Letter: Help every child reach wildest dreams

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Help every child reach wildest dreams

To the editor:

State Sen. Ben Downing told the Brayton students (Eagle, Nov. 3), "I want your wildest dreams to be realized. That's why we do everything we do — we're invested in all of you."

In the same edition of The Eagle, op-ed columnist Ed Udel again shared his concerns with standardized testing. Is the testing our "investment" in helping our young people realize their wildest dreams? Ed has an abundance of evidence that it will not.

Are you wondering what one person can do — as a parent and/or as a community member? Communities around the world are stepping up to the challenge of helping EVERY student reach their full potential — to realize their wildest dreams. They are creating ways to use assessments to help students joyfully monitor their progress toward being their true and best selves.

Portfolio assessments can include test scores but they also document the whole child's progress: academically, emotionally, socially and physically. There are ways to assess for enhancing learning, not just for sorting and labeling. The focus is on being "life ready," which may include college or career ready as well as test ready. Don't we want our schools to prepare our young people for civic-minded citizenship so we're all safer and happier together? Why have we let it get this far?

The marginalized students, those who may take guns to school or get pushed into alternative programs, have been telling us what they need for years but they're not being heard. The wealthy and privileged support the dreams of their children. Community groups are stepping up to help fill the gap when families can't be those dream champions.

The same issue of the Eagle cited above describes the art activities at the HUB where Rob Jefferson stresses the importance of self-expression to help kids grow and think about their futures. Why wouldn't the schools help do that for all students?

If you want to figure out how to help each child be their personal best for the benefit of all, go to a public school near you and ask when the next Parent Advisory Council (PAC) is meeting and join them. If you're not a parent, go as a surrogate parent, but go. Before you go, research the alternatives to high-stake testing. Get clear about what you want for ALL the young people of this community and why you want it.

Do you want schools that focus on competing for the highest test scores, regardless of the God-given talents and interests of each student? Or are you ready to invest your time and talents to help every child realize their wildest dreams?

Vicky M. Smith Pittsfield


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