Lewiston Mom Knocks it Out of the Park

Save Maine Schools

as you can see...The following letter, written by Karen McClure-Richard of Lewiston, Maine, appeared in our local newspaper this morning.  It was written in response to the superintendent’s call for an improved state test, and it’s awesome.

This is a response to Bill Webster’s guest column about the MEA tests (June 18). I find his change in opinion on that test very interesting. As a parent, I have spent the past five years advocating that school leaders take a hard look at the over-testing of students. Much of what Webster discussed in his column could have come directly from the many emails I have sent the Lewiston School Committee through the years.

Sadly, while so much focus has been on the one state-mandated test, I have been seeing an increase in the amount of time being spent on numerous assessments that are used multiple times per year, starting with even the…

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Author: Diane Sekula

Teaching is hard. Teaching under current conditions is next to impossible. I started this blog as a way of sharing information and to help me process through what has happened to our public schools; our children, our country. After teaching for two years in the former Soviet Republic of Moldova, I came back to America, eyes wide open; grateful for my experiences and even more grateful for the opportunities provided to me as an American. Presented with a scholarship and the opportunity to further my education as a teacher, I jumped at my first teaching job in the city of Randolph, Massachusetts. For most teachers, their first year is their most difficult. For me, that first year was, by far, one of the best. It was a great environment for a young teacher, the support provided to through my mentors, both formal and informal was far better than what more recent new teachers can imagine. The little tricks of the trade they taught me were invaluable, but what really blew me away was their wit and sense of humor. I wanted to be like them, at the end of my career, teaching with energy and rolling my eyes with a smile on my face. After taking some time off to be with my newborn, I eventually found myself teaching in my husband's hometown of San Antonio, TX. That was a learning experience for me. Lacking southern charm and unfamiliar with the school culture, I was put into a state of shock. It was all about the test. Teachers were told that they'd lose their teaching license for failing to comply with test security measures and offered rewards for high test scores. There was a lot of pressure and teaching wasn't a whole lot of fun. Failing in more ways than one to acclimate to the culture, I returned to New England. I landed a teaching job in a small town just outside of Manchester, New Hampshire. Some of my coworkers were a bit prickly in the beginning, but I acclimated and things were mostly fine for a while. But, as things go for teachers nowadays, things slowly changed. It was if a vice was tightening around me. There was more testing, more looking at scores, more pressure. Teaching wasn't as fun anymore. I couldn't put my finger on it, but I was very uneasy about the way things were going. One blustery day, finding a rare moment to myself, I decided to swing by the mall. Not being a big shopper, but having a weakness for sweaters, I decided it couldn't hurt to try the store that I had earlier decided I was too old for. That seemingly simple decision was a game changer. Focusing on a rack of sardine-packed sweaters, I was a bit startled to hear my name. "Mrs. Sekula!", called a former student of mine. Sometimes they drive me nuts, but at the end of the day, I loved teaching and loved my students; especially ones like this. Not only was she a very intelligent young girl, but she was respectful, hardworking and helpful; the type of kid you just know would do well. Now a high school student, she went on to tell me that she wanted to go to college to be a teacher. I was thrilled! Who better could you get? She would be a great teacher. My honeymoon teacher moment lasted all of about fifteen minutes. Thoughts racing in my mind, I got back to my car, turned it on, and that's when reality hit me. I did not want my student going into teaching the way things were. She's too smart to be teaching to a test. She's so much more than that as a teacher. That's when I started searching for answers. Why was it that there was ever increasing pressure to teach to a test? To label students? To hook them up to computers? To label schools and teachers as failures? This blog contains some of my own writing, but also a lot of information that I've found, or have been given by other very dedicated teachers, parents and researchers. Strength in numbers; if you have anything that you would like to contribute, by all means please send it to me.

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