Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My Letter to the Editor Regarding Education Legislation #oklaed

Today I wrote the following letter to my local newspaper for it's Letters to the Editor column. I don't know if it will be published, and if it is, if it will receive an answer from one of our local legislatures. Word on the street is that one legislator from my city made the comment that private schools are better because those parents are engaged and know what is going on. WHAT? As parents of students in the public school system we must change the perception that parents are unhappy with the schools or are not engaged. I am an engaged parent. My children, all students, teachers, and our schools need our voices to be heard.

My letter:

High stakes testing must go!  Our Oklahoma testing system must be re-evaluated and the tests given reduced. I support SB 708 which eliminates any test that is not federally mandated. This bill passed the Senate on 3/9/15.

As a mother of two children in the Broken Arrow Public School system it saddens me when my children tell me that their school year is over after Spring Break. It is over due to testing. My best learning times were after Spring Break. My teachers became creative with their "outdoor" learning experiences. So many things can be taught in Reading, Writing, Science, History and Math when you get out of the testing environment and into the world to apply those subjects.

Why is Oklahoma spending $17 million on state and federally mandated tests? Is it okay that our kids are being used as lab rats to "test" their equipment and test questions. Thankfully our new state superintendent put an end to a few field tests this year.

Is it okay that our third graders have had a growing anxiety since the time they hit the halls of their first grade classroom? An anxiety from a pass or fail test that could potentially make them retake their third grade year? My second grader is not only worried about her future but her teachers' as well. She feels the pressure because of constant assessments to prepare for these high stakes tests. Assessments and testing that take away the valuable time she needs to be learning!

My eighth grader recently completed his 8th grade writing test. It wasn't for HIS grade. He had to write from the perspective of a Cattle Hand. Yes testing companies, all Okies are cowboys so this should be an easy writing assignment. In less than a month he will be faced with another test, this one will determine whether or not he is eligible to get his drivers permit. Because driving requires you to read words like, but not limited to: STOP, SLOW, CONSTRUCTION AHEAD, and MPH.  Weren’t many of these words taught while looking at street signs during the chauffeuring to activities?

Let our Oklahoma students be kids. Let their minds be free to explore possibilities outside the classroom. Let our teachers prepare them for the bright futures that each one have ahead of them. Let's not damper their spirits with continued tests that take away valuable instruction time. Put the resources spent on these tests into our schools vs a data file. ​​

ShaRhonda Crow, Broken Arrow
​Graduate of an Oklahoma Public School, Graduate of an Oklahoma State College, Mother of two children currently in the Oklahoma Public School System, PTA member, and Voter​

What you can do:

  1. Be informed. I get most of my information from the Oklahoma PTA, you can follow them on Facebook. The bills are hard to understand sometimes. There are parents/advocates out there that dissect these bills and explain them to us.
  2. Email/Call/Tweet your Legislatures. Don't know who they are? Click here
  3. Get involved. How involved are you in your child's education? I never in a million years thought I would have to be an advocate. Even if you never send a letter, your local schools need YOU! 
Maybe Diogenes isn't specifically referring to our "state" when he made the above quote, but I believe he is definitely talking about the stability of our country and others being based on the education and experiences that is passed to future generations. Isn't our state a part of a great country? Doesn't the future depend on future generations?

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Kitchen Kelli said...

Rote memorization with perfect regurgitation has been a hallmark of the Oklahoma school system for as long as I remember. I think I have told you before that I didn't get a "grade" until I was in 7th grade. We had, what is referred to historically as the Don Rag - a Socratic method of learning. While our entire first grade class began at varying levels by the time we were in 6th grade, every single one of us were performing at an Oklahoma Sophomore level...........there's something to be said for no tests and no grades...........I miss the Don Rags...........well, all except for when Sr. Mary Edward was on the panel! :) You keep giving them heck - I support everything you wrote and I'm sure it will be published!

ShaRhonda said...

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement. There are so many issues right now and it amazes me politics and education are intermingled. My parents never had to be involved with me except to chaperone, then when my brother was in school I remember him getting into a fight, my dad had to take off work to go give him licks. That was probably the first time I realized things were changing. I fear for my kids, especially my 2nd grader. I am making some huge sacrifices but I know I am doing as I should.