Spring sent fourth grade teacher, Cora, and me to the Netherlands, where we heard many an educator worry about the impact of national testing on primary school curriculum. We parted ways on a Saturday, each of us ready for our spring break. I was stopping in London on my way home. Once I arrived in London, I caught up with old friends and family, some of whom are educators. And once again, I heard that same lament: angst about the impact of national testing on education. Angst about its cost, angst about its interference with what teachers were teaching and what children were learning.
I learned that the United States is not the nation with the most national tests. Apparently, England is. On Thursday, April 25, 2019, I had the opportunity to join an old friend as she went on a mission. We met at Parliament Square where she was joined by many a colleague. Educators from the entire country were gathering alongside parents, children and some ministers of parliament. They were there to protest the testing of four year olds. England’s latest plan is to test every four-year-old when they start school. With an annual budget of ten million pounds, the country wants to determine a ‘baseline’ for every child. The results will then be compared with the child’s scores on a standardized assessment, which will be given when the child is eleven years old.
These educators and parents were appalled by this concept. They gathered in Parliament Square where a few of them spoke. Many a four-year-old wore a “more than a score” t-shirt and soon the crowd of a few hundred was marching. Escorted by police, they walked to Downing Street where the prime minister works, and then a few of them including some moms (mums) and children were allowed through the big iron gate and led into the building where they delivered a petition with close to 70,000 signatures. Outside, the others waited, singing, chanting and waving placards.
It was a lesson in democracy and an inspiring morning. These folks believed in their children and in the power of their voice. I came away impressed with the call for civil action and with the community spirit. Let’s follow this global problem and continue to be informed as we work to understand why this is such a universal issue.
All for now,
Quote of the Week:
On Wednesday, May 1, BNS graduate Toby Pannone spoke to us at a town hall meeting about the annual Kids Walk for Kids with Cancer, an issue dear to his heart. Toby is a cancer survivor. Hear about his successful struggle here. Toby’s presentation is always moving and powerful. His ability to hold the attention of all of our kids speaks to what he learned at BNS and what he learned as a patient and cancer survivor. But Toby wasn’t the only voice in the room. Third grader, Noah Thomas, a student in Sally and Laura’s class, raised his hand to say, “There are different types of cancer, one where cells die and keep multiplying and another is where your cell factory breaks and keeps making broken cells since the cell factory is broken. And your body reads them as new and efficient and good so they multiply and they keep multiplying broken cells.” Then Noah asked, “Which one did you have?”
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