What to Expect When You’re Expecting: The Eye Rolling and Mumbling Years

Before I had children, I knew exactly how I was going to parent them.  I knew the relationship I was going to have with my boys and the relationship I would have with my girl, and I knew that we would love each other unconditionally and I would support them in every decision they made, and play all day when they were little, and hang out with them when they were teenagers, and be the matriarch and legacy of a strong family and the rest is history.

Of course, this was all before I had kids.

And then I had my son.  And then I had my other son.  And then I was raising a toddler and a newborn and my whole “play all day” plan went to shit.  And then I had my daughter. And then I was raising three children under six and my whole, “I know what I’m doing” plan went to shit because there is no way you can do it all, and hold everything together while raising three children under six, one of whom is a newborn and doesn’t sleep ever (and I mean, E-V-E-R) because she apparently wants nothing more than to torture her new family like the sweet girl that she is.

And so here I am now; three children who are 12, 10, and 6.  They sleep now (insert angels singing) and are pretty self-reliant and can do all the things like tie their own shoes and wipe their own butts, but parenthood is nowhere near easy.  Instead of a day filled with chasing babies and toddlers and lost sippy cups, the days are filled with fighting siblings and hormonal attitudes.  Testing the boundaries from my oldest, IRRATIONAL DECIBAL OF VOICE VOLUME from my youngest, and my poor sweet middle—he just craves attention but goes about it by trying to annoy both older brother and younger sister. So my day starts with patience and ends with “GET TO BED!  I’VE HAD IT AND EVERYONE NEEDS TO BE IN BED NOW!” on.the.daily.

My biggest challenge in parenting lately has been my oldest.  I love him so much it hurts my heart.  I love him so much that all I do is obsess that I am losing him to this black hole of middle school- hormonal-almost a teenager-defiant-attitudish-but please still scratch my back mom- seventh grade angst. And since he’s my oldest and I haven’t traveled down this path yet, I worry that I’m handling it all wrong and ruining him for life and he is going to move out at 18 and not tell me when he meets The One and elope and have kids and only call me on Mother’s Day because The One reminds him to, and The End.

My boy getting all grown up and handsome

My boy getting all grown up and handsome

Seriously, this is what I think because A) I’m a bit crazy and B) I’m genuinely scared that I’m ruining him.  I don’t know how to handle the attitude.  I have adopted the “choose your battles” mentality with him because if I didn’t, we’d be locking horns from sun up to sun down.  (Well, now that he sleeps until 11, I guess it would be more like four hours past sun up to sun down).  If I breathe wrong, if I ask him a question that he doesn’t feel like answering, if I don’t hear him over the mumbling, if I try to decipher what he mumbled and decipher incorrectly, if we are out of bagels or toaster strudels, if he is starving (which is always), if he is tired (which is always), it always ends the same: I start off patient and understanding of this hormonal angst because I remember it well, but quickly slide to psycho mom in about 5.6 minutes and then he’s mad because I’m psycho mom and “the meanest mom EVER and don’t ever talk to me again!”  (insert eye rolling and mumbling of epic proportions).  So I do what every rational mom does:  I  ground him for life.  At this point, he’s grounded until August. I finally stopped adding more weeks because it obviously is not working so now we are on “you can earn your weeks back if you just act somewhat civil to us” mode.

The point here isn’t how we are punishing him, or how he reacts, it’s just that I miss my son.  I miss the sweet boy he used to be and when I catch glimpses of him, my heart melts.  I know that my job as a mother is to reassure him that no matter what, he is loved.  His actions and tone of voice might not be liked very much sometimes, but he will always be loved.  I can distinctly remember being annoyed with my parents for simply being home when I was that age, so I do get it, I really do, it just doesn’t make it easier.  I also know that I am responsible for creating empathetic, kind, responsible human beings that will be of value to society when released from the safety of our home. I think our world will be OK with this one because apparently he is an angel for all people outside of this house. So, we’ve got that going for us.

I’m trying. I really am.  I’m reading books, I’m scouring the Internet for articles, I’m trying new parenting techniques and I’m calling my parents saying, “What in the hell am I supposed to do??  Help me, parents!” It all boils down to this is not something I was prepared for—there is no What to Expect When You’re Expecting: The Eye Rolling and Mumbling Years book for parents to read when they are expecting.  These years just sort of sneak up on us and we are left to fend for ourselves, grappling for answers, hoping we are doing it right.

I guess this is the age.  I guess I need to grin and bear it, love him unconditionally, be stern when I need to be, and choose my battles.  I need to hold onto hope that he won’t elope with The One and only call me on Mother’s Day because she reminded him to.  I need to hold onto hope that he knows how much he is loved, how very much he is appreciated and valued in this family even though he gets annoyed when I tell him this.  I need to get better at deciphering the mumbling and realize that he will eventually enunciate his words again.

I should be a pro at this when my other two get to this stage.

I will love this kid until he's 254.

I will love this kid until he’s 254.

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Hopefully Ever After

Once upon a time there was a bright eyed college girl who met a rugged, athletic college guy and they had a lot of college fun together. They fell in love and graduated college and decided to start their lives together. And so they got married, had two babies, bought a house, and had another baby. And they had some really good times and they went on some vacations. And they had some really bad times and they had some really sad times, but they were their times.

And then they got busy raising kids. They ran to different activities and went in separate directions and always put the kids first and themselves last. They stopped really seeing each other. They were busy. They were stressed.  They became distant. They stopped laughing. They would sit on separate couches at night and watch TV, or stare at phones, or read books. They fell asleep on the couch and went to bed at separate times and left the house in the morning in a hurry.

And they were both just always so busy. The house was always messy. The bills were always piling up. The stress of teaching and work and life was getting overwhelming. The division was getting bigger.

She started to get angry. And he started to get aggravated. And she got flustered and resentful that the kids were acting out and dinner needed to be cooked and laundry needed to be done and the house was a mess and nobody had any clean socks and no she didn’t call the mortgage company because she worked all day and then parented all night and why didn’t he just GET THAT?

And he started to get lonely because why didn’t she talk to him anymore? Why didn’t she touch him anymore? Why didn’t she see the stress he felt with work and bills and money? Why didn’t she see how exhausted he was from running from work to practice every night?

And she started to get sad because why didn’t he just see her anymore? Why didn’t he really talk to her anymore? Why didn’t he touch her anymore?

And he started to get distant while she was lonely. And he started to get overwhelmed because money was tight. And she started to get overwhelmed because money was tight. And they started to fight more. And they started to lose each other in sadness, loneliness, and anger. And individually the little fights were nothing, but collectively they were everything. Communication broke down, anger and annoyance festered just below the surface, waiting for one more thing to set off another big fight. And the kids started to notice.

And then after one more fight she thought, “I don’t know if I’m happy. I don’t know if I can live like this. I don’t even know if he loves me anymore.” And he didn’t listen. Instead, he resigned himself to, “This is life.”

And she shut down. She got lost. She convinced herself that everyone would be happier apart because nobody was happy together. And when she finally told him, he thought, “No. I will fight.” And she thought, “No. I will go.”  And he thought, “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”  And she thought, “I tried.” And he thought, “I’ll fight. I’ll fight for us.”  And too many bad things were said that could not be unsaid. And too many bad things were done that could not be undone. And then he thought, “Maybe I don’t deserve this.” And she thought, “Maybe I don’t deserve this.”

And then there they were, facing a cliff, ready to tumble off when she looked at her husband, really looked at him, and he took her hand and it was the first time they touched in too long and she thought, “No. I want to fight for us.” And he thought, “I don’t know if I have any fight left in me.” And she thought, “I do. I will fight for both of us.” And he thought, “I love her enough for this.” And they started the long climb up. And they started to talk again. And they started to laugh again. They started to communicate again. They started to love again.

And they realized how much they missed each other. How much she missed how her head fit on his shoulder and the smell of his neck. How much he missed the curve of her waist and the softness of her skin. And they said these things. And suddenly what was once taken for granted was now appreciated. And they said these things. And laughter returned and intimacy returned and love returned.

It’s not easy. It was never meant to be easy. But for me, this fight is worth it.

I love you, KRS. Always.

“Come to me my sweetest friend
Can you feel my heart again
I’ll take you back where you belong
And this will be our favorite song”

–“Come to Me”, Goo Goo Dolls

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Common Core: The Good, The Bad, and The Reality

Last year, I wrote the post “How Common Core is Slowly Changing My Child.”  It struck a nerve with parents and teachers across the country as we all were adjusting to the new Common Core State Standards. I wrote it on a night where everything went wrong and homework was a nightmare for my then third grade son. That day had also been particularly difficult at work as I had begun to teach the first common core module unit to my ninth graders. After the kids went to bed, I wrote. By morning, the response was overwhelming. Two weeks later, I still had parents commenting on the change they had seen in their children due to school.

A year later, almost to the date, the post is making its way onto people’s newsfeed again and I’m getting the same comments from concerned parents and teachers.  It’s been a year since I sat on my couch on that October night, angry at New York State for implementing these standards so hastily, but my thoughts are still the same.

Let me be clear:  I am just one teacher. Just one mom. I am not speaking on behalf of every teacher across the country, nor am I speaking on behalf of every mom of school aged children. But I do think we have a lot in common, and my experience over the past year speaking with teachers and parents across the country is that there is more harm than good that is happening with the implementation of common core.  The standards, in essence, have good intentions. Who can argue that raising the bar and giving all kids in every state a fair shot at these higher standards is a bad thing?  Like I said, the intentions are good.

However, the rushed implementation of these standards and the educational practice that has been going along with them has been nothing short of a disaster.

My experience with common core is first as an educator:  I teach it in my classroom at the high school level, and second as a mother: I see what my children are doing at the middle and elementary level. A line that I wrote in my first post that I did not articulate clearly enough addressed high school teachers and our role in common core: “But let’s work backwards: our high school teachers signed up for this. We can get our kids college and career ready and if we don’t, shame on us.”  High school teachers were angry at that, but what I meant is that since choosing to teach secondary education our goal has always been to prepare our students for the post-secondary education world, whether it be entering the workforce or entering college. Making our students “college and career ready”, the whole basis of common core, is nothing new to us.

What I did not know at the start of the common core implementation, was how common core would look in an elementary classroom, nor was I prepared for what it would do to my children.

The implementation of these standards has also introduced a new curriculum that many schools across New York State have adopted: modules. These modules can be found on the engageNY website, and from what I understand, schools in various states are also using the engageNY modules. Suddenly, rather than allowing teachers to use their expertise, experience, and knowledge to create units aligned to the new standards, teachers were now being handed scripted units to use instead.  Units that were not created by teachers, but rather large businesses that did not take into account the different demographics or needs of each district. These modules have taken the creativity away from the teacher. They have taken hands on activities out of the classroom and replaced them instead with close reads and textual evidence lesson after lesson. Our English teachers are now becoming Social Studies and economics teachers. One of the ninth grade modules had me teaching about hedge funds, Ponzi schemes, leveraged money and Bernie Madoff—to fourteen year olds. The modules I work with are age inappropriate, redundant, and boring.  I am doing the best I can to make them engaging and fun. Every teacher I know who is teaching using the modules, is doing the best they can with the materials they have.

The modules my children are using are no better.  The ELA modules at the elementary level are much the same that I see at the ninth grade level. Passages, close reads, annotating, writing using textual evidence. There is value in that skill. Being an active reader and providing textual evidence is an important skill that is integrated into all subject areas.  But where is the funYes, the fun.  Elementary school should be equal parts challenging and fun.  Our elementary school teachers are creating lifetime learners who love to learn. Taking the fun out of school is taking the love out of school. These ELA modules have replaced fun with “rigor.” The math modules are so complex that parents can no longer effectively help their children with homework.  We are working on homework for hours.   Last week, my husband and I spent an hour on the engageNY website learning a seventh grade math module lesson, arguing over how to solve for x and y and where to substitute k .  We are highly educated adults, not twelve year olds. How does this translate in an average seventh grade math class?  My guess?  Not well. I can tell you from the anger and frustration on my son’s face as we sat trying to force this concept on him that it has been a unit full of frustration. The same goes for our fourth grade son as well. Homework time at our house is usually met with tears and more often than not, broken pencils and frustrated foot stomping up the stairs to bed.

The concepts are simple. The lengthy process to prove the children understand the concept is not. The reasoning behind the in depth (sometimes six extra steps to solve a simple multiplication problem) is so the children have a better understanding of numbers and how they work. What parents and children are so frustrated about, however, is that our kids know the answer. But after six steps there is more room for error and more room for confusion. Which all leads to more room for frustration.

I stand by my statement that these challenges don’t make our kids feel like they are on the road to being college and career ready in fourth grade.  It makes them feel like failures. Why?  Because even though they know that 6×5=30, they still got the answer wrong on the test because they weren’t able to “decompose” the problem properly.

A year later, I still see a change in my son. My older son is rolling right along.  I wouldn’t say he is enjoying it, he complains about the module packets and the nonstop close reads, but he is faring well. My younger son is still struggling. He lost his love for school that he had in kindergarten, first, and second grade. He’s active in sports and participates in the school band which helps us motivate him to get on the bus but his attitude toward learning is negative. He believes he’s stupid even though we tell him otherwise and even though he is not.  We can’t get back these years with him.

But we can fight for him.

aiden cc 2

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Dear Neighbors:

To My New Neighbors:

You see that green house behind us?  That sweet couple who likes their nightly cocktail on the deck? We have been tormenting them for nine years.  They know more about the inner workings of our family than anyone… the good, the bad, the ugly.  I’m sure they have an appropriate drinking game to go along with the six o’clock ugliness of hungry fighting that happens with my kids every evening. When they begin to hear the kitchen window slam shut, they know I have now attempted to block out some of the impending yelling that will take place, which doesn’t even muffle the sounds because our houses are just soclosetogether.  (I hope she is feeling better.  She was sneezing an awful lot the other day.)

What started as  toddler tantrums when we first moved in (and a 7:00 bedtime…at least they had that) has evolved into hormonal disputes, interesting name calling, and a touch of physicality. And that is all before I get involved.

New neighbors, take heed. They will fight. I try to keep it in check. I really really really hope you have loud kids, too.

And to my dear sweet neighbors in the green house, take comfort in this:  one day, my boys will own their own homes, and if karma has any sense of humor, she will give them neighbors with a pair brothers who are just like them.


Mrs MB

Moms Who Write and Blog

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Doing The Best We Can

We are wrapping up our second week of summer vacation here in sunny Western New York, and I just came out of my two week hibernation/slumber/fog of recovering from the past ten months. This year was a tough one. With all of the changes both at school and at home, and a schedule change that threw our family for a loop, we barely made it through some days. But, I did the best I could. Some days my best was making it to the bathroom 12th period without peeing my pants a little bit. Some days my best was finding the shirt my son was looking for in the first laundry basket rather than the fourth. Some days my kids at school got the best of me, while my kids at home got the scraps. Some days my kids at home got the best of me, while my kids at school got the scraps. Some days my dog was the only one who got the best of me.

But. I did the best I could.

My boys got on the bus with their teeth brushed, wearing clean clothes, homework done, lunches in their bags every morning. My daughter was a trooper and was awake by 5:40 so we could leave by 6:30 for Pre-K. I was greeting and high-fiving and common coring by 7:15 (well sometimes 7:20…7:25). I taught, disciplined, encouraged, laughed, disciplined, intervened, and pulled my hair out until 3:00 and then I crashed.  I crashed HARD. Like, passed out, slumped over, drooling, snoring, dead asleep for twenty minutes in the preschool parking lot before going in to get my daughter every afternoon. That type of crash.

And then I was on for the rest of the night. I was dealing with after school-hungry-tired-I-don’t-want-to-do-my-homework-I-only-want-to-watch-TV-and-I’m-going-to-yell-at-my-brother-and-sister-if-they-talk-to-me, homework, dinner, cleaning up, hockey/basketball/baseball practice, packing f’ing lunches, signing forms that I was supposed to send back three weeks ago and now has THIRD NOTICE highlighted at the top, playing Old Maid and Uno so I didn’t feel like I was completely ignoring my kids (which I was because there is just so much TO DO BEFORE BED), and oh hi, husband!  How was your day, hon? Sorry you’re walking into this disaster and can you just throw the laundry in the dryer OK I’ll have a real conversation with you in five years, bedtime, picking out clothes for the next morning that will be here in just seven short hours, and then looking at the bag of papers that needed to be graded but I know I’ll only get through three before falling asleep and that poor kid will have a random red zigzag line on his paper from me falling asleep while reading it. That. That was my day, Monday-Friday for the past ten months. 

But I did the best I could.

And I constantly felt like I was failing. I was failing at being a teacher because I was too busy being a mom. I was failing at being a mom because I was too busy being a teacher. I was failing at marriage because it was easy to put that last. I was failing at writing because I was busy parenting and teaching. I was failing at parenting and teaching because I was busy writing. My husband got lost in the shuffle when he really needed a partner.

And then I got lost in the shuffle because I really needed me.

I felt tired and I looked tired. I bought better makeup and felt guilty about spending money on better makeup. I fit in exercise when I could and then felt guilty about leaving to go exercise. I was exhausted from exercising at 9:00. I ate Butterfingers and drank too much coffee. I gained a few pounds from the Butterfingers and coffee. I fit in another exercise class and felt guilty about that. I lost more weight. I still felt exhausted. I still felt guilty. I still felt like I didn’t know where I fit in, but I knew where everybody else did.

But I did the best I could. 

My story is not unique to me. I’m sure many moms and dads, working or not, feel this way throughout the school year. The constant hurry and rush to get from one day to the next.

My goal is to not rush this summer. No hurrying out of the house, no “Come on, come on, we’re late!”, no constant glancing at the clock.

September can wait. 

Lazy days

Lazy days

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Screwing Up Motherhood. Sorry, Firstborns.

We don’t tell expecting mothers the real side of parenthood–the stuff it’s really made of. It’s simply joy that we shower upon our expecting first time friends.  And it should be. Motherhood is beautiful, and pregnancy is (mostly) joyful, and having children makes people…different. I wouldn’t say better, because people who choose to become parents are not better than those who do not. Parenthood is just different. A wonderful kind of different.


But what we don’t know upon holding our firstborns and looking into their eyes and admiring their every detail is that we will screw up and cry and apologize and wonder what the heck we are doing. We will make mistakes and then learn from those mistakes and not make them with their younger siblings. Our poor firstborns get the brunt of our rookie-ness.

My oldest is my boy Nate. Nate was born in 2002 and we are in the middle of the pre-teen years of hormones and mood swings, going wildly from happiness to sadness to anger to sheepishness to humor. When Nate was born I couldn’t believe that someone so perfect could happen to me. He was a sweet little mix of dark hair and mischievous smiles and belly laughs. He made my world flip from egocentric to selfless, and I loved my new role with this sweet boy. My husband and I were blissfully young and somewhat naive in our new family life.

Then life happened. The older Nate got, the more we realized that parenthood is 90% winging it and 10% hope. Hoping you are doing everything right and not making giant mistakes in the meantime. Because nobody tells you that when you have another baby, the pieces don’t just fall magically into place. Sometimes it takes a lot of rearranging and shuffling around to make life work. Nobody tells you that when you wake up your day will revolve around everybody else but you, and sometimes you have to make one of your children upset in order to find a bit of calm in a hectic house. Nobody tells you when you are holding this perfect little baby that one day he will challenge your every bit of patience. That what you think is right, he will protest is wrong and you will be left with your head in your hands wondering what the heck just happened and why this sweet little angel has been replaced with a hormonal stranger. Nobody tells you that you will lose sleep at night hoping and praying that you are doing it right.

Because our firstborns don’t get a seasoned, veteran parent. They get you and you will make mistakes. You will fumble and wonder and stress. You will realize with your second and third children just how much you screwed up and wish you could go back and do things differently. You will be rocking your sweet firstborn little baby to sleep and wake up twelve years later wondering where the time has gone and how you got so lucky to be this boy’s mom.

To all of the oldest babies, to the firsts, to the ones who paved the way for the other siblings, this is for you. Your parents love you, despite their mistakes.


And Nate, my boy, I love you more than you can imagine. You amaze me every day. Your intelligence. Your athleticism. Your kind heart. Your sense of humor. Your persistence. Your ability to love. I love you so much, buddy.


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Why My Children Will Not Take State Assessments

This post was originally written last year.  Since then, New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has proposed a new set of public education reforms.  Part of his plan proposes that the new Common Core state tests count as 50% of the teacher evaluation score, while the remaining score is comprised of an outside (read: state appointed, but district paid) observer.  Only 15% of the teacher’s evaluation is from a school building administrator.  If the teacher falls into the ineffective category two consecutive years, the teacher will be dismissed with no right to an appeals process.  The state of teacher turnover and loss of veteran teachers will be detrimental to public schools.  In addition to his teacher evaluation proposals, he is also withholding funding to public schools until state lawmakers accept his proposals.   The Common Core tests are designed for students to fail.  Teachers are forced to sign a “gag order” which prohibits them from discussing any questions from the test with the general public.  The reading levels last year,  were a grade or two above the tested grade for many of the passages, and many questions were designed with more than one correct answer.  The trick is for the students to choose the “most plausible” of the correct answers.  The time to refuse testing for your children is now.  It is time to bring control of your child’s education back to the teachers.  To the teacher’s who have perfected their craft and work tirelessly to continue to improve for the sake of your children.   Please visit http://www.nysape.org for more information on refusing tests for your children. 

New York State Assessments are scheduled to take place next month.  Beginning  in mid-April, students statewide in grades 3-8 will sit and take a three day ELA exam followed by a math exam a few weeks later.  Now that Common Core is all abuzz, and people are jumping at any chance they can to blame Common Core for the dismal state of public education, rest assured that these state tests have been in place well before Common Core. They’ve been here since 2002 when No Child Left Behind was created.  However, this is only the second year that the state tests are Common Core aligned, and the second year that these state tests are tied to teacher evaluation scores. It’s also the second year that parents have gotten more educated, more involved, and much louder.

It’s the perfect storm, so to speak.

Until last year, I, along with most parents, did not realize that parents have the right to refuse state testing on behalf of their children. Parents have the right to refuse. There is no provision that allows for the opting out of state assessments, however according to parents’ federal constitutional rights: The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents possess the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children.” The Court also declared that “the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35) The Supreme Court criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their own.” (Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 402.) In recognition of both the right and responsibility of parents to control their children’s education, the Court has stated, “It is cardinal with us that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for the obligations the State can neither supply nor hinder.” (Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158)

In a nutshell, parents have a say in their child’s education, and the right to refuse state assessments falls under that umbrella. Starting next week, thousands of parents in New York State are doing just that. I am one of them.

The reason my children will never participate in these assessments again is simple: they are not a useful diagnostic tool that benefit the child in any way. The test is given in April and the scores are received in July.  There is no data or explanation of where the child needs additional help; the score is not sent home with identified areas of weaknesses. At that point, my child’s teacher is no longer my child’s teacher anymore. They are not used to determine promotion or retention of grade levels, nor are they factored into the child’s grade at all. The tests are not used as a learning or teaching tool. Instead, they are used to score and label children a 1-4 and then packed away in a ‘secure location’ for the next few years, never to be seen again. Once the scores are released, the children become statistics.

The state assessments have always been flawed.  In theory, I suppose it *sort of* makes sense.  Children take a test toward the end of the school year and it shows how well they know the material; how proficient they are (or aren’t). Students have always taken final exams at the secondary level which is a valid assessment tool used to gauge how well the child learned the material during that school year. The teacher knows what she taught, creates a final exam, and that exam is factored into the student’s grade. The problem with state assessments is that the teachers have no idea what will be on them and so much emphasis is placed on these scores in terms of district ranking that teachers have always felt a sort of obligated stress to continually raise scores.  When I taught at the 7th grade level I was consumed with those scores.  I didn’t spend the entire year on test prep, but I certainly spent the weeks prior on test prep.  I needed those scores to improve!  The school needed them to improve so we could improve our school ranking.  The district needed those scores to improve so we could improve our district ranking–and this was all before scores were a part of our teacher evaluation score.

Now that the state assessments are factored into the teacher’s APPR score, I can only imagine that test prep throughout the state has increased. Standardized tests factoring into teacher evaluation scores is not an effective measure of teaching. Teachers work with our children for close to 180 days. Basing an evaluation score on three days out of the 180 is not going to give an accurate portrayal of that teachers effectiveness. I don’t need my children to sit through three and half hours of testing to tell me whether or not their teachers have taught them. I know they have. They have taught them much more than can be shown on a bubble sheet or through a few short response questions.
Taking a Test

I’m not sure why society has begun to doubt teachers lately and feel that school districts need to prove that their teachers are actually teaching throughout the school year. If you want proof that children are learning, I can assure you, they are. Some more quickly than others, but that’s what education is. It’s an entire set of variables that are factored together to create a clear picture of that individual child and where that child started the year. Giving children in every school across the state the same test and then expecting to see a clear picture of how school districts and the teachers employed by those distrcts are performing is flawed. A district with high poverty levels and a large ESL population should not be compared to a suburban affluent district and then ranked and published in an annual school rankings publication. It’s comparing two completely different populations.

I do not want my children used as a part of a ranking system. I do not want my children to work hard all year long, and then feel that their scores on one test is definitive of the type of students they are.

Our children are not percentages or scores. In addition to being students, they are athletes, community members, school theater participants, student government representatives, and musicians–all of which can’t be shown on a bubble sheet of a state assessment.

The state assessments do not accurately measure the growth of our children. They do not accurately measure the effectiveness of our teachers and they take up entirely too much time and energy in our schools. The amount of money spent on standardized testing continues to increase, while the amount of money public school districts receive in the form of state funding continues to decrease. Districts are making drastic cuts to staff and programs but testing continues to stay in place using an abundant amount of district and taxpayer dollars.

Parents and teachers have watched the landscape of public education change as corporate reformers have swept in and made drastic changes. Our voices, research, and dedication to advocacy to public education is making a difference. One child at a time, test refusal is our way to stand up for what is our “fundamental right to direct the upbringing and education of our children” (Pierce 268).

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