Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bravo to Frank Breslin for His Attack on State Testing

Bravo to Frank Breslin for his recent Op-Ed in the Trenton Times decrying the State’s obsession with testing, an obsession that is turning our inner city schools into vast wastelands of learning. As Breslin notes, “Children need inspiration and excitement to come alive, not the ceaseless drills of a Prussian parade ground.” He goes on to state: “Only schools that offer a rich assortment of learning experiences can inspire children’s belief in themselves, for this is the alchemy that changes their view of the world and its limitless possibilities.”

I refer to Mr. Breslin’s piece because it beautifully reflects my disdain for what passes as education in our inner cities, and, more to the point, how the long reach of the State and its mandates has actually caused a digression in student achievement, as reflected in perpetually low test scores and the subsequent ranking of our inner city high schools as the poorest performing hundred schools in New Jersey.

I of course believe I have the solution by essentially transforming EVERY public high school into charter schools, by liberating these schools from the corrupted policies of the State and giving these schools and its teachers the freedom to design innovative courses where teachers can communicate and transfer their personal passion and knowledge into the young minds they are responsible for educating. Basic skills can be taught regardless of the instructional content. My anger is not directed at the new 21st Century Skills curriculum being adopted nationwide, but rather with the way in which our “experts” at the State level mandate that they be taught.

By turning our educators into entrepreneurs, by giving them the respect they generally deserve while holding them to a legitimate level of accountability, we can create schools with cultures of learning that will inspire, educate, and create classes of lifelong learners.

State policies do little to motivate or inspire teachers to aspire towards greatness in their own practices, so how can we expect those teachers to do all they can to reach our students. We need a new generation of entrepreneurial teachers in our classrooms, but we also need to do more to get our existing classroom professionals to excite our students about the wonders of the world. Once again, our government has proven that  it has no idea what to do when it comes to educating the next generation of young adults.


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