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Last week, I wrote two letters to the editor of West Hawaii Today and one of them got published. I do not know why the first one didn't, but their policy is that publication s not guaranteed. Both were about education, which I guess is my hot button issue, understandably. I do care about other things, but I guess I write about education because I know it so well. Here is the first letter, followed by a link to the one that got published.
Dear Editor, As the public schools in the Hawaii Department of Education and all across the nation go into testing season, I would like to offer some words of caution and concern about the new tests that are being implemented. What we should have learned from years of No Child Left Behind,
among other things, is to be wary of catch-phrases. This time around it’s "college-and-career ready.”
Who doesn’t want No Child Left Behind and children to be college and career ready? But the test-based education reform that we have suffered through since the Bush years and made worse under the Obama administration, has been proven to be the wrong way to achieve a solid, well-rounded education for all children.
The big problem with test-based accountability, is that whatever will be tested will be what takes up the bulk of the day and that means narrowing the curriculum. Preparing for the test is what matters, and the stuff that kids really like - art, music, science, creative activities - gets shoved aside. An individual teacher can try his or her best not to let this happen, can try to teach joyfully with children and their needs and interests as the focus, but it is like swimming against the current, a very strong current, strong enough so that you feel like you’re drowning. It is the reason why I took an early retirement.
Parents have it in their power to opt their children out of these tests. If enough parents opt their children out, maybe the powers-that-be will get the message.
Click here for the letter that made it in.
Diane Aoki is a writer who explores other modes of creativity as her intuition leads her.