Don’t you just love this photo? Spring break (all of March really) brings lots of visitors to Florida and to the beach for yoga. We have college breakers visiting their grandparents (I know one woman who set up tables in her garage for the luggage and gear from her granddaughter and five of her closest friends. It made it easier to walk around the house if everything was out of the way.) And instead of the usual crowd at yoga, we have every age from the very young with their beautiful young moms to the little kids like Calli who are so determined to get the poses right (I remember the first time Calli went and on the way home said, “I like it but there’s one thing I don’t get….What does inhale and exhale mean?” And then there was my granddaughter, Ellyse (now at Duke) who went with me a couple times and said she had never seen so many happy old people in her life. Yes, we are happy. And yes, Venice is loaded with old people. So I’m loving March (soon to be over) and loving seeing so many young people on the beach, in the restaurants and on the main street. And I guess I’ll also be happy when they all go home and we can get into a restaurant without waiting an hour and don’t have to drive around town looking for a parking space in the middle of the day.
We’ve had a busy March…first Erin and family and then my friend (for 50 years) Mary and her husband, Richard, who just left this morning. Back to work. I was making lists on the way home from the airport.
Turned out my first order of business after breakfast and throwing on the first load of laundry was a letter to the editor about the state tests. The front page headline in the local paper this morning was “Rising chorus against tests” and talked a lot about the opt-out movement that is really gaining momentum across the country. Yes!! My Massachusetts friends might remember when I was writing letters to the editor once a month about the dangers of putting all our apples in the testing basket. I felt like Cassandra (beware of the tests) …a little bit crazy but very serious about this movement that was going to result in a test obsessed school system that left far more kids behind that it saved. Anyway, I guess I’m back at it…let’s see if they publish this one. Had to limit it to 250 words (damn near impossible for someone like me…we know I can go on and on) First draft was 538 words. Took a bit of work to cut it to 247.
I just sent it off, put on another load of laundry, addressed some birthday cards and am thinking seriously about whether I want to get in the pool. I should have done it earlier. It’s getting windy and cloudy. The pool water is 87 but I’m not all that hot. Maybe I’ll just relax and read BY the pool instead today.
Oh, here’s the letter…hope they publish it but if not, I’ll try again next month.
High stakes tests have been around for awhile now and at first, many believed it was the solution to our educational woes. It would force teachers to teach (and there were some who did not) and it would shine a light on the inequities in our school programs (which are many). It would ensure that no one would graduate from high school still not able to read a newspaper or do basic math. Yes, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
However, high stakes tests were problematic from the beginning. There was no discussion on exactly what kids needed to know and be able to do in order to live happy, healthy, productive lives as citizens of our country, vote wisely, and earn enough money to support a family. And there have been several nasty side effects from the testing epidemic. Five year olds are doing far too many worksheets. In some schools, social studies is not taught until after testing in the spring. The amount of money spent on textbooks designed to prepare kids for the test would take your breath away. Kids are tested almost more than they are taught and trust me, after the tests in the spring, they “coast” for the rest of the year.
All of us have a stake in the formation of a well educated citizenry. Let’s work toward designing rich academic programs that we can be proud of.
And I would encourage the rest of you to think about sending letters too. What’s happening in our schools is as close to child abuse as we can get and still stay within the law (is that too dramatic to say?)
A few photos…Mary and Richard kayaking and Mary at yoga. Not me, my friend of fifty years. Fifty years? Not possible. I’m only 45, I think. I forget.
Love to all and Happy Spring!