each student to complete testing. For the fourth graders I teach, we anticipate 6 to 8 hours. Additionally, there will be test-taking practice, and administration has other assessments for even more practice. It is likely that by the end of the year, an elementary student will spend more time practicing and taking standardized tests than in PE or Music. The amount of time, money, and effort we put into standardized testing is truly disturbing, and a huge disservice to our children.
We agree wholeheartedly with Supt. Goldman regarding the lack of resources. Oregon ranks 46th lowest in funding relative to GDP. If we aspire to lofty standards, policymakers need to be serious about providing adequate resources.
If you desire more information on exempting your child from harmful standardized testing, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
President, Hood River
Standardized tests not working
In his Jan. 6 Another Voice letter, (Superintendent) Dan Goldman left out that the Common Core State Standards were designed, in part, to circumvent federal restrictions on the adoption of a national curriculum, hence the insertion of the word “state” in the brand name.
States were coerced into adopting the Common Core by requirements attached to the federal Race to the Top grants and, later, the No Child Left Behind waivers.
For an eye-opening and historical review of how and why the Common Core was created and adopted, including a thorough look at the implications for our children, read “The Problems with the Common Core” by Stan Karp, found on rethinkingschools.org. This article is one of many that sheds light on the politics behind the top down, market-driven engine driving the Common Core, including details on who created it, the billionaire-financed marketing campaign in support of it, its long-term funding credibility and much more.
After a decade of testing showing that millions of students could not meet the NCLB standards, the founders of Common Core have further increased standards, putting our most vulnerable students (English learners, learning disabled, etc.) at risk. It is a myth that more rigor equates to more or better learning as Fairtest.org offers: “If a child struggles to clear the high bar at five feet, she will not become a ‘world class’ jumper because someone raised the bar to six feet and yelled ‘jump higher,’ or if her ‘poor’ performance is used to punish her coach.”
While the Common Core curriculum itself may be fresh and relevant to today’s children, it will be the high-stakes testing that will eventually lead Common Core down the familiar path of NCLB. Pay close attention and do your own research. If you feel that high-stakes standardized testing is not right for your child, remember that you have the legal right to opt-out in Oregon. “Opting-out” is when a parent/guardian chooses to have a child not take the state standardized test, without personal penalty.
For details on how to opt-out and instead have your child assessed in a different way, logon to OptOutOregon.org. There you will find answers to many questions you may have about the consequences of opting out.
Superintendent Dan Goldman’s commentary about the Common Core Standards was both informative and upbeat in explaining the positive and necessary aspects of this progressive education reform. I fully agree that students need to process information and not merely memorize facts.
However, I found the portion of the commentary quite disappointing. In his second year as superintendent, Mr. Goldman has already played the budget card to explain our district’s academic performance woes. This explanation has grown quite old over the years. As I taxpayer and father, I find it both disrespectful and unprofessional.
Our education budget has been reduced annually for a decade and this is a trend will likely continue. I find it unacceptable that the highly-educated and well-paid people responsible for our children’s futures cannot work harder to come up any new ideas.
Our district continues to pass children who fail to meet grade standards, tolerates excessively rude and disruptive behavior, and continues to reward students for the smallest positive behaviors. Meanwhile, teachers’ hands are tied to appropriately discipline repeat offenders. Instead, they are forced to spend their days redirecting and correcting behaviors, which should have been learned years ago.
How do these things affect the budget? Teachers, counselors, and principals are forced to devote valuable time to meet with parents, develop behavior plans, fill out countless forms, and communicate repeatedly with parents through emails and phone calls to address these students’ special needs.
Maybe we could start by addressing some of the aforementioned problems and teachers can get back to teaching.