What I do know is that everyone is focused on the tests. Insofar as those tests are assessing critical academic and life skills, that's not necessarily a bad thing, but judging a student, a teacher or a school by those scores is not getting us where we need to be.
Now I don't claim to be smart enough to understand the whole testing debate, but from a classroom teacher's perspective, it seems like everyone ought to relax and start with the things reasonable people can agree on:
Attending the KIPP 10th Annual School Summit last week gave me the chance to reflect on my early work with KIPP, its intersection with my organization, the National Center on Time & Learning, and what the future holds for both.
It was a very difficult time in so many ways. Imagine a brother and sister keeping this vital secret at such a young age. Every day we worried that someone might find out and we would have to move again.
If my experience alone doesn't impress you, then I present to you my Eleven Point Plan to transform the nation's 18th largest education system into the finest in the land. (That's right. My plan goes to eleven.)
I wish my students experienced more cultural diversity. I wish my students interacted with peers of different socio-economic status. But that is not the case where communities in our country remain defined by race and class.
In reaching for solutions to our education problems, we have silenced the voices of those who matter most. We are seeing across the United States -- and in many countries around the world -- the disenfranchisement of our teachers.
This is a story of empowerment. This is a story of how kids in even the worst of situations can still turn their lives around, if we as the adults can make emotional safety a part of a school's culture.
I lie whenever I stand in front of my seventh graders, and say: "Work hard and you can go to college anywhere you want and be anything you want to be." The truth is that their education, their career, their life will be influenced by immigration status.
A holistic approach brings together elements that support the development of a child who is healthy, knowledgeable, motivated, and engaged, seeking to ensure all that is required for successful life and preparation for society.
Just as healthy schools that value diversity are the antidote to GERM, a healthy, cooperative reform movement that respects the diversity of policy positions is the antidote for the destructive virus known as teach-to-the-test.