The transition from middle to high school is a critical inflection point, and students who fall behind in ninth grade are at great risk of dropping out. That is why I support the Middle School Success and High School Graduation Initiative Amendment, which aims to provide struggling schools with tools to help students bridge this gap.
As exciting as all this was, where were the teachers in these conversations? Many of us felt that we were invited because we actively lead in our schools, communities, and countries, and we expected to have a similar role at ISTP. We felt stifled in the exchange. So, in true teacher form, we didn't give up.
Annual testing is valuable, but students deserve a system that protects them from unnecessary, redundant tests. Congress should ensure that the SMART Act is included in the final ESEA bill that it sends to the president, because this will make us all smarter educators and give us additional time to make our students learn smarter.
Congress can ensure a better future for our kids by reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act with language that empowers schools to limit redundant benchmarking assessments, maintains annual standardized tests for third through eighth grade, and changes the stakes to offer more support to teachers serving students with the greatest needs.
Teachers are demonized as "failures" in the classroom. Fortunately for all of us, more and more are banding together as agents for justice by believing in the inherent capacity of all students, and seeking strategies and instructional pathways to improve student performance through professional development and collaborative learning.
Congress want to cut Elementary and Secondary Education Act funding, and, according to the Center for American Progress, the savings will be rerouted away from high-need schools and students like mine to low-poverty schools. What sort of vision of education is that? What sort of vision of our democracy is that?
As a teacher, I can't do my job effectively if my students' critical mental health needs are not met. The 2008 National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence shows that children are more likely than adults to be exposed to violence and crime. How can we possibly expect youth who are facing debilitating trauma to catch up with their healthier peers without adequate care?
If we're to meet the education goals we have set as a nation, if we are committed to liberty and justice for all, and if each student is to meet their individual goals, we need assessment as part of the NCLB reauthorization that is now debated by Congress. Only then will we have a critical tool necessary to help us move forward and grow our students. Otherwise, why teach?