Letter to the Editor: Frustration With Mandated Testing

By DARREN MEADOWS
Los Alamos

I thought I would share a note from a friend of mine regarding the state’s flawed teacher/student evaluation plan and encourage all of the community to get involved, informed and evaluate the opt out option.

Dear Mrs. Skandera and Governor Martinez: I am a level 3, National Boards Certified Teacher in my 14th year teaching high school English. I score AP essays each summer and write curriculum.

As one of the highest paid teachers in the state, I am also a divorced mother of two children who can hardly pay rent without side work. So on top of grading 150 essays a week, attending professional development and department meetings, contacting parents, attending IEP’s, jumping through your ridiculous evaluation system hoops, and playing “mom” to some very troubled students, I also sold my prep to teach another class, mentor new teachers, and support NBPTS candidates.

My students’ AP scores are well above the national average. And yet I learned today I’ll have to cancel the research paper I have them do each Spring because we will not have access to any computer in the school for three months because we will be testing kids using the test created by the company on which you spent billions of dollars instead of replacing the crumbling novels I can’t use anymore.

This is a project I developed by consulting with college
professors to ensure we bridge the gap between high school and college. I admit that this piece of news along with your announcement that you’d like to give new teachers a raise, but not experienced teachers, and the fact that, even with some of the highest AP scores in the State, I will still be minimally effective, made me want to use my English degree for a nice boring and well-paid career as a tech writer. You may say “Good. You are too expensive,” but who will mentor those new teachers with new raises? Who will score students’ AP essays? Who will write your curriculum? I remember looking at Master Teachers when I was new and wanting to emulate them and the amazing miracles they performed. And eventually, I did, after several years of, frankly, sucking as a teacher. And then I became one.

Whom will they emulate when we are gone? I’m a young 40 years old. I have a lot of years of “minimally effective” teaching in me. And yet you may lose me.

This is not to be a martyr or to brag about my achievements because I’m surrounded by truly amazing teachers who are in the same or worse situations, but instead to tell you that your short-sighted political agenda is ruining our schools, our teachers, and most importantly our kiddos.

Remember, I’m a mom. And I intend to opt my kid out of every standardized test you institute that I’m able to.

CSTsiteisloaded