To the Editor:
As I complete my 37th year in public education, I need to speak of the oppression felt by teachers and children as test scores become the sole measure of their worth (“Confusing Achievement With Aptitude,” Dec. 12, 2012).
A vast majority of educators entered the profession to effectuate positive change. Many are also called upon to save lives, not always through grand heroic acts, but surely through daily intervention in the crises that crush our children: domestic violence; neighborhood violence; lack of love; lack of appropriate clothing; and lack of attention to basic physical, emotional, and cognitive needs.
National and local plans to define good teaching using arbitrary and invalid measures of student learning constitutes an insidious form of oppression that damages our children and handcuffs their teachers.
Day after day, children who are struggling to learn English, overcome learning disabilities, survive chaotic homes and violent neighborhoods—the very children who depend on public schools for education, food, clothing, crisis intervention, love, spirit, and a sense of self-worth—get up and come to school. And every day, their teachers pledge to make their lives better.
But how can anyone’s life be made better when its value is reduced to a composite of standardized-test scores? This situation will continue unless people understand and value the work done by educators.
Those of us who still care about children and care about public education must work together to make schools back into places of reason, faith, love, and true learning.
Ann Evans de Bernard
Waltersville Elementary School
A version of this article appeared in the January 16, 2013 edition of Education Week as Current Atmosphere Oppresses Teachers, Students