Children Should Not Be This Stressed Out, Right?

Last week I read an article that stuck with me to the point where I had to blog about it. It isn’t everyday that I am captivated by education news. That ship for me, sailed a long time ago. I felt like all these education issues were not being resolved, and that was depressing to me. So, I stopped caring as much because it isn’t something I see being top of mind to lawmakers, policymakers, or the people with the big bucks or big voices that can help turn the tide.

Case and point: I saw this article I mentioned on FB, read it, pondered it. When I went to find it in my internet history, I couldn’t. I searched my ‘likes’ on FB, and couldn’t. I searched for almost 45 minutes online until I put something completely random in Google search, “black and white photo of child finishing homework with education advocate mom.” It was a completely ridiculous search, but I was desperate, and that desperation got me to where I needed to be. However, I was appalled that I couldn’t find it. It should have been first on my search results. Tell me that is not top of mind. I digress.

Everyone, meet Missouri Education Watchdog, a fantastic website advocating for changes in education policy. The article of focus is A New York and Chicago Discover What Standardized Rigor Really Means for Children. What drew me in was the photo, called “Common Core Tears”. Making sure I attribute the photo appropriately, the photographer and contributing author of the article is Kelly Poynter.

My Takeaways:

The rigor of standardized testing, and common core may be too hard on our children. If that is the case, who is there to make sure our children can learn and yet still be children? Case and point: I have a friend with four children, two of which are enrolled in elementary school. Most of the time, the kids come home, do their homework, play for 30 minutes, eat, then start getting ready for bed. Pretty routine, right? Not really, you see, homework time lasts for about 1 1/2 – 2 hours a night, leaving them little quality family time a.k.a play, which means that total schooling has increased from 6-7 hours to close to 9-10 hours. One child would bring home 20-page packets to be complete at home before he went to sleep. Granted, this child is amazingly smart, but imagine families whose children may be struggling. How long do you think they have to spend on a 20-page packet. Tell me this is fair practice….really.

I saw this other great post/picture about school science fairs, and thought it was brilliant. I am not quite sure who to attribute this to as I saw it on FB, but it certainly captures projects that take more than umpteen hours to complete. In the same article, another woman/mother (also an advocate) describes her experience helping students with an online test they were required to take. Imagine a 5-year old sitting in a ‘testing room’ with a computer monitor with headsets that do not fit their small heads, not being able to ask questions, or if they did gets the pre-designated response of, “Do the best you can.”

The mother posts, “I would imagine, that for many five year olds, this MAP test would be the first time in their lives that they could not talk through problem with an adult, or have an adult use different words that would help them better understand a problem.  I understand that the testing field has to be equal, but I am here to tell you, it just feels wrong for a child so young not to be able to ask for clarification.”

Some parents have rallied around the unfairness of a nation-wide standard common core. We all hear “the one size does NOT fit all” phrase all the time, but most parents, community members, teachers, advocates do not quite have the voice they need to produce change, like in some other states.

The Indiana Senate recently passed a bill to kill Common Core, as reported by NUVO, that has given the right to develop academic standards to the state. The article continues, “The bill now moves to the House where Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, has said he would prefer Indiana to create its own education standards. This started as two parents in my district concerned with what their kids were being taught and what their kids came home with as homework in their backpacks. I think this is an important milestone in the state of Indiana. I think this is a benefit for all of us.”

Reading this article gives me hope that if there is enough noise behind something that is really out of whack in education, that we can make the changes necessary to improve our education systems. All you amazing people fighting the good fight, keep it up! Don’t give up like I did. It is worth the battle when instead of seeing your child struggle through hours worth of homework, they have less, more quality homework that adds the same value and helps them practice teamwork and success.