If you come to this blog regularly, you are more than familiar with Mike Matthews, the President of the Red Clay Education Association. Mike used to blog before he got into teaching, but some of his Facebook status updates might as well be a blog. Mike asks a lot of tough questions surrounding education in Delaware.
Lately, the whole Red Clay inclusion topic is coming up in a big way. Red Clay’s board voted for a big inclusion push for students with disabilities and their regular peers to be in more classes together. While this is good in theory, if the resources and staff aren’t implemented well than issues will mount. For those who think Mike is just a “union” guy, you would be wrong. Yes, he is very supportive of the union. But he also genuinely cares about what happens with students. Nearly all teachers do.
Mike isn’t afraid to pull punches, and we need MUCH more of that in Delaware. Tonight, Mike posted something very thought-provoking on Facebook, and I thought I would share it for those who aren’t friends with Mike.
Our students deserve more recess. Not more tests.
Our students deserve more extracurricular activities and more unified arts. Not more “rigor.”
Our students deserve more emotional supports. Not more Common Core.
Our students deserve more enrichment opportunities to show US how they can shine. Not more unit tests and Fresh Reads and Performance Plus.
Our students deserve a more responsive District that will banish the “test and punish” model that was rebuked with last week’s passage and signing of the Every Student Succeeds Act. Not more test prep that lines the pockets of textbook and software publishers.
Our students with special needs and English Language Learners deserve to be in schools with more than one or two specialized staff members to meet the needs of potentially hundreds of students at one site. Not more simplistic exposure to the “general education curriculum” that does little to address their needs or prepare them in a meaningful way for successful post-scholastic careers.
Our District continues down the long and quixotic road of attempting to standardized the most valuable resource that should never be standardized: Our Children. And as a result, they and others are turning off a generation of both learners AND teachers.
A wise friend of mine once said: “When is enough enough?”
Well…when is it?
I know I have asked this question many times. It could be a lot of people who have said “When is enough enough?” I asked this question, rather angrily, to Senator Sokola, the DOE, and a packed audience during the House Bill 50 debate in the Senate Education Committee. It seems to me like students with disabilities continue to get the short end of the stick. I’m getting VERY tired of this. If your going to implement something to benefit special education students and English Language Learners, you better be damn sure you have the money, resources and staffing to get it right. These kids can’t afford what happens when schools and districts get it wrong.
While Mike is obviously more enamored with ESSA than I am, he is absolutely right. Delaware has a chance to rewrite the script on education. And I’m not talking about WEIC either. I’m talking about parents telling their legislators what they want for their kids. We have to stop hiding behind our names or our standing and how we look to our friends and neighbors. For all the Delaware parents who continue to flaunt this insanity in Delaware education, let me ask you one simple question: How would YOU have done with all this growing up?
Delaware parents can make the most obvious change now by opting their child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment and supporting the override of Governor Markell’s cowardly veto of House Bill 50. The only way things are going to change is if the very mechanism for the corporate education reformers is taken away. Take the test away, and they no longer have their funnel into the Delaware education system.