Why I am pulling my kids from public elementary school: a letter to the powers that be.

Why I

It’s a manifesto of sorts, actually. Bless you if you read all 2800 words. I know it’s insanely long – Brad told me people would disengage, but I couldn’t figure out what to cut out. And I’m generally very pithy. It took me about 6 weeks to write it. I know my one little voice can’t change much, but we, parents and educators, need to band together and change the insanity of the public education system.

 

Dear Governor Scott, Mr. Griffin, Mrs. Stewart, David Simmons, Karen Castor Dentel, Mr. Agosto and Mrs. Brouillard and Seminole County School Board Members,

 

I am a parent of five children in Seminole County Schools aged 4 (VPK) to 16. My husband and I are deeply embedded in this community. We are both successful products of Lake Brantley High School and the middle schools that fed into it. I graduated from The University of Georgia in 1995 and came back to Seminole to teach Kindergarten at Pinecrest and Wekiva; he is currently the pitching coach for the Lake Brantley varsity baseball team. Our ties run deep. We stayed here so our kids would be blessed with a similar educational experience and opportunities.

This year has been completely disheartening for us.  You see, I’ve been okay with FCAT…show what you know, I get it….some sort of accountability. That was until this year. My third grade son, Jackson, the fourth of my four boys has had mostly As, a scattering of Bs through his Bear Lake career, much like his brothers. However, he has had the Discovery Education tests added to his school year. I saw his score on DE in first grade and it was scary low, in the 20s. But he had 1s and his teacher said that she knows him and he was doing fine with nothing to worry about. Same thing in 2nd grade, though, knowing that FCAT was looming, I began to panic a bit.  We read out loud together each night through the summer, talked about the books as we read and I believed that that would pay off on the first DE test of 3rd grade because he was doing really well.  I was wrong. His first DE test was similar to others but now his teachers start panicking because their pay depends on it. He is sent to remedial LEAP and ultimately a math pullout group. All the while, he has mostly As and a few Bs.

Disconnect. That’s the word that plays over in my head. How can he do all his homework on his own, rarely asking a question, never, ever struggling with any topic and get such a low percentile on a test? Then, an epiphany. What is this test? What is the validity of this test? How does it relate to our curriculum? That’s something I’ve never considered. I’ve always walked the “company” line. I am looking at a print out of Jackson’s answers (B, A, A, C, D, etc) and the correct answers (C, D, A, C, B) and what does that tell me? Nothing. It tells me nothing. I can’t see the test to see what he’s done wrong, to see if the questions are worded well, to see why he’s doing poorly. He’s being pulled out of normal classes for remediation because of this DE test, but he has all As and Bs! He’s excelling from a curriculum standpoint, so I, as a teacher, don’t even know how to help him at home. We did FCAT practice tests at home, something I’ve never done with my older boys who had the same grades but no DE. Shouldn’t I, as a 40 year old mom with an education degree, whose current job is to write instructional lessons for adults, be able to take a test for 8 and 9 year olds in a matter of minutes without thought or “oh, wait, that’s not right?!” moments? Yes, I should, but that was not the case. If I can defend how two answers are correct on a question, then the test is flawed.

Jackson’s brothers had 4s and 5s on all their FCATs, perhaps a 3 thrown in here and there.  All of which I accepted without hesitation. FCAT was no big deal in our house. They’re smart boys, we are involved parents, they have no stress, their lives are good. But now I pause. Did Carson not make it into GEMS because of an inverse operation problem that my mother-in-law, the former LBHS Pre-Calculus teacher, said was flawed on the 3rd grade test? The problem that my husband, a Georgia Tech graduate, said that there had to be a typo because the right answer wasn’t there? On a THIRD grade problem? Suddenly I want to see my kids tests, see where they went wrong, see what they did right, but parents aren’t afforded that option and neither are teachers. If the test is truly a good indicator of student ability, then the parents and teachers should be able to see the actual test and the student work to help the students moving forward?

Fine. FCAT is over. It’s no longer an issue. But the “AIR” test is coming. What will that bring? Who knows? The teachers don’t, the administrators don’t, so the kids and parents surely don’t know.  Oh wait, the state of Utah knows because the state of Florida paid the state of Utah $5.5 million to field test the test. Who’s writing it? And just as important, who is grading it?  The educational grapevine says that 5th graders will have 14 hours of testing. Fourteen. That makes me cringe. If you told me that I had to take 14 hours of testing in a two week period, I’d shut down. And you want to do that to my 10/11 year old?  The mama bear in me starts to come out. That is not developmentally appropriate. Period. It’s no different than expecting and demanding all children to walk at 10 months; some might be able to do it, but a lot, if not most, will not have the developmental skills to do so successfully.  The MCAT is approximately five hours and ten minutes to get into medical school. And the state of Florida thinks it’s okay to subject our small children to fourteen hours stressful and strenuous testing? Free response sounds great when you say it fast, but that means that someone or something has to grade that test.  A teacher, paid a minimal amount, and a computer will be grading the free response test. If there’s a discrepancy, the computer grade takes precedent. Not my child’s teacher who knows him and sees him everyday, but a non-human that is looking for scripted answers?

This brings us to the elephant in the room. Common Core or The Florida Standards which are aligned to Common Core. The materials remain the same. Jackson has the same text books as his cousin in California. I’ve done my research, I’m an over-researcher by nature. And again, it all sounds great when you say it fast. It is nice that kids can move on a Friday from New Jersey and go to school in California the following Monday and pick up right where they left off.  It sounds awesome when you say that kids are on the same page and we’ll be developing critical thinkers; they will rise to the challenge of more difficult standards.  And every kid will be career and college ready at the end of high school and all on the same page? SIGN ME UP.

Sure. Walk that political line. It’s rhetoric. It sounds fantastic when you gloss over it like that. But let’s really look at our implementation of Common Core. I’ve seen it first hand with my third grader this year and to a lesser extent with my older kids.  Let’s take Jackson, his first and second grade lessons were based on the older curriculum.  This year a new curriculum is thrown in, teach it with “fidelity” Seminole County tells them – that means that they used only the Pearson materials (you know, the Pearson that has spent nearly $4.4 million in lobbying in recent years) and only Pearson materials, for the first 12 weeks of the school year.  And get this, then we’ll use the FCAT 2.0 which is aligned with the former standards to decide if this group of third graders is worthy of fourth grade placement.

Jackson had a passage on a weekly comprehension and vocabulary test that was horribly written. The material was about professional athletes, which is relevant to him since his dad played Major League Baseball. The syntax, however, was a disaster. I typed the whole thing into a grade and reading level decoder and it averaged at 10th grade with all its indicators. For my 8 year old. In fact, I gave it to my “gifted” 10th grader to read and he looked at it for a minute and tossed it aside because he didn’t want to have to really think for the 3rd grade work. To the other extreme, Jackson then has “feel” and other long e spelling words in late winter/early spring, along with vocabulary like “sports” and “basketball” which is in stark contrast to the 10th grade passage about professional sports in October! There is no rhyme or reason to the materials and curriculum. It’s a joke, a joke being played on our kids. On MY KID, I’m not cool with that.

We have had some amazing teachers at Bear Lake, Teague and Lake Brantley.   They’ve engaged the kids with creative projects, reader’s theater, allowed the kids to pursue some topics that interest them, delved deeper into cultural studies.  Engaged them.  Though the common core standards purport to foster that kind of education, about 90% of the work Jackson brings home is worksheets, done in class and done at home. Everything I’ve seen this year is stand-alone, segmented. Nothing is deep, there is no time for kids to even consider what is interesting to them, because you’re on page 168 today and you need to get through 170 by tomorrow.  There is nothing engaging about workbooks. Shouldn’t our Florida kids learn about things like the Everglades and the delicate ecosystem with our many lakes, springs and oceans or all about hurricanes?   Think of the units you could do! Think of how many skills you can conquer with a long unit like that! Think about how engaged kids could be in the process and how meaningful it would be to them! Worksheets could still be used, but just to reinforce skills, not as the entire curriculum.  Pearson “with fidelity”  does not allow time for such things; that’s the problem with a nationalized curriculum.

Today’s public school atmosphere is all about accountability and not about the actual needs of the child. Not everything in education can be quantified; we are dealing with little humans who come into that classroom everyday with different backgrounds. Some might not have eaten since lunch yesterday, another couldn’t sleep last night because she saw Dad hit Mom through her cracked bedroom door, and thankfully others come into that classroom with every need met, loved, hugged and kissed as they exited Mom’s car.  Teacher pay is being affected by those factors, factors that they cannot control. Art and music teachers are being “graded” on how well the kids who come to them once every seven days do on their math and language arts FCAT. That is nonsense. The same company who came up with the widely maligned “Value Added Model” for teachers is writing our new standardized test. That does not exactly elicit waves of confidence. You are not programming computers; you can’t expect a 2008 Dell that had coffee spilled on it to perform the same tasks as a 2014 iMac.  I am extremely worried about the work atmosphere you are creating with these criteria and again, the validity of such a system needs to be addressed.

I haven’t even broached the EOCs for every high school class. For the life of me, I cannot imagine why our state would pay to develop, give and grade a test for high school PE or Art 1 or Foods and Nutrition. Academics are one thing, but you need to allow our teenagers to explore topics that interest them and those do not need to come with a standardized test. That is a colossal waste of money and another way to suck out the last chance they might have to love learning.

The goal of education is to foster the child’s fullest potential based on their strengths and interests. I’m lucky, I guess. My kids generally do fit into your perfect little box because they pass tests, they never get into trouble, they will do “fine” at whatever curriculum you throw at them.  But I want them to be excited about some aspects of learning, I want my kids in high school to take some classes because the topic interests them without the threat of failing a standardized test associated with an elective. The time that our kids could be pursuing their interests is being spent on test preparation.  How can test prep be spun as “in the best interest of the chid?” Education should revolve around what is best for the child, right now, it’s revolving around what is best for Pearson’s bottom line and stuffing our kids into this metaphorical box that they’ve created. Weeks of standardized testing not only takes away valuable instruction time, but it also does not give a complete picture of the child. My middle schoolers were on a “testing” schedule for 11 days during testing season. Do you know what that means? It means they sit in one class for 3 hours every morning while another group in the school is testing. Know what they did? Watched movies. Some of them were science movies, but my 6th and 7th graders watched the same movie and did the same project.

The test emphasis is coming from the higher-ups, the State and Federal Government (that’s another topic all together). I get it. I do not blame the school or the county.  Obama’s “Race to the Top” dictates these tests and Common Core through funding. But education is not a race – it is a journey – why must we hurry it along? It is with that that I ask you, Seminole County, to reevaluate. You have a community base in Seminole County who live here for your highly rated schools, but by taking the power away from the individual schools and teachers, you are undermining your superiority.  Allow your your teachers to teach as they see fit for their students, let them create, let them explore. Trust them to know their kids. Take away the script. Allow the kids to play, learn in a manner that is developmentally appropriate. I am asking you to start thinking outside of the box. Stand up for our kids. Put creativity back in learning and teaching.  Someone has to take the initiative to save the schools and a generation of kids – why not you? Why not us? Who is in a better position than one of the highest performing counties in the state?

Teachers are leaving the classroom in droves. Parents are in an uproar. The arguments are varied and most are valid. If you stick with this curriculum and these high stakes tests, I fear you will be creating an even wider divide between haves and have nots. Parents who can afford it will put their kids in private school or homeschool them. The gap will grow; not shrink. I want to stand up for all kids, but even if I scream from the rooftops about how the system is broken, my little voice has a very small chance of being heard. I want it to change and I have strong opinions. Project and inquiry based education. Informal and varied assessments for young kids. Develop the whole child, create curriculum and classrooms which are developmentally appropriate and foster the love of learning. I could go on….

I can’t change the educational environment by myself- at least not in the next few months -  but I can take charge of my kids’ education. For us, I’ve decided that Jackson and Lylah (entering Kindergarten) will be attending a private school next year. This year was a Common Core Experiment and next year will be focused on figuring out the “AIR” test. I cannot, in good conscience, allow them to be the guinea pigs for a curriculum that has not been proven and pawns in the high-stakes testing game. I don’t want Jackson to lose yet another year of meaningful learning while his teacher is forced to figure out how to best prepare him for a test she’s never seen. Because her pay depends on it, because the school’s funding depends on it – she MUST prepare them if she agrees with it or not. I am concentrating my efforts on my younger two kids and praying that my oldest three have had a strong enough educational base that they will survive and hopefully thrive in this new environment.  I want my kids to love learning, I want them to explore and be curious. I want their lessons to be meaningful, deep and connected.  And ultimately, I want them back in Seminole County Schools, unfortunately at this point I do not think that SCPS is the best choice for them and that breaks my heart. It’s a shame because you’re losing out on two pretty amazing kids.

 

Sincerely,

Lynne Rigby

 

  • Jes Gwozdz - May 30, 2014 - 3:00 pm

    Lynne, I read all 2800 words! This is so well written. I can feel your mama-bear instincts coming through, but yet it is all presented so logically and matter-of-fact. I hope that your letter makes it to the correct ears so that a positive change can be implemented. Gracie is going to middle school next year here in Washington and some changes to the math curriculum to be more aligned with Common Core were discussed at incoming parent night. It made me a cringe a little knowing all that you have been through in Florida.

  • Courtney - May 30, 2014 - 3:17 pm

    I, too, read all of it, and I agree 100%. Right now I only have one daughter in school, in 2nd grade. Right now her school doesn’t follow Common Core, although the school she transferred from did. I don’t feel confident enough to home school her, although we have discussed it time and time again. She LOVES to learn and we know what interests her the most. So she stays in public school (she’s on a waiting list for two charter schools here, too) and we supplement what we think she would like learning on the weekends and evenings by the books we buy and the places we go. As a family we generally enjoy museums, science centers, etc over movie theaters, go carts, etc. So that helps us there, but it does make for a lot of learning and not a lot of time for breaks, which isn’t good either. Even at school, the 7-8 year olds only get one 15 minute recess a day. That’s it. And if too many kids are acting up, they ALL have to go stand on the wall for the rest of it. How in the world is that helping?? Get rid of the tests, increase extracurriculars, and more/longer recesses, and there will be a POSITIVE difference in the kids and our education over all.

  • Karin O'Brien - May 30, 2014 - 3:35 pm

    Mama bear indeed. We’re feeling this pain too in IL. It saddens me SO much. When my Kindergartner complains that he doesn’t want to go to school because there isn’t any play time, that just sends up red flags for me….all kids learn through play. And with the implementation of CC (New tests coming down the pipe that no one has any idea what they’ll be like) just DOESN’T MAKE SENSE!

    Sigh.

    I feel for you – I hope you continue the good fight, and that your kids land in a school you can be confident and comfortable in!

  • Shannon Wilkinson - May 30, 2014 - 4:22 pm

    I read it from beginning to end as well. While I’m not in Seminole County, I have found that the one size fits all, cookie cutter model is not working as well for my kindergartener. I have gone back and forth repeatedly about whether or not to homeschool. I’m still on the fence but am leaning more and more toward removing them from public school.

  • Patti - May 30, 2014 - 4:33 pm

    Every. Word. Lynne, I feel you as a parent and a ECE. This is the wrong direction. Plain and simple. We are creating a situation where children will equate learning with discomfort instead of wonder, pretty much eliminating the possibility that they will foster a life long love of learning.

    I see preschoolers every day that will not fit into this system. We beg parents to find something for them so their individuality won’t be crushed. Children who we see as intensely special and gifted but challenging will be irreparably harmed by a educational system that requires conformity & obedience.

    My own kids are struggling through the CC math curriculum. I have no tools to help them, the math itself is not the problem the presentation is incomprehensible. More that once my husband and I have thrown our hands trying to help our 7th grader with homework. I can get a lesson on box and whisker graphs on Khan Academy but that doesn’t help decipher the terribly written questions. They are indecipherable.

    Thank you for validating what we’ve been struggling with, it doesn’t make our choices easier but at least we feel less impotent.

  • Kim - May 30, 2014 - 5:19 pm

    As a teacher and parent, I hope this is not what happens to our schools in Washington. I had no idea it was so bad in other places.

  • Crystal - May 30, 2014 - 5:41 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more. My son didn’t pass the reading FCAT at Bear Lake Elem and is being forced to go to a Summer Learning Camp in June, then take the SAT10 test to determine if he promotes to 4th grade. While he is definitely an “average” student in regards to grades, he is a very bad test taker. He was never offered any help, other than an after school reading program that was a complete joke, so we pulled him out. It was a waste of everyones time. His teachers weren’t very helpful either, as the answer was always they’d have to meet with the other 3rd grade teachers. They could never help on their own, nor did they ever get back to us. I even requested his teachers be changed. I wish I had had that done. I am very tempted to pull both my 3rd grader (hopefully 4th) & my 1st grader if things don’t change.

  • Polly Shelley - May 30, 2014 - 6:15 pm

    My heart hurts after reading your 2800 words. I know all your children except the preK child. Your boys are wonderful, sweet, beautiful and smart boys from a super, well grounded family. Your words make me truly worry about the children from disfunctional, low income and single parent families.
    I wish you much success in your move to private school and please know you will be missed at BLES.

  • Ann - May 30, 2014 - 7:33 pm

    Well written. All 2800 words. We mustn’t be complacent. It is a war worth waging. And one front must be at the polls. Thank you for this. Park Maitland will “grow” your children well.

  • Kelly Crenshaw - May 30, 2014 - 7:41 pm

    Brilliantly written, every word. As an SCPS parent and teacher I can unfortunately attested to the fact that your letter is 100% accurate.

  • John Riley - May 30, 2014 - 8:28 pm

    We are home schooling as well ! Check out the

    Ronpaulcurriculum.com

    It is amazing !! Incredibly thorough. Science class entails kids having to grow lemon trees starting gardens building generators etc. it’s very inexpensive as well

  • lynne - May 30, 2014 - 8:39 pm

    Thank you so much, Coach Shelley. You’ve always treated them so well and we are really going to miss you and others. xo

  • Debbie Corbin - May 30, 2014 - 8:56 pm

    the whole thing and hope this will fall upon ears that will hear….add my son with dyslexia and dysgraphia to this and no way could or should he have to be part of this. Its rediclous. The system is so broken and doesn’t affect the big money political figures in way shape or form. Every day my son (7yrs old in 1st grade) with his dyslexia and dysgraphia be subjected to this …totally lost perspective.on what education is about. We keep wondering about filling in the gap between lower and higher scoring, how about a orton Gillingham method to help all children. So discusted with our system. Perhaps they should have thier pay reduced by how its failing our young.

  • Andrea Kelley - May 30, 2014 - 9:29 pm

    I read this to the end and I couldn’t agree with you more! My son is going to be 1 Monday yet I am already worried about schooling for him. It is not the same as when I was a kid. Too much pressure is out on kids and teachers with these tests and don’t even get me started on Common Core, what a joke. Good for you for taking a stand for your children!

  • Karen Hertlein - May 30, 2014 - 10:03 pm

    What an awesome letter! I am one of those teachers that left Bear Lake after 10 years of teaching 2nd grade. I left in October – I had enough of Reading Street fidelity & developmentally inappropriate curriculum, etc. Thank you for taking the time to write this letter. The only way the course of public education will change is if parents stop sending their kids on test days. The change must be forced by parents & taxpayers.

  • Kelli Mitchell - May 30, 2014 - 10:08 pm

    Lynne, this is exactly how I feel and why I chose to homeschool Noah, Joanah and Ben. I too, grew up in seminole county schools and loved it, but pulled Noah out after his first year. His love of learning quickly dwindled as the year went on and I couldn’t bear to continue sending him. For me, homeschooling was the answer and we love it. Love all your boys and Lylah and miss seeing you guys at RDV!

  • grieftrip - May 30, 2014 - 10:10 pm

    I loved your letter. It does address a lot of the problems that we are seeing in common core and high stakes testing. I am also a teacher and Mom, and while my child hasn’t been struggling, my students certainly are! I think this is a more global problem that needs to take into account different educational tracks and the ability for teachers to have some uniqueness in their classroom. We need to make sure we are graduating kids with college-readiness, IF that is where they are headed. Otherwise, I think vocational tracks need to be addressed. I wrote a blog on this last week at http://Www.grieftrip.com if you are interested in another opinion. Thanks for writing this!

  • N Lower - May 30, 2014 - 10:15 pm

    Your husband was wrong! I read every word and shouted Amen a few times in between sentenced. I no longer teach in public schools. It is heartbreaking what is happening to the education system.
    I want you to know I hear you and appreciate your voice. Every “one” matters!

  • Karla - May 30, 2014 - 10:34 pm

    Read every word. My kids (3rd & 2nd grades this year) don’t go (and won’t go) to public school. We are thankfully blessed to afford (at great sacrifice) private school. However, the reason we choose private school is for exactly the reason you stayed. I saw it before my kids started school and I see it and hear it from practically ever parent I know with a child in public school. Something has to change.

  • Amy hopping - May 30, 2014 - 10:55 pm

    I also read all 2800 words and loved it! I feel the same way but I can’t afford to put my child in private school. I have talked about home schooling, but with me in school and full time job it would be hard. I don’t like orange county’s school system either here in Orlando. My son struggles in reading and lanuage subjects. He is acing math. It’s is so bad that he has to go over his reading assignments throughout the whole week to have a chance to past the test. I started using an iPad with him for his spelling words for him to learn his spelling words. I feel I am failing him as a parent bc he is having to deal with the common core crap! My son struggled throughout this year. And there is nothing anyone can seem to do about it. He just brought home all these workbooks from class yesturday. I was shocked to see everything was done in workbooks. When I was in school we didn’t have workbooks. We had regular books did our work out of those books and yes papers here and there to make sure we understood it. But nothing like our kids have now. I think the principal told me second grade with common core is basically learning fourth grade work from the previous years. How is that good? How can they just change it and think out kids are going to be able to keep up? I don’t understand it. I have not yet decided what I am going to do next yr for him but over the summer I will be looking into different options for him. I have a very caring and loving boy that knows everyone in his school. I mean everyone! That is the type of lil man I have. But he is struggling in school that he doesn’t want to go. How is that any good?

  • Angel - May 30, 2014 - 10:59 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more. My children all go to BLES and they all do very well. My 3rd and 4th grader passed FCAT but I hate that one test can hold them back. My son got a 3 on the reading part but he has all B’s…he gets a 2 and he doesn’t move on? I’m very concerned about common core but I have no option to homeschool. I am however going to look into charter schools. We love bear lake but kids are not all cut from the same mold. What can we do? Who do we write? How can we change this??

  • Mary Marquette - May 30, 2014 - 11:15 pm

    I just left a school in Seminole County where I have taught for 42 years precisely because of this. The tests do not accurately measure a student’s ability and Common Core is the opposite of the way I was taught to teach each child at his own level. It has ruined teaching for me. Mary Marquette

  • Amy Larson - May 30, 2014 - 11:45 pm

    My husband was a public school teacher for thirteen years in a neighboring county, and this year accepted a job as a technology trainer in the superintendent’s office here in TN. All of our local school systems have also adopted CC and standardized testing. After many nights of long conversations, hours of research, and my husband’s experience in the public system, we have decided to send our boys to private school (which was never in ‘the big plan’). Although your husband may think your 2800 word letter is lengthy, I believe most that come across it will take the time to read it. Why? Your words resonate with so many. Aside from the names of your children, names of schools and teachers, I felt as if someone had written a letter about me and my family. Thank you for sharing! You definitely spoke to me personally. We will not allow our children to be guinea pigs either. Although we have deep roots and ties to our public schools, we have chosen a different path for our three tiny humans–one that will nurture their love for learning!

  • Marisa - May 30, 2014 - 11:46 pm

    Beautifully written, and sad to read. Sigh.

    Have you heard of http://www.challengesuccess.org/? I’m not affiliated with it at all, but they post some very interesting things on Facebook.

  • Jacquelyn Moran - May 31, 2014 - 12:08 am

    Awesome! And this is EXACTLY why my 3 boys go to private school. Everyone questioned why. My kids are bright, energetic, athletic boys . I could not even think about putting the stress of FCAT on them. I hope your voice is heard Lynne.

  • Barbara - May 31, 2014 - 12:26 am

    As a Seminole County teacher, I am sorry to lose out on your kids. I also think it is sad for the system to lose such a caring parent on our side. Thanks for understanding that this is not what we teachers want, either. I worry for our future…

  • Celeste - May 31, 2014 - 6:55 am

    I agree, it is so very sad our trained and caring teachers and administrators do not have a more active role in the Developement of these core tests. Our kids 7, and 3, attend a small private elementary, who are very structured and curriculum based and as stated earlier it is a huge finantial burden but with our research, as their parents felt was our only option, for their and our sanity.

  • Sped teacher - May 31, 2014 - 7:07 am

    I’m also a teacher in scps. I teach students who earn special diplomas and take the Florida Alternate Assessment instead if FCAT. My students have cognitive levels between 50-70. This year I will be evaluated on their progress on FAA even though in all honesty it’s all dependent on what they are able to recall that day at that moment. I was also told we would be giving this group EOC tests. I love the kids I work with, it’s the only reason I keep plugging away. There is certainly no support from the state or even administration at this point. It’s sad.

  • Renee - May 31, 2014 - 7:16 am

    In 2003, I graduated from UCF with my English Ed. degree. I completed my senior internship at Teague MS.
    Fast forward to today. By the last day of school, my students will have completed around 80 days of FAIR testing, (which occurred once every 7-9 weeks, allowed two days per LA teacher, and allowed us to predict student performance on the FCAT),Cella testing, (which also includes entry testing, missing data testing, expired data testing). We tested students with Readi-Step, pre-SAT, baseline, monthly, mid-year, and FCAT writing data, (one day of testing followed by several days of make-ups).
    As testing approached, we would conductpull-outs with groups of sstudents. Since my room was next to the testing room, my students would need to be super quiet.
    We never got any time in the actual computer lab to work on any computer-based projects or web quests as it was always scheduled with one test or another.
    My students went to the media center to work on projects and were told to hurry up because the next days were pre-scheduled for testing.
    With only 180 days of school, my students experienced only 100 days of instruction, minus the 16 days I missed, because of my responsibilities as the ESOL Resource Teacher.

    Now I am home two weeks early, probably because my health has been impacted from working in a stressful school and testing environment.

    Because my school is on the watch list, district personnel regularly march through my classes and assess what needs to be fixed. Objectives, that’s it, that’s the magic anecdote. Really, becauseJohnny just threw a desk across the room, Frank is stuffing himself with candy trying to kill himself, because he couldn’t go to the dance. Sally and Sarah are discussing oral sex, Tracy tells another student to only do the minimum, others are discussing a fight. Do they have an assignment? Yes, they’re reading about the Holocaust in novels that they chose. They acknowledge that they know what is required of them, but quite frankly they say they aren’t working because they don’t care. That’s my fault, not theirs, not their parents, not the lost instruction, no it’s my fault.
    We completed the FCAT, so why do we need to do more work of learn about more stuff?
    I’m considering my options, every few weeks or so. Another career choice, another field…hmmm maybe a politician, so I can interfere with someone else’s job. Might take that into consideration.

  • Shayna Grunewald - May 31, 2014 - 7:18 am

    This is written so eloquently and I agree with you 100%. I have a communications degree but changed careers to bevome a teacher 9.5 years ago and because if the low pay and ridiculousness I am almost finished with an MBA in order to find a different path. It breaks my heart that my children will not experience the fun that I did as a child learning.

  • Amy Capelle - May 31, 2014 - 7:22 am

    I loved every word of this. My oldest is entering Kindergarten this fall and I am so hesitant about it. I will wait and see how it goes this year, but I would not hesitate to pull her out of school and homeschool if we’re not happy. My younger two aren’t even to VPK age yet, but all three will be homeschooled if things continue down this crazy track. My husband and I are both teachers. This year was my 10th and final year teaching. I can’t stand all the testing craziness, common core nonsense, and the teacher evaluation system is a joke. I have plenty of other skills to offer the world, so I am leaving the field altogether. Everything I know to be good instruction and good for kids is being stomped out of public education and I just cannot stand it anymore. Every decision that’s made is about money, not what’s best for kids. Bottom line. I hope we both find some answers and I sincerely hope someone, somewhere is listening because public education, which I highly value and regard as one of the most important factors in maintaining a strong and free society, is dying a very slow death. Best of luck to Carson, too! He was a joy to have in typing.

  • Shiela Wyatt - May 31, 2014 - 7:36 am

    100% agree. Same experience here in Orange County. Very well written. Sharing.

  • Barb - May 31, 2014 - 7:39 am

    Please run for the school board!Help stop this insanity. The cRaZy thing is that they are not even satisfied with instituting all of the testing and common core into the public school, they are trying to DEMAND private schools do the same–all in the name of accountability.

  • Shae - A future SCPS parent - May 31, 2014 - 8:09 am

    Lynne, well done. I have always heard about the great schools in Seminole County and have chosen to live here because of it. When pregnant with my son, I had an opportunity to move to Orange County, but chose to stay here based upon reputation. I wanted to give him the best shot at a quality education. We are just a few years away from Kindergarten, and now I am saddened at my new reality. As a single mom, I cannot afford private school. But I wonder if I can afford to jeopardize his academic future with the Common Core, FCAT loving, over testing system that we currently have in place. Your words were inspired!

  • Gwen - May 31, 2014 - 8:24 am

    Well said! Please, please someone get this into the hands of our governor.

  • Stacy Wilson - May 31, 2014 - 8:40 am

    Every. Last. Word. Thank you for writing this. My family is embarking on a homeschool journey for this next school year. For all the reasons you stated and more. We, however, come from a great private school here in Seminole County. But even there, Common Core materials are seeping in, excessive testing is overtaking, and despite my best efforts to show administrators why I balk at and will not stand for these intrusions, they continue down this path toward ‘towing the line’ – they’re response being that they have to make sure students faced with these college entrance exams are prepared. Preparing these poor children for standardized tests is NOT teaching them. They are not learning. And they are not being properly prepared for life. So, while your essay is written from a public school standpoint, know that the mess is creeping into private schools as well. Best of luck to you!

  • Lynn - May 31, 2014 - 8:42 am

    Lynne,
    I sat here this morning and not only every word you wrote but also every comment. I am several years ahead of you in the Mommy job and I am so thankful for that. I had 4 children go through Seminole County Public Schools. My youngest graduated from Lake Mary High last week. I also have been involved with Seminole County Public Schools as an elementary teacher, PTA President, SAC Chair, room mom, Super Scientist, and Math SuperStar volunteer.
    Although it was heartbreaking to see my youngest graduate and have her leaving home for college loom ever closer, I have never felt such relief to be out of the SCPS school system. And that is not easy for me to say. I can only liken it to leaving a relationship with someone you have always loved but are no longer compatible.
    I left my teaching position last year and invested in a Mathnasium franchise here in Lake Mary. The need to be able to actually teach children so that they can use what they learn and have confidence in their abilities runs so strong in me. I could no longer do that in the classroom. I spent crazy hours at school trying to work with parents and coming up with creative ways to force too much information on a child. The blank stares were too much for me. I am doubly blessed; my children graduated before they were forced to have EOC’s and DE’s define them and I am now teaching in an atmosphere where instead of blank stares I see smiles and excitement.
    And for the record my children’s teachers at Lake Mary Elementary, Greenwood Lakes Middle, and Lake Mary High School did a fabulous job of teaching my children without the aid of so many defining tests. I have a UF grad, a FSU grad, a junior at FSU and a girl on her way to Yale. I can’t thank enough the amazing teachers they had along the way! I am not sure if they would have excelled as they did without the creativity and differentiation that their teachers were allowed to provide to them.

  • Jill - May 31, 2014 - 8:50 am

    Every word! Thank you for writing this. We are choosing virtual next year for 7th grader, gifted program @ Jhms . Very sad on the direction of school this past year.

  • Jill - May 31, 2014 - 8:50 am

    Every word! Thank you for writing this. We are choosing virtual next year for 7th grader, gifted program @ Jhms . Very sad on the direction of school this past year.

  • Godalone - May 31, 2014 - 9:12 am

    All 2800! Great job!
    Accountability for the guru’s of CC is a must. Give each corporate glutton a face and voice, thus, the so called victors run for cover at the site of personal responsibility. Until then nothing will change, except no American child will be able to pass the tests and the ‘standard’ will need to be lowered or the schools will be clogged with perpetual third graders.
    PS Even the poor can homeschool, it works when you co-op or hire out (cheaper than private).
    PSS a return of the traditional one room schoolhouse could be on the rise as each neighborhood dumps the non educating CC agenda. We are too smart as a people to be duped.

  • Amy Guenther - May 31, 2014 - 9:13 am

    Dear Lynne,

    I read all 2800 words. How could I stop when your words reach the very core of the problems our school systems are facing? I too was educated in Seminole County (Sterling Park, Indian Trails, and Lyman). My children attend Moss Park Elementary in Orange County. Our school was amazing, it is no longer amazing.

    The standards have taken over. The tests run the show. Our kids used to do projects monthly. There used to be a love of learning at our school. You could feel it as you walked through the halls. This year everything changed. The atmosphere collapsed, you could feel the stress just walking through the door. It radiates from the administrators, the teachers and even the kids.

    My oldest son was pulled out of PE to work on remedial skills for the FCAT. It was something I had to agree to. I didn’t like it, but thought it was only a couple weeks and that it would be okay. It is not something I would ever agree to again. PE was the only release he had.

    I already know there is going to be another mass exodus of teachers this summer. I’ve talked to all my favorites. I know most of them will not be there next year and the ones who will are not going to be in a position to help my kids. My oldest moves on to 6th grade. We are awaiting confirmation that his spot in a private school is secured.

    My middle child is going to fifth grade next year. We were going to wait until sixth to put him elsewhere, but it seems more urgent now. My youngest is going into Pre-K, and will likely never walk through the doors of Moss Park Elementary as a student. I find that sad. I don’t want to abandon our local school and it’s community. But like you, I do feel compelled to prevent my kids from being guinea pigs.

    Thank you for your eloquently written letter. I sincerely hope someone will listen.

    Thank you,

    ~Amy Guenther

  • Stephanie - May 31, 2014 - 9:28 am

    Lynne,

    Thank you so much for creating this wonderful letter. I have worked for SCPS for 8 years now as an interpreter and my children are students in this county. This has been the first year my fourth grader has really struggled. Being a gifted student, he has struggled with such a rigid curriculum and I feel it has crushed his spirit. We are exploring our options for next year. Thanks again for taking a stand and helping the other parents out there!!!
    Stephanie

  • Laura Alvarez - May 31, 2014 - 9:44 am

    Bravo. :)

  • Marsha - May 31, 2014 - 9:52 am

    This is beautifully written and girlfriend YOU NAILED IT!! I think this needs to be turned into a petition and e-mailed to every politician in every district in the State of Florida and e-mailed to Governor Rick Scott every hour on the hour!! I live in Ocala, I am President of my children’s elementary school PTO and I have never seen our schools in worse shape. Thank you for speaking on behalf of many moms out there.

  • Deanna Sessoms - May 31, 2014 - 9:58 am

    Wow, agree with every single word! I am a former Seminole county teacher now living georgia. This was our last year with the CRCT, now to be replaced with another harder test which we barely know anything about. I am afraid for my students and my own two children. I do not have the ability to home school or I would! I pray our country wakes up from this nightmare soon.

  • Melissa Schwarzbard - May 31, 2014 - 9:58 am

    Thank you for this article because we as parents are 100% behind you. We have chosen to pull our child out of public school to get her the education she deserves. It’s scary to see what this generation will become without the proper teaching techniques to make them successful critical thinkers.

  • Allison - May 31, 2014 - 10:08 am

    Very well stated. I homeschool my children and while all this with CC and testing was not on my radar when we started in 2008, every time I read a story like yours it makes me so very glad we homeschool. I am also in Seminole County and you should know Florida has excellent homeschooling law that protects us and gives us a lot of freedom while still demanding accountability. Home education offers so many of the things you desire: freedom to teach your children how they learn best, freedom to let them love learning, no testing unless you want it, and you as the parent who knows your child and cares for them and their education makes decisions about how and when they move on in their education.
    I hope Park Maitland works well for you, though I believe that unless major changes take place private schools will soon be in a similar boat as public.

  • Stacia - May 31, 2014 - 10:08 am

    As a parent to a student on an IEP for processing, I relate to all of your words. My son is considered and average student in the traditional sense of grades but excels when put next to his peers in open discussions. Math is his greatest challenge as we have seen many text book flaws with no correct answers and the teacher not being able to explain why that is. His intensive math class textbook was said to be even harder than the advanced math textbook due to the way the problems are structured. I thank you for you candor! This subject needed this type of honesty and insight.

  • Maestro - May 31, 2014 - 10:35 am

    FYI – for the 2014-2015 school year, EOC’s will be given to students from grades K – 12 here in illustrious Florida! This will be in every subject a student is enrolled in including P.E., Art, Music as well as reading, math, science & social studies. Talk about developmentally inappropriate. Many students do not have keyboarding skills. Schools don’t have the time or space to teach these skills because computer labs are booked for testing. Picture a student who has just learned to read with text in hand. Now he has to take an EOC, he’s reading from a screen and is not developmentally ready with keyboarding skills. He has to read the text and use information from the text in his type written response. Oh yes, his teacher is responsible for his test scores. Did you think Florida legislature has a clear goal in mind – privatize education?

  • Laura - May 31, 2014 - 10:48 am

    Go Lynne! Thank you for the transparency with which you shared your experiences. It’s so encouraging to hear from parents who understand that children are NOT first and foremost subjects to be tested and measured, citizens of the state, or pawns of big business … but rather human beings with unique gifts, abilities and callings who are the responsibility of their parents and guardians. Of course to exercise that responsibility parents must have authority and control – you can’t hold someone responsible for something over which they have no control – and local and parent control is what is all but gone with the latest federal intrusions into education policy – the Common Core agenda. P.S. Ask lots of questions of private schools as well, as CC influence (with the encouragement of our state legislature and FLDOE) is creeping in there as well.

  • Jennifer - May 31, 2014 - 11:02 am

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m pulling my hair out over this very issue with my 3rd grader. I don’t know how to help her! He gets good grades, but has reading issues. She is pulled out for help. He doesn’t test well, at all. Well, she passed the math FCAT and failed the reading, so more than likely she will be in summer school for reading. I know this is not her teachers fault!! She has really great teachers and I like her school. I have my opinions on education and the focus is not the kids anymore, it is about money! Parents we need to take back our kid’s education.

  • Bonnie FRench - May 31, 2014 - 11:03 am

    I am a teacher’s assistant who works with the lowest performing 25% of my school’s population. I see teachers who are fearful and will not step out of the curriculum box, yet when children are failing to learn and thrive in that environment, the child is blamed, and labeled.
    The push for all of this testing and scripted curriculum is coming from folks like Bill Gates and the Walton family. It makes me cringe to know what we are being forced to do in public education. And administrators are the ones carrying the whip for the ones at the top.
    I tutor after school, and work with 25 children through the course of my week. Parents have been told their children will be retained as early in the school year as December. This is all based on FAIR, BELLA and then the interventions put in place are based on the same crap curriculum that has failed them in the first place.
    The problem is that when more people leave, less people are in the system to force change. I too am tired of the endless collection of data and very little being done to actually help these kids. I use explicit phonics when I tutor, and get great results. Too bad Pearson has the lock on how kids are being taught, and which politicians to pay off.

  • MommaH - May 31, 2014 - 11:06 am

    This is not unique to Florida. This is a nationwide issue. The only reason Washington state has not dealt with this issue is that their teachers association REFUSED TO ADMINISTER THE TESTS! I am one of the teachers who just exited the profession, after 36 years! Cannot continue this cookie cutter process.

  • Michael - May 31, 2014 - 11:13 am

    Lynne, Thank you for writing this manifesto. Thankfully I do not work in education. I am saddened that I do not have children, but thankful that I do not have to expose any children to this environment. I formerly worked with children with developmental delays, and physical handicaps, in the school systems.
    As I stated I am neither an educator nor a parent, so hopefully you will see that my opinion comes from someone looking at it from the outside, from a different perspective, than most of the people who have responded.
    The largest problem is that teachers, parents, and the public have forgotten that they do have the power to change this situation. We have abdicated our responsibilities to the federal government.
    1. Most public school teachers belong to a labor union. In my area it is the NEA. I have never seen or heard an advertisement by the Union working toward the quality of the teachers’ working conditions. Teachers need to take back control of their teacher’s unions and have them start fighting for the teacher’s job quality, and not just helping the same politicians, who brought us this system, to get reelected with empty promises.
    2. It is time the American people, tell the President and Congress, that the Federal Department of Education needs to be scrapped. The Dept. of Education was formed, when U.S. education started falling behind other countries. It was supposed to help make the education system better. It has failed. You have written a great manifesto showing how it has failed. Children in Florida probably would like to know more about hurricanes, in California earthquakes, in the Midwest tornadoes. A federal bureaucracy cannot determine how children best learn. It is time to stop giving them the power.
    Lynne, thank you for sharing. We the people, need to remember that we had a government for the people, of the people, and by the people. We can have it again. The first step would be to get education at least back to a State run level.
    God Bless, and good luck with your children’s educations.

  • Cara - May 31, 2014 - 11:34 am

    Amen, as a mom of a kindergartener in the state of Florida I fear for him and our other children’s education. Please I pray someone hears this and changes something. There is so much that our children will miss out in because they are testing. My husband have many plans to supplement their education. But I feel for those whose parents can’t or won’t.

  • Nicole H Craig - May 31, 2014 - 11:42 am

    Lynne,
    As a fellow Teacher and parent, I know your pain. Many of the things you write of, I see in my county. I don’t believe Common Core is the enemy but poor teacher training. Many were just told, “do it” with little to no direction. Or told to add more writing but not how to do that, hence the loss of what creativity there was. I’m at a school that saw the writing on the wall, and a group of us were trained. This why, to me, Common Core are standards just like the NGSSS.

    As for testing, this is insane schedule isn’t a new occur occurrence. The last two years have seem some students take upwards of nine tests in a single testing cycle, with two to three cycles a year. I just learned our county will be creating a Language Arts EOC because the AIR test isn’t good enough. The quest for test data has trumped teacher observation or student work. How are the powers that be allowed to judge teachers or students for VAM scores when students are testing so often and teachers lose those hours?

    You are completely right. We need to stand up for what is right. Glad to find another partner.

  • Jenn - May 31, 2014 - 11:44 am

    Writing was never my best subject … This letter is a mother’s work of art in defense and support of her children. Beautiful and true! We have also decided to homeschool our 12yr old, the changes in administration, curriculum and values have become too dismal to ignore. My child has never been happier about school than the day we informed her she won’t have to go back. Our prayers are with the families and teachers still in school, and we pray that people will wake up and realize how horrible it really is.

  • Judy Lynch - May 31, 2014 - 11:51 am

    Thank you for writing this. It sounded like it came from my brain. As a 17 year educator in Charlotte County, Florida, I can tell you that we are forced into NOT doing what is right for our students. The creativity and love of learning is being sucked from our public schools. I believe there is an agenda and we are the pawns. Nothing will change, unfortunately, until parents start pulling their children from public schools – but many are not educated enough to educate their children and others are not in a financial position to stay home to educate their children. It’s a catch 22 for many families. Maybe a grassroots uprising is necessary. God Bless you for caring! Best of luck to you and your family.

  • Ginger Shaffer - May 31, 2014 - 11:51 am

    Read it all & agree. Sadly this happening in all public schools across the country. Our daughter teaches 3rd grande in TN & talks constantly on the issues you addressed. Teaching involves so much more then “book learning”; involves social skis as well. I’m from a family with a long line of teachers & education has always been important. TN is pushing all students towards college. Not all are college material & all the other services we all depend in for daily living are going by the wayside.

  • Robyn (Fitzpatrick) Bomar - May 31, 2014 - 11:54 am

    Hi Lynn. Not sure if you remember me but I graduated class of 1990 at LBHS. Anyway, I used to teach elementary school in the state of Florida before staying home to raise our children and I am also concerned about this date of affairs in our public school system. In fact, we are currently preparing to move our family to the New York City area where I am even more unsure of what our three daughters will face and because there is no way we can afford private school in Manhattan my choices are careful consideration of public schools or venture into homeschooling/virtual school at the 4th, 7th & 10th grade levels. Both seem scary to this former first grade teacher and her engineer husband! We will do what needs to be done in the best interest of our children and I am thankful for your letter in hopes that it continues to spur the conversation about the education system in America today. Proud of you and Brad.

  • Mara - May 31, 2014 - 12:13 pm

    I’m a former student of an Orange County public schools magnet high school. I say former, and not graduate, because I left in the middle of my junior year out of frustration. I’m the youngest daughter of five, and was the last to go through the same three schools as my sisters. I, however, didn’t get nearly the same education as they did. Elementary school was just about the same, but my few short years in high school were unbearable. My freshman class was the first to take an EOC – Algebra 1. They told us it was just for data and statistics, and not to worry about it. How do you expect us to shrug it off when we spent half of the year preparing for it, and not the semester and final exams that counted towards our grade? The next year, they added Geometry, Biology, and a fourth test I can’t remember. This time, it was still guinea pig work for the freshman, and 30% if our final grade for everyone else. THIRTY PERCENT. In addition to taking FCAT! Add exams and AP tests and we had no time to learn the curriculum, just how to take the tests. All of our ‘learning’ happened at home with our textbooks, and we were totally responsible for it. Goodness knows there wasn’t any time to learn it in class. I was fed up with it and left after two and a half years. I didn’t want to devote seven hours every day to something that wasn’t preparing me for anything useful. So I left, graduated through Florida Virtual School and started college a year ahead of my class. Best decision of my life.

  • Tricia whitlock - May 31, 2014 - 12:25 pm

    I just completed my 27th year as a Fl teacher. For 25 years I loved my job. This year has completely broken my heart. I am literally in the position of either sacrificing what I know is right for my students and getting an unsatisfactory rating, or propagating this dangerous game being played at the expense of our children by following their nonsensical edicts. I was teacher of the year and always had superior ratings. Now I am depressed, beaten down, and considering an early retirement that I honestly can’t afford. We are with you.

  • TC - May 31, 2014 - 12:27 pm

    You hit the nail on the head. I feel the same way. However, as a single mom and public school teacher, I can’t afford even the cheapest private high school for my kids. Thus, we will press on and hope and pray that the pendulum swings back to make public school have some modicum of what it “used to be”.

  • Teacher - May 31, 2014 - 12:30 pm

    Amen.
    I am walking away from teaching in five days… After a 23 year career, and seven years short of full retirement. It’s not worth it. What we are doing now is simply NOT BEST FOR KIDS. What I signed up for, as a teacher, was to always put kids first. What’s going on this year in our entire state of Florida is NOT putting the kids needs first. Thank you for writing this.

  • Laurie Harrison - May 31, 2014 - 12:51 pm

    Very well said! Thank you! I hope your words are heard by the powers-to-be, although I’m sadly doubtful they will make a difference. Still, I’m grateful you expressed them, and I encourage others to do the same. What is promoted to improve education is actually suppressing creativity and a love of learning across our nation. This appears to be part of a much bigger scheme to increase personal dependence on government rather than promote independence. It all boils down to the dummying of America. This is so very, very sad – tragic!

  • Kristin - May 31, 2014 - 12:54 pm

    Lynn,
    Hello from your neighbor in Lake County! I read all 2800 words and BRAVO! I’m a Guidance Counselor at an elementary school and I have witnessed first hand the stress from all these tests on our kiddos. My little one starts VPK next year and I’m pretrified of what this test prep environment will do to his little brain! I’ve thought about taking a leave of absence and homeschooling…something I swore I never believed in. I’m a product of Florida public education and have always believed…until this year.
    I look forward to hearing more from you. Praying and hoping this letter reaches the right people!

  • lynne - May 31, 2014 - 1:09 pm

    Nichole! Really?? An ELA EOC + AIR? Did you see the testing schedule for next year? oh my gosh. My middle schoolers….

    Orlando Sentinel

  • Tiffany Kuzma - May 31, 2014 - 1:13 pm

    I read every word too, and shared it on FB. I agree with you 100%. I was in the classroom for 6 years and was a reaching coach for almost 2 years. I left. My kids are in a private school, thanks to the Step Up for Students scholarship, plus I do a lot of home schooling activities at home.

    Thank you for writing this.

  • Jennifer Dickmyer - May 31, 2014 - 1:19 pm

    Thank you for caring enough to write this letter. I think your points are very valid. Unfortunately, I think our new standards, new evaluation system for teachers, and our new assessments have much more to do with making money on the behalf of curriculum and assessment publishers and far less to do with ensuring accountability or student achievement.

  • Paige - May 31, 2014 - 1:35 pm

    I have developed a very interesting insight into the difference between public and private school education over the last year. For several reasons, we moved our freshman son out of the big high school to a smaller private school in our small town. All three of my children had tested gifted and were on the gifted track in elementary and middle school then moved into the AP Program in high school. The quality of education is night and day! I know that my son in private school is receiving a far superior education! Everything is different from teaching style, accountability, formats of tests, discussion groups, and the support from one on one exposure to the teachers. When vocabulary is tested for a Lit class, then the student is expected to write a paper using the vocab words and provide sufficient context clues. In the public school, it is multiple choice or fill in the blank. For exams in the private school, the students have learned how to break down the material in the textbook and take notes on the supplemental teachings or labs provided at school, where in the public school, again your test is probably multiple choice, and you are given a study guide with everything that will be on the test. My son at the public high school gets straight A’s in the AP Program with very little effort. My son at the private school definitely has to work harder for his grades and is only getting a couple A’s this term, but I KNOW that he is being better prepared for the future , for the SAT and ACT, and college. It makes me sad to see the difference. My oldest son, however, is very happy at the public school and would never want to leave his friends or lacrosse teammates. Perhaps, when my daughter finishes middle school, we may put her in the private high school.

  • Laurie - May 31, 2014 - 1:40 pm

    I read it all & agree 100%! My daughter will be entering 1st grade next year, and despite living in Seminole County with their top rated schos, she goes to private school with the help of a scholarship. I never agreed with the FCAT, and I cannot stand Common Core. She loves her school, is engaged while learning hands on and is one happy little girl. I just accepted a teaching position at her school to ensure she and her younger sister can remain there. I know I made the right decision for my kids to not attend public school. Thank you for writing this & I am behind you all the way.

  • Mama Z - May 31, 2014 - 1:47 pm

    HERE HERE!!!! Truer words have never been spoken. I hope the right powers that be take this to heart and make some changes. Our children are more than worth it.

  • Teresa Tennyson - May 31, 2014 - 1:50 pm

    I, too, read all of it. I feel sorry for the children who have to endure this testing. I am the mother of 4 children and luckily my children have graduated high school, 2 have graduated college and my 2 younger ones are in college. One of my children had test anxiety she knew the material but blanked on the test. I have always maintained that the public school systems only reinforce what you, as a parent, teach your child at home. All of my children could read and write when they started kindergarten.The taking and the grading of a standardized test does not gauge the skills of a child, some children are wired to take tests well and others are not,it is not fair to any child to continue with these tests. The teachers in my daughter’s high school repeatedly told her that she was not “smart enough” to go to college. She will be in her 3 year this fall, and she is on the “Dean’s List”. It is unfortunate that,in our public schools, there are not enough teachers who have the same philosophy as you. The grades of a child,who is an individual,is not representative of a teacher’s worth or ability as an effective teacher. I count my blessings every day that my children are out of the public school nightmare that they lived since we moved to Lee County in Florida.

  • Pauline - May 31, 2014 - 1:54 pm

    Read the whole article and agree with you 100%. While my children are grown, I have great grandchildren who are coming into their school years and I have told all my grandchildren to take their children out of public schools or risk the ruin of their children’s love of learning. If I had children today, I would home school them, even if I had to learn a lot to do it. I have many friends who have homeschooled and are not in the process and they and their children love it because they are learning the basics they need while also having the opportunity to learn about things that interest them. Common Core is flawed and was so at the beginning…..it is leading our children to communism….no doubt in my mind about that!! Best of luck to you and others who are willing to push back at this federal mandate (which they say it isn’t???).

  • Monique - May 31, 2014 - 2:06 pm

    I, too, read every word and have felt this way even before this year. This is why 2 of my 3 are also in private school and we teach the third to do her best and not to value herself by her FCAT scores. I have a movie called Race to Nowhere that I think you would totally embrace if you watched it. I was so passionate, like you, for a while, with those mama bear instincts, but I felt I was not being heard and years were slipping away from my children’s chance to love learning and to find their own passions and become their own unique individuals. I too left SCPS. I purchased the rights to have a showing of the movie, to hopefully inspire and spark determination in enough of us that we could unite and make a difference, but never got the chance. Please let me know if you are interested in borrowing it.

  • Kristen - May 31, 2014 - 2:07 pm

    Lynne, I read it all and as both a mother and a teacher I whole-heartedly agree. May all our little voices combine and create one deafening cry for common sense.

  • Kelly - May 31, 2014 - 2:07 pm

    Wow. This explains a lot. I have 3 children in grades K-9 in the SCPS system and I noticed a big change this past year. My kids are in the gifted program and do well in these tests, so a lot of this information slipped by me. It is alarming now that I think back on all of the testing issues, and wasted time that my middle schooler had. Also the fact that I could not take my kidergartener’s class to the media center for the last 10 weeks of shool due to the “testing” that was going in in the media center. I try to be the media mom every year for my elementary age children and this was the first year that I felt that they did not get sufficient time in the library. We have to do something about this. I for one do not have the $12,000 X 4 kids to send them to Park Maitland. :(

  • Tricia Lawlor - May 31, 2014 - 2:12 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to write this. It is so important for parents to understand what is going on. My son will enter high school in the fall at West Port High School in Marion County, Florida. He has done well so far and he is a smart young man. I am now deeply concerned about our 3 year old daughter and her future. I have personally always been a supporter of public schools and the social skills that kids develop at school. Now with all of the changes I am considering private school for my daughter. It saddens me that she cannot have the same experience that I did. I fully agree with you that learning needs to be fun to foster a life long love of learning. God bless you and your family. I hope this goes viral!

  • Pamela @RedWhiteandGrew - May 31, 2014 - 2:12 pm

    Great post and thank you, thank you, thank you for target-locking on the central issue of Common Core being the implementation.

    I work with bunch of bloggers affiliated with Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, a non-profit helping families who homeschool for some of the reasons that you cited. Feel free to email me if you’d like to join our merry band of homeschool moms and dads!

    Best of luck on your journey.

  • Christina - May 31, 2014 - 2:14 pm

    My daughter is one and my husband and I have been having this debate. We are in Seminole County also. I am a product of Lake Mary HS, which was then an A rated school. My school experience was wonderful and I’d hope my child would have the same. This makes me so sad. We are already talking about private school as well. I wish your children the best of luck and maybe I’ll see you at Park Maitland in a few years!

  • Peggy Jandrew - May 31, 2014 - 2:19 pm

    Read it ALL! Agree 100%! As a Preschool VPK teacher in FL, Seminole County we are moving from what is developmentally appropriate (DA), to be in line with Common Core. I have always felt that my students were ready for Kindergarten. This was the 1st year that I felt that some will be lost or incorrectly labeled in the public system. This new method goes against every class I paid for in college. I keep hoping that someone with authority will come to their senses. It might take a Revolution.

  • Mrs. D - May 31, 2014 - 2:26 pm

    As a third grade teacher, I must say I feel the pressure. However, I do not teach in your County. My County allows us freedom to use any resources to teach the standards whether state or common core and provides the Pearson as one of those choices. I have taught for 10 years – 9 of those in the third grade. I hold a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, and I am a National Board Certified Teacher. In these ten years I have seen many great ideas being asked of teachers. The problem is that these new ideas are added to the previous ones and there just aren’t enough hours in a day to do it all. Someone needs to wipe the slate clean and look at all of the requirements. The poor children are pushed way too hard and way too fast. I try to avoid the worksheets and incorporate as many projects as I can but the pacing requirements makes this almost impossible. Our math curriculum does not leave a single day to teach any lesson more than once. How can we expect students to master a skill if there aren’t any days for review and practice when they don’t? I hope someone is listening. There’s a lot of potential for amazing educational opportunities for children. Unfortunately, those making decisions aren’t in the trenches. I invite them to my classroom to spend time with me and actually work on the issues. Thank you for your awesome post. Parents and teachers need to unite on these issues.

  • Brenda Brubaker - May 31, 2014 - 2:58 pm

    Lynne you are 100% correct and I totally agree with your entire summary of the education in SCPS. I am a retired science teacher from LBHS, but I have taught all grades K-12. I have two certifications, K-6 Elementary Ed and 6-12 Biology. My last 3 years of teaching were at LBHS. I loved teaching. I loved my students and watched them grow and learn and thrive in the classroom. I have taught the lowest level students (those 1′s and 2′s in math and reading) to an AP class with the gifted and brightest. I used the elementary strategies I learned when teaching those grades to help those low level learners in high school succeed. And they did succeed because I could teach them. But then the amount of time teaching became less and less and I had to “teach to the test”. We had the EOC for biology and the FCAT and so many other tests that all my students were doing were being pulled out of class to take a test or a pre-test to prepare them for a test on a computer. And LBHS does not have enough computers to accommodate all the biology students or geometry students or English students to test on one specific day, so testing took weeks, not days. Then they introduced the “Marzanno” teaching method that we had to implement int the classroom which would help us in the “Race to the Top”. As a department chair, I had to go to workshops to learn this new way to teach and then explain it to my department. I am a professional teacher. I know how to teach my students. I did it for 15 years, as a second career. I have worked in the “real” world. I know what students need to learn to be successful in life and if you cannot make learning exciting and interesting, then the students just tune you out and become discipline problems in the classroom. When writing the goals of learning of the day on the board and having the students memorize them such that if an administrator walked into the classroom and asked a student what the learning goal is and they could answer them is the most important part of your job as a professional teacher, then we have crushed the excitement and will to learn. That is when I had to say enough is enough and I quit in August of 2012. I would still be teaching at LBHS if I could have actually taught my students how they needed to be taught. My actual teaching time in a typical biology class period was less than 10 minutes. 10 minutes!! What a waste of my time and the students time.
    I commend you on writing your letter. I cannot thank you enough for trying to stop the insanity of the public educational system. I miss teaching every day. I miss my students. I miss seeing them learn and be excited about their accomplishments. I wish someone would listen to people like you and me and really do something but I fear nothing will be done and this constant pouring out of money to Pearson or the like for more tests is the future. Money that could be used to pay teachers the salary they deserve and let them teach like they know how to do.
    I have three daughters. My oldest graduated from Winter Springs High School as a National Merit Scholar. She was #10 in her class. She is a phenomenal standardized test taker. She went to UF for FREE. Then she went to the University of Virginia Law School which kicked her butt. She never had to work in high school or college. Everything came easy to her but when she had to compete with students from other states (typically northern states) and had professors that demanded perfection, she really learned what it was like where education and learning, not testing, was the most important thing. She is a great lawyer and has a fantastic job, but she works long hours and weekends. Then I have twin girls that are two years younger than their older sister. They went to Rainbow Elementary and Indian Trails Middle School. All 3 girls were in the gifted program. But something happened when the twins got to Winter Springs High School. Their grades fell, they had more testing, they were not getting the education that their older sister had received and it was all about scores on standardized tests. We made the decision to put them at Trinity Prep. Best decision we ever made. One graduated from University of Virginia with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and has a great job with Siemens in Houston. The other graduated from Carnegie Mellon and was a varsity swimmer all 4 years, and is now in Medical School at UCF. My girls are not nerds. My oldest played soccer all through school. The twins were swimmers and one of them is also a triathlete. They were motivated by great teachers who taught them how to learn and how to love learning. This is what we are missing today in SCPS. We should be able to correct this as one of the leading counties in education in Florida. I hope someone listens to you and me and those other parents and teachers out there who are telling the truth.

  • Reed - May 31, 2014 - 3:12 pm

    I love this! I am a former Seminole county student and teacher who has chosen private school for my kids up until high school. You are so right about all points and I pray that someday someone in power or something that eventually happens will change this ridiculous situation. I am/have so tired of the decisions being made about education being decided by people who have no clue about children, classrooms, or learning and really don’t even care. It’s all political, what “sounds good”, and money.

  • Angela - May 31, 2014 - 3:14 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking your valuable time to write this letter. I read every word and had goosebumps…..especially in your final paragraph. I will be praying your letter reaches hands that can implement change.

  • Charlene - May 31, 2014 - 3:29 pm

    While I am not in Seminole county I am in FL and also a teacher. It is extremely unfortunate to know that you are part of the problem as a teacher in this state and not part of the solution. While like Lynne I am also putting my child (KG) into a private school in the fall, not all parents understand what is happening with the testing, what it all means and how negatively affected their children are. As teachers we see it every day, kids who have A’s and B’s score a level 1 and face retention in 3rd grade. This is devastating for these kids and shatters their self esteem and their love for learning. We need people who really understand the purpose of education running things. A little hint…the purpose of education is to create thinkers and good citizens who are able to open their minds and see out of the box. When they are constantly being put back in the box that is where they will stay. The cycle continues and we end up with adults in boxes unable to think their way out of even the most simple situation.

  • Dana D - May 31, 2014 - 3:44 pm

    I read it all and I completely agree. We lived in Orange county for most of my 2 oldest children’s education. We homeschooled them beginning in high school. My youngest though, has been in both Windermere Elementary as well as Gulf Gate Elementary in Sarasota, FL. (VERY happy in Sarasota County Public Schools) My friends still teach at WES and one blatantly told me that we got out just in time. She says that there is so much evaluation that is required of her, for each of her 2nd grade students, that they must “interrupt” her paperwork to ask a question! She’s able to do very little actual teaching.

    We are moving to Michigan next month. We’ll start our daughter (who has been in a gifted program for 2 years and has an official EP) in Ann Arbor Public Schools. They, like Seminole, have an awesome reputation. I’m praying that the current educational world has not invaded them as completely as it has in Central Floria.

    While homeschooling is a viable alternative, and easily done in both Florida and Michigan, if Common Core continues to be implemented, it will eventually carry over to the home educating community as well. The SAT is being rewritten to align with CC – that means all students who hope to attend university will need to pass a test to get in…they will need to have been exposed to the material and as such their home based education will need to cover the same material as their public and private school peers. (sorry for the run-on sentence!) Folks who are knee-jerking and home schooling their kids to protect them from the government school system will eventually have to face it anyway. I’ve said all of this as an agreement to your manifesto; our system needs to change. Our children are at risk.

  • Michelle - May 31, 2014 - 3:55 pm

    I am also a teacher and parent of a 2nd grader this year. I totally agree with everything you said too. However, I and some of my co-workers believe the government doesn’t want to fund education anymore. Therefore, they are doing their best to show public education doesn’t work; making it impossible to succeed. They are happy when we flock to private educational settings. That’s one last student they have to pay for.

  • Christi Williams - May 31, 2014 - 4:10 pm

    Thank you, Lynne. Very good points! As a Central Floridian turned Tennessean, public school educated public school teacher and parent, I affirm so many of your 2,800 words! And while the FL government and your school board have some say, even they are slaves to what the federal government says they must do. I think one of the saddest parts of your letter is not only that Seminole County is losing two great kids, but two involved parents. Every school needs caring families, as you well know. My district in Tennessee says in its mission or vision that it wants to be the best choice for every family, but then implements programs or changes staffing, etc. that cause wonderful families to leave the district or send children to private schools.

  • Darla - May 31, 2014 - 4:11 pm

    Bravo! Read every word and you nailed it. We live in Orange County go to a charter school and if my 10th grade twins were younger, they would be homeschooled or going to private school. Common core will be a disaster.

  • Barbara - May 31, 2014 - 4:12 pm

    I read every word. It is worth reading by any parent who have children in public school. My own children are adults but I have a grandson in public school & 2 granddaughters who will be going to school before you know it. From what I have read about Common Core it is not good for our children. How are they going to help lead this country in to the next century if they are all like cookie cutters of each other. They won’t be able to be critical thinkers needed to make it in the coming years.

  • Angela - May 31, 2014 - 4:30 pm

    Yes, yes and YES! “I want them to explore and be curious. I want their lessons to be meaningful, deep and connected. And ultimately, I want them back in Seminole County Schools, unfortunately at this point I do not think that SCPS is the best choice for them and that breaks my heart. It’s a shame because you’re losing out on two pretty amazing kids.”

    Walton County Schools – GA
    Homeschooling our 2 also.

  • Connie - May 31, 2014 - 4:50 pm

    Amen! As a teacher it kills my soul to see what children are being subjected to. I had to leave the profession because as loud as I screamed noone would listen.

  • Paul - May 31, 2014 - 5:17 pm

    I agree with your decision and concerns. I do warn that private schools are not immune to the teach the test mentality. I went to public elementary school and private high school. There were many good things about the education there but for 5 years I was trained to do well on the SAT. Is doing good on the SAT more benign than what your son experienced? Probably so, but it is also part of the marketing for the school. Just be vigilant and don’t drop out of Mama Bear mode just because they are in private schools. There is one big difference though with private schools, they have more incentive to listen to parents because you choose to pay them or not. If you aren’t happy with the service they provide you leave and take your money with you.
    Paul

  • A Teacher - May 31, 2014 - 5:25 pm

    Very well said. I read it all…

  • Parebt - May 31, 2014 - 5:48 pm

    I too read it all. You are so on point! We moved from Florida 5 years ago to CA. Put our kids in supposedly one of the best school districts in the state and I fled as soon as I could. A one size fits all or round peg system. If you have an underachiever or overachiever the schools could care less. They only want and encourage the middle. I have been fortunate to find magnet schools in a neighboring school district with much higher standards and well rounded teaching. At the beginning of the school year CA stated no state testing this year and we have had 6 days of CA state testing along with numerous other tests along the way. Teachers have no idea what is on the tests and no results are given back to the teachers or students. Waste of time and teaching instruction. It saddens me to see the rest of the country following the path of CA.

  • Courtney Rineer - May 31, 2014 - 5:56 pm

    I really appreciate this well organized, well thought out article. Common Core sounds really good in theory, but it’s not turning out to be very workable. I did just want to comment that if you are looking for a private school with a good age-appropriate curriculum, I’m not sure Park Maitland is the best choice. I live really close to Park Maitland, but I drive a half hour each way twice a day to take my kids to Lake Mary Prep. Park Maitland teaches a year ahead. If we wouldn’t expect our kids to be able to walk by ten months, why would we expect them to be able to understand and perform a second grade curriculum in first grade? Not that our kids can’t do it, but why should they have to? I chose Lake Mary Prep because they teach a grade appropriate curriculum, they individualize learning for each student, and they offer an education that addresses the needs of a whole child. PE twice a week, art, music, Spanish, and recess every day. Park Maitland just didn’t compare. Just my two cents. Thanks for listening.

  • tiffany santana - May 31, 2014 - 6:13 pm

    Your husband underestimated how many of us see the same thing !!
    Our son will be 4 in August, im not putting him in a public …..yet… I’m teaching him at home the way my mother taught me. When I did go to school at age 6, I was skipped 2 grades ahead because I already knew what was being taught. I graduated when I was 16. In California ; in the seventies, teachers were given the respect and the acknowledgement that they knew their jobs. I had teachers that I know cared and concern that I did well for me….not a test.
    All this CRAP will go away when it is truly more about our children than about the money motivation behind it. I have 2 nieces that teach and a cousin entering her teaching field in Ca.
    I hear firsthand their frustrations. If I have to take on a new career as a home teacher I will!!
    The education of my son does not need to happen in a School for it to be valuable .

  • David - May 31, 2014 - 6:25 pm

    One of the best things I have ever done was to take my daughter out of public schools last year. After one year, her grades shot up and her test scores are above average for all subjects. I graduated UCF with my Masters in Optics and am pationate about mathematics. My daughter went from clueless at math in public schools to advanced in one year. You be the judge. Try it. Take away their power by removing your children. Attitudes get better, grades get better, children become educated, on and on and on………

  • Ray Maxwell - May 31, 2014 - 6:27 pm

    I do not have any children in SCPS. My children are in their 40′s and early 50′s.
    I do have great grand children in SCPS , and I’m deeply saddened by the way our government has ( are trying , successfully ) to completely reach into every part of our lives ,and trying to control us.

    The control they are putting on education , in my opinion , is to turn out cookie cutter adults that can be molded into the “good citizens” that our present leaders want ! Not thinking people that can resist their ( government) attempts at controlling the citizens !

    I wish you good luck in you’re efforts in the returning our education to the high standards of individual achievement thru the love of learning.

    A very good letter, I hope someone reads it, who can do something about it!

  • Beth - May 31, 2014 - 6:46 pm

    I am also a teacher, but in OCPS. Your thoughts go right along with how so many of us feel. I have a 13 year old who is ER AND receives very little support that she desperately needs. My 4 year old will soon be entering the scary world of school. I cringe at the years of frustration ahead. She is bright and I want her to love learning, but am not confident any teacher, even myself, is capable of doing so with the current expectations. After 18 years of teaching, km considering leaving this field. I love teaching and I love my students. They are so very much more then answers on a test. They are creative, unique individuals who crave the ability to love life and learning. They should be able to do that.

  • Letha Vanzant - May 31, 2014 - 6:47 pm

    I am a teacher in Lake county and have 2 kids is 2nd& 4th grades and a 6th grader. Every single word you said is the God’s honest truth. My elementary kids struggle because their school failed to teach them the basic skills. Common core does not help students at all especially students who struggle. My 2nd grader HATES school and my 4th grader could care less. This is what our current system has done to our children. I see the apathy every day from my own 7th grade classroom. I have been teaching for over 20 years and I used to be able to really teach my students and excite them about learning. But excitement and a love of learning is not on the test so we aren’t supposed to teach or foster it. I too am moving my little ones to private schools. I am thankful that so far my oldest is bright enough to hold his own. Thanks for your words. I hope the powers that be come to their senses before it is too late. Most if not all of us agree with you!

  • Karen - May 31, 2014 - 7:01 pm

    Home schooling rocks! Just sayin’…especially for a precious family of 5

  • Dakiti Mobley - May 31, 2014 - 7:03 pm

    Thank you for writing this! Well said…and thanks for voicing. I totally agree and as I have a kindergartner doing well at this point, I have never agreed with Florida’s educational system once I had a child. I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and our standardized tests allowed the students, parents, and teachers see what the student did
    well in and what needed improvement. Improvement areas would be worked on in school and parents were given ideas to help their children excel. I don’t understand why this is such a hard concept to understand. I hope your letter and perhaps these posts get to Mr. Scott and his entourage!

  • Lani - May 31, 2014 - 7:20 pm

    This is SO accurate and truthful. I am a teacher, too, and Lynne has totally nailed the problem. This essay needs to go national!!!

  • Carey - May 31, 2014 - 7:48 pm

    This is one (of many) reasons we’ve chosen to pursue a Waldorf education for our 3 children. In my experience (my job has me spending lots of time in various schools on a weekly basis), there isn’t much difference between public and private schools if there is not a different approach applied. After much research, we discovered that a Waldorf education will allow our 3, very different children, develop their full potential both academically and social/emotional. I can’t imagine putting them into any other school.

  • Laura Carnes - May 31, 2014 - 7:52 pm

    I used Pearson materials for my MBA and I can attest that they are ABSOLUTE JUNK. Their multiple choice tests often had 2 answers that could be defended as correct and the students at least had the RIGHT to FIGHT for those answers to be counted as correct. At about 2% frequency, the questions HAD NO CORRECT ANSWER OR WERE WRITTEN INCORRECTLY. This is UNACCEPTABLE for educational materials. The university MUST be getting some kind of kickback and I would expect many pockets are getting lined with all this Pearson crap. It is unfair and ludicrous that parents don’t have the right to see the questions their children missed and the multiple choice answers Pearson listed. I don’t have children in the public educational system, but would be furious if I did. Kudos to you for taking a stand against this counterproductive nincompoopery. Fight the good fight!

  • Jolene - May 31, 2014 - 7:52 pm

    I, too, read every word. I agree. Thankfully you have the option of private school.
    My four children spent seven years in Seminole County public schools. When we moved to SC, my fifth grader could not read at grade level or do simple multiplication and he was an A,B student. He spent k5 through 5th grade in SCPS. He was my only child who did not spend his earliest years in private Christian schools. A very intelligent young man spent middle school in SC playing catch up because he did not know phonics or multiplication tables. He just knew “tricks” he was taught to appear he did. I think the problem is far deeper and wider than we imagine. The foundations have been stripped and there is nothing solid to build on all for the sake of test results. The love of learning has been lost in the process.

  • Dianimal - May 31, 2014 - 7:53 pm

    When milestones are missed at certain ages, you can’t go back and recapture them. In my opinion, education has not improved since the Feds created the DOE in 1979. It is time to dismantle it and go back to individual communities being in charge of their schools and children’s learning.

  • Tara - May 31, 2014 - 7:55 pm

    Ms. Rigby;

    I have one word for you. MONTESSORI. If the government schools were using the Montessori Method from the beginning, there would be no “failures”. I read your whole blog. The things you complain about have been going on in the government schools for years. I am a 42 year old product of the government schools. My family on my Mother’s side have had at least one teacher in every generation all the way back to the 1800′s. My Aunt was a teacher, then worked for the school board. Your complaints have been going on in the schools for eternity past. It has nothing to do with Common Core or whatever the chosen curriculum is at the time. Public schools suck, and they are useless. People need to get on the Montessori train before it leaves. You say you are a teacher. Read some of the books written by Maria Montessori and please have an open mind when you do. People that say it is UN structured are just as stupid as the people who think the government schools are doing our kids a favor. You have to understand the theories behind Ms. Montessori’s lessons. They are brilliant! It educates the whole child and it educates them with what interests them, at their level, at their own personal speed, like you pointed out in your blog.

  • Tammy Girard - May 31, 2014 - 7:56 pm

    I am a former Seminole County teacher who taught at Teague Middle School back when teachers were given so much more creative liberties to reach every student. I quit teaching back in 2001 to be home more with my kids. All 3 of them started their school years in private school and when we made the decision for them to go to public school, it was solely based on the fact that we experienced a tolerance of bullying at the private school we attended in Lake County where we have lived for 8 years. I also had faith in the public school system and believed that they would be fine depending on the teacher they had (since I was still on the premiss that teachers controlled their classroom learning). I didn’t experience the injustice of the FCAT testing until last year when my oldest was nearly denied his diploma regardless of his completing every other single graduation requirement and maintaining a respectable 3.0 GPA. He switched from private to public in the 7th grade, and he proceeded to fail every single yearly FCAT test except one year. He had to take remedial reading courses as a required class versus something that would have actually benefitted his desire to learn something new and interesting. Instead, he took these required “you couldn’t pass the FCAT so we’re going to help you with that” courses and every year he would still fail the FCAT. What a complete waste of time those classes were. I didn’t learn until many frustrating talks with different administrators that a passing ACT test would actually override the FCAT after failing it twice. He had to take the ACT 5 times before he could even pass that. (He is NOT a good test taker but again he maintained B’s!). Three days before graduation we got his 5th ACT test results and the news that he could indeed graduate and receive his diploma. My other two test just fine or even above fine (4s and 5s) but I can’t even imagine the CC teaching thrown into the mix. I’m thankful that my kids are older (8th and 11th this coming year) to hopefully not feel as many effects of the CC that so many complain about. I have been a substitute teacher in Lake County for three years now and have to say with utmost certainty that if my kids were younger, I would NOT have them in public school. One day I tried to explain to the kids how to change mixed fractions to an improper fraction (which was their homework) and my way was foreign to them. Instead they tell me some complicated system is how they are suppose to do it but they still can’t do it. With my “old school way” I could almost see the lightbulbs turning on in their heads (granted not all of them. I genuinely feel that a good teacher can still make the difference for a child’s desire to learn, but it frustrates me the changes I have seen.

  • Lucy B. - May 31, 2014 - 8:26 pm

    I, too, read all 2800 words, and all 100 comments!

    My family and I just relocated to Brevard County from Maryland 2 months ago. As the parent of a rising kindergardener, I was excited to hear great reviews of our local schools; however, I’ve quickly become disenchanted. My daughter entered a VPK program for her last 7 weeks of pre-K, and went from loving school to screaming, crying and refusing to go. All they did was “tablework” and worksheets! So, with great regret, I’m going to put her in Montessori school in the fall, instead of our local public elementary.

    Thank you for writing this; you crystallized so well just why we’re avoiding the public school system.

  • Andrea R - May 31, 2014 - 8:41 pm

    That was one of the most incredible letters on the subject I have read, yes all 2800 words ;). I too am a fellow Brantley grad and thought my kids would go into the Seminole County public school system. I went back to work this year so that my daughter could start K at Sweetwater Episocopal! Thank you for writing this from your personal experiences so that I can forward to all I know, your voice is being heard and I hope all of us can make help make the change that is so desperately needed!

  • Sarah Egan - May 31, 2014 - 9:05 pm

    I have a friend in FL who shared this on her page. I’m not there, I’m in Maryland and I didn’t pull my kid from school to homeschool him because of testing. I haven’t kept him and his younger brother homeschooled because of it.

    But now that all of this is coming down I’m glad I did. My children’s learning path doesn’t get altered on the whim of a politician and my kids are EXCITED to learn! They learn what they want. My 10 year old is learning 10 languages and reading Homer for fun, my 6 year old is studying robotics. That’s what I wanted from their education.

    and I opt out of the testing here in MD. Good for you for taking a stand! You can only change your one little part.

  • Tanya van Heusden - May 31, 2014 - 9:11 pm

    I’m an educator living in NC and I honestly feel that common core is not the problem. It can and is being taught at my daughter’s elementaty school and at my son’s middle school in fun, creative, and engaging ways. Some teachers will over use worksheets regardless of the level of the standards.

    I do however agree with the accountability issues mentioned as well as the “flawed ” state assessments.

  • Haji - May 31, 2014 - 9:45 pm

    Great letter – I think we all feel the same way, and I hear it all the time from parents across the board. Unfortunately, all I hear is “it’s sad, it sucks, the system is broken, etc.”. As a community, as a nation, we see that there is a problem but no one has come up with a solution. We should be asking ourselves, “What can be done, what can we do?” I for one would have no idea where to start. There is always strength in numbers, but how does one start a fix. We all complain, but when it comes to actually doing something, will we stand together to rock the boat and go against the grain? So again, where do we start? Until then, I can only do my best to do my part outside of the school system to educate my children through books and experiences I expose them to.

  • Tracy - May 31, 2014 - 9:45 pm

    Very well said. I am a teacher, and I don’t understand why teachers are in such a panic. The only way our pay is affected is if we are not at a certain level in our VAM scores, we just don’t get the either $150 or $300 annual bonus that is spread out over the year. After taxes, that $18 a month pay raise is not enough to make me stress over it. I am still going into my classroom and doing what I know is right, teaching the way these kids need to learn, and my kids are showing great gains.

  • Jennifer - May 31, 2014 - 10:02 pm

    Homeschooling is very doable! We have been part of a local Classical Conversations Community the last three years and just love it. Over 62,000 students are involved in local Classical Conversations communities nationwide. The free yearly conferences/practicum and tutors along with the wonderfully structured resources makes me feel very impowered to education my children to love learning. We have five or six Classical Conversations groups in the greater Orlando area. They can fill up quickly, so visit an info meeting this summer or go to an open house next semester and see how they can be a support to you and your family too.
    http://welcome.classicalconversations.com

  • Janet - May 31, 2014 - 10:27 pm

    Another Seminole Co. parent who agrees with EVERY word. have e-mailed the school board your letter and my comments.

  • Jaime B. - May 31, 2014 - 10:30 pm

    I came across your post thru facebook. We have always homeschooled- I have four 9-2 and it’s not easy. There are a lot of sacrifices on one income but we gladly make them and I tell you that all of the joy in learning that you want your kids to be exposed to is yours for the taking with homeschooling. I wouldn’t change what we do for the world. There are so many wonderful options too: you can go it on your own completely using living books, Sonlight, Memoria Press or there are groups like Classical Conversations, Circle Christian School, and International Community School. I wish your two little ones all the best and pray your oldest continue to do well.

  • Maureen Regan - May 31, 2014 - 10:48 pm

    As an educator in Maine, I totally understand all 2800 words so thoughtfully written. Same kinds of things going on here. The only diff is teachers’ pay is not yet linked to it. However, young teachers are being fired because their students did not advance enough this year according to test scores!
    The fun in education is gone…fun which created a wonderful learning atmosphere!!! Everything today is TEST SCORES!!!!

    After 37 years I got tired of the ADMIN coming in and reviewing test scores and having nothing else to say or do with our schools! I am now in a non-profit after school program where we teach STEM curriculum in a fun engaging way.

    Hope your kids will be okay in their new school. I admire your courage!!! M.R.

  • Michelle - May 31, 2014 - 11:06 pm

    Very well written … from beginning to end. My wish is for this letter to reach a “key player” that can make a change.

  • Madison Paye - May 31, 2014 - 11:12 pm

    I, also, read every single word you wrote and every comment that was submitted. Let me start off by saying that I agree with you, almost 100%. I am a kindergarten teacher in Polk County and I LOVE MY JOB. I can’t imagine myself in any other profession. Yes, teaching to the “standards” isn’t the way I was taught, but times have changed. There needs to be something in place that is implemented country wide. As a teacher, it is extremely frustrating to get a new student from another county/state that is not working to the level the majority of your other students are. I’m not talking about a student who is incapable of working at that level, I’m talking about a student who hasn’t been presented the material, prior to the move. When implementing the Sunshine State Standards (because we are required to), my principal and staff did so with an open mind. We knew what had to be taught, but they (the “big wigs”) can’t make you teach it a certain way. There are still fun ways to teach these babies. I have 21 kindergarteners and EVERY SINGLE ONE of them cry when they have to get checked out of school early. Am I saying that the way things are now is the best for our students? No. But I am saying that if teaching at a school with 100% free lunch (yes, ONE HUNDRED PERCENT) and to still “make gains” on the standardized tests for the past three years is possible, then all public schools should be able to do the same. Keep the fun in the classroom, no matter what “they” throw at you. There’s always going to be something we don’t agree with (in any profession). If we teach with our student’s best interest at heart, then they WILL succeed.

    Again, I do agree with you. I will “share” this post, in hopes that your/our voice gets heard. But, for some reason things don’t get changed, if teachers will continue teaching with love, our babies will thrive.

  • Grandma in AZ - May 31, 2014 - 11:12 pm

    You so eloquently shared your concerns and the length was perfect — engaging as well as illuminating. I shared with friends of mine who still live in FL. I wish you good luck and much success with all your children .

  • laurie - May 31, 2014 - 11:19 pm

    My 3rd grader is in Martin County and I cannot agree with this portion, quoted at the end, more.

    I would get heart palpitations checking his math homework every night this year — the questions were so horribly presented and flat out wrong. Last month was the worst, in their ever-changing math principle a week they were on estimations. Here’s a sample problem where the instruction is to round to round to the nearest 10: 15×6. 15×6=90. Which with this instruction the answer would be 100. But this class of third graders was told to round the first number, (15) then multiply it to the second so 15×6 became 120! There were pages of these problems and in a lot of cases the answers were even more extreme. I thought surely he misunderstood the teacher and if he didn’t I wanted her fired. But I am the one looked at sideways when I questioned how this could be okay.

    I agree with common core — frankly because we move a lot and much like you I do not prescribe to these teachers forced to teach to the test and not the basics of learning. I can tell you that even though my son is on the honor roll with straight A’s other states have much better curriculum than what he got this year…

    How is it that in 3rd grade there was not one spelling assignment or lesson?! He was in Texas for kindergarten and his spelling was much better then than now — after 2 years in the Florida education system and yet this last week, they are expected to participate in a spelling bee after having no spelling lessons all year.

    I don’t envy the teachers and know they have a tough road, but this year I saw first hand how a longstanding – decent teacher can be absolutely the worst thing possible to happen to our children.

    Needless to say I am looking at options as to where he can go for 4th grade and beyond. We may just move again because of Florida’s horrendous education standards.

    “If I can defend how two answers are correct on a question, then the test is flawed.

    Jackson’s brothers had 4s and 5s on all their FCATs, perhaps a 3 thrown in here and there. All of which I accepted without hesitation. FCAT was no big deal in our house. They’re smart boys, we are involved parents, they have no stress, their lives are good. But now I pause. Did Carson not make it into GEMS because of an inverse operation problem that my mother-in-law, the former LBHS Pre-Calculus teacher, said was flawed on the 3rd grade test? The problem that my husband, a Georgia Tech graduate, said that there had to be a typo because the right answer wasn’t there? On a THIRD grade problem? Suddenly I want to see my kids tests, see where they went wrong, see what they did right, but parents aren’t afforded that option and neither are teachers. If the test is truly a good indicator of student ability, then the parents and teachers should be able to see the actual test and the student work to help the students moving forward?”

  • Robert eanes - May 31, 2014 - 11:27 pm

    I understand and agree with the sentiments expressed in this article.it is unfathomable to me how much educational time was squandered with test taking that has no demonstrable educational value. While I share your view and would if I could afford it, put both my children in private school, I wonder what the cause of this situation is. I am a professional analyst, so I do have a little skill tracing cause and effect, and making sense of the chaos of business. Some people blame the federal government. Others the state. Some people blame teachers. Others school administrators or school boards. I was a teacher once as well. I also looked after the office assistants. One of the assignments I gave the office assistants was titled, “who’s the boss.” In that assigment I face a list of people, and asked for a paragraph explaining who was that persons boss. It amazed me that some of the children did not understand that the governor, and the president are responsible to the people. We are there bosses. So, if that is true how could this situation with our schools exist? I won’t descend into a political argument here, but I would like to point out that this problem exists for the benefit of someone. That someone is not our children. taking our kids out of public school fulfills the political agenda of forcing the public to vote to use public funds for private schools. By discrediting our public school teachers, and schools the politicos sell the idea that it would be better to be able to use your tax money to send them to private schools. By not paying our teachers a salary worthy of the job they are expected to do, they insure that they bring in teachers that will fail. And when that didn’t happen fast enough, they went even further. Now, they campion testing over education. So, what’s the answer. I’m not sure there is one. Please, investigate your local and state political leaders, blog about what they vote for and against. Make it known that they are being watched. It is your money in taxes that these people are using against your children. Vote them out when they fail to perform, and keep voting them out until they get the message!

  • Julie Young - May 31, 2014 - 11:34 pm

    I couldn’t look away, leave out a word. I am one of those former teachers who “reeducated” myself and took on a new career. It is despairing to know what is going on in education and how the bottom line and corporate greed are derailing our children’s educations, and hence, future prospects. You not only state your points eloquently, but you back your words up with your actions as a rightfully concerned parent. I am impressed at the number of educators, like yourself, who continue to speak out publicly about the veritable erosion of our public school system by a politically minded set of corporate friendly officials. I do hope that SCPS will step up! As you stated throughout, these efforts and demands are not in the best interests of our kids and are driving those people who care about their interests, out of the field.
    Best wishes for your family’s future! I hope that one day soon, people like you will be in a position to lead our state officials in a more positive and “developmentally appropriate” direction. :)
    Sincerely,
    Julie

  • Mary Weston Koch - May 31, 2014 - 11:43 pm

    I wish schools would teach subjects that our youth will use in the future and stop teaching for a test. All this MCAS prep is for the birds!! I think it’s the same in every state. It’s competition between states instead of uniting to better the quality of education. Sad, really sad.

  • Sarah DeLand - May 31, 2014 - 11:52 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this. I am a Kindergarten teacher and everything you said is 100% true. So often we want to teach the way we KNOW is effective, but nowadays we are often told we have to use the curriculum materials, time frames, themed lessons-which have no rhyme or reason to the order, and in the same breath they still say, “But you can teach it however you want,” just so there’s no contract issues. Even if your child has an amazing teacher, they are still “bound” by the state/country rules-especially now that merit pay is being planned out. Many, many times I’ve considered quitting because this job essentially requires me to do the opposite of what I truly know is developmentally appropriate from my college education. I am torn because I feel like someone HAS to do right by these children, and yet, I feel like I’m doing some things that I wholeheartedly disagree with. We truly need a revolution. The problem is, the average parent has no idea that it’s not the district, or even the school. Greedy publishing companies are also to blame, as well as always changing, head-first curriculum and standard changes that cost school districts more money because they have to pay for the newly updated textbooks and assessments. There has to be a way to change it for the sake of future generations.

  • Carolyn - June 1, 2014 - 12:10 am

    Thanks for writing this! Very informative.

  • David pauzauskie - June 1, 2014 - 12:12 am

    All 2800!! I am a living example of this. I was born in Kansas, moved to florida in middle school dropped out of highschool because our school was not “teaching” us enough. Took a few years off before finally telling myself I could do it and the public school system was nonsense. Now I currently am a senior at university of florida and will graduate next year with a bachelors in economics, a minor in business and a minor in entrepreneurship. I cencerily hope the Public school’s curriculum changes for the better so there are not more discouraged students that must bite the bullet like I did to move forward in my academic career.

  • Stan S, Alabama - June 1, 2014 - 12:26 am

    Very well researched and written Lynne. I have been trying to research this issue myself and wrote about it in my recent blog post. We share many of the same concerns. I referenced guinea pigs in my post as well. We are fortunate in that our youngest of four just graduated from high school last week and is now in college and will not have to experience this experiment firsthand.

    One of the points I am trying to communicate to folks is Common Core will affect all of us, whether you have school age children or not, as those in school now will be the voters and leaders of tomorrow.

    Keep up the good fight and all the best to you in doing what is best for you children.

  • Rose - June 1, 2014 - 1:32 am

    YES YES YES!!!!
    Thank you Lynne for saying everything I have been saying and wanting to say! I am in OCPS and am pulling my soon to be 7th grader out of OCPS to home school for all the same reasons including the fact that she has an 504 plan. Teachers can not possibly meet each child’s Individual needs under common core. But as a parent I can and I will make sure my child has a happy healthy learning experience.

  • Aniko - June 1, 2014 - 3:35 am

    I just finished reading not only your 2800 words, but some of the other comments that other parents and teachers have given here. I am currently a college student going on my senior year and, looking back on my experiences when I was in public school and seeing the work that both my mother as a teacher has to do and the work that my cousins, 7 and 10, do in school, all makes me scared for what direction the educational system has gone and where it will eventually lead. Reading about your experiences with the public education system just confirms what both my mother and I feel, and that is that no child is being given the right amount of attention according to each child’s specific needs. This is unfortunate because most of the time, you will find that not only do the teachers have to follow a constricted lesson plan in preparation only for testing, but they have too many students in their classrooms. If a child gets left behind, then it’s too bad for them and they may have to repeat another year. Another thing that I think about, in relation to my current studies in university, is Japan. They have an immense workload as students, but even they, with all of the hours of studying that they do every year, still have to participate in an outside club of their own interest as part of their mandatory school experience as well as have P.E. at least three times a week for about an hour as one of the many classes that they have! There are many other factors to mention, other than the ones that you have discussed and that I have mentioned, about the educational system. Every time I hear another bad thing about the public school system, it makes me fear for the future that my children will have. I don’t know what to do when the time comes that I will have children and they must begin their educational experience. Should I homeschool so that I can make sure that my child is getting the necessary amount of attention that they require to understand everything that they need to learn? Do I need to get a job, regardless of what I would like to do for a career, that pays enough money to send them to a private school where their needs would be seen to properly? I am very grateful for your words, every one of them. I really hope that people like you, my mother and all of the people who commented here can somehow make the “higher-ups” realize that our educational system needs to change into something better, into something good for all children’s learning experiences.

  • Christina - June 1, 2014 - 5:09 am

    I read all 2800 words of this, and still, I have a very different opinion on all of this.

    I’m still a student. A college student, who left high school less than 5 years ago, but a student nonetheless, so obviously I have a different view on all of this. And that view is that honestly, in many ways, nothing has changed. I was in Elementary school back in the late 90′s/early 00′s and I was that kid that always struggled with math. But on the plus side, I was a whiz with words.

    But the big thing was, that I sucked at numbers. Yet, I never remember receiving help from my teachers with it. I actually had a teacher make fun of me for being so damn awful at math. And I know that a good number of these commenters would never do that, but the problem is that this trend of not helping students on an individual basis is hardly a new concept and that for every teacher who wants to help students, there are at least three who are simply there for their paycheck. So all of my teachers right up through high school ignored my number problems (hell, a few actually told me that if I wasn’t poor, I wouldn’t have been having problems) and just sort of let me skate by.

    Proof of this letting me skate by? My junior year, I took the ACT and scored a 31 in English and subscore of 10 on my writing portion.

    Do you want to hear what I got on my Math?

    19.

    Because of the failure of SEVERAL public school districts years before Common Core was a thing, I scored a 25 on my ACT and as a result, was denied acceptance to many of the schools that I set my sights on, despite having the overall GPA to attend them. (Seriously, I would graduate with academic honors a year later for having a 3.5 or higher GPA all four years of high school. Do you know how badly it burns to be denied something you want, simply because the people who were supposed to be helping you just didn’t care?)

    So don’t pretend that this is a new problem, because it’s not. There is a studied history of teachers not giving a crap and students failing as a result. So honestly, you can’t blame big businesses taking advantage of a situation that was made by people who could have fixed it.

  • Kimberly Hays_Ponder - June 1, 2014 - 5:54 am

    Awesome..??petition??

  • john nippolt - June 1, 2014 - 5:56 am

    I quit teaching at a public high schoo1 1 year ago come September. I know why you wrote this. Pearson and Danielson are not teaching agendas. good luck

  • Karen Tucker - June 1, 2014 - 5:58 am

    Thank you Lynne for taking the time to write this. Your husband sounds like mine. :) This letter made me realize that I need to pull my head out of the sand. I’m so busy running a company and standing up to our seriously flawed healthcare system, that I have had little energy left to voice my concerns. I have three children in Seminole county schools and cringe every time I sit to do homework with them or read their daily planners. While reading this I thought thank God I’m not the only one feeling bewildered and WOW how things have changed in our schools since I was a kid. It should be a red flag to all parents after reading this letter and the comments from educators above that are opposed to common core learning. To measure an individuals success with an across the board standardize test is simply ridiculous. It’s sad to sit through a parent teacher conference and have my child’s teacher reviewing my sons test scores and then having to apologize at the same time because she doesn’t understand why he did so poorly. His grades are average and some above average but the standardize test scores do not reflect this. After the conference I always feel very grateful for the website references so my son can practice his test taking skills in the future. NOT! I’m sure there is a job out there somewhere where a person is a professional test taker BUT how many of our children aspire to be that when they grow up?? Two of the three of my children are excelling because they happen to be good test takers like my husband and have been taught to have a good work ethic. Unfortunately, I have never been a great test taker. Once upon a time I earned a business degree and am a successful business owner today. My exceptionally creative son will survive either way. The main concern is how will these low test scores effect his self esteem as he enters the higher grades.

    I’m thankful for some amazing teachers here in Seminole county and pray they don’t continue to leave their profession…as I’ve seen so many do. What if we started a movement? Maybe begin by having all of those opposed to this nonsense have their children wear red on test days. I’m sure we can get more creative than this…either way you get the point. Please count me in…let our voices be heard as ONE. Please stand up for your children and OUR future. The time is now before it’s too late.

  • Chris F - June 1, 2014 - 6:14 am

    Well-written!
    I feel your anguish. I am a newly retired FL teacher who agrees with your position. Someway, somehow, someday, We The People should make our united voice heard.

  • Sondra Jones - June 1, 2014 - 6:32 am

    I teach in OCPS as a fine arts instructor. This year I had many students 3-5 grades who NEVER or rarely attended my class because they were being pulled out for remediation. And I still have to give them a grade? Next year we are supposed to begin some sort of EOC testing for these students and believe me when I say I will jump up and down if they try to pull those kids. Sometimes the Arts is what keeps those kids motivated to attend school.
    I wrote a prediction on my evaluation 3 years ago (the first year Marzano was brought in) about how there would soon be an educational crisis with all the good teachers leaving in droves because of the testing/eval system nonsense plus the high cost of obtaining an Ed degree from college. Who in their right mind would become a teacher now with this horrible system with a wage that doesn’t come close to matching other college degree required jobs? Regardless of the money (because no one teaches to get rich but rather to serve children) everyone wants to work at a job where they are treated professionally and respected. Teachers are being told to conform to the system and graded on factors beyond their control.
    It’s truly sad. I love my “kids” at school and am committed to at least one more year until my son graduates HS, then I feel a strong desire to leave this state and find other employment or start my own business. I’m even pondering leaving the US because other countries in Europe treat educators better.
    The mass Exodus has begun already this year- check the stats.
    If we don’t stop this train wreck soon then the only recourse is to jump.

  • Cindy - June 1, 2014 - 6:34 am

    Lynne,
    This is incredibly well written, I read all 2800 words.I agree with you 100%! My boys are in SCPS rising Freshman & Senior, I work at JHMS as a Parapro, my first year. I was able to see first hand the weeks of testing and the many movies viewed while others were in testing….
    My oldest son has some learning disabilities and the EOC test along w/ FCAT and intensive courses has made him dislike school. He struggles along, and we’ll do everything we can to help him be successful and graduate next Spring. I feel like the education system is setting our kids who are not AP or Honors up for failure. My older son has had intensive reading since 7th grade, and I for one have seen no improvement, and he hates it. He also has had intensive Math, and this his Junior year he finally has tested out of it and was able to take an elective in it’s place. Team sports, something he really enjoys.
    Our younger son has been much more fortunate in his education & his abilities, but I still don’t agree with all the testing and making it difficult for teachers to TEACH.
    Bless you for taking the time to write this article, I will re-post in hopes that we can make changes together.

  • Marcia S. - June 1, 2014 - 6:36 am

    I am a retired teacher(40 years of teaching) and this letter is so true and so sad. I retired because I could not stand seeing things like you describe happening to children. I taught pre k – 2nd grade and the reasons I loved teaching were gone and it was not the job I wanted to be doing anymore. I have many friends that are teachers and they feel the same but can NOT retire due to lack of experience or the need for insurance and income.
    I worry about the kids in schools today because having a person who resents be at work and doesn’t love their job is not what should be happening. Everyone always said, ” teachers don’t do the job for the money( or lack of a decent paycheck) meaning they do the job because they love the kids and the process. Now the system puts their “bonus money” on the line and connects it to one test that the kids need to take. Does it take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is not going to work!!!?
    You need happy teachers-which will help to give you happy kids, which(hold on – this is really big) just might give you better test results. Maybe one test is not the best way to evaluate a child’s progress and give a person a bonus because of it!
    I hope the system wakes up before it is too late. Stop hurting the kids and encourage people to become teachers! ( Our future depends on it)

  • Kelly De Leon - June 1, 2014 - 7:02 am

    So much about this hits far too close to home. I am a single mom, struggling, but have always been so proud of my smart, talented children who loved school. They’re just finishing up fourth and second grades in the gifted program at a Volusia county elementary. Over and over I have agonized the “if only” scenario of homeschooling my daughters. Their love of learning is being drained by this testing!! Why aren’t there more options!? Having to explain to my daughter- whose fCAT scores dropped from 5s to 3s this year- that standardized testing is wrong because people don’t ever come standard- at ten years old, SHE understands that. The educational system is sucking the life out of our children. There must be a better way!

  • Becky C. - June 1, 2014 - 7:26 am

    Well written and well thought out, and oh so true. I helped a teacher friend’s third grade class with FCAT reading prep weekly for about four months this year. This was my first exposure to FCATs and I was shocked. I have been a voracious reader all my life, I spent over 30 years in executive management positions, and I have a MBA. The questions on the FCAT prep tests had ME questioning the answers. Not occasionally but routinely! The concepts the kids were expected to master were way above their developmental abilities. The most disheartening thing for me was to see these kids groan at the thought of reading – anything! Even the smartest kids in the room! I truly feel that between the daily grind of learning “to the test” and the pressure of testing the school system has permanently damaged the passion and love of exploration, discovery, and learning inherent in every child.

  • Rebecca Schroth - June 1, 2014 - 7:30 am

    Great summation of where we are in Florida since FCAT was first introduced. I have spent 35 years working in the Florida public school system. In my estimation, the plan has always been to privatize public education. So, as the legislators (who have no knowledge of child development and are wooed by publishers of testing and curriculum) continue to dump layer upon layer of unrealistic demands on our public schools, we (children and adults alike) become drones dog paddling to stay afloat. Another layer that needs to be added to all of what Ms. Rugby so eloquently stated is the paltry amount of funding that is dispensed by the state of Florida to each district in order to educate our children. Every state in the U.S.A. spends more per child than Florida. Yea for the parents that can afford to send their children to private schools. My heart bleeds for the families who have no option but public school and for the children whose parents don’t care.

  • Kelly - June 1, 2014 - 7:47 am

    Hello. I am a stay-at-home mom in Longmont (Boulder County) Colorado. I have two sons, ages almost 3, and 8 months and have been doing the public school/home school debate in my head for a while. I read all of your letter and so appreciate you writing it. I feel your struggle. I loved my public, yet specialized and VERY hands-on education growing up in Chesterfield County, VA, and am very disheartened by where our public education is headed. What I liked most about school doesn’t seem possible with standardized testing impacting the curriculum as much as it does. Hang in there. If enough of us shout, someone’s got to listen.

  • Aileen - June 1, 2014 - 7:48 am

    Like you, I am a public school teacher. Your description of Seminole County mirrors what is happening in my county. I am the parent of three elementary-aged children. I am worried for them like you are worried for your children. However, pulling my children out of public school is not an option. Politicians want to privatize public schools, and we are helping them accomplish this task when we walk away from public schools. Until parents speak up and advocate for public schools, things will not change. Most politicians aren’t listening to teachers. Parents need to advocate for ALL children, public schools, and the future of society.

  • Joyce - June 1, 2014 - 8:32 am

    Read every word – true! Agree, stop the madness.

  • Jody - June 1, 2014 - 8:39 am

    Agree! Very well written. You are spot on about local schools losing their ability to encourage their students in the love of learning. I am in St. Johns County FL where they are continuously ranked very high in Florida on the FCAT. I see no one concerned about all the testing, emphasis placed on it, and the changes that are happening in moving to the federal standardized based test. My guess is because they have always done so well on these standardized tests in the past… so just another test to learn.

  • Victoria - June 1, 2014 - 8:43 am

    I grew up in private school in Miami fl and then went to UGA. I performed horribly on all standardized tests from elementary on. My SAT score was very low. it was such a poor indicator of my abilities. I graduated high school with AP and advanced classes with a 4.0 and I also graduated UGA with highest honors and a 4.0. Had colleges only looked at standardized tests at that time…i would have never gotten in. Thank God my mom could fight for me in middle and high school despite my test scores. im a perfect example of how standardized tests are not a good indicator.

  • Lisa Ordway - June 1, 2014 - 8:45 am

    Lynne,
    I read every word, too. I am worried, heartbroken, and scared. We live in Alabama, and common core and EOC are terms I have heard now for two years. My youngest just finished 9th grade. We have no books…Pearson is loaded on laptops. It’s his third year with the laptop, and he gets the system, but I have no idea how to even see what it is he is learning or not learning. It is all a mystery. No sitting down with a book and figuring anything out. We love books! We still have a set of encyclopedias that we send our kids to all the time! My oldest is a Jr. at Alabama. Majoring in elementary education. She had the most wonderful education in our public school system and wants so much to give back. What is she getting into? What are we, as a society, doing to our youth? I guess that the one thing I am happy about is the fact that when the time comes, my daughter will be prepared to homeschool my yet to be grandchildren. Hope my son finds a teacher to marry and makes enough to let her do the same. So sad.

  • Milagros Carrasquillo - June 1, 2014 - 8:57 am

    Thank you so very much for writing this! I read it in its entirety. My third grader is in OCPS and facing the same challenge. I noticed this year how he has lost his passion for school. Homework for us was a struggle because of the three standardized worksheets every night. Let’s not even discuss the math and the extra 10 steps involved in solving a simple multiplication problem. I have a Masters Degree in Nursing and had to “figure out ” the tedious steps in his math problems because he had to show his work. My husband and I are also considering other alternatives to his schooling. Thank you for writing this, we don’t feel alone with our frustrations, we feel validated!

  • elana - June 1, 2014 - 9:03 am

    lynne, i read it all. we feel the same way up here in new york. my kids are thankfully not kids who struggle academically right now. but, in 2nd grade, they’ve already had so much testing. the homework that comes home is ridiculous. often it doesn’t make any sense. it’s so disheartening.

  • Austin Rivas - June 1, 2014 - 9:03 am

    ’06 LBHS Alum and I’m reading this in Los Angeles. I’d say you’re doing a good job making yourself heard :)

    After my experience in public schools I already anticipate home / private schooling my kids ( when I have them ). Our current education system is about day care and using standardized tests to “prove” our students are learning. In fact we are just drilling practice tests and creating little test taking robots that have never had an original thought.

    I wish I could say it gets better in college, but it doesn’t. The most important thing I learned during my trek through the American “education” system is that if I want to learn something I need to teach it to myself.

  • Nora Elkins - June 1, 2014 - 9:05 am

    Have you considered running for office? You are right, we are not educating children we are programming them. There is no interest in teaching our kids to love learning but instead teaching them to hate it, which creates adults who have no interest in learning but only being taken care of.

  • Florence Crawford - June 1, 2014 - 9:07 am

    I read every word and agree with you a hundred percent. Also, Park Maitland is an excellent choice for your children. I met administrators and teachers, and I spent a day in a classroom there–impressive!

  • Michelle - June 1, 2014 - 9:11 am

    Thank you!!!! I read every word. I completely agree with you. I am deeply concerned with the overwhelming amount of testing we are subjecting onto our students, and if the tests are valid and developmentally appropriate. I can’t help but feel like those trying to improve public education have spent very little time, if any, in our public schools. I hope everyone reads your open letter. It is time for parents and educators to work together to advocate for our children and students.

  • Lelah - June 1, 2014 - 9:23 am

    This is exactly what the opt out movement is about. It’s not about parents trying to make things easier for their kids. It’s not about trying to get kids out of a test. Most of us believe in tests. Good tests. Fair tests. Actual assessments with educational value that help both teacher and student. The opt out movement is about giving our kids a great education. It’s about ditching common core–officially adopted or hidden (like in Texas). It’s about judging our teachers on what they can control. It’s about allowing teachers to meet each student where they are at and pull them as far as they can go. It’s about making school and learning fun. It’s about lighting a fire under our children so that they can’t wait to see what awaits them. It’s about going out and not just up. It’s about opening doors and windows. It’s about making sure they understand and not just covering the material. It’s about ditching test taking skills, including bubbling and erasing, as a lesson plan. It’s about teaching kids things they need beyond high school–how to think critically, how to work in groups, how to come up with out of the box answers. It’s about preparing kids for life. Not all kids will, or should, go to college. We need mechanics, a/c repair people, firefighters, roofers, plumbers, chefs, and more!

  • Cheryl - June 1, 2014 - 9:26 am

    I read and agreed with every single word. As a third grade teacher in NC, with a third grade child as well, I have fought myself all year wanting desperately to take my daughter out of this testing disaster. My students and daughter sat for eight hours of testing last week. Coming up this last week of school, many of our third graders face more testing. We are not allowed to see or look at the test, and students cannot discuss the test with teachers. Nothing breaks my heart more than having to tell a student ‘I’m sorry, I’m not allowed to help you’. My daughter was thoroughly upset when she didn’t pass the reading EOG. My daughter, who reads Little House books like I did in third grade, didn’t meet the state’s version of reading readiness.
    As a parent, I might have blamed the teacher or my daughter for not trying. As a teacher, I have been exposed to the Read to Achieve passages so I know better. I know those who wrote the passages chaned the answers themselves repeatedly. I know the passages were not third grade level reading. (Excerpts from Little Women?) I know that when I looked over the passages and couldn’t determine the correct answer, something was wrong. These passages were my only clue to how the EOGs would be and I was not at all ok with that. Parents need to get involved and demand a change, the leaders don’t want to hear what teachers have to say.

  • Jan Thomas - June 1, 2014 - 9:30 am

    Right on target! My belief is that they want our children to fail so they can implement more charter schools and vouchers for their own children. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Many educators and parents feel the same way.

  • JoAnn Jordan - June 1, 2014 - 9:42 am

    Our push for test taking forgets much of child development – the need to move, to create, to explore, to be in wonder. For me, education is about creating lifelong learners rather than test takes. Of all the test my daughter took K-12, the one I focused on was the MAP Test. I was more interested in how she was progressing.

    It troubles me that in education we don’t value the knowledge and training of the teacher. We regulate and dictate what is to happen in the classroom.

    Thank you for being a champion for your children.

  • Another Concerned Mama Bear - June 1, 2014 - 9:46 am

    I read every.single.word and couldn’t agree more! I’m a teacher as well and have stopped working to homeschool my daughter. We have finished Kindergarten and will continue on with 1st Grade. If I ever put her back into school, it will be a private school. Thank you for your well written manifesto! From one mama bear to another! Cheers!

  • Ann Carlson - June 1, 2014 - 9:59 am

    I also agree… I am a parent of a child going into 8th and another one going into 6th. I teach Civics at LCMS in Seminole County. This is the end of my 30th year of teaching here in FL. I have spent the last 2 years teaching to the Test…either the county 9 weeks exams or the State EOC. Sad…very sad

  • Lynne Hancock - June 1, 2014 - 10:02 am

    When I started reading this story, I thought I had written it. I live in Collier county. I went to school here and did well, am a Stetson University graduate and came back to teach for a total of 14.5 years in Collier. My kids sound exactly like yours. So, it started….first I pulled them out and put them in private when it appeared, over and over that third needs were being left behind. So, then I was a public school teacher with ALL THREE KIDS IN PRICATE SCHOOL……what does that say? It screams that I don’t believe in the product anymore. The school system that produced me, that I was working in is no longer good enough to teach my own kids. HUGE conflict of interest!!!!
    Long story short, I finally left and changed careers and figured that I cannot affect change as one person. I am now a realtor with three children in private school where every day they do really cool things to learn like go to the beach two mornings a week with their Marine Bio class to study organisms and have a partnership with the nursing home across the street to go sit and talk with the older people in our community. I will never regret that decision. EVER. Thank you for speaking out. You write so much better than I. If you ever need anyone to speak about this, please let me know!

  • Debra Gibbs - June 1, 2014 - 10:10 am

    Lynne,

    I applaud you! I have a 25 year old and a 5 year old. My older daughter went to school with half day kindergsrten that didn’t have homework. Two recesses a day and parties on holidays.As I recall the first test she had to take for the state was in fifth grade. When she did have homework later on it was interesting, even fun sometimes. Most importantly, I could understand it if she had a problem. She graduated from Central Michigan in four years with a double major in physchology and speech pathology and was in the honors fraternity. She has a wonderful job in her field and this was all accomplished the good old way of teaching.

    My five year old has to be up by 6:30 at the latest to catch the bus. She has one 15 minute recess and they started no naps this year. She gets off the bus at around 4:20. Every day she has a paper or two to do for homework plus they want her to read to us for 20 minutes every night. They will send us letters telling us to make sure our kids get eleven to twelve hours of sleep every night because they’re tired and cranky during the day. So, that would mean she gets home at 4:30, reads and does homework for a half hour at least, eats dinner, has a bath all in two hours so she can sleep so she’s not cranky. She’s five! Where is family time? Play time, just time to be a kid? Plus no Halloween or Autumn celebration or Easter parties…they are there to learn not play I was told.I am heartbroken over this and support you fully.Testing hasn’t even begun and I am sick of the public school system.

    Sorry it’s so long. I had to vent.

  • Marian Lee Davis - June 1, 2014 - 10:21 am

    Wow! You have laid it all out! You couldn’t have made it any shorter without leaving out some important points. As I read this, I almost felt like you had been listening in on the conversations we have in our teachers’ lounge. All of your concerns have been voiced by us – as parents and educators. If these things are obvious to us, why aren’t we being listened to and asked for suggestions?

  • Sheila - June 1, 2014 - 10:21 am

    Well worth the read, all 2800 words! My husband and I both work in Duval County and we’ve had similar experiences here. I remember him coming home frustrated one day because he was told by a district coach that he should not be using a particular program for math interventions because the district had recently purchased a new one aligned with Common Core. Despite the fact that like you mentioned…his students were expected to take FCAT which is NOT aligned with Common Core! Seriously?? SMH…

    And our issues are exacerbated by the fact that we have a new superintendent who has proven himself to be less than popular among teachers and parents alike. I’m afraid it will take years to recover, and that’s if/when he finally decides to move on. :-(

  • Nancy - June 1, 2014 - 10:22 am

    My husband is a retired educator. I currently work in the system!
    Our daughter (LHHS) and family moved back to FL during the last 20 or so days of this school year! The 5th grader was immediately placed in the FCAT situation !!! Our 2nd grader and K, were being tested as well!! We agree with you/ 100 %. We would like other, financially available options. . .

  • Alexis Brown - June 1, 2014 - 10:38 am

    AMEN!!! I, too, read every word. I agree with you 100%. I will share this so y(our) voice with be heard!

  • Jeanne - June 1, 2014 - 10:48 am

    Thank you, Lynne … For writing what most “effective teachers” want to speak about! The new evaluation system is being used for numerous actions against teachers… Without training and helping teachers to follow what education standard should NOW be used on our classrooms, we all now are receiving “needs help” without the help ! The standards I’m writing of is the way to execute lessons with a plethora of new this and new that and do it even if it doesn’t fit!!! Platters are only so large, plus in my county they took 30 minutes from every day, which could effect the difference of understanding to a rush to get to the next CCSS!

  • Marialexandra - June 1, 2014 - 11:03 am

    I read every word, and I thank you for sharing your feelings and experience with all of us. Thank you!
    I have been complaining for years now and I just get dismissed by other parents and family members. The kids are not being taught anything that is not going to be on the darn tests. If its not on the test, don’t even bother, they don’t need to learn it – seems to be the thinking. My oldest was in 5th grade when I asked him once where a few world countries were, he had no idea. He had never heard of Paul Revere and he was going into 6th grade! My daughter going into 6th grade now, had no idea who Thomas Jefferson was or how George Washington became our first president. She has never been taught any logic behind the math or science they do on the worksheets she brings home; as long as she knows how to answer the FCAT (or the next standardized test) answers, that’s all that matters.
    I’m teaching my kids more at home than they are learning in school. Yes, I add myself to the growing list, my daughter is going to private school next year and my son, now going into 10th grade, will be home schooled. I feel horrible for those who remain in the system, its not designed for the kids nor does it have our children and their future in mind, its for the politicians to use as medals to get more money out of the system. Its gross.

  • eva o - June 1, 2014 - 11:04 am

    AWESOME! Thank you for taking time to put all concerns from all angles in one spot! I read all the words! Kudos to you and thank you!

  • Maria - June 1, 2014 - 11:24 am

    Lynne,
    Thank you for writing what we teachers have been feeling. Florida is hurting it’s children. Stripping away the natural desire to learn and making young students dislike going to school. The text is completely developmentally inappropriate and phonics is being forced at a confusing, rapid pace.
    Yet, anyone who speaks up feels like they do so at their own risk. It’s hard to believe that administrators and district curriculum staff really believe this is benefiting children. However, they push it like it’s the cure for our problems.
    I agree with you that parents need to exercise their option and not have their children take these high stake tests. We hear of transparency in government all the time, but where is the transparency for testing?
    And VAM…it is a disgrace? How can I work so hard and all my students make great gains, but because I am not an FCAT grade teacher, my evaluation is only effective because of students I have never taught?
    Good luck with your children’s new school. I hope they do love to learn.

  • Jen - June 1, 2014 - 11:25 am

    Thank you for writing this. As a classroom teacher in Tennessee, we are also “trying” new ways to get our proficiency level to what the state feels is appropriate for my 98% low social economic students. I hope parents understand that the teachers do care for the love of learning in their classroom. But with the state breathing down our backs about scores we (in order to keep our jobs) do what we have to do.

  • Heather - June 1, 2014 - 11:28 am

    I read all 2800 words, which confirmed how disappointed I have become in the Obama administration. My sister is an IB chem teacher who graduated from a magnet high school (as did I) and went on to get her Masters degree from Tulane. She was once crazy passionate about chemistry and helping students find their calling in science. The FCAT intruded on the passion and forced her to be a shepherd of testing requirements. Standardized testing only proves that as humans we can adapt to any situation to survive. It also gives proof to the fact that we are becoming a socialized nation, which scares the heck out of me. I received a terrific education pre-standardized testing years. I am extremely successful and owe my success to the many educators that helped me harness my true vocation. Today’s education system has become a joke. No child left behind has become…sink or swim.

  • Alan - June 1, 2014 - 11:37 am

    Read all of your post. Very well written. With some minor, very minor, tweaks and moving of paragraphs this would make a good case/speech if it was to be presented before a school board or town hall-type meeting.

    Thanks for your time. You expressed what many off us parents are thinking and frustrated about.

  • Jennifer Chapman - June 1, 2014 - 12:06 pm

    Exceptionally well written. You took the words out of my mouth. I live in fear for my three boys. It is hard to help them with their homework, prep for the test, and understand how curriculum is readying them. I just posted about my 3rd grader’s FCAT results on my blog http://www.imthebossofme.wordpress.com.

    I have been studying gender (boys) in elementary school testing too. If anyone is open to it, I am conducting surveys of parents from all over the country about boys in elementary school. The surveys take 5-10 minutes and I would welcome anyone who reads this post to fill out the survey. I have posted the link into the website window in this comment. If you want to know more, please email me at [email protected] or you can contact me at https://BoysInFocus.com

  • Bethany Carter - June 1, 2014 - 12:21 pm

    I have a 3rd grader this year in Lakeville (Orange County) I love that school and try to stay involved. Luckily my daughter scored 4/4 her teachers were worried as she struggled in the pretest for FCAT. She takes too long and second guesses herself as they are worded badly. She is a sweet child my youngest. Being the baby she is very soft and kindhearted she cannot break a rule and would die if I were to complain it’s her personality but as of this year she was miserable at school. She begged me regularly to stay home and complained how mean her teacher was and not to mention the lack of fun time and very little recess. The first half of the year was a drill for preparation for this test. She so patiently waiting to be taught cursive writing. I had already begin to show her but she was waiting to be taught. It was part of the curriculum but they were too busy with the testing to ever get to it. The teachers are stressing that they will do their best but warning it will be getting harder and they are planning to “try” to put more groups outside of classroom to help the kids prepare. I will say they have tried to do this with many of the teachers volunteering their time away from their own family to help the 3rd graders especially because it is a big test. I am at this time looking into private schools to see if I can afford one. I live 2 min away and love Lakeville’s family as it feels like a family but I am sadden to see my child shy away and loose her love of learning. She is not a good “test-taker” like her older siblings who always scored 5/5. She has all As but struggles and works for them much harder than my other kids had to. Thanks for your message it read beautifully. I hope it gets better soon so our kids can keep the love of learning forever alive.

  • Sheila Haynes - June 1, 2014 - 12:23 pm

    My children are grown now but I worry about the education system for my grandchildren. I don’t know much about common core, but honestly, have not heard one good thing about it! I pray that your letter reaches the right people to get this changed and allow the teachers to teach, and not the government who never see the children or their disastrous results until it’s too late!

  • Stacey Mott - June 1, 2014 - 12:28 pm

    I agree with you completely and also agree with those who feel like our leaders ultimately want public education to fail and make way for the privatization using vouchers and charter schools. I have been an educator for 24 years and have considered myself blessed to have found a career that I so dearly love. Not so much anymore. I still love the children and their bright and beautiful spirits but hate the underlying message I am sending them by testing them to death and having ro teach them how to take all of these tests in kindergarten and 1st grade.

  • Amber - June 1, 2014 - 12:39 pm

    I completely agree with you and I could write 2800 words myself, being a third grade teacher in Florida! I feel frustrated first of all at the level of math my third graders have to master to pass the infamous “test.” At the beginning of the school year, I gave a second grade diagnostic test (Envision Math) and literally half of my students made a D or F on it, indicating to me that they had not mastered second grade skills. I was faced with teaching these students who could not add and subtract two digit numbers how to multiply, divide, use inverse operations, identify, compare, order fractions, identify and compare polygons by their properties, etc. Our county “curriculum guide” (written by teachers in our county) started off with teaching place value through the hundred thousands and rounding numbers through the hundred thousands. The students did not even have a good grasp of place value to the hundreds. And number sense…don’t get me started! Five weeks into the school year due to budget cuts, we had to cut a third grade teacher. I had to switch from teaching two classes to teaching three classes of third graders. I had 54 students and only an hour and a half on a good day to teach them. I got one hour of planning time per week. The parents were frustrated and so were we. The majority of my students came to me with A’s and B’s from second grade and now they were receiving C’s, D’s, and F’s because the curriculum and standards were so tough! Every day it is a balance of doing what is developmentally appropriate for my students and trying to get them to pass the “test” because my performance is based on the “test.”
    Next year, I will be teaching reading and writing using the Florida Standards. Our district decided not to purchase a reading or writing curriculum because our superintendent feels that the best way for our students to learn is through novels. So, I have no curriculum to use. I have to plan, create, purchase, etc. anything I need. I cannot fathom the amount of time, energy, and money I will spend on my classroom next year. I have already spent $300.00 for next year and this year isn’t even over yet!
    I could go on all day, but like you said, who knows if anyone is even listening! I teach because I love it, it’s who I am, but more and more lately I am completely frustrated and overwhelmed. Good luck to you and your family as you do what is best for you! Hopefully someone will start listening.

  • Claire @ A Little Claireification - June 1, 2014 - 12:45 pm

    We are struggling with a tough decision as well right over over here in Orange County (downtown). My oldest had the opportunity to attend The Christ School (he’s now at UCF), as did Middlest for the first few years but we cannot afford to send BOTH the 7 and 10 year olds while at the same time planning for our own retirement. We are now faced with a very tough decision as they enter 5th and 2nd grade. We are looking at options.
    Thanks for your well thought out post, Lynne.

  • Lisa Swaboda - June 1, 2014 - 12:54 pm

    Lynne,

    You’re right; so very right. Teachers are leaving in droves. What does it mean when 1/2 of the homeschool moms I meet are former educators? It means we’re fed up and we see through all of the rhetoric and mandates. We’re done.

    Join the club. Most teachers feel the same. I just hope parents catch on and gain a voice like you’re doing. It’s the only way to change things. In the meantime keep doing what’s best for your own children.

  • AmyL - June 1, 2014 - 12:59 pm

    I read your great letter with the same feelings I had with my kids. I was disheartened by the way the government treats the education. I wholeheartedly agree with you the way things should be – education should be a place to learn and have fun with learning. I have pulled my daughter out twice to homeschool her because of her dyslexic and disagree with schools having the major exams (was TAKS now STARR test). I respect teachers and I think it is very wrong to judge them (with pay) because some kid failed the test. What about kids with severe disabilities? They should expect them to pass the tests? I pulled out my ‘gifted’ son out once to homeschool because they couldn’t give him anything challenging or take a higher course class. So, as a parent, I know how hard it is to homeschool a child. I love education myself and I want my kids to love it too! Good luck with this letter and I sure hope it is a big slap in their faces or wake them up and smell the roses!

  • Aaron - June 1, 2014 - 1:10 pm

    Wow! First off Mrs. Rigby, I want to say thank you. I am an educator in Tennessee and the educators here are dealing with the same adversity. Put it this way, three of my eighth grade team quit before the year ended.
    More than anything I am worried because my daughter will enter kindergarten next year and will have to take tests. She will have to take the TRIPOD, a student perception survey on her teacher. “Do you like your teacher?”
    Lastly, I too went to Lake Brantly for one semester. I happened to be there when the baseball team won the National Championship. Your husband was a fantastic pitcher. The guy he was pitching to wasn’t bad either. A great combo of Rigby to Varitek.
    Keep spreading the word. As a parent, next year I get to speak loudly. As just a teacher, I have very little voice but take all the blame.

  • Amarilys Heard - June 1, 2014 - 1:31 pm

    I read it from beginning to end. In fact, I will be sharing it as well. You could have not presented it any better. Your small voice is surely beginning to be heard. I couldn’t agree with you more!

  • Karlie Rouzer - June 1, 2014 - 1:33 pm

    I too read it all! My son is entering 1st grade at BLES in the fall and i have another one a few years behind him. I have to be honest I haven’t done my research on Common Core but reading your article scares me. My children are lucky in the sense that we have a very loving and stable home and I too believe they will do “fine” with whatever is thrown at them but that is not the case for so many. Have you sent your letter to “the powers that be”? If not, I really think you should. It makes me sad that these teachers are being forced to teach a certain thing a certain way and that so many of them at walking away from teaching. I pray things change soon!

  • Kathy - June 1, 2014 - 1:49 pm

    I too read all 2800 words. You are not alone and I thank you for writing your VERY valid concerns. I am a mom of 3 boys age 13 to 8. My eldest is an All American boy who struggles with school. He began in private schools but couldn’t keep up with their advanced curriculum. He now struggles in Broward County Public School. I truly have no clue what we will do for high school education. My twins are thriving in an incredible Montessori School. At this time, my family is fortunate to be able to afford private tutors for our eldest and private school for our twins. Hopefully, more voices will join the conversation about drastic changes that are desperately needed in our public educational system.

  • Rebecca Scott - June 1, 2014 - 2:28 pm

    Thank you for writing this, especially as former educator. I will probably end up homeschooling mine because of all of this, but I agree with your ending sentiments wholeheartedly. We still need to stand up to this for the children who don’t have a voice, whose parents can’t or won’t homeschool or put them in private schools. They will be the ones most harmed by this.

  • Amy - June 1, 2014 - 2:40 pm

    That was incredibly well written and I’m so glad I read the entire letter. Thank you for writing it and sharing it.

  • Al Fun - June 1, 2014 - 2:41 pm

    I read your article. I hope you realize that the powers that be are doing this on purpose. They no longer want to fund public education and if they run it into the ground they won’t have to. Most charter schools are no better off since they have to participate in the testing too. The only advantage charters have is that they can require parents to volunteer and don’t have keep problem students. The only way I see to send the message is for parents to keep their kids home during testing as a protest to this ridiculous trend. My middle school was in testing mode from April 22 to May 19. (FCAT, CIVICS, ALGEBRA and Geometry EOC’s) in addition students had to take a preparation test (epat) as well as quarterly reading tests(FAIR testing) and benchmark assessments. Teachers are just as sick and demoralized by the testing as the students. I for one am glad I’m at the end of my career instead of just starting out.

  • Elizabeth B - June 1, 2014 - 2:42 pm

    I like the fact that this article recognizes the horrible situation today’s educators are in with the high-stakes testing, as well as the predicament our students/children are in. It’s heart-breaking for everyone – except our elected officials and the testing companies that are walking away with millions. We teachers and parents need to unite to make education in public schools something meaningful for our communities.

  • Lindsey Burnett - June 1, 2014 - 2:51 pm

    Wow Lynne. This is an incredibly well written post that I agree 100% with. I’m so scared for my kid’s future because right now it’s determined based on their ability to take a test. I can’t even understand half of my son’s second grade homework. How am I supposed to help him excel, when I have no idea what/how they’re teaching things that should be so easy. My son, who is extremely bright and loves to learn new things, is struggling in school because the schools have taken all of the fun out of learning. It’s all about test taking now.

  • Kelley - June 1, 2014 - 2:59 pm
  • Gabrielle - June 1, 2014 - 3:00 pm

    What gets me is that both my girls are in catholic school but I also have them enrolled in a part time public school that provides stipends for us basically a tiny fraction of my tax dollars spent for the public schools to use for extra curricular activities. They take 3 classes that we do at home and turn in work during quarters that is graded. A requirement of this program is to take the mandatory state testing and they score above average sometimes higher. So my question is if my kids are getting a classic education with all subjects including art, music, pe, and a 30 minute recess, all m-f from 8-310 then the public schools still have it wrong!

  • Melissa - June 1, 2014 - 3:11 pm

    Very well written. I am so thankful that we homeschool our kids, but my heart breaks for all of the families that don’t have that option and for the teachers that can’t teach the way they want to. Thank you for researching, knowing what you’re talking about and standing in the gap.

  • Cara - June 1, 2014 - 3:18 pm

    To those who feel trapped, there are a million ways to educate your children at home… to fit your family. Reevaluate your expectations for everyone. Don’t be intimidated. Release the stress, get creative, & have fun with your children. :) If you want, you can do it. ♡

  • Natalie Holland - June 1, 2014 - 3:44 pm

    My favorite part, “Suddenly I want to see my kids tests, see where they went wrong, see what they did right, but parents aren’t afforded that option and neither are teachers. If the test is truly a good indicator of student ability, then the parents and teachers should be able to see the actual test and the student work to help the students moving forward?”

  • Kara Teschner - June 1, 2014 - 3:48 pm

    LOVE this. Very well written. Please type it in black. It is hard to read (especially for eyes over 40!) :)

  • Rhonda Ackley - June 1, 2014 - 3:51 pm

    I am a teacher of students with multiple disabilities in Ohio. This piece, all 2800 words of it ring true. While I won’t get on my soap box, because I am sure I could write another 2800 words, I can tell you this: by my rough calculations, I spent nearly 30% of my total language arts instructional time this year doing testing. Monthly pre and post formative assessment. Benchmark assessment three times during the year, and the state alternate assessment for students with cognitive disabilities this spring. Accountability and data collection sounds good, but in the case of my students, what happens is weeks and weeks of prolonged testing because each test must be administered individually to each student. I guess the powers that be never thought about what the rest of the class is supposed to do while the teacher is testing. I can only hope that through voices like yours, someone in power, who also has sense, will begin to question what is being done with our kids.

  • Angela - June 1, 2014 - 3:52 pm

    I also read all 2800 words. I worry about how this will affect our children. My 12 year old is gifted and spent numerous hours testing this year. My 3 year old has not yet started school but know that the elementary school where my oldest sin attended is already struggling and most likely this year will have lost their A rating. What does this mean for my youngest? Thank you for your letter and I hope our politicians and educators will come together and re-evaluate their choice I’m the existing common core

  • Seminole county preschooler - June 1, 2014 - 4:02 pm

    Thank you so much for writing this. I, too, am a successful seminole county public school grad-(and went on to easily earn multiple graduate degrees from top tier universities). We have been debating this public v private choice for my 3 year old(and especially the financial implications of private schools). My mind was now made up, so thank you. Private will be worth it.

    I’ve even seen this with my three year old in his preschool classroom. They have this ” list” of skills that they should be able to do by the end of the year. I have a VERY bright 3 year old. He verbally, he’s a rock star. Logically, even more so. He blows his 7 and 8 year old cousins out of the water with his comprehension and vocabulary and artistic skills (something their parents have said… I’m not a “comparing” type of mom). Admittedly, Some skills are lacking. Like all kids, he’s great at some things and not others. When I got his “end of preschool” report card, I was shocked at the number of items my son was “failing”. A three year old can fail!? Preschool?!? Wth?!? I freaked. My son, who I thought was “gifted”, is failing! So I talked with his teachers and looked closer at the evaluations… The things he “failed” were things that we’ve just never spent any time teaching (entirely my fault). For example, pushing himself on a swing? He can’t do (apparently most other 3-4 year olds can). Well, the playground in our neighborhood doesn’t have swings. There’s only 3 swings on the preschool playground for 30+ kids… When would he learn this skill? Unless his parents went out of the way to teach him? (It’s just not something I think of as a “skill”). Does it mean he’s going to fail at life?!? Of course not. But it put him on the “gross motor skills” failing spectrum. You can’t test young children… I can only see how it will get worse as he gets older.

    So decision made. Private schools. Thank you. And I hope that you’re able to change some minds, we’d love to be able to reconsider.

  • ladyliberty1885 - A.P. Dillon - June 1, 2014 - 4:03 pm

    “Today’s public school atmosphere is all about accountability and not about the actual needs of the child.”

    That sentence says a lot! Great article, well thought out and written. Thank you for writing it. Know that a lot of moms and dads outside of Florida saw this and are going through the same thing.

  • R. S. - June 1, 2014 - 4:22 pm

    I cannot agree more with this letter and am hopeful it will reach the right people to fan the fires of need. My two daughters of 8 and 11 will be leaving the public school system next week and thus we enter into the realm of the homeschool experience.
    Though it may seem to some a daunting task, I view it as an opportunity to offer my children education in a way that suits their very nature, learning style and personality. A more organic approach that addresses the whole child and not just the “standardized test norms.”
    It may not be possible for everyone but know that you have options and homeschooling could be one of them. After all, who better to teach your children than you, their parents, who know them best.

  • Kelly - June 1, 2014 - 4:32 pm

    As a 4th grade teacher and 2 kids ( one now going into 4th) in the public school system in Florida I am right there with you! Unfortunately, by putting kids in the private section the Governor and Pearson and in turn former Gov. Bush and getting what they want….a need for vouchers for kids to go to private schools. They ( Scott, Bush Pearson and the Administration in general) are killing public schools and making it impossible for us to teach kids. I have been a teacher for over 20 years…I have seen blueprint 2000, village to raise a child, and now the death of no child left behind for race to the top……I no longer can say I teacher children but I try and teach curriculum…. What a shame that we are doing this to children…..no wonder there are so many kids out there are meds….the expectations even in kindergarten are way high…..when do kids get to be kids and not little workers….aren’t there child labor laws……!!!!!

  • Mom and Teacher - June 1, 2014 - 4:42 pm

    I read every single word. You’ve written what so many of us have said amazingly well!!! So sad to see public schools in this position. Hopefully, we can all make a change and bring back the real school experience.

  • Robert Ross - June 1, 2014 - 4:42 pm

    I am neither an educator, or parent. I am a retiree living in Key Largo. I have heard about this from other sources and your story is not unique. Keep up the pressure. Good Luck.

  • Jason McCully - June 1, 2014 - 4:49 pm

    I read every word! You are a voice of reason in a state of madness! I am from Virginia and state testing was heinous this year. The school system had to split each standardized test into a two day marathon for some of the subjects. 5th graders were taking 3 hours to answer 19 questions!!! My daughter in 3rd grade was afforded the same 3 hours to answer 19 questions (and that was just half of the test). I just could not believe it. The local School Board here,along with other county school boards, have made an appeal to the State to reduce the # of SOL tests required. At this time there has been no response.

    It is my prayer that your voice for change will be heard.

    Best regards,

    Jason

  • Megan - June 1, 2014 - 5:01 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree. We pulled my 1st grade out of public school this year and into a private school that encourages her strengths. Though they dont test in 1st grade the curriculum was boring for her and their ‘assessment’ tests were based on a method of reading that she had not learned (coming from a Montessori school) where they expected a 6 yr old to read a much higher level. Though some students can read that well, many cannot and she was ‘remediated.’ We learned later that some of these strategies that the remediation class taught her were actually making her slower at reading and encouraging guessing strategies rather then actual reading of the words. In math she was ahead but they wouldnt give her extra work. It was beyond frustrating. I’m worried and scared for the future of America’s kids. I understand where ‘they’ are coming from with their goals but they are forgetting that these are kids not robots. They need to play, they need to read books that inspire them and teach them about the world, they need to go outside, they need to listen and play to music, they need to create art, they need to learn to make friends, they need to learn to live in the world!! These are our children, our future. I’m sad, but I remain hopeful. I hope more parents realize this as you did and take charge of their child’s future by speaking out and getting angry and letting everyone know!!

  • Tracy - June 1, 2014 - 5:17 pm

    Boy, do I feel your frustration!! I’m a 3rd grade public school teacher whose children are in private school. My daughter is going into 3rd grade in the coming school year, and I teach alongside a dozen teachers in my school that I would be thrilled to pieces for her to have next year. Our school is full of good teachers, but the infrastructure of our system of public education is broken. I simply am not willing to experiment with my children. Interestingly, of the twelve 3rd grade teachers on my wing, eight of us have school-aged children and three of us have opted out of the public school system for our own children. It breaks my heart!

  • Ruth Samuel - June 1, 2014 - 5:27 pm

    I agreet with most of this! Chidren should not have to spend all their time learning to pass a test. However you have to go back to the Republicans and President Bush who started “No Child Left Behind”. That was the beginning of the end of Public Education. We have suffered here in Indiana for over 8 years of this with Tony Bennet. Florida, sorry to say you got him, but lucky for you the truth came out here in Indiana and he is gone. Now we think in Indiana teachers do not even have to be trained. Just let anyone with a college degree teach. Parents, it is up to all of us to have an uprising of what is good for our children and testing for weeks at a time is not the answer. Taking away recess to learn more Math and English is not the answer. Taking Math and English twice a day is not the answer.

  • Momma J - June 1, 2014 - 5:41 pm

    I read & agree with all 2,800 words!
    Thank you, Lynne, for the eye-opening analysis of the travesty that is happening in our public school systems.

    We are the parents of 5 amazing children, two of those home schooled, all 4 grown children are now through college &/or Grad School. Each child has had different interests and needs, so I’ve adjusted accordingly as each need and interest became apparent.

    We just finished the youngest child’s first year of public school.
    She attended 6th Grade at the top middle school in our district, after 2 years of private school. I home schooled her from Kindergarten through part of 4th grade. Then I became injured, so she transferred to a good private school.
    However, they had no programs for band, chorus, or extra activities.
    This child has played the trumpet since she was in Kindergarten, and enjoyed playing in the local college’s Jazz band at age 8.

    Our main interest in Public Education was the school band program, which is not available in most schools at this age.
    In the private school, our daughter won many awards for “Highest GPA”, and tested extremely high in yearly standardized testing since Kindergarten.

    Suddenly, in the county public school, she not only struggled, but was getting failing grades initially.
    The school had an on-line site where we could check her grades daily. However, very quickly, the core teachers, who had 2 periods of “Preparation time” daily, were usually at least one month behind in posting the on-line grades. They also failed in notifying parents of weekly make-up classes (not until after the class had occurred or was cancelled for lack of student sign-ups). The core teachers essentially were keeping everyone in the dark until grade cards were sent home.
    In fact, there was no math book, they were “creating it on-line as the year progressed”, so there was no way for parents to even help their child.
    My child who previously LOVED Math, now despises math! In my experience, that qualifies as a FAIL as an educator!
    The first quarter, my child had a 95% on-line grade for math, but after the grade cards were released, the grade ‘magically’ overnight dropped to a 79%, erasing all chances of participating for the entire school year in the Honors program or Beta Club.
    How can a MATH teacher make such an egregious an error???
    As the year progressed, it became evident that all 4 core teachers were just “showing up”, would give “pop quizzes” if one child in the classroom was misbehaving, home work was “busy worksheets” not pertaining to the classroom curriculum, and teachers continued failing to maintain the on-line grade updates in a timely manner (a month behind….really?).
    Even the Language Arts teacher would make serious spelling errors on her evaluations of her students (“there not listening well”, a second grade homonym error).

    The band director, on the other hand, has been an excellent teacher, teaching all periods of the school day, with no preparation classes, and offering free daily tutoring both before and after school.
    He also spent over $2K out of his own pocket to provide electronic learning programs to help “his kids” advance quickly.

    In fact, his Middle School Jazz Band consistently beat high school bands at every competition, and performed with adult groups in city-wide festivals. Band, thankfully, was the exception to the school experience!

    While I would love for my daughter to continue in the band program, I plan to return to home schooling full time.
    We can petition the school board to allow participation with the band program, but so far, no parents have succeeded in getting their home schooled student into extra activities at the school where they pay taxes for their child to attend.
    What other options are there for a gifted student to participate where their love of learning is sparked and challenged??

    My child plays the Trumpet, piano, sings, is illustrating a book for an author (copyrighting her drawings), writes in an on-line forum, creates on-line creative videos, has a strong interest in photography, is athletic, but is strictly limited to only one interest in the Public School setting.

    We let her take private lessons for all her musical interests.
    Her artistic interests are either self-taught, or learned by watching a pro (i.e. Watching a video producer do their job).
    I only want her joy of learning to return, and not be stifled.

    Thank you, Lynne, for such a thoughtful, informed posting.
    You’ve got this Momma seriously thinking about our next steps for my youngest child’s education!!
    We all only get one childhood, let’s do a great job as parents!!

  • Cindy - June 1, 2014 - 5:41 pm

    I read all of it, too. I teach art in another state and I am tired of teacher-bashing and politicians. I am taking a pilot training for assessment in my curriculum area. It is completely ridiculous to have to measure artistic growth in children who I see once a week (providing they are never absent). In 2017, after collecting ‘data’ over a three year period, my worth as an art teacher will be judged. I am eligible to retire in two years, thankfully.

    I see home schooling gaining in popularity.

  • Dawn Collins - June 1, 2014 - 5:41 pm

    Thank you for articulating so well, what so many of us are struggling with today. It was a heartbreaking year for us that ended in retention and now separate schooling for our special needs 3rd grader (again) and upcoming kindergartener. Thank you for having the courage to give a voice to those of us who can’t say it “right” to those who need to hear what we have to say.

  • Chanda Griese - June 1, 2014 - 5:54 pm

    My heart hurts for you, Lynne. So sorry that you have to pull your children from the public school system because CC “is a colossal waste of money and another way to suck out the last chance they might have to love learning.” You are doing what you think is best for your children and it is costing you. Hoping the FL legislature will see the light about this and pull out.

  • Lara Lee - June 1, 2014 - 6:12 pm

    My husband and I read your article and were very impressed. You beautifully articulated the struggles in the school system. I hope your words reach the top state officials and are the beginnings of significant positive change.

    Our two boys have been at Park Maitland since K4 (now rising 5th and 3rd) and we have been so pleased with the curriculum. It is hard work at Park Maitland, but they are having so much fun and so engaged they forget they are learning!

  • Jane Moerlie - June 1, 2014 - 6:33 pm

    Lynne Rigby,

    I am a candidate running for the Marion County school board and we share the same feelings towards CC. I also found out that the algebra test has 150 questions. I will post your article on my website and on the Marion County political forum. We need the people to speak up and share their experiences. Common Core is now called Florida Standard Assessment
    Thank you for making a difference

  • Suzanne - June 1, 2014 - 6:59 pm

    Lynne,

    I do not know you. I am not an educator but I am a mother. I do not know your particular school system. However, I do St. Lucie county school system here in Florida. I don’t want to get into all of the issues with testing. I would like to say. Taking my oldest son out of the public school system and enrolling him into a private school was the best thing I could have EVER done for him. He has learned and retained more in the past 6 months than he did in 3.5 years in the public high schools here. Kudos to you!!!! You are doing what is best for your children!

  • Shelly - June 1, 2014 - 7:01 pm

    Please share this on Discovery Education’s FB page. Social media can be a powerful thing. I have also asked my friends to share your letter and their feelings. Maybe if we inundate them with it and clog their feed, someone will take note.

  • MARY - June 1, 2014 - 7:01 pm

    I SAW A SIMILAR AGENDA 12 YEARS AGO WHEN I TOURED MY LOCAL PUBLIC SCHOOL. ONE OF THE EMPLOYEES WAS A NICE YOUNG MAN WHO TOLD ME HIS JOB WAS TO MAKE SURE ALL THE TEACHERS “WERE TEACHING TO THE (STANDARDIZED) TESTS.” HUH! WE SACRIFICED A LOT AND SENT OUR CHILDREN TO PRIVATE SCHOOL.

  • Debbie - June 1, 2014 - 7:18 pm

    Thank you for writing this. I am a proud product of the public school system and the daughter of a career public school teacher and I look at the system today and it is not the same as it was. I hope your message is heard and someone takes action.

  • Lynn - June 1, 2014 - 7:29 pm

    I can personally vouch regarding the failures and shortcomings of the Seminole County Public School system. Third grade was nothing but FCAT, FCAT, FCAT! What about creative learning? The stress placed upon these children at this young age is unbelievable. I personally pulled my child from this broken system after third grade and homeschooled him myself. As the saying goes, “if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” Less funding for you Seminole County!

  • Jane - June 1, 2014 - 7:33 pm

    I stand with you.

    I left teaching in 1980, as I watched the beginnings of this testing craze. (I taught in Hillsborough and Orange Counties in FL…Killarney Elem. in Winter Park). Testing was given for each chapter in the reading material…pre and post. There was a 24 individual test to be given…individually…to each student for the math curriculum. This was in addition to the math quizzes in the textbooks. And there were the standardized tests…the spelling tests, the Santa Clara Inventory…and more. With all this testing, there was little time to teach…to encourage the joy of learning. There was no time for science and other enriching studies. And I was totally burned out. Imagine how these first graders felt!!!

    We tried the public school system for all three of our sons. It was not a good situation for learning (and we were in the #1 school district in the nation). We pulled our boys (all excellent students) from the school and home taught them until high school, at which time they attended private school. All three are successful, independent thinking adults…

  • Julie - June 1, 2014 - 7:40 pm

    After reading the title, I read the article with every intention of disagreeing with it. However, I agree with every word. You see, I AM a public school teacher and I get very angry and defensive when people bash the public school system. You hit the nail on the head though. The problem is not the teachers, but the legislatures who are making the rules and completely out of sync with what actually is going on. They are completely disconnected to the system that they are controlling. I started out teaching high school English and did so for twelve years. At about that time, my own daughter started struggling and like you, I felt helpless and out of touch. She was in first grade at that time, and developed test anxiety and depression. It was heart wrenching that I was taking my six year old to therapy all because of unrealistic expectations. So I took action. I changed my whole course in life, took my elementary education certification test and moved down to teaching elementary school. That was five years ago and while I still don’t have the answers, I am at least able to make more informed decisions about my child’s education. It has really only gotten worse. They are so many wonderful teachers in public education who strive to do what is right for kids every day.

  • Jill - June 1, 2014 - 7:42 pm

    A friend of mine shared your post on Facebook. Very well written.

    We abandoned the public school system for homeschooling 6 years ago, right after my oldest son experienced the joys of a year of test-centric teaching in third grade. I used to teach college and I think public education is vitally important to our country. I never envisioned myself as a homeschooler. However, I was not and still am not willing to sacrifice my children’s futures because I think public education matters. Ultimately, we quit.

    My daughter wanted to go to a regular school last fall for 7th grade, so we filled out all of the paperwork to put her in a program that looked and sounded wonderful. Unfortunately, like most schools anymore, test scores overrule actual student needs. DS is very smart, but she is also profoundly dyslexic. We were told by the public school system that she did not qualify for any dyslexia remediation because “her test scores were too high.” Apparently a 98th percentile in math wipes out the 16th percentile in spelling. She can pass the standardized exams at the needed rate, but she spells like a 3rd grader. Spelling isn’t tested, so they don’t provide any remediation. To make matters worse, they were not willing to put anything in place, even accommodations, until they had observed her for 6 weeks and had watched her fail. This is a kid with a profound learning disability, but test scores override the needs of the actual child.

    Needless to say, we are still homeschooling and paying for a dyslexia tutor.

  • Barb Maher - June 1, 2014 - 7:49 pm

    Well another reason to perhaps homeschool. I did it for almost 20 yrs with 4 kids after private school wanted me to put our son on Ritalin. He today , is a vibrant learner, studying engineering in college and all 3 daughters successful adults

  • Janet Duke - June 1, 2014 - 7:49 pm

    I have a son, who will be in 4th grade next year. We as floridians, have got to pressure our politicians to get rid of Common Core. It is “cookie cutter”, and will, squash the love of reading classics. The older the kids get, the more the emphasis is taken away from fiction/literature, to informational texts.
    Not to mention, if this continues, the data mining that will go on will be very scary. God forbid, you disagree. One more point, Pearson receives money, every time a child takes a test they designed. It IS polital, and about MONEY. We must stand against it!

  • TeacherMama - June 1, 2014 - 7:55 pm

    Thank you, Lynne! I read every word. I am a third grade teacher in Florida. The state of education is enough to make me weep for our children! I feel like a warrior going into battle each day, fighting to do what is right for the little people entrusted to me. (And hoping I’ll keep my job, or not…)

  • Wes Locke - June 1, 2014 - 8:07 pm

    Hi Lynne,
    Outstanding article. I am an assistant principal at a charter school in Lake County and believe me when I tell you parents, teachers, and administrators feel the same way you feel.

    I am a doer. So my question to you is, what do we do about this? I believe your letter could be a catalyst for change. I would like to send this to as many people as I can possibly think of that have the power to make changes in our system. If all the caring, good parents leave our schools we are doomed to failure. However, if we could rally support for change we might get somewhere. Would you mind if this letter was spread around? I think it needs to be seen by every parent, teacher, administrator, superintendent, school board member, and politician in the state!

  • A Teacher Empathizes - June 1, 2014 - 8:09 pm

    I teach in a different state but we could echo your complaints pretty much word for word with just a couple of different acronyms. We are being forced to teach to multiple tests–some of which have components that don’t make sense. Certain companies are making bank by providing all the mandated testing and workbooks. Integration of the Common Core in English thus far has been a workbook, math gets its scripted program next year, all the electives have to teach argumentative and informative essays. Every. Elective. And that’s in addition to those same essays being taught in every core class. Directives are coming from the Feds and district people who don’t understand education. Principals have no power, teachers have less than ever. Everyone is burning out, frustrated, looking for alternate careers, and desperate to try and give kids a real education despite the clusterf*** that is “educational reform.”

  • Melissa Everett - June 1, 2014 - 8:19 pm

    This was very well written and to the point. As a first grade teacher, I dread Discovery Ed testing as it does not correlate with our curriculum. Wasn’t it the governor of Texas that refused federal monies so that the State of Texas could teach their students accordingly and not have to abide by federal manure?

  • Judi - June 1, 2014 - 8:20 pm

    The same thing is happening in south GA. I left the high school classroom after 19 years of teaching there to finish my career at a technical college. My daughter, who was an awesome teacher, left teaching (also high school) after only three years. I would never encourage my students to choose teaching as a career because all of the creativity of teaching has been sucked out of the profession. Too much government interference!

    Both of our daughters are considering home schooling this upcoming year,

  • Nicole - June 1, 2014 - 8:36 pm

    Parents need to opt their kids out of testing. If we don’t like what is done with the data then we need to not give them the data. The test data is not relevant if 6% of more of the student population does not test. The power is in parents’ hands.

  • Sue - June 1, 2014 - 8:38 pm

    It’s a sad day that education is dictating exactly what page/book a teacher must be on each and everyday. I taught not that long ago and the curriculum was what I responsible to teach but textbooks were just one of many resources we used to teach those topics/standards. Pearsons needs to be shut down, they have become way too powerful and way to dictating in our educational system.

  • Glynnis - June 1, 2014 - 9:06 pm

    Wow! Just Wow! I lived in Seminole County for 29 years. I raised my daughter in the SCPS system and had my younger two go through elementary school. I was disillusioned with the direction they were headed several years ago and jumped at an opportunity to move to NC when my husband was offered a promotion with his company. After reading your post I have to say that I’m thankful that we left, but I must say that so many things you said strike a cord with most public school systems! It’s shameful what we are doing to our children. Bravo to you for this well-spoken letter! Let your husband know that I was glued to the screen throughout the entire thing! I pray that it makes a bigger impact than you ever imagined that it would!

  • lynne - June 1, 2014 - 9:13 pm

    excellent! Did you get a response from Tallahassee ?

  • Chris Guerrieri - June 1, 2014 - 9:14 pm

    See that’s the thing, I believe the powers-that-be want parents with the means to leave because there they hope to find supporters of vouchers and once that damn breaks no amount of thumbs will be able to stop the leak. In short they are making it so families want to leave so they can say, hey all these families left we have to blow the system up.

    I get it you have to do what’s best for your family but some of us have chosen to stay and fight to make it better for others.

  • Patty - June 1, 2014 - 9:14 pm

    Thank you for taking the time to write and express what so many of us feel! As a parent and teacher, I completely agree with you and I also read every single word!!

  • Emily Beach - June 1, 2014 - 9:26 pm

    I also read every word because IT WAS WORTH IT!!! I am a Biology teacher and a parent of two girls and I am with you 100%. I pray that this gets into the right hands and that minds will be changed because of it. Our children and teachers have been put under impossible standards. Thank you for taking the time to articulate the thoughts of many. Awesome job!

  • Carla - June 1, 2014 - 9:29 pm

    I thoroughly agree. I work at a high school that had 28 days of standardized testing at the end of the school year. It was a nightmare juggling field trips, award ceremonies and other end of the year activities. Guess what won out? Guess what should have won out? Teachers won’t get far complaining, I can tell you, WE DON’T but PARENTS WILL.

  • J. Arsenault - June 1, 2014 - 9:29 pm

    Ms. Rigby,
    What you’re experiencing is what happens when a predominately apathetic populace elects and re-elects representatives who basically do whatever the most financially generous special interest group(s) insist they do. The simple truth is that money talks. It costs millions to run campaigns even at the state level. Doesn’t really matter which political party you side with. When it comes to the methodology our children are being taught using and instruments or regiment their being evaluated by is basically nonpartisan. Special interest groups support both sides to cover their bet.
    Only one thing ever guarantees that elected officials will change direction on an issue. The promise from a large volume of registered voting constituents who make it publicly known that their elected officials present term in office will be their last if change does not occur. It works every time. It’s a nationwide issue. I suggest you solicit every parent to write their local, state and federal legislators. If enough parents ROAR, there will be motivation to amend the present course in education.

  • LaVonne - June 1, 2014 - 9:34 pm

    Read every single word. Thank you for writing this so eloquently and for speaking very publicly about what so many of us concerned parents are seeing and feeling. I don’t live in FL, and CC is only being adopted sporadically in GA schools. However, we chose to homeschool, as it is the right fit for our family. I can’t, in good conscience, put my children into this situation in our public schools. We have some wonderful, amazing teachers in our local school system, in every level of education. All of them are devastated about the implementation of CC. I want my daughters to grow up and be THINKERS and DOERS….Independent learners of the things that interest them….not to be mindless sheeple who have been told that they can’t learn or that they aren’t smart enough because of some standardized test that was poorly written in the first place. Learning is fun. Educating is fun and exciting….we shouldn’t be depriving our children of the joy of learning.

  • Molly - June 1, 2014 - 9:36 pm

    Sadly, if you change a few acronyms, this is the same story in Texas. I’m 13 years into my education career, and with a two year old’s future looming ahead, I worry.

  • Heather - June 1, 2014 - 9:37 pm

    Good for you for writing this! Yes, it was long, but I read it. I have been teaching for 10 years. However, I have been telling people for a couple of years that if this was my first year of teaching, I would probably find a different career. Teachers do not get to “teach” children, they teach concepts and tests.
    This year I have moved to a private school and it is amazing the learning, teaching, crafting, etc that we are allowed to do because we do not have THE TEST looming over us. I never thought I would teach private school or send my child there, but it is the way for me as a teacher right now. I have another year until my son goes to Kindergarten, but if I can get enough financial aid, he will join me at my private school.
    Last, the saddest thing to me about what you wrote is that no one that matters will read this and care. If only the people in charge would spend a month everyday in our classrooms, they may actually make decisions that helped the kids. And we could naturally work ourselves up in the world.

  • Laurie - June 1, 2014 - 9:40 pm

    I read every word. I teach 4th grade in Florida and fully expect to be on a Professional Development Plan in the next year or two. After 30 years in education, I have never had students CRY in class over frustration. My prayer is that your words, your wonderfully, well written words, will land on the desk of someone who cares and can do something.

  • lynne - June 1, 2014 - 9:43 pm

    @lynnesherrer – no. but there are 1800 views according to analytics coming from Tallahassee – the number one city for views….so hopefully someone who somebody sees this. :)

  • Virginia Knowles - June 1, 2014 - 10:00 pm

    Lynne, this is very timely for me. My 8 year old daughter just finished second grade in our neighborhood public school after being primarily home schooled. She has asked to come back to home school with me, which I am planning to do for two or three years before sending her back. (I will need to go back to work by the time she is in middle school.) She is the youngest of my ten children. I home schooled for over 20 years and thought I was done. My other four school age children will be in public middle and high schools — only one for the first time. So far so good with these older ones, but this little one did not have a very happy time of it this year, even though she made a lot of progress. I have big plans for her and I’m delighted I can focus on one student instead of several. Besides the basic skills and learning habits, we will really focus on literature and history. This approach worked very well in our early years of home schooling our now adult children, who were known to read an average of a few books a day. I wrote a little about this here: http://startwellhomeschool.blogspot.com/2014/05/my-ideal-plan-for-elementary-home.html

    All the best to you and yours,
    Virginia

  • Stephen Alia - June 1, 2014 - 10:11 pm

    Thanks so much for taking the time to express yourself in this way. As a former public school teacher of 17 years, I appreciate your perspective greatly.

  • Jacqueline Dennis - June 1, 2014 - 10:11 pm

    Thank you Lynne for speaking out. I just moved to a new state from Georgia where questioning things was allowed. In my new state I hear that as a non-tenured teacher, I will lose my job and any new job opportunities if I do question things. So I applaud you. I wish I could speak out more. But trying to break into a new state educational system has turned out to be extremely difficult and my family needs my income. I hope this letter continues to make the rounds and others will pass it along. Good job!

  • Shelly - June 1, 2014 - 10:13 pm

    I will be leaving the school system at the end of next year. I have been through minimum skills, whole language, blueprint 2000, FCAT, and now training for Common Core. The system is a mess, plain and simple. Our children are being tested to death, the morale of our teachers is at an all time low. I will miss the classroom and the kids, but I have no more fight in me. Thankfully my children are college educated. They all attended Osceola County schools. They have good work ethic and have children of their own. One grandchild will finish high school in three years, but my other three grandchildren will be in private school. Our children need to be nurtured, be allowed to be inquisitive, be challenged to think without always being tested. Politicians are playing with education, teachers are becoming robots with the fear of low test scores, hence lower pay. Many years ago I had to read The Children’s Story….. I read it before every semester to remind myself that students need and deserve to be nurtured. I challenge everyone to read this 35 page book. It was written in the 60′s, it has become true.

  • Shannon - June 1, 2014 - 10:23 pm

    I read the whole thing so your husband was wrong….they usually are ;-) I have a three old and I’ve always been opposed to homeschooling because of the well rounded FREE public education I received but I’m starting to think it may be my only option as the cost of private school is out of the question for our budget. What is so sad is those children who have parents that don’t care. Which you pointed out, they’ll fall through the cracks. It’s heartbreaking.

  • Ellen - June 1, 2014 - 10:28 pm

    Well-written! Thank you! We pulled our daughters from a reputable Seminole county school in February and moved to Sweetwater Episcopal Academy. We are so happy that they are flourishing at their new school and, most importantly, that they love learning again! It has been the best decision!

  • Jera - June 1, 2014 - 10:29 pm

    It’s the same in NY. People are pulling their kids – quitting jobs- to homeschool. I run a FB page for NY families that are now “accidental” homeschoolers because of testing and CCSS implementation. Mostly k-8 kids- but we have high schoolers too. Sadly- we see a lot of families with kids with special needs (both ends-LD and gifted) that have been overlooked by this grand new system. I applaud your decision.

  • Yvonne - June 1, 2014 - 10:31 pm

    I read every word and agree with you. My kids are in SCPS too. One in middle the other going into 5th. Something has to be done to change this madness they are putting on our children and teachers!!

  • Jimmy - June 1, 2014 - 10:35 pm

    I agree! As a Lake County teacher and a father of 2 wonderful children, I worry about the quality of the education our students are getting. Not only are the teacher loosing valuable instruction time due to “high stakes testing” but since FCAT was giving right after Spring Break, students have been “checked out” ever since. In addition, who is grading the tests? What are their qualifications? How were they trained? It is human nature to get tired of doing the same thing for hours on end. Grading essays can vary by how long you are reading and correcting and personal emotions of the day.. There is no way these people are grading every essay exactly the same. Just like administration is not evaluating every teacher the same. There are too many factors that come into play. It is a shame. I see great teachers leave the profession because they can no longer teach. They can no longer adapt the lessons to fit the needs of the class.

  • Florence Davis - June 1, 2014 - 10:37 pm

    Lynn – thanks for a well written article. It articulates so well what so many of us are concerned about. My grandchildren are currently in public schools, so I am very concerned about their studies. I tried to print your words for my husband to read but the print of the article body is only in grayscale and so is difficult to read. Is there another source that is printed in black?

    Thanks so much. Florence D.

  • Nikki - June 1, 2014 - 10:45 pm

    Thank you!

  • Karen Kauffman - June 1, 2014 - 10:57 pm

    LYNNE, I read every word. I am one of those many teachers who left the classroom after 32 years in the system for EVERY reason you stated and more. It has been difficult to watch the love of learning and actual learning of my students become less and less over the years because of ‘the testing’. It literally left me with many sleepless nights concerned about their futures. My daughter has watched also, and has come to me about her homeschooling her children. They are full of curiosity and wonder; she does not want that taken away from them. Although they are 500 miles away, we have already begun our search together to provide the best opportunities for her children. I hope that your letter actually gets read by those who have the power to make a difference.

  • Karen Kauffman - June 1, 2014 - 10:58 pm

    LYNNE, I read every word. I am one of those many teachers who left the classroom after 32 years in the system for EVERY reason you stated and more. It has been difficult to watch the love of learning and actual learning of my students become less and less over the years because of ‘the testing’. It literally left me with many sleepless nights concerned about their futures. My daughter has watched also, and has come to me about her homeschooling her children. They are full of curiosity and wonder; she does not want that taken away from them. Although they are 500 miles away, we have already begun our search together to provide the best opportunities for her children. I hope that your letter actually gets read by those who have the power to make a difference.

  • Mera - June 1, 2014 - 11:12 pm

    I hope this goes viral–all 2800 words of it! You go girl!

  • Lisa Le - June 1, 2014 - 11:14 pm

    I remember your beautiful family fondly from the baseball fields several years ago with my oldest son. That very same son is entering high school next year, and he won’t be gaining his education through a traditional school because of all of the nonsense that has become of our Florida public education system. You see, Greyson has been quite a challenge to educate and keep engaged due to his giftedness, his spacial learning style, and his intelligence level, even after school administrators agreed to have him skip 3rd grade. Unfortunately, the boy that was once hungry for learning has since had his appetite squelched by the teachers’ inability to keep his brilliant mind engaged. We will be homeschooling him, and possibly his incoming 6th grade brother, for the next years to come. Thank you for writing this letter!

  • Bonita - June 1, 2014 - 11:22 pm

    Lynne,

    I also read the entire letter from beginning to end!

    We are not in Seminole County, & some of the schools here have really good grades as well.

    Currently, we aren’t able to afford to put our daughter in private school, nor do we have the option to home school her.

    I hope your letter gets the attention it deserves, & that it will bring about changes in the system.

    I agree that something needs to be done – especially when the child does well with coursework, but doesn’t test well, then they need a different way to asses the child’s strengths, & not tie teacher’s pay to some cookie cutter method.

    Thank you for a well written letter.

  • Dan - June 1, 2014 - 11:25 pm

    Unfortunately, I am a teacher in scps and basically my job has turned into a professional test administrator. The only problem is the test questions and curriculum are a mystery to me. I wouldn’t put my dog in a scps school. In fact I plan on getting a second job to put them in private school. Several years back I believe I taught one of your sons and remember him being a terrific young man and I wish you all the best.

  • Faye - June 1, 2014 - 11:27 pm

    This article for Seminole County schools and common core testing experimental experiences that students may be taking this coming school year, or further beyond 2014-2015. I ask, what would be the better alternative? Why are we trying to fix something that has been “reanalyzed, considered, given careful thought, and presented as a standardized evaluation?” Weren’t we trying to fix them from early 70s, and 80s. And probably into the 20th century these assessments are what students are evaluated in, 14 hours, 11 hours, whatever length are recording scores, being answered by a group of students. It’s great to know that it’s all about your child (or my child or grandchild). It’s a group of children being tested. It’s a new year in a school testing, and a new test in “our” the 21st century. What we could be concerned about is of course, children who come to school, who haven’t eaten since lunch the day before, children who are “less fortunate” and do not have parents that invest time and great energy into interests of their children, wanting their minds to go beyond, the reading, writing, mathematics, science, history, art, humanities, etc. These standardized tests, will show “minimized scores for students, who may struggle with this tests, and “high achievers for whatever reasons, who grasp the fact that “highly compiled work, thought, answers coming to them, (their developing knowledge, wouldn’t be able to answer each question out of 100 (maybe up to 1000) correctly… It’s a measured, recorded, and scaled test, which within a school record for that individual, age, curriculum per student, and people who come together who are the creators, experts, and have a plan in place (as to why these tests may become a aptitude model, for a school and it’s population.

    Teachers on the other hand, need to concentrate on the individual students, the grades that are completing, classwork, worksheets, quizzes and tests. Are they reading at 2nd grade level, are they scoring about and beyond they grade level, are they gifted and talented, are their interests in art or are they poetic, or philosophical, or on average quite intelligent? Are what we are gaining by teaching the child to read, broadening their learning to a level or education that is set forth by text books and instruction guides, are we including, editing, correcting paperwork, heightening awareness and sentence structure. Grammar and usage. Are we emphasizing good grammar. And following up with this is a mandatory requirement (because I want to put these children’s education to the test). What will children think when we’re thinking outside of the box.

    That in itself tells me, in my response, and my mindset. Pushing the standards, watching the standards and how the education is providing students to become better standardized test takers. What are we including in our text books, what are we eliminating.

    I think it’s the idea of educators. I think their gathering data, and it’s important data. Whether it is meant for the parents, teachers, or child to use to gauge, if it’s something that children can’t retain at their age, or education that has not yet become a major part in the child’s intelligence and data base of the mind (or brain). Let the children learn. Let the board of education and standard grow and gain momentum. What’s better today or tomorrow will always change. Sometimes, these changes can offer up better results.

  • Emily - June 1, 2014 - 11:34 pm

    I have way too much to say, but basicallyyou took the words from my mouth. Where can i sign up? Im ready to add my voice.

  • Emily - June 2, 2014 - 12:02 am

    Omg!! Me too! My husband had the boys working on an older math FCAT test now used as a practice test, and my son found an error in one of the question. My husband told him he had gotten on wrong, and he and said no, he got them all right. Then he asked his dad, which one because he knew he got them all right. His dad only graded it with the answer key and had not worked out the problems. And sure enough my son was right. That made me mad because I wonder when that test was used, how many kids got it right yet it was marked wrong and probably meant pass or fail for them and they flunked third grade because the test makers were wrong. You can’t argue with math!! This same son also scored perfect score on the real test. But my point is there is no learning experience from these tests, because all that stress and nobody knows for sure if the test was accurately scored since nobody goes over your incorrect answers so you can learn from your mistakes. Miami dade here.

  • Alan S - June 2, 2014 - 12:13 am

    Expect a thousand comments, as this is going viral.

    That said, I appreciate the time, effort and determination that you have put into the creation of this article. As the parent of a soon-to-be-fourth-grader, I am beginning to understand what is going on, what common core truly is, and why the system is broken. Your article will hopefully shed some light for the many other confused parents out there.

  • Mary Ann - June 2, 2014 - 12:23 am

    Well said, from another Florida mother of 3. My two older children can handle what ever comes at them, not my youngest though. I knew public school wasn’t the place for her when she started and I realized something wasn’t right, but I was told ” she’s passing there’s nothing we can do, our hands are tied” my word meant nothing. I knows children better than anyone, but that meant nothing. 4 years later I can say I did the right thing by taking her out of public school. But we need to ban together and stop this! We can’t put our children through this any longer! And we should stop it before the new school year. Sign me up!!! What can I do? How can I help?

  • allen - June 2, 2014 - 12:59 am

    i read it all. being a foreigner I don’t know much about the school system. i’ve learned a lot from you. thank you. i hope your words will bring changes to the system.

  • Autumn - June 2, 2014 - 1:15 am

    I read all 2800 words and all I can say is amazing! I almost hate the fact that my son is starting kindergarten this year, just scared for him. It sucks Seminole county needs to step it up, these kids are our future! Great article!

  • matthew - June 2, 2014 - 1:15 am

    My father in law started a private school in Louisville ky. The name of the school is The Academy for Individual Excellence, His website is http://www.aiexcellence.com A lot of the things you were looking for in a school is exactly what he has developed. I’m sure he would also love to talk with you by phone if you had questions. I am from Tennessee and my mom is a public school teacher and I went to a public school my whole life. I now have 4 children and one of the main reasons we chose to move to Louisville is so our children could go to this school and always keep that love for learning alive. Thank you for the article.

  • Linda Stavast - June 2, 2014 - 2:16 am

    I have 8 kids, ages 14 to 9 months. I agree that the insanity has to stop! The lobbyists in Washington D.C. do NOT know how to educate our children better than the teachers and parents! I, too, am pulling my kids out of the public school system. I can evaluate my children’s individual needs much better than all the “professionals” combined. I have come to the conclusion parents can better educate their children MUCH better, and more efficiently, and in a more pleasant atmosphere, than the public school system. This year has also pushed my family over the edge. “Dear Public School System: You’re FIRED!!!” Thank you.

  • Dee - June 2, 2014 - 2:24 am

    You hit the nail so squarely on the head I can’t add a thing…I have two Masters Degrees, National Board Certified, Florida Gifted TOY (about 2 decades ago, Adjunct instructor in the Education Department of Flagler College, former Administrative Director of Future Problem Solving (Wekiva Elementary was always a strong competitor)….and I retired two years ago after being in DROP for only 4 months……I WILL NOT be a part of this destruction of the souls of our children….don’t need to mention the reasons because you know. Blessings for the success of your children and your courage to do what is right for them. Regards, Dee Esser, M.Ed., NBCT, St. Johns County.

  • Dee - June 2, 2014 - 2:24 am

    You hit the nail so squarely on the head I can’t add a thing…I have two Masters Degrees, National Board Certified, Florida Gifted TOY (about 2 decades ago, Adjunct instructor in the Education Department of Flagler College, former Administrative Director of Future Problem Solving (Wekiva Elementary was always a strong competitor)….and I retired two years ago after being in DROP for only 4 months……I WILL NOT be a part of this destruction of the souls of our children….don’t need to mention the reasons because you know. Blessings for the success of your children and your courage to do what is right for them. Regards, Dee Esser, M.Ed., NBCT, St. Johns County.

  • David S - June 2, 2014 - 3:35 am

    Here in Middletown, Ohio the local schools stress the OAA tests at the end of the year. Teacher telling students it to grade them and see if they are ready for the next year. After doing some research I found out in addition to what they are telling the students, it’s also for school funding. My 14 yr old was s ostressed about this test she couldn’t sleep for fear she wouldn’t pass and go to the next grade. Being from Florida, Volusia County, I remember taking tests at the end of the year but don’t remember being that stressed about it. Schools these days are so worried about government funding and where the money for the next year is going to come from that they don’t concentrate on the student and if they are learning to materials properly or not.

  • Janeen Cook - June 2, 2014 - 5:24 am

    As a teacher in Polk County public schools, I agree whole-heartedly with this letter. The reading level of most of the practice reading passages are way over my ESE kids’ heads. As a matter if fact, it is way over a non ESE kid’s head! Recently a passage was on the delicate economic system of Florida in the 1920′s. The vocabulary and the concepts in that passage were not even close to an elementary level! Then the students were expected to answer questions in paragraphs that applied all the inference, implied, and other high level comprehension skills. Don’t even get me started on Common CORE Math! What first graders are expected to do is ridiculous! We all need to unite and make our voices heard! I do predict, however, that this high stakes national testing is literally going to bite America in the butt when schools will be deemed “failures” because the students… In mass…. Won’t be able to pass! Who will get the blame then? Oh! Yea! Us…. The teachers!

  • Janeen Cook - June 2, 2014 - 5:24 am

    As a teacher in Polk County public schools, I agree whole-heartedly with this letter. The reading level of most of the practice reading passages are way over my ESE kids’ heads. As a matter if fact, it is way over a non ESE kid’s head! Recently a passage was on the delicate economic system of Florida in the 1920′s. The vocabulary and the concepts in that passage were not even close to an elementary level! Then the students were expected to answer questions in paragraphs that applied all the inference, implied, and other high level comprehension skills. Don’t even get me started on Common CORE Math! What first graders are expected to do is ridiculous! We all need to unite and make our voices heard! I do predict, however, that this high stakes national testing is literally going to bite America in the butt when schools will be deemed “failures” because the students… In mass…. Won’t be able to pass! Who will get the blame then? Oh! Yea! Us…. The teachers!

  • […] From Why I am pulling my kids from public elementary school: a letter to the powers that be. […]

  • Michelle Farah - June 2, 2014 - 5:51 am

    Thank you, thank you, from an art teacher (Duval) who believes in the value of project-based learning! Your words and expressions, especially in detailing the value of deeper, connected learning, resonate. Thank you for your inspiring voice. Best wishes to you and yours.

    “Principles for the Development of a Complete Mind: Study the art of science. Study the science of art. Develop your senses- especially learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.” -Leonardo da Vinci

  • Cynthia - June 2, 2014 - 6:07 am

    I hear you. I went to Seminole County Schools for my entire pre-college education years ago. But like you, I sensed things were going awry with the ever-increasing reliance on standardized testing, so my daughter went to Park Maitland (great school, BTW). We only withdrew to move to South FL, where she attended another fine private school. But when another potential move loomed, we opted to try homeschooling… Now she doesn’t want to go back! We have incredible freedom and she is becoming a true “life-learner”. For good measure, I bought and administered a standardized test so I could make sure she was staying on par with her peers; as I reviewed the questions, I found at least 3 that were invalid (I studied test creation in a psychology doctoral program). I love that she is not part of this crumbling system, but am distressed that so many currently have no other options. Keep the pressure on! You are a powerful voice!

  • Theresa - June 2, 2014 - 6:16 am

    I am a first grade teacher in a low income school in polk county and I couldn’t agree more with your words. My class has managed to meet the academic demands put on them as the first true class to go through common core. However, they are the most socially and emotionally immature group I’ve had in my 16 years of teaching. I completely contribute that to this massive push we put on them academically. There has been no time to invest in their imaginative play or free time to explore. The social and emotional growth component has been completely left out of common core and it will make a huge impact on these children.

  • Ilon - June 2, 2014 - 7:12 am

    Same feeling here in NC. I also read the whole thing and I have a 3rd grader who had A & B all year and failed the EOGs math. Crazy. Are we to strike our kids?

  • Jen - June 2, 2014 - 7:27 am

    I’m pulling my son out of school and home schooling him again. He will be entering 8th. He says he bored out of his mind and hates going to school. He has been bullied and the school did little just reprimand his bully, I guess they are waiting for something to happen.

    He has a 504 and it took the school 75% of the year to implement it. I feel like they threw out all my hard work to get him back on track. He comes home and sits his his room not wanting to interact. It’s very sad.

  • Debbie - June 2, 2014 - 7:50 am

    I’m a teacher and a product of the public schools. All three of my children were as well, and are very successful adults. However, if they were still in school, Kniwing what I know now, I would either put them in private school or homeschool them.

    One point where I disagree with you is I don’t see the parent uproar in Lee County that you have in Seminole. Our PTO at our middle school can’t get enough parents, sometimes, to have a quorum. Parents here say they don’t like the testing but they either are too busy making a living or don’t think they have the power to do anything about it.

    Your outrage should turn into votes this coming election. Don’t think about the D or the R. Think about candidates who will do the best for our children, our teachers, and our parents.

    Wait, that’s you! Have you thought about running for office?

  • Caryn Bodin - June 2, 2014 - 8:05 am

    I agree with you 100%. I am a 17 year veteran educator in Louisiana, and your manifesto could have been written about any of our public schools here in Louisiana. Sadly, I have witnessed everything you describe first hand as I am deeply involved in what goes on in the school where I teach. My eight year old also attended school with me and I watched her go from a straight A child who LOVED to learn to a child who cried because she did not want to go to school- all due to the implementation of common core. I am also witness to the demise of wonderful, incredible teachers, who’s entire career’s success or failure is now based on their VAM score. So far this school year, we have had six teachers resign, seven retire, and all of our administration left. In one school year! The whole process is flawed and it is destroying our schools from within. In December I pulled my daughter out of public school and enrolled her in the A Beka Academy, a video-driven homeschooling program. My daughter is thriving in her new academics and absolutely loves school again. BEST DECISION I’VE MADE!!!! Keep up the fight. You are saying what many of us are experiencing across the country. If enough of us make noise, someone’s bound to hear us.

  • Laura - June 2, 2014 - 8:13 am

    Bravo! Rally the parents. Every person who asks me my opinion of CC or the state tests, or value added gets what I see as both sides of the story (the PC line and the reality) followed by my suggestion that they take their horror and bring it to their school board and spread it to their friends. Many parents have no idea what goes on related to this shift and a lot of them just accept it. I was a special ed teacher for 16 years. It tore me up to have to spend a month doing test prep waaayyy above their level so that they were “exposed” to it prior to testing rather than working where they were and making some actual progress.

  • Amy - June 2, 2014 - 8:20 am

    I am almost in tears! You have nailed it on the head. We have said the same rhetoric in our home & we aren’t even in the education field! We struggle with our kids doing the great monkey work of copy & paste answers for homework then failing almost every single test! And the big state tests… one is failing completely (3rd middle -high school for him) & the other is barely passing them within just points! Even Friday she just came home to say she failed her math SOL, in terrible tears, because she knows how important we think an education is, and then proceeds to tell us only 17 7th graders passed the whole test! 17/400+ passed!!!??? How is that even possible? And this is how the school & students are graded? How is that even fair? (though all year I have struggled with the way they have taught math… Common Core has done nothing to help.). We are starting out littlest out in Homeschool this fall… the high schooler is due to graduate next year so we will leave him & pray his doesn’t fail through life, and the middle schooler is still on the fence…

  • Jamie - June 2, 2014 - 9:09 am

    I graduated in 2010, and during my entire schooling career I made all A’s and B’s and was planning to be an English major at the time. FCAT was torture for me. I always got 2′s and was always expressly disappointed with my self. I was a good student. I worked extremely hard and studied all the time. And with not passing the FCAT, I was placed into learning strategies classes which took up my elective space so I was not able explore interests that I had. And while I was in these classes, because I did not belong in then, I would end up finishing all the work within 10-20 mins of the class and grade papers for the teachers or read a book for the rest of class. This was not helpful to my education. Not everyone can be evaluated with testing. I have test taking anxiety and had a hard time. There are ao many factors that a simple test cannot judge a persons intellect. It’s a horrible system.

  • Krista - June 2, 2014 - 9:23 am

    Absolutely fabulous piece of writing. I have no kids of my own, but I have been a public school music teacher for 17 years and completely agree with you about the direction of education. As teachers, we can help kids discover new ideas and new worlds, which is why I do what I do, but that is very difficult with standardized tests looming all the time.

  • liza - June 2, 2014 - 9:25 am

    lynne…..way to go mama bear…..wonderfully written article…so sorry jackson had the year that he did…..my best to you and your family!

  • Emma Jane Miller - June 2, 2014 - 9:45 am

    Yes, a lot of words, but ALL IMPORTANT!! You are living your words with your children still in schools—like so many that posted comments about your letter. My children grew up in a combo of public high school in Hillsborough Cty., private schools, and homeschool. They are all grown, thankfully. We are expecting our first grandchild. I taught 12 years in a private school. My history aside: a small group of five ladies and I started investigating Common Core(CCSSI) about April 2013 when we questioned our legislators. THEY HAD NO IDEA what it was!! Also, finding out later, they voted CCSSI through in a rushed CAPE bill at the end of session. EVERYONE needs to write or call Governor Scott–he is up for re-election & let him know that Florida citizens will not put up with his deception that Florida is out of CCSSI. We must UNITE to fight for American children and their future!!
    I read a lot of comments that parents are using an alternative of homeschool, private schools, or charter schools. BEWARE:
    *Charter Schools still use CC Standards!

    *Check with your private schools to see what standards
    they go by. To be accredited most have to have the
    state standards.

    *Homeschool: Your child WILL receive the BEST Individualized education. However, know this, which also applies to private schools: David Coleman–one of the 5 authors of the CCSSI is now the head of the College Board Testing. (ACT/SAT) They are in the process of aligning these tests with the CCSSI standards/curriculum/methods. Your children WILL be at a disadvantage with these entrance tests for college at the end of grade 12.

    Our small group is now in process of talking to Hillsborough County School Board & Superintendent Mary Ellen Elia, then on to the legislators again. If you are in Sen. John Legg’s district, Sen. Jeff Brandis’ district, etc–make appointments and let them know they are accountable to the voter!! GO TO YOUR SCHOOL BOARD!

    http://pioneerinstitute.org/blog/legislative-common-core-remedy-no-panacea/?utm_content=bufferc5769&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

    We are trying to reach as many people with the truth as we can. Thank you for your letter that has reached thousands of people-VOTERS!!
    Emma Jane Miller

  • Emilee Brennan - June 2, 2014 - 9:47 am

    Lynne Rigby, this is beautifully written and very clear-all 2800 words! I am not a Florida resident, but I am an educator and it seems that the country as a whole is losing site of what is important when it comes to education. Fostering a child’s potential is essential and with all of the required testing it is extremely difficult to fulfill that important need. I believe your voice is being heard and I hope that we are able to put education on track. It will take a “Village” to tackle this task!

  • Joy Noble - June 2, 2014 - 9:51 am

    Lynne,
    You struck a chord for sure. Everything you said I have felt for years. But, I am at the same point you are with your older children. I have one entering HS and one entering MS. I so feel for all the parents of little children. Sadly, I do not feel that Rick Scott, the DOE, or our congressmen will listen to a word written. They listen to the lobbyists with the most money (aka Pearson). It sickens me to think that our children are just another dollar to them. I am a Republican in many ways…but, not when it comes to education. Every child deserves to love learning, not just be a statistic. Sometimes I feel they all want them to fail, so the charter schools and private schools can take over and private companies can foot the education bills!!! Thanks for a well written manifesto and Good Luck to you, your babies, the teachers and staff, and ALL the children in FL and our nation.

  • Sara Gusse - June 2, 2014 - 9:57 am

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Very well written!
    I as well was a public school teacher in Orange County. I fortunately got out before things got crazy. I am now at home with my two young children. My oldest will start school in just a few years. We are in seminole county and zoned for a good school, but I am scared to put them in. I want my kids to have a “school” experience instead of just homeschooling. I know I can homeschool, but I want them to learn from others as well and experience all that being with other kids in a class can offer. I loved teaching, but I am positive if I was still there I wouldn’t. All my friends still teaching tell me all the time how lucky I am now. They are miserable!

  • Bill Henderson - June 2, 2014 - 10:01 am

    Lynn,
    I loved your blog post and your courage. I don’t know your exact circumstances, but when our family was in similar (but not the same) straits, we homeschooled our to sons. It was the best decision we ever made. Florida is blessed with the Florida Parent Teachers Association (FPEA), one of the largest organizations of its kind in the country.
    I’ve begun to think that the public school system needs to be shaken to its core before it can be rebuilt.

    Bill

  • stacy - June 2, 2014 - 10:04 am

    I had a gifted 5th grade A/B student at the beginning of this school year. I now have a child who struggled all year, went from loving to go to school and learn to dreading it, who has suffered increased anxiety and depression. This doesn’t speak very highly of the new model for sure. He is staying in public schools for 6th, but only because he was accepted into the school of choice which is a project based school and where his gifted program is based. If this coming year is as bad as this last one, he will be pulled out as well and our district here in Florida will lose an extremely bright child because the teachers no longer have the ability to do their jobs effectively for each child. I read the whole 2800 words. You rocked it and I hope the right eyes see it, read these comments and come up with better ideas, like maybe letting good teachers be good teachers.

  • Kristin @themerry-go-round - June 2, 2014 - 10:10 am

    We have five kids, several who are gifted, who tried and failed pretty miserably in public schools in Leon County. As you did, we got to the point where the situation felt intolerable and discovered a fantastic private solution on a limited budget. Here is part our story: http://themerrygo-round.blogspot.com/2013/10/how-i-got-schooled-part-i-goodbye-public.html

    There are alternatives in Florida because many private schools, including ours, accept the voucher program enacted by the state legislature called Step Up For Students. I encourage readers to find out whether they qualify, because it significantly expands options to Common Core-driven schools. http://www.stepupforstudents.org/

  • Beth - June 2, 2014 - 10:17 am

    Read it, start to finish, every word…and worth the read!! Grrrrr…from one mama bear to another…my children are grown and gone, except for my youngest son who happens to have Down syndrome. He is in a self-contained classroom in a wonderful middle school environment. When I read, observe and hear for myself what Common Core is all about and how it may affect my grandchildren, my teacher friends and our most precious young Americans, I cringe. One after one, little by little, our freedoms and rights continue to be taken away by governmental meddling and manipulation. We owe it to our children to stop the madness. Sharing your post. Thank you for taking time to sound off. I hope this post goes viral and that every single person that takes time to read it will share it with another. Praying for this country’s God-given rights to be restored!

  • Nicole - June 2, 2014 - 10:30 am

    As a teacher and parent, we are experiencing the same thing here in Nassau county. I have an upcoming senior, with a gpa of 4.6 who can only pass half of her EOCs even with making “As” in the classes the entire semester. She is an athlete, gets home at 7:00 pm most nights and stays up until 1:00 am most nights/mornings just studying. Something is wrong here!

    We also have an upcoming Sophomore, who I worry about the most. Although very bright, he is a boy without many cares. His main concern is his skateboard and his guitar!!! His teachers don’t seem to be very helpful because he doesn’t really fit into that box you discussed. He continues to make As and Bs, but I dread to see those FCAT scores.

    Lastly, I was blessed to be able to teach my youngest, the kindergartener, this year in my classroom. She will undergo gifted testing on the 17th of this month. I wonder still, though, if public school is the best place for her. If I hadn’t been her teacher, would just “any teacher” had recognized her creative, gifted abilities? Her advanced vocabulary? Her intrinsic math and problem solving abilities? Probably not because they (the wonderful teachers at my school) are all being CRUSHED under the stess of testing and everchanging curriculum that doesn’t even match the tests!!!

    I’m now in the process of interviewing with Florida Virtual School in hopes of escaping this chaos that seems to be spinning out of control. In kindergarten alone the kiddos test 3 times a year. The tests in fall and winter include baseline writing assesments, Star Early literacy and Star math, along with FAIR reading and IDMS math. (Most of these must be administered individually, so you tell me how much learning/teaching time is lost there.) In the spring, add to those tests just mentioned, a reading eoc, a math eoc, and now we’re being told that the SAT 10 will be added to the kindergarten testing next year. Oh yeah, this is in addition to weekly phonics assessments, math tests, harcourt reading unit testing twice per quarter, and weekly science tests. Whew! I’m exhausted and I know the students and their parents must be a well! I hate that wonderful students are leaving our school district because of ALL THIS TESTING! But fear that we (my own kids and myself) may be shortly following suit!

  • Elizabeth - June 2, 2014 - 10:42 am

    I read it all and most of the comments. My husband and I struggled homeschooling this year mainly because it is actually public school done online @ home. The changes with Common Core was tough. However I believe we can remedy some of our problems by allowing the children take breaks. There were plenty of activeities for the children get together with other children, even though we were not able to attend even one because of the amount of book work that was required. Our first grader sometimes had 6-10 pages of each subject to complete in one hour. This year will be completely different I am using my Summer to prepare to be a great learning Coach for our Children. I admire all you teachers and had five children attend public school how ever it is now scary to send my children where I can’t be with them to encourage them in their schooling. May God bless, lead, guide and protect each of you.

  • David - June 2, 2014 - 11:09 am

    I failed my standardized tests growing up and was put into the “slow” groups. Now, I have a Masters degree in Engineering and graduated from the top school in the country for my field of study. My GRE was 800 in math, up from the 300′s as a child. So, why did the test work as an adult and not as a child? Because the test was boring! I did not care! The tests do NOT work on children who dream. Do you want to raise dreamers who invent or followers you are too scared to think independently.

  • Renee Far - June 2, 2014 - 11:13 am

    This says it all. It is frustrating and heartbreaking to watch both great teachers and great kids being run through the wringer, only to come out worse for the wear. It makes no sense…while my oldest (6th grader) navigated through ok, my middle child, who is bright, creative and had a deep love of learning as a pre-schooler & kindergardener, was so frustrated and depressed by grade 4 that we finally just pulled him out a few weeks ago. He is now attending a Waldorf school and loving life and school again. I am so amazed by the immediate change in him that I am going to train to be a Waldorf teacher myself, and perhaps someday I can bring what works there, back to kids who cannot afford a private education.

  • Courtney - June 2, 2014 - 11:32 am

    This is a political game. Please remember there is serious money to be made off of failure. When students are successful on these big assessments there is no where for the publishers to go next. When there is a high degree of failure, publishers can sweep in with “fix it” programs and new types of curriculum. When only 7 state legislators have backgrounds in education, it is very easy for them to be swayed by lobbyists hired by publishing companies. The bottom line here is that the state education system is not being run by educators but by publishers.

  • Kelly Portuondo - June 2, 2014 - 11:33 am

    I too am so disenchanted and feel terrible for the teachers in Public Schools now. I as well did not care about the FCAT at frankly it was an “easy” week for the kids who work so hard all year long. This year, with the addition of computerized base testing in my daughter’s middle school, which happens to be the top large middle school in all of Florida, it took my daughter’s school 25 DAYS to administer all of the testing! This used to only take a week! Therefore, they missed valuable days of material that was being covered on the EOCs and had to crunch it all in at the end and the teachers took it on themselves to have before school classes to be able to teach the kids all of the material prior to the test. The lobbyists who are lobbying for this computer based testing have no idea what they are doing to the actual schools – the administrators, teachers and students are all unnecessarily stressed. Supposedly it “saves” money to have the computer based testing, but we will see what it does to the actual test scores and then what do they do! Just my more than two cents! And this from a mom who usually goes with the flow!

  • Tim Wilson - June 2, 2014 - 11:49 am

    Very well written! I think you hit the nail on the head! Perhaps I’m too old and cynical, but I suspect that the powers-that-be are already aware of the unfairness of all this, but are either too powerless, or they just don’t care…

  • Marta - June 2, 2014 - 11:54 am

    I am in mourning for children of our nation and their education. Our personal grands have been/and are homeschooled after early public school experiences. The one in college now won fully paid 4 year scholarships from 2 colleges, and after freshman year, is on Dean’s list. If you feel you can’t home school as a parent, join with other home school parents. Together you CAN! You will learn how as you go and it will turn out fine. Your child has only one childhood. I love my soapbox but will stop here. I read all of your words and applaud you. Keep on keeping on!

  • John Pollard - June 2, 2014 - 12:20 pm

    It’s crazy what this world is coming to. Too many non profits with agendas and though they’re “non_profit” check out the salaries of some of them. 6-7 figures. Then you have blatant for profits also buying their way into our lives. Then you have people like bill gates who is both. Gates is one scary dude. Look into his views on population control. He thinks vaccines would be a good way to go about it. I guess when you have so much money that the entire globe is your playground, you take on a whole new perspective and become God like in your own mind. He’s a strong proponent of Agenda 21. More scary stuff.

  • Stephanie - June 2, 2014 - 12:38 pm

    A friend shared this article on FB and read the whole 2800 words. My husband and I chose to homeschool our children (ages 9,7, & 3)from the start. We live in a small town with great high-ranking schools and a lot of wonderful teachers. We both attended elemantary & middle/high school in these same schools. We are asked regularly, after 4 years of homeschooling, when we are going to put our boys in school and how long we plan to homeschool. So many people we went to school with can’t understand that we don’t plan to put them in school. There are days when it is just plain hard and for just a second, I consider putting them in school. It seems that every time I have that thought, I am always reassured that we are doing the right thing for our children. It is not about the teachers or the school, nearly as much as it is about the education and what it lacks. When my husband and I were in high school, 2 years apart, we each left school for work release programs in 10th grade after 3rd period, in 11th grade after 2nd period, and our senior years after 1st period. We had 4 periods per day, but we both had part time jobs and there were simply no other classes to take that interested us. We both took all honors classes and did very well in school. We both were in first groups to be subjected to FCAT testing as well. I clearly remember the first 30 minutes of our hour and half math classes being spent on FCAT practice through the entire class. I knew as soon as we had our first baby that I did not want that for our children. We have the option to have them tested with tests that are actually legitimate or we can have a certified FL teacher evaluate them and their work for the year to determine if they are where they should be. My boys are complete opposite when it comes to their learning styles and I can’t imagine them being stuck in a classroom and made to do everything the same, neither of them would thrive and I can imagine they’s loathe going to school. I fell so sorry the the teachers who genuinely love their jobs and the children they teach who are having to deal with this and struggling to still make school fun for their students while the government is constantly doing everything they can to stop that. This ended up much longer than I planned, but I do thank you for writing this article that will hopefully open the eyes of so many parents to what their children are dealing with daily.

  • desiree - June 2, 2014 - 12:42 pm

    I live in Virginia beach, va and can compare directly. We have SOLs, an acronym that has amused me since they started. But my child does not fit into these high stakes testing. He, yes, excels at the test but can’t stand the repetitive treaching style required for the rest of the class to keep up testing standards. Thanks for sharing.

  • Ki. Johnson - June 2, 2014 - 12:44 pm

    I read every single word. I am not a parent. I am not a paid teacher. My parents pulled me out of public school and began to homeschool me during my 7th grade year because my stress was putting me in physical pain. I hope this gets to the right eyes and ears.

  • Amy Vega - June 2, 2014 - 12:47 pm

    Here’s what I don’t understand about this phenomena, as I teacher I ask why? why are these tests given ? why are we in this mess? and the answer is because parents want accountability.
    As a student growing up, we never took these tests, I did just fine. There were great teachers, good and bad teachers but somehow one year or another I managed to get everything I needed.
    As a parent I saw my daughters stressed, I stressed, their teachers pushed like trains barreling through.
    As a teacher I have pushed my students and I have seen some who didn’t pass the test get promoted to the next grade anyway. I mean let’s face it when was the last time a child who did their work and tried their best was retained?
    We have become a society that likes to push accountability on others, that’s why we are in this mess. We “the parents” need to determine if our children are succeeding based on our own standards.
    If your child does not do well on these tests, they can still get their high school diploma. If they do not get into the best university right off the bat they can do two years at the community college. The first two years are core classes to let them have a foundation.
    I think as parents we need to send a message to the politicians, if my kids are not doing well on your tests, it’s OK. They will still be able to succeed in life.
    I mean really when was the last time your employer or your customers asked you what you scored on your CRCT, FCAT etc.
    Yes, there are some very selective schools that take the best of the best, if your child belongs there, don’t worry they will get in.
    In the end, I don’t know about everyone else but I just want mine to be happy.

  • Marcie - June 2, 2014 - 1:18 pm

    Lynne, I feel your pain and frustration. It is loud and clear, and so very eloquently written. I am the mother of 4 grown children, all products of Seminole Co. schools. I thank God that all of them escaped this horrible nonsense which is now called education. I feel very badly for my daughter, though, who is about to enter the field of early childhood education. I hope she will be able to work with a good private school so that she is not forced to “teach” like this. If my children were of school age now, I would definitely pull them from public school and home school them myself.
    For those of you who are considering home schooling but are doubting your abilities to teach, there is lots of help out there. There are groups you can get into where you work with each other’s strengths. If you are bad in math, there is someone who can teach it to your children. You, in turn, may teach English or social studies to their child. Please look into it and save your children from this outrageously bad education system!

  • I'm Grandma, Mom, Sandy Olio - June 2, 2014 - 1:25 pm

    Read the whole letter! Great job!
    My two daughters went to Bear Lake, Teague and LBHS! A greater education couldn’t be bought! Now my grandchildren go to those same schools, the oldest is 16 and is in the National Honor Society, she has done wonderfully since grade school, but I’m worried now with this new curriculum that she will have a very difficult time for the balance of her high school education and I wouldn’t want to see her doubt herself because of some National Education Level Baloney! Then there is her younger sister, just finishing Bear Lake and entering Teague, she wants to follow in her big sisters foot steps, but what chance will she have now? Then I have two more little ones
    in Bear Lake next year 1 going into 2nd grade and 1 going into Kindergarten! Neither of which can go to private schools due to our wonderful economy!
    Frankly, I’m scared! Education today is all about the bottom line, not the students or really the teaching or teachers! School is not a corporation or conglomerate, if someone doesn’t get a handle on things there won’t be anyone to run this country let alone corporations or conglomerates! Forget rocket scientists too and policemen and Dr’s and park rangers, even garbage men and Teachers! Education is not educating anymore! Our children are not Robots! Each one is an individual! Teach them as individuals, that is what makes being human and American unique!

  • Carolyn Akrige - June 2, 2014 - 1:45 pm

    Bravo Lynne! Your point of view is one so many of us share. We live just outside Athens, GA. We have two music educators in our house and have been on a similar journey with our two very different children. You were spot on through out your letter. Square pegs don’t fit in round holes and that is OK. One size does not fit all.

    Thank you for taking the time to craft and post your thoughts!

    Carolyn

  • Angel - June 2, 2014 - 1:46 pm

    Lynne,

    Thank you for articulating so well the fight that we are fighting. I have been homeschooling one child for three years, and the other has thankfully graduated from ps and is in college. If I had not already been homeschooling, next year would have been our first, because CC will be implemented here next year, and I would have pulled my child out. I, too, think (as several of your commenters do) that there is a purposeful, damaging agenda underway. Yes, homeschooling *can* be accomplished without CC materials – there are still some out there which aren’t aligned. Currently, I’m teaching my child both ways (CC way – but also true arithmetic – every single lesson. However, next year, I will not be teaching my child CC.). I would NEVER put my child back into any organized school. I’m fighting against CC, too, and you would think I don’t have a dog in the fight. I do. We all do as American citizens. I am absolutely appalled at what is being allowed to happen to our country and our schools.

  • Angel - June 2, 2014 - 1:48 pm

    ^ Sorry. I forgot to mention that once upon a time, I had been studying to be an educator. I have since reconsidered and changed my major. I want no part in what is happening.

  • Lori - June 2, 2014 - 1:58 pm

    Absolutely!!! I truly, truly hope those with decision making ability not only read this but also read all the responses!! All the “I agree’s” all the “well said”s all those that AGREE whole heartedly with YOU!!!!! NOT them!!!! I pray for change!!! MAJOR change even up here in SC…but my hope is dwindling…..our education system is pushing these sweet, brilliant, amazing children right out!! It’s time this nation of parents and caregivers stand up united against all of this common core agenda! Stand united for our children! Thank you for such a powerful letter!

  • summer walter - June 2, 2014 - 2:17 pm

    I also read all of it! While I am not in Florida, I am in Maryland. My husband and I just pulled our girls who are in k and 2nd grades. Our public schools were using the Common Core curriculum as well. The teachers sadly were teaching the kids what they needed to pass the tests. I have talked with several teachers who have said they do not agree with common core , but their hands are tied. Sadly, they have said there is so much more that they would love to teach, but are told that they can not. My older daughter who has already graduated from high school had a teacher tell me she hurried to teach the kids what was needed to pass the test and then she taught what she felt the kids needed to know beyond common core.

    My 2nd grader needed help one evening with her math homework. My husband tried helping with her with it. Her assignment was double and triple digit addition and subtraction. He explained to her how to start in the ones column and then move to the tens and then hundreds, carrying over and borrowing , depending on the problem. She got so distraught because that was not the proper algorithm to use! What!? She then proceeded to try and show us a way her teacher had taught her. We explained to her that this way the correct way to do it. She got very upset again and said we were wrong and if she did it that way, it would be marked wrong! It’s absolutely ridiculous! Basic math skills that have been taught for decades being told it is no longer correct!

    We also had a teacher tell her that she was not allowed to write cursive in school as it was not part of the school’s curriculum! Handwriting is no longer being taught let alone cursive! You have got to be kidding me!

    My husband and I had had enough! We had been debating on homeschooling for quite some time and this was the final straw! My girls have throughly enjoyed being taught at home so far! The only thing they miss a but are some of their friends from school. However, they have also met some other home school children.

    I wish you all the best and know it’s not just happening in Florida, it’s happening everywhere! You are not alone! Good luck to us all!

  • Angela - June 2, 2014 - 2:24 pm

    I can’t agree with you more Lynn. We’re in Volusia and I’ve never experienced so much stress as we have this year. I also have a 3rd grader and am also pulling both my boys. Luckily there is soooo much available in the way of homeschooling in Florida and honestly I believe “the powers that be” are pushing for middle income families to take their kids and administer the “common curriculum” from home to weed out the schools or to force parents to provide their own kids with anything more advanced and/ or creative. The widening of the divide has clearly been cast!

  • Scott Waisanen - June 2, 2014 - 2:28 pm

    Lynne, as a current SCPS teacher of 18 years with a rising 2nd and 4th grader we are withdrawing our kids and homeschooling next year as well. Hopefully someone will stand up and take notice soon.

  • Barbara Hartwell - June 2, 2014 - 2:29 pm

    Hi Lynne,
    I experienced the same thing with my son Sam in 4th grade SCPS. They pulled him out for a DE test at the beginning of the school year and decided his reading was “below level”. I had several meetings with his teachers because he was getting A’s on all his class work, yet on his report card he got A’s Below Level. He was doing the same curriculum, same class work, same everything- The teachers said they were sorry, but that’s how it had to be. The kicker was Sam had all A’s and B’s and didn’t get A B Honor Roll, same work same everything because of one pull out of the classroom test. They were worried about his FCAT but of course he passed Reading with a 3, the got a 5, 98th percentile in Math.
    To make a long story short, the next year my daughter went into kindergarten and hated it. She had been to Pre-School, Dance, loved them- but in her words now (13) the teacher yelled all the time at a group of boys.
    So- 7 years ago I pulled all three out of public school, and home schooled them. I ended up being a director and teacher at a 3 day a week home school/private church school for a couple years, and since have taught home school classes to at least a couple hundred local students including my own. Both my boys have graduated. Sam graduated a year early with 16 college credits from dual enrollment.
    I help a lot of students who don’t fit in the public system- from competitive skaters who need to be on the ice every day to young entrepreneurs, to frustrated students who need a change, to home school students who need a teacher for harder subjects. http://Www.love-2-homeschool.com helps provide classes and tutoring for those seeking a change.
    Believe it or not, my daughter is now in SCPS- Middle School- just to prove to herself she could handle it- her first time since kindergarten. She finished the year with 6 A’s and 1 C’s. She likes being busy all day, but feels like most of what she learns is meaningless or useless. She’s in it for social and arts classes. And that’s OK.

    I think the public school is grinding true education into the ground, but it does provide a structured social environment for children on a daily basis. Most teachers truly want the best for their students, but they are strapped to unrealistic curriculum and testing demands that do not allow for individual strength development but require a cookie cutter approach. Our children are unique treasures, gems of many colors, not cookies.

    As parents, we need to take it one year at a time and decide what’s best.

    Barbara Hartwell

  • frances shirley - June 2, 2014 - 2:43 pm

    Pulling the kids out of school will do what? If enough parents to this, there will be no need for the public schools or teachers. This is the Governments goal. To cut educational spending. So now they advertise on tv to homeschool!! Get rid of the tests. refuse to let your child take them. FIX the problem, instead of turning your back on it. There is power in numbers. If All students fail the test, what then? funding gets cut? Someone will have to look into why an entire school failed, won’t they? By pulling your kids out of school you are diminishing the need for public education, and going down the road the government wants you to. stand up as a group. Our children are not obligated to ‘work’ for the school by taking those tests.

  • Wendy - June 2, 2014 - 2:59 pm

    I, too, read the whole thing. I have to: as many flee public school classrooms, resigning themselves to leaving the profession they adored when they started their post-college careers, I am choosing to get a MAT (on top of my BA in English from 23 years ago). I LOVE teaching; I’ve subbed for more than 11 years, some long-term, even. But I do not like the ideas, reasoning, politics, or push behind Common Core and all it entails; I am very strong in my beliefs in that all children can learn, but they all learn at their own pace, that each teacher should have reign in his/her classroom to choose the pace that best suits the students in that room at that time, and that yes, fine, maybe state standards, but national? That won’t work: we’re too diverse a nation. That said, I’m in graduate school, watching long-time, experienced, valuable, strong, passionate teachers lose their desire to be there. I fear what I’m heading into and try not to be disheartened by it. Older, experienced teachers KNOW what’s being lost: they are the frogs dropped into the boiling water, jumping out; younger, newer, and current college students are those frogs in the warming water: they won’t ever know anything other than Common Core and standards-based methods. And few, like myself, are voluntarily, knowingly, putting ourselves there.

  • lynne - June 2, 2014 - 3:06 pm

    Frances – I agree with you that I’m only making the problem worse by pulling them from school. However, the lack of meaningful learning is not something I can sacrifice for my kids. Yes, I could opt them out of the tests, but that’s another thing that sounds great when you say it fast. They will be sitting in classrooms that are spending months preparing specifically for the tests. Their teachers will be spending 10 minutes with each child 2-3 times/year administering the FAIR test, and my kids will just sit here. One of the biggest parts of this problem is the loss of instructional time to prepare and give tests. The 2014-2105 testing “season” runs from the first week of March until mid-May. That means all instruction must be completed for the test by the 3rd quarter. Even if I take them out of school for their test days; they will still be forced to comply with the testing schedule of the school.
    They have one childhood, one critical stage in their life to learn and develop. So while I agree with you on the whole, I’m not using my kids as pawns in that game.

  • mary carol - June 2, 2014 - 3:06 pm

    Thank you for writing this letter. I work in a Florida high school and see the constant interruption caused by the excessive testing. I think the underlying intention is to destroy American public education….that is the only explanation. Children used to look forward to school and learning new things. Now many are turned off and frustrated at an early age and fall behind or drop out later. Good luck

  • Bryan Stewart - June 2, 2014 - 3:32 pm

    Lynne, thank you for writing this. You have struck a chord on many levels. We are a young family that has its eldest child just entering Kindergarten this year.
    In my opinion, public K-12 school short comings can be summarized as thus: Teachers cannot be paid what they’re worth thanks to unionization, standardized tests (FCAT, Common Core) are given undue weighting thanks to tax-payer funded college scholarships and teacher pay structure and finally, Americans are told by politicians that all children should go to college when A) all kids should not go to college and B) each child is different, yet this immutable fact of nature is irreconcilable to a public school system that elevates egalitarianism over the individual child.
    If meritorious teachers are to be paid six-digit salaries, then we will have to forgo unionization. If we are to move away from top-down driven standardized testing, we will need to rethink trying to subsidize sending every child to college. FCAT and Common Core are symptoms, not causes. Our K-12 problems predated these tests. What has changed over the previous decades is our public policy for the K-12 system. We now try to force everyone into a university, whereas before we did not. Many voters elect politicians who claim they will subsidize college for all, and education inflation has risen faster than the overall rate of inflation as a result. Since many companies no longer administer job-related tests for employee screening, a college degree has become the default screener for what in a previous era would have been a trade. We need to get comfortable with a meritocracy again and move away from this credentialocracy we’ve fashioned over the last several decades.
    K-12 public schools at their best can help make children functional members of our civilization. What they cannot do is guarantee a certain level of income or an upper-middle class lifestyle as an adult. When Americans learn to love their own children more than they despise the success of others, we will witness a renaissance in the public K-12 system. If the political impulse remains envy, then we will keep the system we have and social inequity will only grow as the aspirational continue to vote with their feet.

  • Heather - June 2, 2014 - 3:40 pm

    I read it all.

    I am so, so terribly sorry.

    I’m a mom and a former HS teacher who saw lots of lousy curricula and textbooks in my day—and avoided all like the plague. I was lucky enough to teach in NY when the Regents Tests meant something and before the state lots its collective mind—much as FL seems to have done.

    For the last year I’ve been writing Common Core support materials for teachers and your post has made me so so sad (and angry). Not because of what I’ve been doing, but because, in living with the CCSS for a year my reaction has been, “Thank God–no more worksheet-laden classes. No more BS textbooks. Now the kids will get REAL books and REAL projects and REAL opportunities to dig deep and suck the marrow out of their school days. Thank God the districts won’t be able to fall back on canned curricula that only aim at the lowest level/tests that aren’t valid or statistically sound.”

    But no.
    This instead.
    This horror you’ve had to watch unfold.

    I’m appalled. Because, truly, the Standards are good and antithetical to what you’re seeing. They’re what you (clearly and beautifully) said you want for your kids (and I for mine).
    But my God. The implementation stories I’ve heard… they curdle the blood.

    I’m so so sorry.

    From—a Momma Bear in VA who would be happy to lend her voice if/when you need.

  • Kristine - June 2, 2014 - 3:50 pm

    I also read your letter in its entirety. I have recently made the decision to homeschool my only child because I refuse to subject him to the horrors of common core here in TN. I feel badly for underprivileged children who do not have other options, but I can only hope that if enough people choose to homeschool, the monetary loss will get their attention if the public outcry does not. Either way, I am ultimately responsible for my child’s education, and I would be failing him by allowing him to enter the public school system such as it is.

  • Michael - June 2, 2014 - 4:25 pm

    This is exactly what the “powers that be” in Tallahassee want. Their micromanagement of public education has nothing to do with teaching kids and everything to do with driving families away from public schools and into the waiting arms of private schools. Letters like the one from Lynne Rigby, albeit well written and well meaning, thrill the hearts of the Republicans in power. It means that their plan to destroy “government schools” is working.

  • Jamie - June 2, 2014 - 4:32 pm

    I read every word, completely agree, and I love on Oklahoma. I currently homeschool my oldest that is five and this year will add my son for pre-k. Teachers and parents need to decide what our kids need not tests. Tests are why I homeschool. Thank you for writing this!!!!

  • ConcernedTeacher - June 2, 2014 - 4:41 pm

    This post and comments say so much about the educational climate in our state, country and community. As an SCPS teacher I think that administrators and higher ups have been completely complacent in letting this happen. I’ve rarely seen an administrator stand up and question county decisions. I’ve only seen teachers shushed, stymied and crushed under the weight of evaluations, standardized tests and scripted curriculum. We literally have to subvert the system to do what is best for students. But the real question is, how will we make this heard? These concerns cannot stay on this blog. How can concerned parents and educators stand together to make a change? At my school, teachers don’t have a voice. I’ve written letters to the state with no response. I’m at a loss as to how to convince those who have the power to make changes to listen. Maybe you can run for school board Lynn. It can start there.

  • Anonymous OCPS teacher - June 2, 2014 - 5:51 pm

    Thank you for saying so beautifully what has been on so many teachers’ minds. This week, I am quitting after 10 years with Orange County Public Schools in Orlando for all the reasons you described — and also because of the escalating paper work that forces me to work 12-hour days plus weekends. Yet I can’t keep up. And I have less and less time to plan meaningful activities for my students. I used to love my job dearly, but the past three years have been a nightmare and it has taken a toll on my health and emotional well-being. Three years ago if you’d told me I would quit a few months shy of my 10th year, I never would have believed it. It hurts my heart to see how the students are subjected to “kill and drill” instruction to prepare for the tests, by teachers who are just trying to survive and protect their job security. It’s insane.

  • Stacey - June 2, 2014 - 5:56 pm

    I read every word. Your message is clear without being dramatic.

    I do think we are going through a revolution in our public school system. While my own kids (K & 1st) have never been in the system, I cannot in good conscience send them.

    Sending good vibes your way!

  • Stacey - June 2, 2014 - 5:56 pm

    I read every word. Your message is clear without being dramatic.

    I do think we are going through a revolution in our public school system. While my own kids (K & 1st) have never been in the system, I cannot in good conscience send them.

    Sending good vibes your way!

  • Julia - June 2, 2014 - 6:00 pm

    It will take a lawsuit to change the laws governing “high stakes” standardized testing, and the resultant negative impact upon our nation’s curriculum. It needs to be a class action lawsuit, outlining the harm this mode of assessment does to our children. It flies in the face of a developmentally appropriate curriculum. Our constitution states our right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” If the environment inside the classroom has become emotionally draining, harmful to our children’s health, and impedes true learning, then the child’s chance of pursuing happiness is taken away. A tee shirt reading “COMMON SENSE VS. COMMON CORE” should be the motto of this group, and worn to every school board meeting. It needs to be a grassroots movement. The time is now. I believe everyone has had enough.

  • CTVI - June 2, 2014 - 6:05 pm

    You are right.

  • P Darley - June 2, 2014 - 6:18 pm

    I’m not in Seminole County, but I am in Florida. I’m a mom of 5, and my oldest 2 are grown and gone. I have a middle schooler in the midst of this transition, and my 4 year old was born a couple weeks too late to start Kindergarten this past year, even though she would ACE everything associated with it.

    And I am looking into figuring out how I can either homeschool or privately educate the younger 3 kids.

    My middle schooler who loved elementary grades, now hates school. This is new territory because my oldest 2 liked school, and so did my middle child up till this year, save for the teachers putting so much stress on the kids over the ridiculous testing. This year, I think my 6th grader has spent about 3 months in testing – and I can’t even name them all! Add to it the social issues and bullying, and I want to run screaming for the hills on it all.

  • Tania Barrientos - June 2, 2014 - 6:50 pm

    Well said!

  • S - June 2, 2014 - 7:05 pm

    I wrote the Dept as well several years ago…here is the initial letter I wrote as well as their response:
    Dear Ms.

    Thank you for writing to Education Commissioner Dr. Eric J. Smith regarding the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test® (FCAT). The Commissioner received your letter, and I have been asked to respond to your concerns on his behalf. We regret that you are not a supporter of the FCAT and appreciate the opportunity to provide additional information about the importance of the FCAT and the role that it plays in Florida’s educational system.

    All Florida schools are required to teach the Sunshine State Standards, and the FCAT assesses how well students are learning these Standards. If you wish to review the standards, they may be accessed at http://www.floridastandards.org/index.aspx and http://www.fldoe.org/bii/curriculum/sss/.

    Let me emphasize that encouraging teachers to “teach the test” has never been the intent of the FCAT program. The FCAT includes reading, mathematics, science, and writing assessments, but the test questions are placed in the context areas of social studies, science, mathematics, reading, the arts, health/physical education, and the workplace, and they employ real-life situations to check student skills in the various subject areas. No school should be ignoring its instructional responsibilities to spend long hours in activities called “FCAT preparation.” All-around good instruction will provide students the knowledge and skills they need to be successful on the FCAT. If FCAT results indicate that a student is struggling in reading, mathematics, science, or writing, then the student may receive additional assistance in the appropriate content area either though remediation or progress monitoring. You may wish to consult your school’s guidance counselor about your school district’s policies as they relate the FCAT.

    You may be happy to know that there is an ongoing effort to curb the practice of “teaching the test.” In 2008, Senate Bill 1908 was passed, and Section 1008.22, Florida Statutes, was amended. If you wish to review the statutory language pertaining to the prohibition of certain test preparation activities, go to http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=Ch1008/SEC22.HTM&Title=->2009->Ch1008->Section%2022#1008.22. If you have questions about the implementation of this legislation or other curriculum matters, please contact the Division of Public Schools using the contact information provided at http://www.fldoe.org/schools/.

    In your letter, you also express concern over the cost of the FCAT. There have been recent budget reductions to the statewide assessment program due to the State’s need to find ways to reduce assessment expenses by eliminating programs and services that are neither required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) nor crucial to our accountability system. You will find memoranda regarding these reductions at http://info.fldoe.org/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-5531/FCATwriting.pdf and http://info.fldoe.org/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-5347/fcat09.pdf. Please note that without a statewide assessment like the FCAT, Florida would potentially lose over 1 billion dollars in annual federal education funds (Title I, Title II, Title III, Title IV, Title VI, and IDEA funds). For 2008-09, Florida received, at minimum, $1,619,052,456 in funds, which were annual awards tied to compliance with NCLB accountability and testing requirements. The cost of producing and administering the FCAT is minimal in comparison to the funds Florida receives because of it. If you wish to learn more about NCLB requirements, go to http://www.fldoe.org/NCLB/.

    The Bureau of Exceptional Education and Student Services answers questions about Individual Education Plans (IEPs). If you wish to discuss IEP requirements with that bureau, please contact them using the information provided at http://www.fldoe.org/ese/.

    Florida has benefited from the data produced by the FCAT, and better decisions are being made about education because we have an understanding of how well students are learning. Thank you for taking the time to share your opinions with the Governor. Being involved in education – contacting state officials and voicing your opinions about decisions – is the responsibility of every citizen.

    Sincerely,

    Sharon Koon
    Policy Coordinator
    Office of Assessment
    Florida Department of Education

    From:
    Sent: Monday, February 01, 2010 9:25 AM
    To: Commissioner
    Subject: FCAT

    To whom it may concern,

    What steps must a parent and school take to request Florida eliminate the emphasis the FCAT is placed on our children? Private schools do not require the children take the FCAT and actually train our children for examinations required nationally. Personally I think the funding that is going towards FCAT should go towards tutoring children that are struggling in school. My family has paid for a tutor for our child the past year due to her struggling the previous year. Now rather than focusing on her current school work I have asked the tutor to start focusing on FCAT preparation. My daughter worked so hard to maintain being on the honor roll and she will be crushed if she fails the FCAT and is held back. I have to wonder how many individuals making the decisions for everyone else have children that are in public school. Not to say that money is everything and I am sure that there are some people making these decisions that do have children in public school. What bothers myself and many other parents is the amount of time and energy schools are spending for an examination. More time and energy should be spend on assisting our children in the areas they are struggling in. When our daughter was failing reading last year we tried to get her an Individual Education Plan. We were asked to fill out a form that read more like a request for social services. It asked personal questions about our family and appeared to be looking for other reasons for her failing, like problems in the family. The reality was that she had attended a brand new school the previous year and the faculty was not established. The turnover rate was a big factor in our daughter not getting an adequate education. I understand that funding for assistance is expensive but feel that money is being tossed at the problem without proposing other solutions to this widespread issue. FCAT appears to be designed to focus on Math and Reading Comprehension Why not use the results as an indicator for areas that need assistance instead of which schools are doing their job. Why should schools get rated as an A, B or C school to discriminate against teachers who may be doing the best they can given the funding? As a parent I would rather see children obtain practical assistance if they are struggling than be taught to take a test.

    Thank you for your time,
    S (name blank for privacy)

  • Wendy Perkins - June 2, 2014 - 7:06 pm

    Thank you for so succinctly expressing the exact concerns i have. Home schooling is (sadly) becoming a better option for my children’s wellbeing and most importantly, education.

  • Jan - June 2, 2014 - 7:28 pm

    Hmmm… Is it possible that the folks are trying to get kids to leave the school system and go private to save money and lower class size/ teachers?

  • Pam - June 2, 2014 - 8:06 pm

    Lynne, you are spot on! Washington and state governments are destroying the public school system methodically. Their aim is to wipe out the middle class. We definitely need to band together to stop our current government!

  • Helmat - June 2, 2014 - 8:13 pm

    Lynne, I read every single word! I agree with you 110% .
    I’m also an elementary educator and know exactly what you are talking about.
    I’m also a mother of three and worry every day for what they’re going to go
    Through at school. All the test prep, teach to the test, the long hours of
    Prepping, the stress of trying to keep up.
    The education board needs to open their eyes and see that what’s being
    Done is not the best for our kids.
    I loved your letter and feel the same way about my kids. Unfortunately, I can’t
    Afford private school or home schooling so I’m praying that my kids
    Do well.

  • Len in GA - June 2, 2014 - 8:20 pm

    Wow MOM! You go. I am so sad to hear this. Hate that you have to pay for private school. We don’t have these tests in GA but I know that teachers have to “teach to the test” and that some of the questions on tests don’t jive with me. My hubbie is also a GA Tech grad and has 3 Math degrees and he and I both think the new way they handle Math is bonkers! Blessings to you. I know your kids will thrive.

  • Erin Leake - June 2, 2014 - 8:22 pm

    I read the whole letter and I couldn’t agree more. I wish that those of us who are teachers and moms could rise up and take back our children from the testing companies that have taken over education in this country.

  • K.R. Lombardia - June 2, 2014 - 8:31 pm

    You have to be crazy to go into education today. I retired 3 years ago and saw the changes. I got out at the right time.

  • Parker Daniels - June 2, 2014 - 8:56 pm

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I could have sworn that Gov Scott PROMISED that he would eliminate public education if he was elected (the first time). Looks like he is right on track. Why is anyone surprised at what is going on???

  • Ac - June 2, 2014 - 9:05 pm

    every word and comment. excellent. truth.
    sharing.

  • Carol - June 2, 2014 - 9:09 pm

    I read every word and it hurts me to say that I have to agree with you 100%. The state’s pressure on teachers and schools to produce a certain “grade” on a test, at the expense of the education of the kids, led me to retire early. I just could not continue to tow the party line and see our kids fall further and further behind. I can only hope and pray that more and more parents stand up and say enough – as that is the only way things will change.

  • Charlene - June 2, 2014 - 9:25 pm

    My daughter is completing third grade year. This year has been a battle! FCATS and common core what a crazy stressful time. My husband and I have been battling to ensure our girl succeeds, these tests are crazy! Thank you for writing this and expressing how so many of us (the parents) feel.

  • Darryl - June 2, 2014 - 9:34 pm

    This is a well written letter and I have seen the same sort of problems in a variety of tests. Ironically, though, much of this problem started when local school boards, chafing at the low scores their students were getting with the old Iowa tests and, later, the SAT and ACT, decided that, for “accountability”, these districts would write their own tests to reflect their own, more localized ideas of content and accountability.
    In most cases students taking these homegrown tests showed initial and heartening improvement. Texas bragged about how well our fourth and eighth graders were progressing. This happened all over the country. But then when these kids got into college, big problems emerged and, in states where students were given national tests, it became obvious that too many state tests, badly written or otherwise, simply were not rigorous enough. Texas, revising the content of its tests in line with more demanding standards, was the states immediately chastened.
    Our students simply were not doing as well as their grades or test scores indicated, or as their parents imagined.
    Even sampling portions of our state’s diagnostic tests, including the state’s high school exit test, I see problems that mirror those outlined in the remarks above. First, the questions requiring comprehension and inference definitely and too often are ambiguous. Many times I could defend two answers of the choices given. That is the kind of thing I do not see on the SAT, ACT or the older Iowa tests. The SAT and ACT have huge resources to detect and throw out questions based on many criteria. State tests don’t do this well at all. Too many questions I see on our Texas test are just badly written.
    A more insidious problem, though, is that too many states re-writing diagnostic tests in the name of “accountability” and abandoning nationally-based exams have found that their newer, worse written tests give a false sense of accomplishment. Many states, as far apart as Texas and New York discovered touted impressive gains when these states first rolled out their home-grown tests. Parents and legislators were shocked when it turned out that the apparent gains were due, in too many cases, to a test with watered-down content. New York, in particular, has faced up to this reality.
    A child making As and Bs is not an indicator, in itself, of competency in math or reading. And it’s not as if we don’t have a standard ready at hand with a proven track record. Whether we like it or not, we should be asking ourselves why our A and B students, when taking a test internationally conceived, fail miserably when compared with the performance of students from almost anywhere on the globe. You cannot write this deficit off to some peculiarity of function or grouse that the content is too foreign for US students. Finland, Poland, and South Korea have almost nothing in common culturally– they certainly don’t coordinate their curricula or diagnostics for their millions of students. And yet students from these countries and dozens of others year in and out outperform even the best students from the United States. Even our A and B students do not do well when compared to students overseas.
    So while I’d agree that too many tests are not well written or designed, I’d prefer to see a recognition that international standards are a much better gauge of where our students actually stand than any give grade point average of state-run test. And I see no reason why these tests cannot become the standard for our own students.

  • Tara - June 2, 2014 - 9:41 pm

    I agree 100% — in fact I feel as if I could have written this myself. I too am pulling my triplets from FL public schools starting next year. This past year was rough and my beautiful, brilliant A/B daughter has mild dyslexia + anxiety. Guess what this means? She gets solid grades all year long, but bombs any high-pressure timed tests like the FCAT. It’s frustrating and I’ve spent two years watching her confidence dwindle while her anxiety doubles. School and learning are not fun anymore — which is a shame because they are just 10 and 11 years old. I will continue to fight for public school kids, but have recognized that this is a long fight and I cannot fix this issue quickly enough for mine.

  • Gary Groth - June 2, 2014 - 10:12 pm

    Thank you for putting all my feelings and fears into words. I am just thankful my kids are out of the system. I hope you don’t mind, but I did share your letter on the St. Lucie County teachers facebook page. It is time for teachers to stop this madness before we ruin any more children.

  • Mary - June 2, 2014 - 10:37 pm

    As a public school teacher in another state, I can honestly say that I feel your pain. This was my first year back in the classroom after an 8-year hiatus, and I was astounded at how disjointed the curriculum was. And, since we are a “focus” school, we have to go by the book and not even deviate the order of the units to make better connections. Until we all stand up and complain, this will be forced down our throat!

  • Mary - June 2, 2014 - 10:38 pm

    To Gary Groth, this is not something most teachers are in favor of, but our contracts require us to teach the mandated curriculum. We can be fired if we don’t, and our families have to eat.

  • Billie Hunter - June 2, 2014 - 11:01 pm

    Bravo Mama Bear. Good Luck.

  • Frank Rizzo - June 2, 2014 - 11:55 pm

    HI Lynn -

    I live in Point Pleasant New Jersey. My daughter is 11 and preparing to enter 6th grade in the Middle School. She was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder, which leads to other behavior disorders such as; ADHD and OCD.
    Well my wife and I went to the Parent Teacher orientation tonight. The Principal spoke in the beginning and asked for us to ask any questions since time is limited. If you have a question please make an appointment to talk with us. Are you kidding me! They were afraid to have to face the public with scrutiny. So as a cowardly liberal they hide.
    I went right up to the vice-principal whom I have known since high school. I shook his hand and looked him straight in the eye and said, you are going to have to deal with me a lot.” He said, ” what does that mean?” I said I am totally against the Common Core the way it is being utilized by the Federal DingDongs and Corporate America…you said it perfectly, Guinea Pigs.
    I said to the Vice-Principal here is an example of the traditional way of teaching compared to the Common Core.

    The chicken waited to cross the road until the traffic passed…then he crossed.

    Common Core Version:
    The Chicken so there was traffic and waited until he had assistance to cross the road because it was dangerous.

    He said Wow. Unfortunately Common Core is here to stay. I said with all do respect to you as my friend.. then he interrupted and said I don’t want to get political…I shot back and said its a little too late to make that cause because your Teachers union are in bed with the Feds and Corporate America. So stop with the semantics by using the metaphor don’t want to get political. I said dude you’re already politicizing an agenda of Communism.

    My wife works for the state of NJ. She said to me I see no difference then when I was growing up. Of course we argued. She does not get it. We will not see books anymore nor will the parents have access to what type of testing and what the questions pertain to. I told my wife, they have uncovered multiple states stating that the President has the right to make things Fair. That is such crap! The President obviously by the constitution that he must discuss all measure with the house and senate before addressing anything.

    Lynn I am fired up. Please teach me how to organize and advocacy group in my town to rid Common Core.

    Sincerely,
    Frank Rizzo
    732-673-8994

  • Molly Martin - June 3, 2014 - 12:01 am

    You all care for your CHILDREN!! What about the Many who Do NOT or cannot afford private Schools? Single Mothers, uncaring Mothers, when did we Lose our schools that the parents were involved? When Home work was done before Play? Parent teachers associations, Families involved in Schools?
    Take the government out of our Schools and Put LEARNING Back. True History, math, obedience and Manners. OH MY I could go on and on!! Even in the private,Church Schools Parents must always be aware of what your children are being taught and not taught. This happens when the Home work is checked by Caring Parents. Get more Involved and vocal about discrepancies .
    Parenting is a never Endig Thing! TAKE OUR SCHOOLS BACK!!

  • Cynthia H. - June 3, 2014 - 12:45 am

    I, also, read the whole thing. Great points. I just want to say to all you moms on the fence — homeschool! It IS the answer you are looking for; you can do it; you will never regret it! You don’t need to continue to fight the system; settle for a sub-par school experience or allow your kiddos to be the experiment this current style of learning is setting them up to be. Just think, how much can you screw up their learning? Absolutely a whole lot less than what’s happening now or coming down the pike in the next few years. There is plenty of support in your local homeschooling support groups. Turn to them if you need support or answers but, IMHO, you just need to jump in and do this!

  • Linda Kalehoff - June 3, 2014 - 1:19 am

    Thank you for sharing this very well written letter. I, too, read every word and I agree with what you wrote. All of my children are grown but they have children who are being taught the Common Core way. I have helped some of my grandchildren with their homework and so much of it doesn’t make sense. Why would anyone want to do a math problem in 27 steps when the same problem could be solved in two steps as before? It’s also confusing when the child has to turn to one page in a language assignment for instructions, then go to page two to complete that particular page’s questions, then back to page one for more instructions to then work on page three, then back to the instruction page…you see where this is going. I am very concerned that this current system of “education” will turn out a whole generation of robotical thinkers who will only know how to work in groups, who will not be capable of true critical thinking, a whole generation lost who will have no stand-out leaders. It doesn’t seem to me that any of the children are encouraged to see beyond, to explore further, to excel at anything. The dumbing down of our children and grandchildren will cripple this country in the future. Is that the master plan? Are our children being used as pawns in the insidious but progressive destruction of our country? These are very scary questions that must be answered.

  • Lucinda Jordan - June 3, 2014 - 1:20 am

    My son turned four this past February and since he was born I have pushed him in learning because I did struggle in school, my brother was a straight A student. I don’t won’t A.J. To struggle and I have seen signs around SC on Stop Commen Core. After reading your letter I will be calling the school he is suppose to attended kindergarten and check to see where they stand. If between now and August 2015 SC does start Commen Core A.J. will be home school. The school system he will be in I have been told is great school and small for a public school. I would rather him go to a Christain school but right now that is not possible. I have been told by a local kindergarten teacher A.J. is ahead of kids that are in kindergarten. I don’t won’t my hard work along with help from papa and granny to go to waste when he starts school and some test says he falls. I was never a good test taker at an age. I want A.J. To stay ahead of the ball game and Commen Core sounds like it would put him behind the ball.

    Thanks for the eye opening letter. I hope that your scream is picked up by millions of parents so that it will be heard. I am stand on my roof top in Leesville SC screaming with you.

    Lucinda

  • Lucinda Jordan - June 3, 2014 - 1:30 am

    My son turned four this past February and since he was born I have pushed him in learning because I did struggle in school, my brother was a straight A student. I don’t won’t A.J. To struggle and I have seen signs around SC on Stop Commen Core. After reading your letter I will be calling the school he is suppose to attended kindergarten and check to see where they stand. If between now and August 2015 SC does start Commen Core A.J. will be home school. The school system he will be in I have been told is great school and small for a public school. I would rather him go to a Christain school but right now that is not possible. I have been told by a local kindergarten teacher A.J. is ahead of kids that are in kindergarten. I don’t won’t my hard work along with help from papa and granny to go to waste when he starts school and some test says he falls. I was never a good test taker at an age. I want A.J. To stay ahead of the ball game and Commen Core sounds like it would put him behind the ball.

    Our schools have been taken over and we are been told what not to say, like the Pledge, can wear a cross must learn Spanish and in some schools I have seen the class has to stop while the teacher or assistant translates everything. I’m sorry but this is America English speaking hard core schools public or private or that is what it use to be and it needs to be brought back to that. Stop slowing our classes with Common Core, translators etc. Let our kids learn AMERICAN history real math real English real science. Bring back real schools!
    Thanks for the eye opening letter. I hope that your scream is picked up by millions of parents so that it will be heard. I am stand on my roof top in SC screaming with you.

    TAKE OUR SCHOOLS BACK NOW!

    Lucinda

  • anita einarsson - June 3, 2014 - 7:21 am

    100% agree with your take on our education system. As an involved gparent of a third grader..with a gson much like your jackson in grades and testing I have had the same testing..I came to these conclussions as well. I appreciate your hours of research to validify we the parents complaints. Add to all this..our gson got a first time teacher..oh yeah, it was all kinds of chaos! My daughter tried 15 times to communicate with teacher and even involving principle with not one return call. Weare with you! Keep usbupdated and in your loop!

  • Linda Trogdon - June 3, 2014 - 7:41 am

    We have the same problems in NC. My grandson doesn’t even have textbooks that his parents can use to help him. Some students have gone from A students to D’s & F’s. Parents are frustrated. Teachers are good teachers but it’s the system that is failing. Using our children as Guinea pigs makes me furious.

  • David - June 3, 2014 - 8:14 am

    This type of letter or action lets the state know their actions are working! This person just informed Rick Scott that his actions saved the state $35000 now he can work on a tax break for big business for $35000. It also takes another soldier off the battle field!

  • Ella - June 3, 2014 - 8:53 am

    Good riddance. You can join all the other super breeders who homeschool their kids because public schools aren’t good enough. I’ve met so many parents like you…public schools will never be good enough for your special children…so save the rest of us the angst and just move on. Our kids are in public school and it’s not perfect, but they are exposed to diversity and people who are different from them, not kept in their little bubble. It will serve them well in life. Yes, public schools are held to performance standards and– for lack of a better measurement– have standardized tests. But don’t look to the public schools to provide every kind of enrichment and special, unique education you desire. The bottom line is that motivated kids can thrive in any learning environment, but parents need to step up and not expect public schools to solve all of their problems. Parents also need to be vocal and help make their schools better, not flee from them.

  • Susan - June 3, 2014 - 8:56 am

    I read the entire letter and all I have to say is kudos to you. As a parent and former New Yorker, I have to say I knew something was not adding up. Furthermore I believe that it is wrong to base so much on a test as not everyone is a good test taker.

  • Lisa Small - June 3, 2014 - 9:30 am

    Lynne,
    Thank you for taking the time to write this letter. My daughter posted it on FB which is how I saw it. She has a 7 year old going in 2nd grade in Sept and two younger children not in school yet (one is in preschool) and this will affect them all.

    My dad was an elementary school teacher, retired in the 80′s and if he were here today I know he would feel the same way you do. Education is so different since I was in school in the 70′s and 80′s and not for the better.

    I read a magazine article about 20+ years ago that said industry is running the education system, mainly colleges/univ. I saw it happening somewhat back then but now I see very clearly how true and real it is. The colleges/univ’s are popping out the exact type of graduate the industries want made and therefore the primary and secondary schools need to prepare students for the type of education they will receive in higher education. Sad. And not only that, the price of higher education needs to be evaluated and parents and students need to keep their pride in check and be careful it doesn’t make their decisions for them. Always follow the money trail.

    I’m going to pass this along and ask people to take the time to read every single word and to pass it along. Thank you again for taking the time to be a voice that I pray will be heard!

    Lisa

  • Allyson Tibor - June 3, 2014 - 9:42 am

    I have taught public school for 25 years. I love teaching middle school kids. Education has changed dramatically in all the above-mentioned ways. Morale is the worst it has ever been. More teachers left this year than ever before at my school. Luckily, I always have a great big smile, a positive attitude, and lots of love to give. Rest assured, if kids are in my public school class, they will be well-cared for and well-educated, despite what they make me do. It makes no difference what I teach, our what I must do, I choose to wake up happy, and adore my students.
    A teacher who cares…..

  • Worried Parent - June 3, 2014 - 9:47 am

    Ms. Rigby, I hear your concerns and agree and support many of beliefs. I am now going to say something that may be hurtful to you and many will angry about. I hope you will not be offended, because I can tell your heart is in the right place. You said you were an educator and a writer, yet your letter is full of comma splices and other minor punctuation and syntax errors. My children used to go to private schools but no longer because of these type of issues. In addition to being concerned about standardized testing issues, I was worried about the quality of the teachers in the public schools. Many friends and acquaintances of mine became teachers, and their writing was so bad that I was shocked. If our educators do not know the fundamentals of writing well, how can we trust them to teach our children? I believe that the standardized testing came about because we cannot trust many of our teachers to teach well. Although there are many who can and would teach critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, there are far more who cannot. The root of the problem is poor teacher quality. If we had better teachers, we would never have had to institute standardized testing to try and force out the poor teachers or schools. I hope all parents will insist on quality teachers, principals who hire good teachers and fire bad ones, and then we can talk aobut eliminating the mindless worksheets and test preparation.

  • Laura E. Nelson - June 3, 2014 - 10:13 am

    I also have a son in 3rd grade. We live in Northwest Florida. Our struggle is the same as yours. I want to take him out of the Common Core curriculum, but I am a single mom, with limited income. His grades are excellent. A’s and B’s in every subject. His teacher said he has trouble writing sentences and paragraphs. We were directed to see our family practice doctor. He has been diagnosed with ADHD and the medication he takes helps a lot. I think it very unfair that a child who makes great grades in his courses, can be held back because he failed a stupid FCAT test. I worry that this cookie cutter curriculum will “dumb down” our children and their futures are bleak compared to the generations before them. I pray to God that the people who say they want to be leaders of our country, will realize that Common Core is not what we need for our children to become, themselves, great leaders.

  • becca stowe - June 3, 2014 - 11:15 am

    I couldn’t agree more. My 8 year old is in 2nd grade doing 4 and 5th grade work. Yet, she has to sit in a classroom all day and be bored because they have to teach according to these test. They aren’t teaching to the children. I’ve pondered the idea of homeschool her because I know it will be better for her in the long run, but we live in the middle of nowhere and she’s my only child. She wouldn’t have interaction with other children as much as she needs to be an effect adult in the future. This testing is making it impossible for our children to like to learn or even go to school. My daughter LOVES to go to school. She’s upset if she misses a day. Yet, she’s so bored in the classroom that it’s getting ridiculous. She hasn’t had to do these test yet since she’s only in 2nd grade this year. Last year they tested her to see where she’s at and she, as well, failed these test! I just can’t see subjecting my child to these ridiculous testing measures.

  • Jen - June 3, 2014 - 11:15 am

    Wow, your letter came at the right time for me. My son, a sophomore in high school in north Florida says he’s dropping out and getting his GED. We have discussed many of the problems you mentioned. We have felt alone and misunderstood. I fear his plan but cannot bring myself to make him go back.

  • Sarah - June 3, 2014 - 11:42 am

    Amen!

  • Tracey Clere - June 3, 2014 - 12:45 pm

    Lynn,
    Thank you from the bottom of my Heart for writing something so eloquently that most of us parents have been thinking but haven’t had the time or energy to be put into words. I wouldn’t change, or add anything to your letter. Kudos to you for bringing it to the forefront. May your letter bring down the barriers that They are trying to build with our children’s education. I pray you are heard. I back you 200%!!! A God Bless you and your family.
    Tracey Clere

  • Angela - June 3, 2014 - 1:09 pm

    Thank you for this! I completely agree! I don’t even have kids yet and my husband and I have decided that we will home school our kids when we have them! I graduated high school 11 years ago and I had to take the fcat and spend time in class learning how to take the test and I thought it was ridiculous as a teenager! And I knew it was worse, I just didn’t know the details! I feel that public schools take so much away from children and it’s a type of brainwashing. Thanks again!

  • […] From Why I am pulling my kids from public elementary school: a letter to the powers that be. via Grumpy Opinions […]

  • Diane - June 3, 2014 - 1:53 pm

    Lynne this is Tracy’s Mom. I am getting you letter sent to Governor Scott directly
    But also want to make sure the others on your list read it. I do know board members of Seminole Schools and Karen Castor Dentel, Have you had any acknowledgement from any of them receiving it including David Simmons who we know. I want to make sure each and everyone of them reads this personally

    It sickens me for those families who are not able to put their children in private school to have to be subjected to this. So unfair for our children, who are our future. This world needs a major overhaul. Starting from the top, our so called
    President and down the ladder. What a future we are laying out for our children

    This was a fabulous letter. So well constructed. Your children are lucky to have you on their side

  • Leigh Ann Mays - June 3, 2014 - 1:59 pm

    Lynne, I too read all 2800 words and you’re right, you couldn’t cut any of it out.

    This is exactly why at the PK3 level, I put my daughter in a private school, and I thank God that we were able to do so. I really wanted to homeschool her, but our circumstances didn’t afford us to do so. Fast forward to now, I had an accident and unfortunately am disabled because of it. So being home now, this year was the first year that my daughter was homeschooled during her 7th grade year. What a difference, even from private school. It’s so amazing how much more my daughter (I have) has learned this year.

    She was diagnosed with some learning differences (I refuse to call it learning disablilites, as even the private school classified her with, when she has an extremely high IQ and gets A’s and B’s, but is a visual learner. She’s brilliant in Math and Science, the subjects she can see the big picture. When given the “standardize testing”, she graded at 13+ grade level in every grade since she was in 3rd grade.) and she would sit in classroom and not comprehend what was being taught. She would come home and she and I would spend an hour going over her lesson before a test and she would get A’s. My husband finally said to me one night, what the heck is she doing in school. It looks like you’re teaching her and she’s wasting her time sitting in a classroom. That was the #1 reason for pulling her out.

    Homeschooling has given us the opportunity to teach to her strenghts and and help with her weaknesses. I allows you to tailor the curriculum to your studen and not your student to the curriculum. I don’t want to dumb down my daughter to fit her into the current society. Why on earth would I want her to be exactly like everyone else. Our school system is turning out to be another government welfare experiment..

    Thanks for your letter to the establishment. You have a lot of people behind you.

  • Lisa Farren - June 3, 2014 - 4:04 pm

    We live in NY, but several years ago, we lived in Florida.

    When my son was in elementary school at Beacon Cove in Jupiter, his math teacher called me in for a meeting. During that meeting she said he wasn’t ready for the FCAT and suggested he be “sick” those days. I was appalled, and I marched right to the principal’s office. I was given nothing more than blank stares from the principal. She seriously gave me no feedback.

    This is a child who has rarely had grades below honor roll level and will be attending college on a Danforth scholarship.

    Back then I didn’t have the backbone or the fighting spirit I have now. Sure wish I could go back and expose them for that whole situation.

  • Cathy Williams - June 3, 2014 - 8:58 pm

    Great Job !!!!! Be proud, your kids have awesome parents and will not fall through the cracks of a flawed system. My kids are already out of public school and thriving in private.

  • Lo - June 3, 2014 - 9:07 pm

    Thank you so much for your extremely well written blog. I agree. When the school systems started taking kids from A schools and putting them in F schools ( and vice versa) for the purposes of increasing their tax dollars (they get more money for two -c schools than anA & F is the moment I decided I would take a second job if I had to in order to put them in private school. You picked a great school – I have 2 younger sisters that went to park maitland, it is awesome! We are over at sweetwater episcopal – they (and park maitland) do all of the things I wish our public school system did. Again, thank you for writing.

  • Jody - June 3, 2014 - 9:07 pm

    I am a concerned great grandmother and have read all of the letter and most of the comments. Yes we can shout, complain, go to private schools, leave the teaching profession, but how does that help the children – the future generations? Don’t like the testing that has made billions for the makers? DON’T SEND THE CHILDREN TO SCHOOL ON TEST DAYS!~! But, it must be a united effort state wide. (Hold meetings – do whatever you have to to get a mandate) That and only that will get the attention of the political professionals. Maybe then they will let teachers teach, children learn and enjoy their education. Just a few thoughts!

  • A Van Cleve - June 3, 2014 - 9:25 pm

    Thank you for your post. Thank you for the time you took to put down in words what many of us as parents are feeling.

  • Kim Michiels - June 3, 2014 - 9:51 pm

    I cried as I read this, because it is exactly what is happening at my school in Sarasota county. I have been teaching for 26 years now, and it becomes more discouraging every day. I’m ready to stand up for the children. How can I teach them American history and not live the values of standing up to tyranny and injustice?

  • Alyssa Payson - June 3, 2014 - 10:47 pm

    Thank you Lynne Rigby, your words and thoughts on the subject of our school district speak volumes. We have 3 older children who have also attended the schools in this district and have graduated LBHS. We have a younger child who will now be homeschooled because of the some of the reasons you write about. We will not let out younger child lose her childhood and her passion for learning to the current practices in our public school system.

  • Anthony Peter Senecal - June 3, 2014 - 11:01 pm

    Good article—worth the read!!!!!!

  • Meriah powers - June 3, 2014 - 11:06 pm

    I read and agree with all 2800 words. I have one daughter who graduated in 2012 from a Georgia public school. As we were a military family she has attended schools in Kentucky Washington state north Carolina and Georgia. She struggled significantly as did her peer with changes in the mathematics curriculum and nearly all of the entire 8th grade student body did not pass the end of grade testing. I also currently have one who will.be in 9th grade and one in 10th grade. They seems to be holding their own and doing ok. They started school in North Carolina and have been in Georgia public schools since 2006. My current issue lies with my 6 year old who was in kindergarten this past year. She will be repeating kindergarten again next year. The only 1 of my 4 who have repeated a grade. She has gone the entire school year and just doesn’t get it she isn’t catching on. She also has a wonderful teacher who loves and cares about her. She was also a teacher for my daughter who will be in 9th grade. She knows the family and has kept me updated all year on my youngest daughters progress. It breaks my heart that these 5 and 6 year Olds are expected to read by the end of kindergarten among other things. What happened to social interaction what happened to learning to tie your shoe and cutting and finger painting. These kids have such a hard push on education they do not enjoy it. My daughter has told me every day for the past school year I don’t want to go to school I hate it. When you have teachers who receive bonuses for better grades you see cheating and you see teaching for the tests only not teaching everything you need to know to problems solve and gain critical thinking skills. If I could afford private school that is where my children would go but for now we are stuck in a small rural public school system which sets very high standards and expectations for young children but also has excellent teachers who care about their kids and are very invested in their learning. I believe the system is setting up our children for failure. Not everyone learns at the same pace. It is like asking a child to be miraculously potty trained at 12 months because a standard said so.. This is not possible as children typically can not control their bladder until around 19 months of age. The same for walking should every child be walking at 9 months because someone says so. Or getting teeth at 6 months and eating steak? Because essentially this is what we are asking if our children. Thank you for your article it opened my eyes and showed me I am not the only one worried about my children and trying to figure out how to make them successful and confident learners.

  • Lisa c - June 3, 2014 - 11:11 pm

    One of the most disturbing parts about why no one can see the tests is because it would mess with the bottom line. Who wants to spend money writing new test questions every year when you can recycle old ones. If this fact doesn’t expose this waste of time and resources for what it is I’m not sure what will. Parents nation wide need to boycott the tests to get rid of these tests. Funny thing is that we pay for them.

  • Deborah - June 3, 2014 - 11:47 pm

    AGREE 100%!!!!
    My oldest has graduated from high school and in college. The IB student that was labeled “gifted and talented” at age 5. Never struggled, breezed thru the hardest of academic classes. Scholarships offered. Still was not enough to prepare her for college but she is doing well and realizes that college is different than K-12.
    Our second and youngest finishes her last week of her freshman year of high school this week. Received notice that she failed to rate “satisfactory” on the English portion of the Texas STARR test. All year in her AP English class she was told by the teachers, “you do not belong in here. You should be in the IB courses. This is too easy for you.” All year all A’s and a few B’s.

    Second semester she has a different teacher that happens to leave after the first few weeks for maternity leave and then decides not to come back, who can blame her with all of the new STARR and EOC requirements. Sub after sub, still all A’s. STARR tests and my own daughter says that after reading the 7th short story and having to write papers on each story she finally started just making things up to make it interesting. See, I’ve never expected each of my girls to be like the other. I’ve never expected them to fit neatly in any box that any person has tried to put them in. My kids that I would trust to navigate an airport all on their own and fly, even on international flights. all by themselves. My kids that might misspell a few words that can still function in the REAL WORLD and function better than most. My kids that have been exposed to many things outside of a classroom, blessed enormously by God with the means to take them on many adventures across the globe. My girls that has traveled to more countries than most and can carry on adult conversations with highly educated adults, that took creative thinking in writing her short stories on the STARR English test now told she must take remedial courses this summer starting next week. Uh, DO NOT THINK SO! Why? Let me see, she has 2 trips that she will be out of the country already scheduled and paid for. Plus, another week for a college golf camp. Told if she does not take this course and retake the test this summer they will pull her out of her electives, band and golf, and place her in remedial courses. Uh, NO! Let me see, as a freshman on the golf team she competed on the varsity level and did rather well. As a freshman in the high school band of over 230 members she already demonstrated leadership and was elected to leadership positions by her peers and directors for this next year.
    Being told that over half her class failed to rate “satisfactory” on the English STARR test, a class of AP English students! Something tells me it is not the students fault. Something is telling us, her educated successful parents, that the kids are just fine. It is the system that is broken. And boy, is it ever broken.

    At this point, after I have the unexpected meeting tomorrow morning with administration that we may be pulling her out of public school and putting her in private school for the next 3 years. I’m sick and tired of our students and teachers being treated like a bunch of guinea pigs. We would not allow this much testing to be done on lab rats. Why are we doing it on the future of our nation. Why are we doing this to our children!!! As you stated, the divide is only going to widen. I’ve seen enough studies that have shown that our students are no more college ready than they were before all of these state and federal mandated tests. Our students are no more prepared to go into the world and make a living to support a family than they were before. As a matter of fact, they are less prepared now for any kind of vocational training and jobs.

    This country is on a downward spiraling road that is getting out of hand. It is going to be way too late by the time anything is done to correct what all is being done that is wrong with our educational system.

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again, when our elected officials that are the ones mandating these tests can take them and pass them with flying colors then and only then should they be allowed to be given to our school children.

  • Lisa - June 4, 2014 - 12:44 am

    I am a teacher. The teachers and most administrators in our district are wonderful, Christian teachers who want what is best for the kids. However, our hands are tied, and since I’m a mom I too have been praying about putting my youngest into a private school. She is facing 90 minutes of math and 2.5 hours of reading next year, because they have to “raise those scores.” She loved school in first and second grade, but now hates going because of the monotony of doing the same two subjects practically the whole day. In my 13 years of teaching, I’ve watched our district beat this dead horse, ask for more federal funding, and beat the dead horse some more. Only with RTT they have to meet certain criteria while they are beating the horse: they have to beat the horse at least 10 times each day; teach the horse not to bully other horses at least once a month; beat the horse with only official utensils sponsored by the Gates Foundation; and make sure their essential question for the “scripted” unit is posted, preferably on the Promethean or Smart board that was purchased by NCLB grants. (Since we are exempt now from NCLB, maybe we need to give back the boards.)

  • KM - June 4, 2014 - 7:06 am

    I read your letter in The Washington Post. I am an educator in the D.C. area and I think you are entirely correct. There are many of us who are educators who think independently and can critically analyze the situation, like you did, but we are not able to find other jobs we’re qualified for, so we bite our tongues so we don’t have to face repercussions. It’s strange. We are all spinning our wheels, running to keep up with an incredible workload, putting these poor kids through more testing than ever before, no one agrees with the situation, but everyone pretends they do.

  • Natalie Jowett Antley Agoos - June 4, 2014 - 9:06 am

    Thank you for putting all the intricacies and subtleties into a clear and linear explanation for why this particular national standard and this particular form of standardized testing is destructive and wrong. I have been spreading your manifesto and people are grateful for it. THANK YOU!!!

  • Debra McCloskey - June 4, 2014 - 9:23 am

    Lynne, I applaud you for taking the time and effort to express your thoughts and concerns which are shared by many parents and grandparents in this community. I would suggest you forward this letter to Bill O’Reilly at FOX News (who was in education also) and hopefully he would expose this insanity on a national level. Seminole County Schools are losing ambitious and talented students along with involved and dedicated parents such as yourself (a critical component of a successful education)).

  • Candice - June 4, 2014 - 11:27 am

    If the government fixes the education crisis that we are having then all other problems associated with kids, teens, and young adults will more than likely diminish. This article is very true and well written! It saddens me that nothing has been done about it which causes the future of our children to be in limbo. Thanks for sharing.

  • Karen D. - June 4, 2014 - 11:47 am

    Bravo! Good for you! I pulled my two out of OCPS two years ago. I now homeschool all three of my elementary aged kids (1st, 3rd, and 4th grades) for many of the same reasons you have stated. I taught in Orange County for ten years and saw such a change when my own started school. I have spent the last two years undoing damage done from one year of schooling for my daughter and two years for my son. My youngest has never been in school and shows such a love of learning and is miles ahead of where his brother and sister were at his age.

  • Rachel S - June 4, 2014 - 1:23 pm

    I read every word as well. As a single mother of a 4yo boy, who loves to learn, you have just listed every fear I have of putting my boy into public school. It’s not that I am anti- any one thing or another, it’s that he has such a zest for learning now that I don’t want him to hate it. Truthfully, he just might any way no matter how unlikely that seems right now. BUT I feel if I can expose him to an ideal learning environment, perhaps he will excel and love learning as much as I did when I was a kid.

    Honestly, it would be a huge financial sacrifice to send him to private school. But there is no price tag on a good education. There is nothing more awesome to me for my little guy to say “Mommy, guess what I learned today? Can I show you?”. I just don’t want him to lose that excitement because you can’t get it back once it’s gone.

    Thank you for creating this letter. I also hope that the appropriate people find it [or perhaps we can put it under their noses on social media!] I don’t care which curriculum the county goes with, as long as it is effective and kids [& parents!] are totally exasperated by it.

    Thank you again!

  • Rachel S - June 4, 2014 - 1:26 pm

    ..kids [& parents] *aren’t totally exasperated..

  • Tamara - June 4, 2014 - 1:56 pm

    I too all 2800 words! Imagine how difficult it is for children who have a bit of a learning disability! My son is going into the 10th grade at Lyman High School and is an A/B student. He completes his work, appears engaged and seems to comprehend it and then FAILS the tests. We have hired a math tutor that has worked with him year-round for the last 2 years.

    If I could go back and do it all over again, I would pull him out of public school. I honestly think that is the GOAL of our government. This way THEY don’t have to pay for their education. It’s no longer about learning, our children are mere dollar signs for textbook companies, testing companies and countless consultants.

    I don’t blame the teachers at all, but I do see a lack of leadership within our local school system.

  • Lisa Ross - June 4, 2014 - 3:02 pm

    Lynne,
    I happily read your work and agree 100%. The worksheets that my daughters come home with are beyond boring, and they are both in “A” schools in St. Johns County near Jacksonville. I can also tell you that the students I teach at the college level are a product of No Child Left Behind. They have poor writing skills and cannot “think outside the box”. If there is no rubric or checklist they are lost. Doing a creative assignment is nearly impossible for some, and others cut and paste from the inter-net to complete their papers. Our children deserve better than what are are giving them.

  • Suzanne Ashlock - June 4, 2014 - 3:02 pm

    I read it completely and also agree completely. I am a retired teacher, but I keep in touch and constantly rail at what is happening to our educational system. My daughter is leaving the teaching profession this year because of what is going on in the public school system in the state of Texas.

    The problem is not just in Florida; it is systemic. One can only hope that your well written essay will find the ears of the “powers that be,” but I have become cynical about change. Our school systems are being held hostage by “for profit” companies and legislators who know nothing about eduction. Our children suffer.

  • Michele - June 4, 2014 - 3:31 pm

    I read and nodded my head. My learners don’t fit in the box. I fought for many years and bought them home last year. Unfortunately, this is not the same education system we grew up with. Though, I am sure we turned out ok…..

  • Michele - June 4, 2014 - 3:32 pm

    I read and nodded my head. My learners don’t fit in the box. I fought for many years and bought them home last year. Unfortunately, this is not the same education system we grew up with. Though, I am sure we turned out ok…..

  • Shan Lentz - June 4, 2014 - 4:18 pm

    We just decided to pull our children 6th and 4th from believe it or not Catholic School in Colorado for this very reason. The Catholic schools are very proudly becoming Common Core aligned. One of the reasons we chose Catholic school over public was the amount of testing in said public schools-that didn’t actually give you detail on how or why your child tested the way they did. CC is encroaching on all aspects of education public and private. It is very sad indeed, so with much emotion we will begin the next chapter of our lives homeschooling our children. After all, as many teacher friends say run don’t walk from traditional education, that soon homeschooling will be the only answer for parents, after all parents can’t do any worse than the fiasco of public education these days.

  • Lisa J. - June 4, 2014 - 4:34 pm

    Amen. I wholeheartedly agree. I have a child with SLD and has struggled with school since pre-school. He didn’t fit into the mold. He was prevented from taking electives in middle school and high school because he was always in additional remedial intensive classes. Double blocks of language, double blocks of math and one year it was a triple block of language. That was his entire day after science and history. No opportunity to find out what he liked or what he might be good at. We did everything the state, the county and the school said to do for him by means of IEPs, tutoring, countless meetings, phonecalls, emails, money spent, etc. and he’s no better off now. We had to have an FCAT waiver approved so he could graduate with a diploma. I am the expert on an SLD child who will be great in other areas besides a book and a test. But the school system never gave him a chance to shine and find that out. His teachers were fabulous. It wasn’t their fault he never passed the FCATs. I was a good, involved parent. No child left behind has failed.

  • Barbara - June 4, 2014 - 6:26 pm

    I have a dream that one day….all our children will be free of this insanity. I have been a teacher since 1982 and I am so distraught with what we are doing. Let us all contact our reps and let them know. We are tired of this child abuse!

  • Virginia Martin - June 4, 2014 - 6:33 pm

    My daughter pulled our 8 year old grandson out of what was an “A” rated Seminole County School in January because things had deteriorated to the extent that our grandson went from a mostly enthusiastic straight A student to a child who no longer wanted to go to school. He was becoming frustrated with the simplicity of the work, and being told he could not read above grade level, being restricted to the “baby books” in the library – when he had been reading about Greek Mythology, Ancient Egypt, at 7 he read Tolkien’s “The Hobitt.” He has been reading since he was two, and absolutely loved to learn. We found that he began to shut down, stopped reading, and became very needy, where he had been very independent, happy, and in a gifted program.

    Within a month of being in his new school, he has rebounded nicely, and is again in love with everything. He’s into creating and invention, and after 6 months he is absolutely thriving. He is engaged, involved, and HAPPY! I am so glad his Mom took this stand for him.

    Having done more research into the “common core,” I can safely say that it is a philisophy that has no place in our schools. Accountability is not necessarily a bad thing, but if you keep digging, you will find that much of what is going on with CC is a process called “Academic Polarization.”” The haves will be educated to become leaders and the benefiting class. The have nots will be educated to become the workforce that will support the wealthy elite. Sound scary? Check it out! This is where our public schools are headed.

    If nothing else, home schooling through a virtual school is better than common core. If that isn’t possible check out charter schools – but make sure they have not bought into CC, or you’re in the same position. If neither of these routes is possible, find a way to pay for private school, it is that important to your child’s future.

  • Samantha Tighiouart - June 4, 2014 - 8:26 pm

    As a parent of former students at Bear Lake I understand your frustration. We too had the same concerns regarding with accuracy of the material. We too experienced a similar situation and walked away with the opinion that a large part of the problem is that those charged with creating the text books are not degreed in those fields and that those teaching the material have not majored in them either. That is not to offend the teachers but, rather the system. We require a band instructor or chorus director to have a degree in music so why would we expect less of math teachers? Or of Science teachers? Wouldn’t they recognize a child falling behind or not grasping a particular subject and have the in depth knowledge to explain it? After all, people learn in differently.
    Next we walked away concerned that the over testing is to procure funding and often at the expense of the children. We feel that in pushing forward leaving kids behind the confidence of the children is being sacrificed. At this point we are not lifting them up, but rather, tearing them down. To remedy the over testing, we feel that if all schools, nationwide, are learning from the same books then the raw scores should be enough to ascertain which schools and teachers are succeeding. That would help us get back to teaching children to learn as opposed to teaching children to memorize material to pass a test.
    Look at how recess has changed as well as lunch time. I recall smelling the food permeating the school as a child and the long recess afterward. We had downtime. We had time to be kids. I recently found a second grade book from the 60′s which contained data we now teach in K! How soon can we expect children to start writing? Reading? Learning the multiplication chart? You are correct, these are children not robots.
    We are very familiar with international standards for children, time spent in school and testing. We can learn a great deal from other countries but we can’t compare our students to China nor expect our children to compete when the time our children spend in school is minimal by comparison.
    Our system is flawed and our children are paying the price. You can’t build a solid house on a fragile foundation nor can we build our future generation of leaders if we destroy their confidence. These children are our future and we should invest in them in every aspect. It is almost as if we are throwing our children to the wolves where only the strong will survive and the remainder left to perish.
    Thank you for sharing your story and know that you are not alone in your concerns.

  • Annie Rose - June 4, 2014 - 9:07 pm

    You are a brave and courageous woman. I hope the administrators at your schools do not begin harassing you and your husband in retribution for exercising your right to free speech, as has happened to me and others here in IL who respectfully advocated for our classroom kids only to have our contracts not renewed. I now work with young parents of toddlers with developmental delays and they are starting to pressure them to recite numbers and ABCs rather than explore and play and be curious. They know that their child will be tested when they start school and are scared that they won’t do well–at the age of 2! So sad.

  • Lucy - June 4, 2014 - 9:29 pm

    My children were passing students until common core came to their private school.. they literally went from passing to trying not to fail in one year of common core. Same teachers, same school the only difference was Common Core. It’s bad stuff.

  • Lark - June 4, 2014 - 10:00 pm

    Amen! Very well put and succinct when it comes down to it.

  • Seth Roberts - June 4, 2014 - 10:21 pm

    Im 15 read,the,entire,thing and i agree,with it why force kids,to learn something they,wont remember in,a,couple,weeks, kid of all ages should be learning stuff that counts stuff that will stick stuff theyll remember classes fitted to their needs

  • Aurora Sapp - June 4, 2014 - 10:22 pm

    My daughter will be repeating 2nd grade do to the common core reading requirements here in Georgia. It is so sad the pressure that is put on our children. Each child has different gifts and talents. They are children, NOT ROBOTS!

  • Catie - June 4, 2014 - 10:27 pm

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
    I am an elementary Art teacher in your neighboring county of Volusia. This is the best explanation of what testing, performance pay and common core is doing to our students, teachers and communities. I wish I could go with your son!!
    I would like to be hopeful…I would like to think Tallahassee is listening. But until I see a change, I keep looking for a way out…

  • Jenny - June 4, 2014 - 11:34 pm

    As a teacher in Iowa, my heart goes out to schools, parents, and students in Florida or anywhere else this is the case. However, I have to disagree with the assumption that Common Core and standardized tests are one in the same. It’s the testing taking creativity out of schools not the Core. Common Core is where all students should be at the end of a given year. These expectations have always been there but never in a defined manner as the Common Core is. CC does not eliminate creativity. Common Core shows teachers where the end result is, not dictates how to get there. For example, if a Core’s objective is for students to be able to cite textual evidence, I can have sophomore students master that using the novel To Kill a Mockingbird while my husband, who is also an English teacher, can use Of Mice and Men with any other supplemental materials or activities, field trips, etc. I want as long as I get my students to master citing textual evidence. CC does have its issues, but in all, before CC, teachers were left to their own devices entirely. At least now, I can say a student struggles with citing textual evidence instead of saying, “your son got a B in my class.” What does that mean?

    I would also like to point out that Pearson is a type of textbook company, not a nationalized curriculum. Many teachers I know, especially in Language Arts, don’t teach out of a textbook, especially because the Common Core, is not in a textbook.

    It’s sad that student achievement is tied to teacher pay. There does need to be some accountability for teachers (better evaluation systems, etc.) but NOT tying a “little human['s]” achievement to teacher salary. I, too, am not a fan of whoever writes the standardized tests, keeps them under lock and key, so schools, parents, and children can’t learn from them. I have no idea what’s on Iowa’s tests (4-6 different tests lasting six hours tops…14 hours is ridiculous!); I just hope my kids are prepared and then I ask them after the test is over if they felt prepared and what I can do NEXT year for those students to prepare them. The problem lies in standardized testing, which it sounds like Florida has a lot of unfortunately. Standardized tests do NOT give an accurate picture of students’ abilities…Common Core does (or at least a BETTER picture).

    Maybe you should move to Iowa…we’re not perfect, but, at least I can speak for the two districts I have been a part of, that project and inquiry based education and informal and varied assessments is what we do.

  • Robin Culver - June 4, 2014 - 11:39 pm

    I face the same problem with my grandson. He simply doesn’t test well at all. We do practice test the night before and he has all the material right, but the next day at school he is so anxious he fails the test. I know he’s disheartened and no longer enjoys school at all. Common Core is the biggest farce I ever seen projected into a classroom.

  • Susan Anderson - June 5, 2014 - 7:35 am

    As a retired teacher with most experience in third grade I applaud this manifesto. But this all began with Jeb Bush and his brother’s No Child Left Behind. The Bush family has reported ties to the publishing companies who have been paid millions of our taxpayer dollars over the last 15person years for all those testing materials. Pearson has not only hit the taxpayer jackpot for our schools but now commands all Florida State Contractor licensensing. You could tell me that the politicians in Tallahassee aren’t receiving personal benefits from this dip into our taxes, but I would never believe it. are

  • Susan Anderson - June 5, 2014 - 9:20 am

    Bravo to you for your courage to voice what many of us feel. As a retired teacher and grandparent I have one piece of advice if you are going to have any chance of changing testing. FOLLOW THE MONEY

  • Heather Geck - June 5, 2014 - 9:47 am

    I feel your pain up here in Michigan. I am a parent of a 3 and 4 year old and a teacher. I am going back and forth about what to do. Your blog echoes my sentiments EXACTLY. Many above are talking about charters. Here is the kicker, though, if we all pull our kids from public school and put them in charters, it is a win-win for corporate interests destroying public school. This is a very well-organized, well-funded attack on public schools on so many fronts. I wish I could afford to homeschool. I don’t think it is hopeless, though. All change started with a fight. This is gaining momentum. Thank you for helping to spread the word. A lot of teachers are afraid to say anything in Michigan because our governed passed so many new anti-teacher laws removing seniority, tenure, etc. that they are in fear of losing their jobs. In the classroom, we can’t even shut our doors and teach what we actually know is best for our students because, of course, the “new” evaluation system of merit pay and based on how our students do on this ridiculous test. I personally am leaning toward keeping my kids in public school, but opting them out of all standardized tests that is not created for the purpose of diagnostics and not attached to the teacher’s salary with results given in a timely manner to the teacher so that he/she and I can see where my child needs more help.

  • Hans Nielsen - June 5, 2014 - 9:56 am

    Lynne, I want to thank you for writing this letter and adding your voice to the conversation about Common Core. I read EVERY word and I agree with you 100%. My daughter Amanda and my son Joshua are also enrolled in Seminole County school district and we are experiencing the same fears and heartache that you expressed so clearly and passionately in your letter. Amanda just finished 4th grade and Josh finished 2nd. We have had such a difficult time understanding and dealing with the insanity that we face in the education of our children. When did education go from the fun, engaging process that I had as a kid to the monotone, passionless assembly line that my kids have to painfully be forced thru today? Why does my daughter cry almost EVERY NIGHT because she cannot understand the fractured curriculum that doesn’t seem to build on anything she learned just last week and why does it take me an hour just to look over her worksheet every night for me to learn the convoluted garbage they are trying to force into her head without any rhyme or reason? Why is she told that the “Parent way” is wrong and cannot be used in class and she needs to learn 6 different methods to do a simple math problem when the 6 different methods confuse her to the point of tears and the “Parent way” can be done IN HER HEAD without the stress or mistakes the Common Core method seems to cause? Why did my wife and I choose to live in Seminole County when we moved here from Upstate NY? Our primary decision making factor was the school system we would be placing our kids in. Why did we bother when the school district is destroying their love of learning and holding them back intellectually? Why does the process of educating our kids end every January so that they can spend the next 2 months preparing for a single test which from my understanding does little to educate my kids and simply stands as a wall they need to get over to progress to the next grade level? I’m tired already. I’m deflated and running on empty every night I get home from work and I need to rev myself up and spend the next two hours trying to get Amanda thru a single side of a workbook page that will only bring her to tears. WHY? WHY? WHY? What is the answer? Where do we take our kids now? What do we do? Thank you for expressing OUR frustration, I pray that your letter reaches the hearts of those who are in a position to draw us back from the cliff we are teetering on. At this point we are looking to homeschool our kids as I have lost almost all the faith we have placed in Florida to properly educate our two amazing gifts from God. If you are ever looking to mold, educate, and excite two wonderful kids to enjoy a life of learning, I’d love for a person with your passion to be their teacher. Sincerely, Hans Nielsen, Sanford, FL

  • Yary - June 5, 2014 - 10:14 am

    I too read every single word… Some of them more than once. My oldest son is 4 and will begin VPK this Fall here in Seminole county. My husband and I have had many discussions about our choices for our children’s education, and it’s been very frustrating. I did not know any of the details around Common Core. Thanks to you, now I have more information and from the perspective of a mother and a teacher. We will be re-opening the conversation about public versus private education in our home. And thank you for using your voice. It may be just one, but you’re reaching more eyes and ears than you know! I will be sharing this with all of my mother and father friends. I’ve been very concerned with the future of our education system in Florida and specifically in our county. This just validated some of my fears. Thank you again for sharing your story, opinions and logic. I for one enjoyed all 2800 words!

  • J Kirk Richards - June 5, 2014 - 10:55 am

    Thank you so much, Lynne: I too am a SCPS product 2nd Grade through 12th (1966) at Seminole High, when we had occasional elementary school PSATs (2or3) a SAT or two in junior high and high school and a 12th Grade statewide curved test covering Math, Science, Social Science(s), English and General Aptitude. I guess there wasn’t enough money in developing/grading such a skimpy menu. I later – after a career at USF in Temple Terrace – went back to Seminole Junior College and took the CLAST for giggles and my essay was about canning the CLAST, et al., and returning to the Florida Senior Test and the SAT for upper division inclusion and maxed the score. My only real problem with CLAST was it tested for geometry, logic and the like but nary a corse in any of that was available at the Junior College level: but that probably would be of no real surprise. Again, thanks for the work you put into your piece. It now occupies a place on my FB page – with not just a few active and retired SCPS teachers hanging about. My next project is to add my name to yours to the personages at state, county and school board offices and see how they react to a veteran super-voter’s interest in this matter.

  • […] standardized testing and other school reform measures are having on her children. She posted the letter on her blog so that her friends could see it, and she has gotten a much bigger response than she […]

  • […] standardized testing and other school reform measures are having on her children. She posted the letter on her blog so that her friends could see it, and she has gotten a much bigger response than she […]

  • Krista - June 5, 2014 - 1:15 pm

    I read every single word. You have this all so correct. I have been telling anyone that would listen for years about the horrible way our children are being taught due to these standardized tests. I dreaded the day that my kids would enter school and have to take the FCAT. Next year my daughter will be in 3rd grade and she will finally have to go through the stress of that test along with all the test prep that happens before it and then not actually learn anything substantial the remainder of the year. I am one of the parents stuck in the middle. My husband and I make comfortable salaries, but we can not afford private education for our children. It breaks my heart that I can’t afford to put them in a better learning environment and have to let them suffer through the standards that are being thrust upon them in public schools. Thank you for writing this piece. I only hope those that matter see it and really take to heart what you have written and all of us other parents stand beside you on.

  • Buster Spiller - June 5, 2014 - 2:00 pm

    Lynne, YOU ROCK!!!

  • Linda Peterson - June 5, 2014 - 2:19 pm

    As a parent to a special needs son, I so understand what you are going through. We live in Virginia and currently opt out of the federal testing called the sol’s. I have also demanded that my son is not taught common core math. They will use the Semplemath that I have purchased myself. Wish more parents would stand up to the state and federal government. This absurd testing needs to stop! The person who designed common core needs to come walk in our shoes. All kids are not created equal, why punish a teacher for something that is out of their control. What is happening to our education program?

  • Diane - June 5, 2014 - 2:54 pm

    Lynne,
    I cried when I began reading your letter. This was me this past school year. Differences, I have a girl-2nd grade. The amount of stress, fustration over the entire school year has left me with the most HORRIFIC taste for the Florida Public School system. A brief..promise brief backround. I have 2 older children 29 & 24. 29 year old married/Navy/children of his own. 24 year old UCF senior-graduates dec 14 elementary Ed.. Both went to public school….Now walks into the picture my youngest, 8…just finished 2nd grade. The year from HELL. I’m done, threw my hands in the air and said a few “curse words”….Here we come PRIVATE SCHOOL……Thank God for the step up -or else I would be STUCK. …Diane…
    Thank you Lynne. I truly thought I was going ABSOULETLY CRAZY this past year. The homework/assignments/confusion, the list goes on…

  • Scott G. - June 5, 2014 - 2:58 pm

    Lynne,
    Nicely written!
    In the end, public schooling will be destroyed by one or more of our various layers of government. In many parts of our world, access to (real) education is available (only) to those of monetary means…in private schools; in the future, only those lucky few (with $$) will have access to quality (and meaningful) education.

  • Bonnie - June 5, 2014 - 3:33 pm

    I also read your every word. Although my
    3 sons have been out of school for quite a few
    years, I do worry about my grand children
    and great grand daughter going into school.
    This is so scary, I hope your words will be
    heard far and wide. Thanks for speaking out!!!

  • Sahnnon - June 5, 2014 - 4:07 pm

    Lynne, thank you from the bottom of my heart for telling a story that I’ve wanted to express but didn’t really know how. I’m the mother of a daughter going into first grade and a son who will be entering VPK in the fall. My children attend Volusia County schools. I have lost sleep over the concept of “common core” and standardized testing. I too am looking into home schooling or private schools for my children. If I can help you be a “voice” for our children then please let me know. I’ll fight for what’s right for my kids and all who else needs a voice!

  • Richard Webb - June 5, 2014 - 4:18 pm

    Please consider the data at http://www.FairTest.org/bates-study-lauds-sat-optional . Parents need to reject the tyranny of Common Core testing standards led by ACT/SAT. More than 800 four-year colleges and universities do not use the SAT or ACT.

    Be sure you watch the new video Building the Machine. It will arm you with substantive arguments against godless anti-Christian anti-American Common Core. Common Core is the worst thing to happen to education since atheist Madeline Murray O’Hare and the ACLU intimidated schools into removing God (now we are winning that battle). Their plan is based upon, and dedicated to the foolish Democrat proposition that we are all the same.

    The Homeschool Legal Defense Association bombshell film “Building the Machine” released March 31 documents the Common Core promotional lies. It is devastating, especially the interviews of dissenting PhD’s that were kicked off the review committee so supporters could falsely claim unanimous acclamation.

    EVERYONE MUST COMPLY even private schools and homeschoolers. The federal government has conspired with Big Education to cram a totally untested set of mandates down the throats of students, parents and teachers. Common Core, which morphs into several other names as opposition rises, seeks to impose a “one size fits all” nationwide disaster. Book publishers and testing companies developed a slick marketing campaign to sell the scheme, and sell billions of dollars of totally bogus books and tests. Contents of the dumbed-down curriculum horrify those who have actually studied the changes in detail. What is fundamentally wrong with the books, and the biggest lie, is what is NOT said. Large chunks of American history and heroes have been left out, replaced by false heroes of communism. Our Christian heritage is replaced with Muslim “understanding”. Lack of Cursive Writing cuts future generations off from their written heritage just like Mao did in the “cultural revolution” when he revised Chinese writing. Social engineering and conformity replaces learning to think critically and creatively.

    Question: When you are dead last in TIMSS test scores comparing our brightest kids to 40 other countries, why not follow the 8 Pacific rim countries that consistently score at the top, instead of trusting the corrupt federal government to divine where the untested bleeding edge of education needs to be? I never felt so third-world as when I served on a committee that got recognition for our International School from the Department of Education in Spain. We had to add lots of great ideas to the highest Florida standards to come UP to Spain’s minimum requirements.

    As usual Michelle Malkin hit the nail on the head tracing the sources of this communistic scheme – FOLLOW THE MONEY.

    On 3/22, my wife and I participated in the Operation Education Conference with Christian Historian David Barton who is responsible for improving curriculum in Texas and other states, Rep. Debbie Mayfield (sponsor of HB 25 Common Core Pause bill), Dr. Karen Effrem, Randy Osborne, and others. Here is their Policy Analysis. CC directly violates at least 3 federal laws (p. 11), and circumvents privacy laws meant to protect our children. Additional revelations video from David Barton hosting Beck’s TV show.

    Here is a list of embarrassing questions from North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Daniel J. Forest. This will provide you lots of good ammunition.

    Florida deceptively changed the name to trick us into believing the problem is solved or that they have listened. Weatherford admits before the Council of 100, that there was NEVER a plan to substantively change the standards. This speech took place 11/24/13. The pertinent information is given in 40 seconds.

    Our friend Jeb Bush is the biggest problem because of his well-earned credibility on education standards. Knowing him personally, I used to say I would trust him with my family, but in this case I am shocked to see him support such an obvious federal takeover. Please help us demand that Florida pull out of the Common Core national standards, tests, and data collection system! Nobody but Jeb could have delivered a unanimous Florida legislature that rushed over the cliff like swine at Decapolis.

    Don’t just forward this to friends. Write to a legislator and a school Board member, and your CONgressman. We need to take this window of opportunity to follow Texas with some REAL reforms. Gail Lowe, chairman, is an excellent resource; Dr. Don McLeroy led the restorers. See Review of Social Studies Curriculum which resulted in very positive changes in Texas, and provides an excellent basis for evaluating curriculum in your school.

    We need YOU to stop this NOW before the state wastes another billion taxpayer dollars on new books, tests, and in-service classes aligned to Common Core.

    Thank you.

    Richard Webb
    4Choice

  • Victoria - June 5, 2014 - 4:50 pm

    I am a teacher in Wisconsin which has also unilaterally adopted Common Core. My youngest, thank goodness, is a junior in public high school and has had, through attendance at a private school, and my efforts, a strong foundation. If that were not the case, he would not be attending public high school, and any younger children I might have would be at a private school or home schooled because of the abysmal practices and curriculum of Common Core. The only thing Common about common core is how “common” it is and how it is designed for the “common” or average student only. The non-average student is on his own. This curriculum is terrible, contains “facts” which are not facts, and demands conformity and discourages creativity of any kind, the absolute worst results anyone would want for their children.

  • Heather - June 5, 2014 - 6:07 pm

    I hope you are going be attending WeWillNotConform to help Stop CommonCore on July 22. Please feel free to email me if you’d like to know more, I’d be happy to send you a link. Stay strong.

  • Charles Paskewicz - June 5, 2014 - 8:00 pm

    You fear that the school system and its requirements will widen the gap between the haves and the have nots. Isn’t that exactly what the government and the corporations who run the government want?

  • Emine - June 5, 2014 - 8:45 pm

    As a mom of a 4 yr old going into private VPK this year , I am absolutely watching this debate. My husband and I both attended public schools in Florida, and now we are deeply troubled the direction public schools are headed. As a Pediatric Practitioner I see children driven to unbelievable anxiety, fear and frustration that they can’t “meet” standardized goals. I’ve seen very good parents pushed to edge of tears because their children aren’t thriving in school, feeling defeated, helpless and bitter because no one in their child’s school has the tools to help them. I’ve seen parents who, in ideal situations would send their children to private schools, but because of custody arrangements, finances, income restrictions and transportation needs, it is impossible. So here I stand. Conflicted. Is private school the answer? I know my stubborn son would not thrive if I were to try homeschooling.. We would constantly be at odds with one another. I do not disagree with parents pulling children out of public school, I get it. In fact, I’m not really certain I want my son in public school at this point. I do, however want more parents to rally for those children who don’t have an easy out. I want good teachers to stay, to LOVE their jobs again because they can actually CREATE, EMPOWER and ENCOURAGE a love of learning in all children, and most importantly meet them where they are at. I want public school to be great again, the place where I and I’m sure many of us grew up learning at.

  • Pamela Sykes - June 5, 2014 - 9:19 pm

    Thank you for writng this letter. I have no kids and am still a huge supporter of public education. I do have a psychology degree from the University of South Florida and plan to return to school at UCF for my MA in anthropology. Children today are so over-tested and have been for years. Kids are not taught to think critically and this is a detrement to all of society. I urge you to keep complaining and demanding the best for your children. I wish more parents would do this.

  • marita - June 5, 2014 - 10:00 pm

    Teachers are usually the cause of students’ failures. The system is failing for one reason: too much at the same time; high standards that instead not appropriate for student’s age. Do you think a 6 years old can understand the author’s purpose? or cause and effect of an event in the story when they are still learning to decode words? they should concentrate in reading and questions that could make sense to a 6 years old, but teachers must teach it. Students and teachers are not connecting at all anymore.We are robots that have to tell scripts, especially with the new observation systems that put teachers as robots. Those who do the standards are not classroom teachers. Teachers are frustrated, same as parents as students.

  • Katherine - June 5, 2014 - 10:58 pm

    I read every word and couldn’t agree more. I wasn’t terribly against the common core standards at first and I was happy to have one test that everyone took, similar to the SAT’s and ACT’s that high school students take to enter college. Almost immediately it was brought to light that two different companies would make the test. NO! That isn’t standardized then. Now it’s even worse. We are literally chasing our tail with Florida standards and our very own test that NO ONE KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT AND A TEST THAT IS REALLY ONLY VALID IN FLORIDA IF THAT.
    It makes my chest hurt and I consumed with anxiety for my soon to be 4th grade “gifted” student. I need to know what to do. None of this seems appropriate, fair, in the best interest of anyone except politicians and businesses. What can we do? How can we get together and wage this war? I am in. I will do whatever it takes. Any suggestions? This is a start, where do we go from here?

  • Elaine Neetz - June 6, 2014 - 4:39 am

    Lynne, I got out of public education a few years before Common Core, but I’ve heard horror stories. Socialized medicine–socialized education…Obama’s system. Sounds a bit like Hitler to me! What’s next? We’re all required to be Arian? Just finished homeschooling my son, and it was the best decision. I also teach on the college level…not quite as many politics.

  • E. Calvin Beisner - June 6, 2014 - 10:07 am

    I.e., you want your kids to be human beings–free, responsible, accountable, creative human beings.

    That’s so 1770s.

    Don’t you know? Nowadays they’re supposed to be cogs in a machine, interchangeable all across the country, all across the workplace.

    That’s why they can move from New York on Tuesday to California on Wednesday and never skip a beat in the lesson plan. (NOot that they’ll ever be able to do that in the post-academy world!)

    Standardization. Great for machine parts. Devastating for human beings.

  • Michelle - June 6, 2014 - 12:57 pm

    This is a wonderfully written letter. I am pulling my daughters out of public school at the end of this year- just 5 more days to go!!! We are in an excellent school system with wonderful educators who are being forced to implement CC. It is truly horrifying. Your words resonate with me because I feel the exact same way. Thank you. I have shared your letter on “Califorian’s Against Common Core” FaceBook page. There are so many of us who feel your pain and are fighting this fight with you!

  • Laura - June 6, 2014 - 3:45 pm

    Very well said. I taught in Palm Beach County until 5 years ago, and the FCAT was plenty . . . I can’t believe they are changing tests again! And making them longer!! My oldest is 3 and if nothing changes by the time she enters kindergarten, we may have to look at other options for her too. So sad. Did any of the people you addressed this to respond? Just curious . . . thanks for expressing this important view to people who need to hear it!

  • Teresa Hooks - June 6, 2014 - 4:19 pm

    Lynne, God Bless You for writing this! I agree with you 1000%. My son was a victim of FCAT in 3rd grade. He had to repeat the 3rd grade all because he could not pass this ridiculous test! His self esteem took a dive and he was very upset and felt like a failure. As a parent, I was heartbroken because my child was hurting from this failure and I couldn’t take the pain away. It was a lot of work to build him back up. Like you, I was okay with the FCAT until that happened to my son and I was furious!

    My son is now in 8th grade and he is still an honor roll student. He has received nothing but A’s and B’s his entire middle school career and he still has not mastered the FCAT in math. During FCAT prep, homework sessions are stressful because the schools are moving super fast trying to beat the clock to cover material for the test and sometimes he gets so frustarted that he is in tears. School is out now and THANK GOD because he needs a break! I too have toyed with the idea of putting him in private school because public school has lost it’s mind!

  • Brad Stone - June 6, 2014 - 5:22 pm

    And the even WORSE news is, it’s not just Florida. I just moved to Miami after teaching middle school for 20 years in the Chicago Public Schools system. When I first started, my told me to have the kids put their textbooks away, then be creative and engaging and TEACH THEM. And it was BEAUTIFUL; it allowed me to learn how to be a good, creative teacher. Fast forward to five years ago when I was handed boxed curricula for each subject area I taught and told that I would be evaluated based on the fidelity with which I implemented these curricula, as they were aligned with our godawful ISAT test. My kids were 90% ELL, 99% low-SES; these curricula, though, could clearly meet their needs better than I, with 15 years of experience- and excellent results- in that same school could- right? Well, um… NO. Now I’m here watching my four little nieces “learn” through garbage worksheets and even worse AWFUL computer programs, while the manufacturers of these “educational materials” reap their windfall… Like you, my single, little voice couldn’t make a difference in Chicago; in fact, I lost my position largely due to my vocal opposition to all this nonsense that’s being foisted on our kids. But your letter gave me chills, as it was the single most accurate depiction I’ve yet read of why our schools- and students, and teachers- are going quickly down the toilet. Maybe with enough of this type of communication, some sort of critical mass can be reached and action will be taken. Problem is, the power and money are on the wrong side of the issue; until that changes, I’m really afraid that we’re all just spitting into the wind. Nonetheless, keep fighting the good fight- if nothing else, just because it IS the good fight.
    Thanks for your words.

  • Kerrie - June 6, 2014 - 8:39 pm

    I read all of it, and most of the comments. This is one of many reasons I pulled my children out of public schools. We would use private school, but I can’t afford it for all 4 of them. So I research and buy the best (for my kids) curriculum I can get and we read and read and read. We play and have fun. And for you Mom’s who are not sure if you can handle it, look at the idea of being homeschooled through your children’s eyes. Then look at it the same way…the public common core options. It’s sad. Do what’s best for your child and your family. Best of luck to you all!

  • Mary - June 7, 2014 - 9:16 am

    You could not have said it better. The common core is dumbing down our children and taking away their love of learning. I have a new 2nd grader who has loved learning since she was born. She walks into a book store and walks out with encyclopedias. We realized she was gifted very early on but had a hard time getting the school to test her. So we did it ourselves. She went from loving school to hating it in one year. She said she is bored and hates school. The only day she likes to go is gifted day. Many people don’t agree with the common core. I want to pull her from public.school and either home school her or send her to private school. It just isn’t that easy right now. With work and private school being so expensive. Hopefully parents and teachers can stand together to get things changed for the better.

  • Leisa - June 7, 2014 - 10:19 am

    Oh. My. Goodness!

    Congratulations for having the guts to write this well crafted letter, and publish it! We need more teachers saying the education system in Florida is a failure. Educators, administrators, parents, all of us need to take some lessons from the 60s….march on Tallahassee and refuse to leave until the Governor starts to pay attention, because he will never read your awesome letter. He simply doesn’t care.

    The problems you have in Seminole County are the same in Orange County, and I would venture to guess, they are the same in every other county in the State.

    We moved from California to Florida when our children had 6 and 7 more years before graduation. We were so appalled by the education system here we ended up hiring tutors to come in after school, and on weekends, to teach them what the State of Florida did not.

    As the owner of a manufacturing company, I get to employ the products of this system. I can’t tell you how many times I have wanted to write to a school Principal and ask how on earth they ever allowed these kids to graduate…many are functionally illiterate, they can’t solve anything more than basic math problems, and they have no ability to think creatively. In other words the State has not fulfilled their obligation to EDUCATE the children.

    Our State is poor, and if we continue to turn out uneducated kids, it will stay that way. There will always be those children who, like yours, will make it OK. They have involved parents, they’re naturally smart, and they’ll leave the State for better Universities and jobs. Meanwhile those who needed to be taught, needed to have someone seek out their strengths and expand their minds from there, are crippled for life. Few will ever make more than minimum wage, or barely above it. They will not become entrepreneurs, or corporate executives, most won’t make it beyond factory line work. They will barely make enough to feed their families, and we can fully expect them to be the working poor, on some type of assistance program. Our current Governor will blame them for not climbing out of poverty, and actually wonder why they can’t….with a decent education, even if it’s just through High School, a child has a chance at success in the real world, without it, the State is doomed. Wake up Florida!

  • Debbie Rosmarin - June 7, 2014 - 1:59 pm

    To Lynne and all other parents,
    Thank you so much for the reminder that the sacrifices our family makes to send out two boys to a private school instead of Seminole County Public School, where we live, is well worth it. I honestly can say I have not experienced any of these fore mentioned frustrations with testing or Common Core Curriculum. I guess despite the financial burden, working when I can, driving my children to/from school, buying uniforms and giving up family vacations is worth it. I hope some changes are made for the future of our county.

  • Sally - June 7, 2014 - 2:43 pm

    I read your entire letter, which was amazing! I am a Gifted Resource Teacher with SCPS and would truly like a chance to talk to you – especially before you meet with Walt Gruffin.

  • Heather Reneau - June 7, 2014 - 2:49 pm

    I literally just read a book last night that explains exactly how our education system needs to change (from an Industrial Age model to an Information Age model). It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. I plan on sending it to the governor as it explains in detail how to change the education paradigm so that every child is guaranteed a higher education. It’s called “Reinventing Schools: It’s Time to Break the Mold” by Charles M. Reigeluth. Everyone that has posted here should read it.

    I pulled my son from the Seminole County Public School after his 2nd grade year. He attended a great private school last year, for third grade, but not they are also moving to Common Core. Why??? I don’t get it.

    For those parents that can’t afford private schools, there are some alternative schools in Seminole County that might work with you on price. These school founders understand the problems and are taking action to start a revolution:
    - The Creative Community School at Spark! Family Enrichment Center (Winter Springs)
    - Ampersand School (Longwood)
    - Walden School (Winter Park)
    - Socrates Preparatory School (Winter Springs)
    - Tuskawilla Montessori Academy

  • Meridith - June 7, 2014 - 3:52 pm

    Just read every word out loud to my husband as we drive. He’s a teacher, active in the union. We agree. It’s disheartening. Keep speaking out. We wonder if the powers that “be” want to push kids to private school and homeschool so that they don’t have to be responsible for education costs.

  • Reatha Wilkins - June 7, 2014 - 9:09 pm

    I left the system as early as I could to get away from everything that you describe. Whenever I said that worksheets should be outlawed, I was met with blank stares.
    I spent my graduate years persuing the concept of problem solving based learning. I brought all of that out to a world of non problem solvers. Again, blank stares. I shuffled along being the doormat (Art teacher) of the school, until I could retire early. I now support my daughter’s resolve to keep her girls out of public schools. I’m all in favor of charter schools. But, I am concerned that the testing to which they will be subjected is the gruesome Common Core torture. And people are so excited that SC has dumped Common Core. They have no clue about how it really works, I.e., cross out the words Common Core on the booklets and pass ‘me out! So, I worry.

  • Amiee - June 7, 2014 - 10:53 pm

    I read every word and had my husband listen too. That was such a powerful letter and I think you were right there was nothing you could not include to shorten it. I am sad to say my boy 10/11 have been declining because of their schools new curriculum. My oldest sadly is not in math/reading groups with his friends because when his scores came back from the state’s tests his scores were extremely low but at parent teacher conferences we are told what a great job he’s doing and his score level he should be at in 5th grade is only 2 points below the goal numbers. He use to love going to school but now he dreads it every day. The lastest issue (for me) was him getting a math question wrong because it wasn’t a realistic problem solving question. I can’t remember word for word but he was given 3 numbers and told to come up with the question. It was something like “I have 400 baseballs if my friend has 100 baseballs how many can we hit at baseball practice? Then of course he had to write the problem (400+100=500). The note the teacher wrote on his paper after marking it wrong was “This problem solving question is not even realistic and you need to come up with questions that could actually happen”. He was so upset because he didn’t understand what she was saying. He looked at me and said is my answer wrong, do the numbers not add up right? My heart broke as I was watching tears run down his face. My husband is very intelligent when it comes to math, example would be my son giving him 4 numbers in the thousands and my husband multiplying them in his head in about 45 seconds. So because of this “talent” my boys and husband play math games like this on car rides and my son has this same “talent ” just not so big of numbers. So why is he being told nope you now are in the lowest math group because you can’t do math lessons at all. I am so stressed because he’s so stressed and like I said he’s only 11. I would go on about my youngest but the school has pretty much written him off because he is our creative, out of the box thinker and is “over” as he puts it doing worksheets. They hate that he has his own way of getting to answers and because that way is not their way they put him in ever low level educational groups. This child’s numbers that are the schools goal numbers are higher then them. His teacher said he is one of the smartest in the class. My husband and I have decided that this way of learning is not at all working as we see their Test Scores get lower and lower. Next school year we are putting them in the Virtual School where you can choose to not use Common Core crap and be able to choose classes that interest them along with regular classes (math, science, etc.. ). They will do it from home on a computer but they also have a real life teacher that they video chat with and will help when needed. They can learn at their own pace and what I liked learning was that the teacher will observe and evaluate them and gear their schooling to what will be the best way they will learn. We can also meet in person with the teacher if more help might be needed. The goal is that the child’s education no matter how they understand or what level learning method is used is important. They want every child to love learning and be creative and they understand all children don’t comprehend things all the same way. I’m scared that if I don’t try this new school my child will fall so far behind that they will give up on themselves and think they can’t be or do great things. I feel that this Common Core is set in place so children will become mindless followers and not question anything that’s going wrong around them.

  • Brent Dunn - June 8, 2014 - 12:52 am

    I am a teacher and a film maker in Pinellas with 2 little girls. I am scared for their future. We’ve been lucky so far, but next year the oldest starts 3rd grade and I want her to continue to love school.

    You said EXACTLY how we all feel. Parents need to rise up and take a stand. Your vote can change education. I think districts finally have to stand up and say no. Stop taking the money and become independent from the state and federal dollars. I know I’m dreaming, but if every district refuses to implement these programs, then change WILL happen. Every school district must band together, sign a combined statement, saying no to all testing, until it meets the needs of the students.

  • Michael - June 8, 2014 - 8:27 am

    Beautiful Essay. I agree with the idea that education is NOT about the children wholeheartedly. I differ on the subject matter you propose regarding environmental and cultural info. That is about all we get, and my kids rising 5th and 2nd graders gt no US history unless it has to do with minority events in history.

    That said, my children will also do well in most academic settings because as soon as they get home from school, I start teaching them. We use Kumon for math and reading. I supplement their history with my own purchased materials and curriculum. And, I have a science teacher come to the house once every two weeks for private lessons. This is how they get educated.

    Kumon taught them phonics and grammar and reading, and it taught them actual operational math from the ground up. This year, my rising 5th grader get a perfect score in reading on the 4th grade FCAT, and a 5 on the Math FCAT. My rising 2nd grader has faced more of the Common Core confusion than the 5th grader. But the same Kumon system has helped him weather it just as well.

    However you do it, you are now, as parents, responsible for the fundamental education of your children. The public school system has now abrogated their responsibility to teach the kids. If it were not for socialization, I would pull my kids from the system as well. We can’t afford private school.

    If you think a charter school is the answer to escape this insanity, think again. They are required to follow the same curriculum of Floirda regular public schools. You may find more motivated families in those schools, but you will not escape the testing and the Common Core.

    In my opinion, the school system needs to stop worrying so much about diversity and return to teaching the basics, in the traditional way again. You can try all you want to change the laws of arithmetic, but kids need to learn arithmetic by repetition of thebasic ideas. There is no other way that works for 95% of the population.

  • Tammy - June 8, 2014 - 9:33 am

    I love this and the way it is written. My son is going in to the second grade and this past year seemed like such a waste. Being a single mom I can’t afford to pull him from public school. I would homeschool him if I could or put him in a private school if I could afford it. I really wish that the public school system would get their stuff together and work on the needs of the children. I also wish they would make sure they have teachers that care about what they are doing. So many teachers have lost their passion for teaching, and it is evident, because they have to teach the test.

  • Judy - June 8, 2014 - 12:35 pm

    Lynne you wrote an amazing blog. I am going to share it with my friends and family on e-mail and facebook. Your voice needs to be heard. I retired in 2008 from teaching at the elementary level. I first became aware of Common Core in early 2013 from Glenn Beck. That’s when I first heard Michele Malkin talk about the dangers of CC. I started doing my research also. And it’s all about control and money. I hope you and others that follow you will consider an event Glenn Beck is doing in theaters around the country July 22. He promises this will be an action plan to get rid of CC. Go to: wewillnotconform.com And tickets go on sale for June 12. You don’t know how much your words are going to help to empower other parents and teachers. Bravo Lynne.

  • Jim Mahoney - June 8, 2014 - 12:47 pm

    Thank you for putting words to my thoughts my oldest son was a ese reading teacher for 5 year’s he quit he said that he wasn’t teaching all he was doing is fcat my 17year old is a jr this year and very smart but hates school and has migraine because of stress from school and testing this is what the doctors have said it is sad to say but it’s all about money not about what is best for a child it really is not that hard to fixes but to fix it some politician will not get a free vacation.

  • Bill Broome - June 8, 2014 - 1:19 pm

    Lynne, I’m a retired teacher of 37 years in Fl., and have
    seen and felt this change in public education. In the
    70′s, 80′s and some of the 90′s, our teachers loved their
    work. When the change started, our teachers slowly returned
    from summer vacation, and dreaded the way they had to teach.
    They complained two weeks after starting school. Our
    children don’t love to go to school today. You will never get
    a Thomas Edison in public school, ever. If we don’t change
    the system, you we experience the failure of this system.
    Our children will be the products of this failure. You
    hit the nail on the head. Thank you, Bill

  • Linda Rogers - June 8, 2014 - 2:17 pm

    I am a Primary teacher in Pasco County Florida for 28 years and all that you wrote is true. We started with DE testing this year in Kindergarten! I am one in favor of Common Core, but not how it is implemented and the testing that went with it! I teach at a Title One school and offers no creativity or sympathy to their home life. It’s all about scores and testing! I still provide painting, putting on a play, and creative projects which I know are frowned upon. But I do it anyway! Thank you so much for your voice. I seen an editorial in the newspaper and since I am out of school and have time….I will share with all my teacher friends and community. You made the right correct going with a private school. In 2 years I will be doing the same. It’s sad for those who can’t afford private school. Good for you and THANKS AGAIN!

  • Steven Zara - June 8, 2014 - 3:18 pm

    I am an engineer who changed careers and taught high-school physics for 16 years. I can tell you that even without politicians meddling in school curriculums, a classroom environment sucks the creativity out of kids’ minds just by the sheer number of kids (I had 42 per classroom at a private school)who have to be taught at a one-fits-all level. This of course is coupled with the pressure to cram a huge syllabus in a limited number of hours per week.

    Now, add all this nonsense standardized teaching and testing, and you turn both teachers and students into robots who only get credit (pay for a teacher, or advance to next level for the student) by parroting the same dry material.

    This removes the teachers’ human touch and ensures that ALL STUDENTS are at the same level. Think about it, Socialism and Marxism strive to re-distribute wealth so all citizens are at the same misery level (those who work hard and achieve success must be sucked dry of the fruits of their labor and forced to support some who don’t work as hard, or not at all!!).

    Same goes if all kids are controlled to learn the same way, test the same way, and think the same way as everyone else around them. Political correctness and redistribution of outcome (wealth or intelligence) is destroying our once great country.

    Of course teachers who oppose this can have their careers destroyed!!

  • Aubrey - June 8, 2014 - 3:19 pm

    I graduated from the Duval County Public School system just this past Tuesday. I feel blessed that I only had to endure four years of the ludicrous system. Before high school, I attended Catholic school, before which I attended a Jewish pre-school; I quickly realized that I had no place in my high school. In my ninth-grade honors and Advanced Placement classes I was being taught lessons which I had learned in the seventh grade in Catholic school. The teachers did not appreciate that I knew more than they did on many of the subjects and made a well-meaning habit of gently correcting them. I was also not used to sitting for so many tests throughout the year. In my junior year of high school, I sat for fourteen CAST tests, 4 AP Exams, 3 EOCs, and 7 final exams. I might not have counted them all, but that’s right about how many I took. All I have to say is that in my four years in public school, I felt like a lab rat; I had to find my way through the maze to get to the middle. By senior year, I had given up even trying to navigate it.

  • grace - June 9, 2014 - 12:49 am

    I have homeschooled for almost 21 yrs. In all those years the public education system is getting further and further away from the basis of teaching. It’s not fostering of love of learning, but just creating robots, who are losing their creativity. It’s never going to change because parents have allowed the public system to much power, when they should have been fighting them along the way many many years ago,when all these insane tests starting popping up. We NEVER tests our kids, and they have grown up to have success in their lives. My youngest children are also growing up without being tested and they are developing might fine academically and socially. My kids are learning stress free and are not going to have a lessere education because they have not been tested. Tests are just a way for schools to make money and grade teachers abilities. My kids are worth more than that. I hope changes come for those who have to attend public school, but it won’t be anytime soon, unfortunately.

  • Terrell Prude Jr. - June 9, 2014 - 10:23 am

    Ms. Rigby, having worked in K-12 for a significant time, I can also attest to what you’re saying in your letter. I would home-school nowadays, and like you, I came up through the public school system a few decades ago. We do have a problem.

    One thing: please, don’t bash men when you’re making your otherwise excellent points. “Dad hitting Mom”?? Come on, that doesn’t belong in a letter like this. And plenty of Dads are taking their kids to school, not just the Moms.

    Going back to the way we used to do it when you and I were in school would help greatly. I still remember my teachers, (mostly) fondly. Matter of fact, folks have suggested that I myself teach (seems I have a gift for it), but I won’t. Not with the way things are now.

    With the one exception noted above, thank you for writing your letter.

    –TP

  • Terri Carr - June 9, 2014 - 12:00 pm

    I am not even a parent. But my heart hurts for all the unnecessary stress the children endure because of excessive testing and a system which attempts to measure and categorize the children instead of nourishing them.

    It is true that not all families can make the choice to pull their children out of public school. But by expressing your views so effectively, you create hope for change.

  • Jennifer Benrthal - June 9, 2014 - 3:04 pm

    Amen sister!

  • Heather - June 9, 2014 - 4:40 pm

    I, too, read all of it. I, too, birthed a human, not a guinea pig.

  • Cornelia Washington - June 9, 2014 - 5:18 pm

    Very well said. I to am a frustrated parent in the Hillsborough County school system. I took my son out of HCPS when he was in the 3rd grade and we re-entered as he transitioned into the 9th grade. He does well in the classroom, but not on the standarized test. Recently, I was received a call from his counselor. She wanted to inform me that he missed his algebra EOC exam this time by .2 points. My son has taken this dam exam 4 times already. In another month he will be taking it again. I told his counselor if he does not pass that exam this summer, I will be withdrawing him from the HC public schools and he will return to the private school he once attended. They cannot tell him anything when the scores come back since it is computer generated. It’s very frustrating. My sister directed me to your article as I was venting my frustrations to her earlier today. Thank you. You do not stand alone. When you have children who do not look forward to learning and going to school, that alone should make all involved want to stop and see what is really going on.

  • Ron - June 9, 2014 - 7:03 pm

    Lynne, Thank you for the well written piece. It says exactly what I hear on a regular basis from the parents of the students I teach. I admire that your “small voice” may start a needed revolution. I am including a piece I recently wrote and published on my Facebook page. I too, as a long time educator cannot hold back from addressing this issue openly. Please know, groups of teachers in Florida are planning how best to address this.

    In Florida, and nationwide, education is under assault. I have personally witnessed first hand the destruction of public education. Powerful influences, all with millions of dollars attached to them, have decided that “accountability” should be the buzz word today in education. This is due to a belief that children are receiving inferior educations in America. The purported data for this comes from internationally given standardized tests. In comparing the data American children appear to be doing worse than those in Germany, Japan, South Korea, etc. However, in those countries they ONLY test the top 10-25% of their student population. ALL of those children will be going to college. In America, we test EVERY child, including those with severe cognitive and behavioral disabilities. In reality, when we compare our top students to those of foreign countries our students have always done as well or better on standardized tests! In the name of the all mighty dollar those power brokers in Washington and every state capital have found out that there is gold for them to pocket. This has now driven my abilities as a science teacher out the door. No more am I valued as a professional who creatively challenges his students to excel at the highest level. No more am I allowed to teach each and every student according to the “gifts” they bring in the classroom door. Rather, I must prepare them to take a high stakes test under the assumptions that America is failing its children and that every student is going to college! Millions of dollars are being spent to produce, administer, and grade these tests. But, how many know that as a Biology teacher I do not have one microscope that is functional for my students to use in labs. We do not have enough money to fix the ones we have!
    I don’t care about my job security nor my pay grade. This note is being written to anyone that will hear me that we are in a war to save our children from “leaders” in education that act only in their best interests…not the best interests of the 150 children I get to experience every day. They and society, and yes the taxpayers, deserve quality education for our children. I have devoted myself for decades to doing just that. Today however, I am expected to be an automation spewing forth facts for children to memorize and then making sure they can pass a standardized test. No more creativity, no more discovery, no more joy, just the daily grind of preparing kids to pass a one-size-fits-all test.
    I ask you…if America is doing so poorly with educating its students…why do foreign students all clamber to come to America to study? What country leads the world in innovations, creation of new and improved products, research and development in technology and medicine, etc. Well, it’s America! We should be celebrating how great our overall education system is and then focusing on fixing the problems (achievement gaps in many areas, lack of services to children coming from poverty and abuse, funding for quality facilities and resources, improving teacher training). America is at a crossroads today. The future of this country is presently in the hands of those who twist the truth and know nothing about what happens in the classroom daily. They dictate their warped vision and never ask those creative successful teachers how to make education work.
    If you have read this piece to this point I applaud you. Mostly for your ability to listen to a seasoned teachers concerns. But, nothing will change unless a groundswell of “I’m mad as hell and I’m not taking it anymore” from taxpayers, parents, and educators takes over the public discussion on education. American education has not yet been totally destroyed. But, it is on the brink. It is time for the real stakeholders in children’s futures to take over and make American something to be proud of again!

  • Debbie - June 9, 2014 - 7:09 pm

    Thank you for addressing some of the problems with our education system. Each grade seems to teach just enough to pass the children to the next grade. Then when they reach high school, they are only worried about graduation. Some of their tests are not even on what they studied. Students need to start second languages in first grade, not high school. Classes should be interesting, creative, and informative. Tests should reflect on what they should have learned in class. The goal should be to prepare them for college and/or a career. I have met teachers that load their students with homework and tell them to read the directions or look it up on the internet. I have been informed that even if the parent wants communication with the teacher, it is up to the teacher to decide whether or not they wish to speak with the parent. I do not believe that teacher’s pay should be based on their students grades, but on their method of teaching. I have met teachers that are wonderful as well as those that need counseling. Good luck and best wishes for those in a position to correct our educational system..

  • joe kahl - June 9, 2014 - 9:15 pm

    I’m with you Lynne.
    corporate profits and campaign donations to state government members have NO BUSINESS influencing our public schools.
    the difference between us is that our family has found a way through the public school system instead of leaving it.
    I support your line of thinking.
    good luck.
    sincerely Joe Kahl

  • Larry Richards - June 10, 2014 - 6:33 am

    Lynn,
    Words cannot express how much I agree with this. Despite how great the teachers and administration are at my kids school are in Pasco County, they are at the mercy of a dysfunctional system. If I could afford to send my kids to private school, they’d already be there.
    If there’s anyway to do so, I hope you will keep us all posted on what kind of progress you make with this.

    By the way, your work is wonderful!

  • RLS - June 10, 2014 - 9:05 am

    Lynne,

    I am a Florida public school special education teacher and you are absolutely correct in everything you wrote! We have lost all “common sense” in today’s educational system with our pursuit of common core standards and the never ending accountability testing. I agree, in theory it all sounds wonderful, however in reality it is a disaster. You are so right, this year our students were tested on material that was not even taught in common core! How can their scores be valid? Thank you for articulating so accurately and intelligently the sad state of our Florida educational system.

  • JAMI ZOTZ - June 10, 2014 - 11:00 am

    DEAR LYNNE,

    I read your article. My GOODNESS!!! You told MY STORY!! Word for word! I have a 9 year old 3rd grader. My husband and are sooooo tired of the double standards we are seeing at her school. I don’t understand how she can be a principals honor roll yet get a note home saying she needs to go to summer school!! What!?? Really!? Plus all of the other issues you speak of that we are going through as well. Literally – word for word!

    It’s very validating and believe it or not “calming” to read your story. My husband and I had made the decision to pull our daughter from public school to go to a private school near our home for next year. I had been feeling guilty about the decision and scared because of the tuition. We KNOW this is the right decision and are trusting God to provide for her.

    Thank you! Now I know now that I’m not crazy! There are others that this is happening to also. Thank you so much for telling your story and letting people like me know – that they aren’t the only ones! GOD BLESS!!!

    Jami Zotz

  • Debi - June 10, 2014 - 11:41 am

    Lynn…God Bless you for your strength and determination in writing this letter…even if your “one little voice” is “just one”…you have provided an open awareness and an avenue for the masses to be heard by adding to the volume!
    I have also chosen to remove my son from the “brick and mortar” public schools….but unlike you, I don’t have the perspective of seeing the educator side of the issue. But I am a mother, and I am intelligent, and I have a higher level learning professional degree. I can’t tell you how sincerely I am dissappointed by the public education system and educators of Pinellas County. I have always excelled in school, and love learning continuously. I saw that same excitement and love of learning in my son at an early age….From the time he entered the public school system, that excitement and love has been slowly beaten out of him…from the kindergarten teacher who refused to do minor modifications for his learning disability—and then stood him in front of the classroom and told him he was “stupid”….to the administrators who ignored his 504 Plan, failing to allow him his compensations during state testing,… but then told him that HE was the one who had FAILED to perform acceptably…?really?!….
    I have battled long and hard through the years to provide my son a multitude different learning opportunities and things to stimulate him to continue his love of learning. I have had to work HARD to convince him that he is NOT STUPID, irregardless of what the warped public systems way of “grading” his intelligence says(or the warped kindergarten teacher…yup, that comment stuck with him!)
    I get standardized testing…there has to be a way of knowing how students are doing and what level they are ready for. But the problem I have is an age-old issue….not everyone excels at the same things, and not everyone learns in the same way. How sad that it appears that we are teaching and testing everyone in the exact same way and at the exact same level…because it will catch “the majority”….?but what happens to those who don’t fit into this group?..left behind…lost…???(“no child left behind” appears to only mean that they get pushed to the next grade level with their class, irregardless of if they are ready for it or not!…?hmmm–paychecks in the balance??…)
    The best way I have to describe this is how I explain my frustration for my son…. he is a “round peg” they are trying to shove into a “square hole”…he is not stupid, they just need to find his “round hole” so they can reach him! ( BTW… my son has ADHD with sensory integration issues…something that many teachers do not/cannot/choose not to understand).
    sooo… I am taking control of my son’s education and learning…even though I am a single mom who works 12 hour days fulltime, and I am a homeowner in the county, so I will still be paying taxes to pay for the teachers who were being paid full time to teach my (now not there)son,… I will be taking on the full-time responsibility of now also being my son’s educator through on-line homeschooling… AT least then I will be able to monitor his learning, encourage him, support him, and be creative to help him find his way to learn in HIS style and excel in life, rather than become one of Florida’s many drop-outs who accept less that what they are capable of because they finally beleived what the “public judgment system” told them.
    SO add my “one little voice” to your very loud one….and BRAVO to you for opening the dialog!… If you ever need someone to stand beside you in this issue…call on me!

  • Ginger - June 10, 2014 - 11:11 pm

    What an amazing letter. Why not send it to all higher ups in education? Take it to the top. The very top… Obama, everyone. This is so good. You are talented, thoughtful, insightful, and driven. Your letter drove me to tears. I appreciate all hardworking teachers, they have so much to potentially give. Although, I do homeschool my two kids, partly because of reasons you list here. Sometimes it feels like such big pressure and it gives me anxiety. Yet, I can’t bring myself to suck the passion out of them and send them to such a seemingly robotic system, for lack of better words. Try to enjoy the learning journey with your children in the ways that you find best suit your family.

  • Pam Miller - June 11, 2014 - 8:49 pm

    Lynn,
    As I was browsing “The Web” looking for potential classroom activities and instructional activities to help prep my upcoming 5th grade students for their “Common Core Assessments” in 2016, here is your letter. Being a mother of 3 and a teacher in Colorado (born and raised in CO.), I have read…and copied your statement of concerns about your children’s education. Our 3 children are now 26, 24, and 20. And I truly beleive the education they received was better than what we offer now!

    I thank you for your statements…and I agree with many of your thoughts…thanks for speaking out!

  • Jane Van Heest - June 12, 2014 - 6:30 am

    Amen!
    Read it all and agree with it all. Thank God the youngest of my 4 children is now 20 and I don’t have to deal with this in my own family. I am an elementary teacher in GA and we have all the same issues. I left the second grade classroom 8 years ago when all this testing stuff started and became the PE teacher. Now they are ruining things there too. I hope that your writing finds its way to someone who can actually make changes. Well said!

  • Michelle Cannon - June 13, 2014 - 12:32 am

    Excellent letter and you’re right! The system is fatally flawed. Check out this video by an Orange County teacher: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BnC6IABJXOI&feature=share

  • CM Ofstie - June 13, 2014 - 10:07 am

    As one who taught elementary school for 15 years in three states, in public and private schools I find this trend very disturbing. As a parent & grandparent I applaud you Lynne, for speaking up to your school district. And yes, I read the entire letter!

  • Meg - June 14, 2014 - 1:17 am

    Thank you for your words, research and actions. You have made so many great points that so many parents across the U.S. are talking about. Sadly, I can completely identify with your circumstances. My child just completed kindergarten in North Carolina, and I fear that the spark has nearly been extinguished. In kindergarten. For a six year old who once loved learning. We did everything right – museums, music programs, hands on science and art, books, poetry, storytelling, life-long early learning, great preschools. In one year, that has been replaced by seven hour days of worksheets, assessments, play-absent classrooms, behavior charts and a curriculum and expectations that are far from developmentally appropriate. The things my child knows are what I remember learning in 2nd or 3rd grade. He has managed to do it all on level so far, but at what cost – he’s stressed, we’re stressed, we’re trading after school play and peaceful family time for homework, fights (over homework), and melt downs. Why? These kids can (sometimes, some of them) rise to the challenge, but for what purpose? To be quantifiable robots? Do young children without the psycho-social maturity to handle such content be tackling subject matter well-beyond their years, let alone be tested on it? I’m also ashamed to see several wonderful teachers – allies to parents and kids – leaving my school system, and many families moving to private school. American education should be enriching and enlightening, not inappropriate and dehumanizing.

  • Lee - June 15, 2014 - 9:27 am

    Good Morning Lynne,
    I first read the condensed version of this that the local Tampa papers published. It made me what to read all 2800 words.I thank you for thinking critically, investigating, having intelligence and then the wisdom to pull your kids out of the public school environment. Thank you for saying what many are thinking/questioning but cant put into words for themselves and for those who NEED to hear. It was well worth your time.

  • Elaine - June 15, 2014 - 10:20 am

    Check out Josh Katz’ TedX talk on education failures. You too are talking about the same issues. You should connect.

  • Pam - June 15, 2014 - 11:38 pm

    I read all 2800 words! My children are all grown, but now I worry for my grandson. We spent a week with him this past winter and helped him with his common core homework. I have a degree in education, my husband is an electrical engineer, we could not make sense of the directions. On the math homework. It read like a description of goals for the work, yet was labeled directions, and they were the only directions. They were gibberish if you were an adult with a degree, but incomprehensible to even a gifted first grade reader.
    And then because of his father’s military career he left school three weeks early, with a packet of work, and came and stayed with us. There is no more borrowing or carrying in his math. They use a new method, the problem is the inaccuracy with the method. You will get the right answer only under certain circumstances. I’m sorry but 2 out of 3 tomes isn’t good enough! You don’t guesstimate in math! You solve for the correct answer. Imagine traveling on a bridge that was built by someone who guesstimate, or an airplane. This is insane! But someone is getting rich.

  • Brenda - June 16, 2014 - 9:05 pm

    As a teacher, myself, I completely understand what you, many parents, and many teachers are having to endure. It troubles my heart when I think about the backward way education changes are being implemented. I have always had a passion for teaching until this year. Instead of differentiating and tailoring my instruction around the individual needs in my classroom, I have had to teach in such a robotic way that does not bring out the best in myself or my students. I have had to learn a rigid way of instruction in order to score better when being evaluated. My evaluation went up this year but my students’ scores went way down and that will never sit right with me. So teachers are being forced into collaborative planning so that the end result is one lesson plan for all students in the same grade. Now people can walk into each class and see the same lessons taught by all teachers. And that is good? It has stripped me of my unique teaching style, creativity, and out of the box ideas that used to engage and push my students to high levels. Teachers and parents are screaming out for high stakes testing to end so that students may once again love learning.

  • Susan Stark, fourth grade public school teacher - June 18, 2014 - 1:50 pm

    Great read! Well said, Lynne Rigby!
    It is sad but true…Opportunities for a quality public education continue to be decreased by Florida’s Legislature and Governor Rick Scott’s political agenda – piece by piece, year by year. It goes back to when Jeb Bush was governor! Unfunded mandates, convoluted testing requirements and the manipulation of educational budgets have taken funding and control away from quality education for the “greatest good of the greatest number” in favor of “school choice” and “accountability”. DON’T BE FOOLED! Take time to read between the lines and figure out what is really happening in this state before it is too late. Read David Figlio’s report published in July 2013 on the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program in regard to the assessments used to hold private schools accountable if they receive these funds. His report indicated that norm-referenced assessments approved by FDOE for private schools are NOT “apples to apples” when compared to the current tests FDOE requires for public school students. What is “good for the goose (private schools receiving diverted public funds) should be good for the gander” Let public school students take the FDOE approved norm-referenced tests we used to take to measure achievement instead of spending millions of dollars to trick students and attempt to make teachers and public education look bad! Florida is just one of many states that are actually pushing legislative agendas as part of a nationwide effort to defund public schools under the guise of “school choice and better educational opportunities for disadvantaged youth.” What is really happening here is that public funds are being cleverly diverted to private interests, lining the pockets of those who have a financial stake in the growth of for-profit private and charter schools, thanks to millions of dollars spent by private lobbyists to affect this change. The bottom line- our children are suffering- education is not any better – assessment results are put on a pedestal and held up for everyone to see without regard for any real learning that occurs in our classrooms every day. Enough is enough…Time for more people to share information and help turn the tide!

  • Mary Ellen - June 18, 2014 - 6:23 pm

    You hit the nail on the head! You are precisely right in your evaluation of what is happening in education. I have thought many of the same things, never all at once! Thank you so much for putting this together in such a proficient manner!!!! You need to appear before the state lawmakers in Tallahassee and give them an earful! I am a 4th grade teacher with 28 years of classroom experience. I am also a mom of 2 amazing sons. My younger son is in high school and completed his first EOC’s this year….each test took over 5 hours to complete (that is 5 hours for EACH subject area test!) Absolutely ludicrous!!! I know that parents and educators need to band together and speak up. STOP going along with whatever the lawmakers tell us to do. Seriously, who knows what is best for our children? We do!!!!

  • Melissa - June 18, 2014 - 7:11 pm

    Fantastic letter. I live in georgia, am not a fan of public schools. The testing is insane. I don’t understand why they do not just stick with the cogat and Iowa test of basic skills. These are given in private schools, the cogat tells you your child strengths and weaknesses, the Iowa is basic knowledge. Both are given in the fall. No test prep, at all. I do not understand all this insane test prep, just give the test let the chips fall as they may, with one test. With this test the results need to be addressed- early in the year, meaning everyday after school with a specialist, a good one. We are blessed to provide our children with private school. But, not all private schools are the same. Really research this.
    I truly believe parents need to teach phonics, all blended combo’s, phonemes at home. Do not trust school to teach this. Kids struggle with reading because they can’t decipher. Sometimes reading issues are actually memory issues. Even with private school moms need to keep their thumb on the child. Our school is beyond fantastic. For private school the letters for admission come out in April , for the next year. Parents who decide in May they don’t want public really will not get spots. The application process starts in oct- dec. Just apply, can always say no. Public school is not working in most states. Children need to be engaged and stay that way. Keep spreading the word. 51 thousand shares lady, way to go!

  • Julie - June 19, 2014 - 7:57 am

    For people concerned about the Common Core-aligned standards and high stakes testing:

    Organize and approach your state lawmakers to halt the implementation of the your Common Core-Aligned state standards, RttT, etc. Citizens of many other states have done and are currently doing so.

    See here http://www.stopccssinnys.com/ and here http://www.stopcommoncoreny.com/Stop_Common_Core_in_NY.html

    These websites have extensive background on the above mentioned policies, how the Educational Privacy acts from the 70′s were ILLEGALLY DISMANTLED, how your kids’ and family’s personal data is mined and put in cloud storage online without your permission (inBloom), how Pearson is writing all the tests and curriculum with very little competition for these contracts, and the MONEY TRAIL. FOLLOW THE MONEY above all else.

    Merchandise to help you promote this cause publicly: http://www.stopccssinnys.com/StopCCStore.html

    ** Just some ideas to help design your own referring to the Florida standards **

    ** Look for the black and green “I am against Common Core and I Vote!” t-shirts further down on this linked page. Substitute the name of the Florida standards for ‘Common Core.’
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/StopCommonCoreinNewYorkState/search/?query=Shelly%20stevens

    ** Organize presentations to local parents, print flyers and plaster them up on community bulletin boards, utility poles, etc., put signs on your cars, attend/participate in your school board meetings while passing out flyers outside the meetings **

    These websites have extensive background on the above mentioned policies, how the Educational Privacy acts from the 70′s were ILLEGALLY DISMANTLED, how your kids’ and family’s personal data is mined and put in cloud storage online without your permission (inBloom), how Pearson is writing all the tests and curriculum with very little competition for these contracts, and the MONEY TRAIL. FOLLOW THE MONEY above all else.

    Whatever choice you make for your kids’ education, CC-aligned standards WILL affect you. Most private schools are participating in at least some part of the CC-related requirements. Homeschoolers’ data is downloaded into inBloom. Standardized tests, including the SAT are being REALIGNED TO THE CCSS. Wake up your community and fight. These are OUR children in OUR communities – we have NOTHING TO LOSE and EVERYTHING TO GAIN!!

    More on Funding (“Bill Gates Should Not Micromanage Our Schools”):
    http://www.wnyc.org/story/302283-bill-gates-should-not-micro-manage-our-schools/?utm_source=sharedUrl&utm_media=metatag&utm_campaign=sharedUrl&fb_action_ids=239739626234224&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%5B438888689564119%5D&action_type_map=%5B%22og.likes%22%5D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D

    AND http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/how-bill-gates-pulled-off-the-swift-common-core-revolution/2014/06/07/a830e32e-ec34-11e3-9f5c-9075d5508f0a_story.html

    Fight for our children – they are the ONLY FUTURE of our communities.

    Godspeed xx

  • Pamela Campbell - June 19, 2014 - 12:03 pm

    I teared up knowing that someone else was going through this nightmare. Your story is my story. We live in Seminole County and my daughter attended Teague Middle School and my son is a student at Lake Brantley. My daughter will attend Lake Brantley in the fall. My family and I moved from GA to Seminole County last August. Initially I applauded Seminole County Schools because they didn’t seem to focus on preparing for the test as much as Cherokee County Georgia, where we were from. I have since realized that it doesn’t matter where you go with regards to students who don’t fit into the traditional public school mold. My daughter had 3 AP classes at Teague, reading and language arts being 2 of the 3. In those classes she maintained an A. Her scores came back on the reading portion of the FCAT and she fails and gets a 2. A 2!! She fails by 14 points. After speaking with Teague’s principal, the superintendent, Lake Brantley’s principal, school board members and finally school counselors no one could give me an answer. No one. No one could help me and my child understand why she needed intervention when the FCAT is a snapshot in time and there were not any red flags in her reading or language arts classes. How about a compromise from the FLDOE which would necessitate a rubric be put into place at the local level. This would include the FCAT (or whatever the next test will be) scores but also include student grades in that particular subject, teacher comments, …. Also, teachers who really are trying to make a difference in the public school arena cannot because their hands are tied to the state. My daughter also received a 2 on the math portion of the FCAT. My daughter’s math teacher from this past year, has not even be allowed to view the test to see where the issues were. He is trying to go above and beyond and is being hendered by the system. I am beginning to wish I had found an appropriate charter school here in FL. My daughter attended one in 6th and 7th grade in GA due to teachers not being able to figure out what the issues were. They said, “I don’t know what to tell you because she is an A/B student and doesn’t seem to have any problems except for her GCRCT (GA’s standardized test) scores.” I pulled her out and put her into a new charter school that opened. She flourished at that school. She still had to take the GCRCT but passed with flying colors. Explain that one??!! It’s really ashame because the red tape in traditional public schools makes a very small box for our kids. It’s not just those kids who are coming from the best of environments but it’s kids like ours who have all of their needs taken care of and who have 2 parents at home that are very involved in their education. All of their needs taken care of except…

  • Marilyn - June 19, 2014 - 1:13 pm

    Lynne, I read every word with tears in my eyes. This article was forwarded to me today. It was perfect timing. I retired on Monday after 36 years of teaching math. I never expected to retire at such a young age(58), but I could no longer be a part of what we are calling education in Pennsylvania. In 36 years, I have seen many different curricula come and go. I embraced each and put my own spin to it. Now, I am constantly “fighting” with my administration and my department members about teaching to the test. It has been a losing battle. I see kids coming to me knowing less and less each year with gaps. I have had to teach my 8th grade material AND fill in the gaps. I am not talking about just lower ability students. I am talking about the Algebra kids as well. This year, my algebra students did not have all the material in the Pre-Alg curriculum because if it wasn’t on the 7th grade test, it wasn’t covered. The 8th grade teachers have asked the lower grades to cover the school district curriculum over and over again. But they are afraid that their test scores will be low and that will affect their evaluation. I never worried about my scores and my students did well. Usually the students who were not proficient were some of my students with learning disabilities. As I cleaned out my files this year, I was saddened at the number of higher-level thinking activities that I used to do and no longer had the time to do. I am also saddened at how little history our students know because Social Studies education is limited because it is not a tested subject in PA.

    Remediation now drives our whole schedule. In addition, I can no longer remediate my students according to what I see as their needs. I can only go by their test scores because they are universal screeners. I guess after 36 years, I am not qualified to determine what my students need. We also had to use a canned program for remediation. Again, 36 years of teaching math is not enough experience to write my own material.

    I understand the frustration with your son’s low test scores, but good grades. My daughter fought this over and over with the PSSA(the PA state test) and even the teacher PRAXIS test. Her word processing disability made the verbal tests very difficult for her. There is no accounting for disabilities in state testing unless they are profound disabilities.(Actually, not passing the PRAXIS was the best thing for her. She was not permitted to enter the College of Phys Ed at her university unless she passed the PRAXIS. She changed her major, although she would have made a great phys ed teacher, and is very successful. As a phys ed major, she would probably still be looking for a job). I definitely would be “opting out” of the PSSA for my daughter if she were still in school.

    According to No Child Left Behind ALL students were to be proficient by the year 2014. I remember thinking, “Well, I can retire then if it is an issue.” I had no idea how this was going to start the change to education for the worst. Here we are in 2014 and we are not anywhere near 100% proficiency, in spite of all our attempts.

    My goal as a now-retired teacher is to get the word out about these tests and how they are affecting learning in the classroom. I have encouraged some people to Opt Out of the testing. Little will happen until parents take up the fight. I will be contacting my PA legislators on a regular basis. I have written letters in the past and gone to see my state senator. Now I will be relentless.

    My husband tells me I shouldn’t care because it isn’t my problem anymore. Education was my vocation. How can we not care, if we care about children getting a good education?

    Lynne, I read every word with tears in my eyes. This article was forwarded to me today. It was perfect timing. I retired on Monday after 36 years of teaching math. I never expected to retire at such a young age(58), but I could no longer be a part of what we are calling education in Pennsylvania. In 36 years, I have seen many different curricula come and go. I embraced each and put my own spin to it. Now, I am constantly “fighting” with my administration and my department members about teaching to the test. It has been a losing battle. I see kids coming to me knowing less and less each year with gaps. I have had to teach my 8th grade material AND fill in the gaps. I am not talking about just lower ability students. I am talking about the Algebra kids as well. This year, my algebra students did not have all the material in the Pre-Alg curriculum because if it wasn’t on the 7th grade test, it wasn’t covered. The 8th grade teachers have asked the lower grades to cover the school district curriculum over and over again. But they are afraid that their test scores will be low and that will affect their evaluation. I never worried about my scores and my students did well. Usually the students who were not proficient were some of my students with learning disabilities. As I cleaned out my files this year, I was saddened at the number of higher-level thinking activities that I used to do and no longer had the time to do. I am also saddened at how little history our students know because Social Studies education is limited because it is not a tested subject in PA.

    Remediation now drives our whole schedule. In addition, I can no longer remediate my students according to what I see as their needs. I can only go by their test scores because they are universal screeners. I guess after 36 years, I am not qualified to determine what my students need. We also had to use a canned program for remediation. Again, 36 years of teaching math is not enough experience to write my own material.

    I understand the frustration with your son’s low test scores, but good grades. My daughter fought this over and over with the PSSA(the PA state test) and even the teacher PRAXIS test. Her word processing disability made the verbal tests very difficult for her. There is no accounting for disabilities in state testing unless they are profound disabilities.(Actually, not passing the PRAXIS was the best thing for her. She was not permitted to enter the College of Phys Ed at her university unless she passed the PRAXIS. She changed her major, although she would have made a great phys ed teacher, and is very successful. As a phys ed major, she would probably still be looking for a job). I definitely would be “opting out” of the PSSA for my daughter if she were still in school.

    According to No Child Left Behind ALL students were to be proficient by the year 2014. I remember thinking, “Well, I can retire then if it is an issue.” I had no idea how this was going to start the change to education for the worst. Here we are in 2014 and we are not anywhere near 100% proficiency, in spite of all our attempts.

    My goal as a now-retired teacher is to get the word out about these tests and how they are affecting learning in the classroom. I have encouraged some people to Opt Out of the testing. Little will happen until parents take up the fight. I will be contacting my PA legislators on a regular basis. I have written letters in the past and gone to see my state senator. Now I will be relentless.

    My husband tells me I shouldn’t care because it isn’t my problem anymore. Education was my vocation. How can we not care, if we care about children getting a good education?

    Not as eloquent as your letter, but it comes straight from my heart.

  • Karen Bowdich - June 19, 2014 - 6:30 pm

    I read every word and it gave me goose bumps. I have a similar understanding though admittedly without your exceptional research and the added validity of your educational background. I particularly appreciated the inclusion of the contract with Pearson. Bravo!! I am a mother of four children ranging from 17 to 3. My high schooler is entering her senior year in the IB program and like you I simply have to hope that she has a strong enough foundation to finish out one last year. For my family, public education began this decline after the implementation of NCLB. Albeit unintentionally, NCLB initiated this systematic corporate testing take over which has consumed the resources resulting in the defunding of art and music all the way to recruitment of passionate teachers of the highest academic credentials. Testing is necessary but it once occurred for a higher purpose of educating the individual. For me that test was the IOWA. Though not perfect, it provided that real measurement you speak of. It’s purpose was to evaluate a child’s strengths and weaknesses. The results were utilized to implement direct action for a specific result. Moreover, it was a system of transparency where parents and teachers could both share in the information. Now quality teachers are leaving, parents are pulling out their children, and the tests have time and time again failed to produce the promised results, in what other business would we not demand real change? Why are the children simply being sold out? These tests and the exact system of teaching to them as you eloquently describe will never produce the desire result. The critical thinking skills required to dissect them can only be obtained by children that have been afforded a real opportunity to learn. Problem solving is a skill that truly begins in early “hands on” education. It does not take any greater resources to teach a child the life cycle with a clear solo cup, soil, seeds, and water from the fountain than to hand them a flat lifeless worksheet to cram then dump after the test. Either the DOE “don’t know, don’t show, or don’t care” … (That’s part of a quote in “Boys in the Hood” ~ I watched it in an 11th grade public school English class then we each wrote essays. Clearly, a risky selection by that teacher and while I’m not advocating that I can guarantee that every single student learned something valuable from her). I finally removed my middle schooler from public school this past year. Previously, we had purchased FCAT prep materials for home, just as you described. We had even utilized supplemental programs like Sylvan learning the summer between kindergarten and first grade because I didn’t feel he was ready to move forward. The school insisted he met the standard though he was not meeting every benchmark and, citing inaccuracies, they felt that with NCLB accountability they shouldn’t just hold him back at my request. Ultimately, just as you are worried about what might happen to your younger children actually happened to one of mine, he lost his natural love of learning and would beg not to go to school. Years and years of teaching to tests, eliminating electives, and losing the basic fundamentals of learning with hands on lesson plans had taken a toll on him. He was bringing home A’s and B’s when he exerted minimal effort then sometimes it was as if he would check out. A couple of teachers went so far as scratching out multiple choice questions down to 50:50 shot as they attempted to eliminate some of those improbable solutions. While I do believe the intention was eliminating nonsense answers that were clearly confusing the students, they certainly would not be able to do that on the actual FCAT and the problem compounded. Eventually, PE was replaced with a period to sit silently in the computer room for FCAT remediation with two adult supervisors (neither were teachers) to babysit the technological issues when bored children push lots of buttons just to see what will happen. Factor in health care costs starting with the loss of simplistic fine motor skill activities that landed him and scores of other children in occupational therapy to retrain basic skills to firmly grip a pencil for handwriting. First in VA and now FL, public education nearly desiccated his last ounce of love for learning that remained. Like you my young ones are not entering into the current state of public education and we are stretching ourselves to new limits to fund their early education. I made a mistake with my now 13 year old back when my baby was five and I simply will not take another 50/50 chance of survival as seen with my older two. In my middle schooler, I could see it going wrong for him early on but the fight was so much bigger than me and I simply didn’t know how to stop it. He doesn’t require special education so they said he just needed to work harder. I didn’t have the same resources then but more than that I have since educated myself about the day to day hurtles he faced, first to be his advocate but ultimately to come to his rescue. Gone are the days of hearing stories about how he watched “Wreck-It-Ralph” four days in a row while children in other grades were tested. Certainly, the transition into a more traditional education with science experiments and functional programming by Bill Nye the Science guy or PBS was not easy but with minimal bumps and bruises along the way we see that old sparkle coming back. You know the one…when a child discovers something new and wonderful so they just light up. A priceless glow when they love learning. I truly hope your message is received because it speaks to me personally. In the end, American children are the victims of this systematic failure and ultimately our nation will not sustain a successful global presence unless we stop and fix public education first. Good luck to you.

  • brooke - June 19, 2014 - 10:04 pm

    Thank you so much for taking the time to write this! As I approach this next school year (I teach in alachua county, florida), I am so upset. I teach 5th grade and also have an up and coming 1st grader. The amount of tests they are about to throw at these kids is insane. Not only will we have these end of year tests, but we give multiple benchmark tests in math, reading, and science in all grades 3 or more times a year. We give on track tests 2-3 times a year in math and science in grades 3-5. They have 3 writing prompts. These tests are given at times that aren’t helpful to us at all. We have to follow a strict pacing guide or god forbid. Anyways, I commend you and please update us on any responses from the government!!

  • JamieB - June 20, 2014 - 2:05 pm

    Amazing. I am a father of a 13 year-old son, I teach secondary Spanish, and hold two Masters degrees (Education and Spanish). Your article is extraordinary. I work in public school in a district I am proud to be in, and in Texas we write our own curriculum. Things are not perfect, but I plan to be a principal in coming years and I will definitely keep your thoughts in mind. Thank you for speaking up and helping to make a difference.

  • Dr. Vicky Wells - June 20, 2014 - 10:09 pm

    Lynne, You are absolutely right. Public schools are not what they used to be. You have validated only a small portion of what I have to say in my book, “Yes, We Are STUPID in America!”, referring to our leaders. Available at Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble.com. If you read it, you will feel even better about taking your kids out of public schools. Wish there were more parents like you.

  • Miriam - June 23, 2014 - 8:15 pm

    We’d be happy to have you move to Clarendon County, SC where in a small town called Summerton, famous for the beginnings of desegregation, we have started a school. Harvest Community School is striving to teach the whole child. http://www.harvestcommunityschool.org I understand it would be super strange to move, but we think you’d like it here!

  • Katie - June 25, 2014 - 3:52 pm

    In Ohio, the private schools have to follow Common Core too. I don’t know why.

  • Amanda Brownfield-Penn - June 27, 2014 - 8:09 am

    Lynn, I understand your confusion all too well. I also an educator in NC realized that ugliness of testing on materials not pertinent to my son’s education. I have taught in 3 different states in the last 14 years and when my son entered school I began to keep a closer eye on what he was learning. Even though I taught a higher level at the beginning I realized that my students were doing well in class and applying it to life but when it came to the tests required by the district or state they were failing. I couldn’t continue misguiding parents and students of ensuring they were prepared for next year when I saw how much more test driven the education system was becoming. I pulled my son out after his second grade year and decided to home-school him. It’s a choice I never regret. He does extremely well in all areas and in fact is performing above his state grade level. The state is doing away with common core like I knew would happen. You can’t change your way of teaching in the middle of a child’s education just because it worked for someone else. We all have needs that are suppose to be met at our level not the next door neighbor’s child. Differentiation has truly been dropped from the classroom but so is student accountability. Passing a child on to the next grade, even when they are not ready, is no way to teach our future leaders to learn how to be ready in life. Financially it’s been a struggle to not work and educate my son but I feel it’s been the best interest of his future to have first hand responsibility for his upbringing. EVERY CHILD should have their parents there for them 100% OF THE TIME~!

  • Victoria - July 4, 2014 - 12:12 am

    From a high school graduating class of 2013. I remember being in school, and because I was in the HOSPITAL the school told me to do the class online because in Three days they had gone through 2 chapters and there was no way to catch up… all because my teachers were on a schedule to be “FCAT ready” I was in a broward county charter school. This post made me cry, not because it is so backwards how they teach these days, but because I graduated with a 4.9 GPA and remember the long nights stressed so bad I cried myself to sleep just preparing for 14 hours or more of TESTING. Mind you testing that on one hand teachers were like “I don’t know what’s on it, but don’t worry it doesn’t mean anything” then on the other hand they were like “if you don’t pass this test you fail the grade” so I was studying for test I knew nothing about but yet they determined my future. Not the kick ass job I did on my project about italy, or the fact that I volunteered to tutor others. A stupid fucking test I knew nothing about and determined how good I am at going along with the government’s game. The curriculum these days SUCK. thanks Obama and crew, Ya’ll suck. My kids, when I have them, will be private school if it means me dying. That public school is bullshit.

  • Ellen - July 6, 2014 - 5:47 pm

    How do you suggest we go about getting things changed. I agree 100% with everything you said. What organization can we join to fight what is happening. I am an educator in Pinellas county and feel powerless to do anything about how to change what is going on as it all seems to stem from the legislators and corporations that make money from these tests! Please tell me what I can do to make a difference in trying to change what is happening.

  • Diana Grunderman - July 7, 2014 - 1:40 pm

    Lynne, thank you for your very astute observations AND conclusions. My daughter graduated from Lake Brantley High School in 2003 with a 3.5 GPA after being schooled at Forest City and Teague. She was well prepared for her collegiate success at Florida State where she also graduated with a 3.5 GPA. It absolutely breaks my heart to see the decline in the education standards in such a short 11 year time period. The saddest aspect of your decision (and many others) is that so many quality students with truly involved parents will no longer be there to elevate the accomplishments of these schools going forward. I am relieved that she has already completed her education, but I fear the future for her children. If nothing is accomplished by your efforts, that is extremely disconcerting. I will follow with interest for any updates and progress. Thank you for shedding light on the crisis, not only here in Florida, but throughout the nation.

  • Sharon Abraczinskas - August 8, 2014 - 9:04 am

    You letter touched a nerve with me as well . My youngest will thankfully graduate in 2 years from public school. If I were starting over my kids may have followed a very different path. We live in PA and our kids have been undergoing a myriad if testing over the years, first being PSSA
    One of my kids had a processing disorder and never got proficient on her tests. Nobody ever told us we could have opted out if tests for her because we would have. All it did was frustrate her and make her feel stupid, which she is NOT.
    We’ve had math taught as everyday math then connected math . I’m a college graduate with up to calculus under my belt and I couldn’t figure out this new “math”
    Why in the world try to change something like math- it’s either right or wrong !!
    I’ve always tried to engage my kids to learn and love it just for the pleasure of learning new things . Public ed is taking this away from kids . Once my grandchild is here there are going to be some serious discussions about whether to send him to private school. I pray we see the error in our ways and return to basics , but I fear we may be too late.

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