I really wanted to take one of my precious few PTO days I had left to drive down to Trenton on September 7th and tell the State Board of Education how disappointed I was in them, again... but more important things were going on. There was a Kindergarten bus to catch and a first day of school morning to have and I had already wasted two of those precious days on a state BOE that has all but ignored the voices of parents, students and teachers who have provided hundreds of hours of heartfelt testimony about the damage and the pain being caused by the so called “reforms” of the past five years.
Regardless, putting my five-year-old on the bus I couldn't help but think "here I go again... another hopeful, bright-eyed child of mine going off to Kindergarten. His first experience in school... in public education... in New Jersey."
All I, myself, can do is hope. Hope that the full-day thing really pays off and it helps teachers breathe between lessons and gives the kids more playtime and not more time for “literacy”, for “grit”, for “test prep”, for “college and career” readiness. Hope that NJ doesn't find a way to cram more things they are not prepared to learn yet into those moments. Moments that should be ones of discovery, of creativity, of joy, of fun. Hope that a new Governor will bring change and a new Board of Education that will do the right things on my young one's behalf. Hope that I don't have to write a refusal letter for this one someday.
The Board of Ed didn't deserve my time that morning. I really wanted to see EACH of their faces when I came to tell them that they let me and my three boys AND their teachers down. Tell them that my oldest is entering 7th grade and he is STILL never taking this test and there's NOTHING they can do about that. Tell them in person that I was planning on using every opportunity presented to me to encourage other parents to refuse this test also and be sure that they know that they CAN (despite what they will be told).
It's all we have left to do to tell them it's not working because... bottom line... they're obviously not listening. This kid - this cheerful, excited little boy getting on the bus for school, for the first of many more times - is only one of the reasons I am not giving up on resisting education “reform” including high stakes standardized testing, scripted curriculum, handcuffed educators, privatization, loss of my community’s control over our schools. It’s not even just about the three that live in my house. I look at them and I think about what is going on in NJ public schools and I see ALL of the children in public schools in NJ. Special needs student, poverty-stricken students, students with disabilities… students that NJ is making it more and more difficult for them to succeed.
I can only hope that more parents will as well and realize that we are their only chance. Any parent that has questions or an interest in this issue should visit the Facebook pages of Opt Out of State Standardized Tests - New Jersey, Sussex County Stop Common Core or Long Island Opt-out Info for more information. We are ALL parents and we are ALL here to help each other. After this vote, when it comes to legislation, we are LITERALLY our children’s only advocates.