Friday, March 16, 2012

My Sentiments Exactly!


I've copied the below article, that captures my current sentiments on our school system.  It's sad to think that our children will miss out on the many benefits of a well'rounded (art, music, library, gym) education, because the government and school system has decided that standardized testing is the only acceptable form of determining the knowledge that a child possesses. Not everyone is good at math/reading...but they may excel at other subjects, i.e. science, history, and the arts...all of which are important parts of their education.  When we "push" children to the limit where they have no "free" time to do anything but study we "lose" their childhood.  Personally, I feel bad for today's children.  Now instead of being able to tell my daughter she can go out and play...I've had to focus on making sure that we've done the required homework, read the two mandatory books EACH night, gone over sight words, practiced our math, etc. All this after she's already been drilled and "educated" for 7.5 hours of the day. 

 I'm not at all against a good education, I just think there has to be a balance.  Maybe some of the other countries have it right, they attend school year round, with 2-3 weeks in between semesters so as not to "forget " knowledge over the American summer break.  I think this is a GREAT idea.  Instead, I have now hired a private tutor to come twice a week during the school year and summer to help my daughter be "on track" with all the standards that are required.

 I'm just a totally frustrated  parent trying to find that balance between hitting the books and freedom to explore the world of a 7 1/2 year old.  It is very troubling to think the "new" education is based solely on test scores and multiple choice questions, rather than on life skills needed when these children graduate!   

Okay...that's my soapbox for the day.


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THE RUBRIC for the very first standardized test that Todd Farley scored seemed simple: one or zero. If the fourth-grade student provided just one example of bicycle safety in a drawing - wearing a helmet, both hands on the handlebars or stopping at a red light - he'd get a one. No examples - zero. But for Farley, author of Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry, it wasn't that simple. The student had indeed included one example: the rider in the drawing was wearing a helmet. He was also doing an Evel Knievel-like leap over a chasm spewing flames. Baffled, Farley consulted his supervisor; he was told that the rider was wearing a helmet and that that was enough to indicate that the child understood the basics of bicycle safety. Score: One.
Farley encountered many answers that did not quite fit the rigid set of rubrics in his 15-year career. One high school girl who wrote a beautifully moving and well-constructed essay about "A Special Place" could only rate a three out of four because her piece did not include the words "a special place." Farley also cites a number of questionable practices by the testing company, including hiring scorers not fluent in English, requiring workers to mark one essay every two minutes for eight hours a day and little cross-checking of scores.
Since passage of the controversial No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, standardized tests have become the cornerstone of educational evaluation. They are now the chief determining factor in deciding the fates of students, teachers, principals, schools and entire school districts. The fact that these tests were never designed for those purposes has not prevented school "reformers" and politicians from increasingly mandating their use. Recently, the New York Times followed the example of the Los Angeles Times in its decision to publish ratings of schoolteachers based on the "Value-Added Method (VAM)." This widely criticized and unproven method posits that a teacher's effectiveness, or lack thereof, can be determined by the use of a highly complicated algorithm which measures students' changes in test scores over time. As Linda Darling-Hammond, a member of President Obama's transition team on education policy, points out, many other conditions such as "home and community support, individual students' needs, health issues and attendance, prior teachers and schooling, summer learning and the specific test used" are not factored into this equation.
There are a number of other flaws in the Value Added Method. Only reading and math teachers can be judged by test data because only those subjects are formally tested. As reported in the Huffington Post, Tennessee's school districts solved this problem by averaging their reading and math teachers' scores and assigning that same score to all the other teachers in the building. Thus physical-education teachers, social-studies teachers, music teachers, etc., were automatically assigned a rating that had nothing to do with the subject they taught or how they taught it. Yet, their careers and livelihoods now depend on that one rating.
In addition, this method assumes that reading and math skills can be improved only by the teachers of those particular subjects. Of course, students employ reading skills in most other subjects, and science cannot be learned without incorporating math. Should the math and science teachers' scores be combined? What if the math teacher has twenty years experience but the science teacher only two? Does the Value Added algorithm have room for one more adaptation?
Why has standardized testing so quickly become the accepted method of evaluating teachers and schools, taking precedence over more thoughtful (and time-consuming) practices such as classroom observations and peer review? Yearly testing requirements of both No Child Left Behind and President Obama's Race to the Top have made testing a very profitable industry, particularly for companies such as Harcourt, CTB McGraw-Hill and Riverside Publishing, who together write 96 percent of the standardized tests used in this country. Estimates place the value of the testing market anywhere from $400 million to $700 million. According to PBS's "Frontline," Pearson NCS (where Todd Farley was employed) has made millions of dollars in profits since 2002 by monopolizing the market in scoring. These same companies make additional profits by selling the test-prep materials now used by districts to bolster their scores.
Before No Child Left Behind, data collected from standardized tests were used mainly to update curricula and revise standards. Now that data has become a weapon to fire teachers and deliver public schools deemed "failing" to for-profit companies and charters.
There is no data which show that testing improves student learning. Schools under intense pressure to raise test scores have had to eliminate music, art, library science, civics and other electives to make room for scripted test-preparation classes. Schools where test scores have improved are schools where, as early as kindergarten, children are taught how to fill in bubbles.
As noted writer and historian Diane Ravitch said recently: "If we continue to have more years of multiple-choice standardized testing, we will squeeze out every last drop of creativity, originality, innovation and critical thinking - the very attributes needed for the 21st century."

Lisa Haver is a retired teacher, education activist and writer.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A favorite "line" for this season

So, did you miss me? LOL.... Anyway...

I recently saw the following "phrase" on a church sign on my way into the city.

"Autumn leaves, Jesus doesn't".  

 At first I didnt' get it...sure there are autumn leaves and then it hit me....although the seasons of life change, Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow!

As I pondered this thought it became one of those "keepers" for the times that I feel lost or alone. Although time passes away and the seasons of life go all too quickly, Jesus never changes! Praise God for that.

We are in a season right now of much chaos, many changes and many new things.  I know that each of these "life events" will ultimately be for the better and that the Lord will use it all to his good and glory.

Enjoying this beautiful autumn season....


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Praising our children...a good reminder

"Borrowed" the following from a post by Dr. David Jeremiah.  Definately something to think about as we go through the "child-rearing" years and try to raise our children to be Christ like.

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.
Colossians 3:21

The word "affirmation" is related to the word "firm." In affirming others,
we firm up their morale and confidence, and we encourage them in their
decisions and direction.

Our children need that, for their self-esteem depends on the feedback they
receive from us.
Thankfully, there are lots of ways to do that. We can
strengthen our children by using phrases like: Good job! or Way to go!

We can affirm by appropriate touch--a  pat on the back or, tussle of the
hair can convey lots of love.

We can affirm with eye contact too. Try smiling at your child with your
eyes. We often convey discipline through our eyes; but we can also
communicate warmth and affirmation with our eyes.

We also affirm children by spending time with them and praying for them.
Children who are praised are like young plants lifting their leaves to the
sun. They are drawn to its warmth. We are all a bit like children--we need
to feel accepted and loved--even as Christ Himself unconditionally loved and
received us by His grace. Affirm someone today.
So very thankful for these gentle God-sent reminders to keep me on the right path.

Praise your children. Do not forever find fault with them. .... Whenever you
can, praise them.

Anonymous, from a nineteenth-century magazine

A Walk Down Memory Lane

As I was "catching" up the filing today, going through all the papers/bills/drawings etc, it occurred to me just how fast the years are passing. As I went to file away some old binders and things that I'll probably never need again, but am keeping "just in case" I came across the box with Rachel's christening portfolio in it. Was she ever that "little".  Unfortunately, back then I was in such a state of "adjustment" that I only vaguely remember the "early" days.  I was too busy trying to fit into the role of being a new mother and making sure that all her needs were met...that I feel like I 'missed"  those precious moments.  I was so hung up on making sure the house was in order, etc...that I didn't take the time to just sit and "enjoy the moments".  Now when I hold a little baby...I realize just how precious these moments are and how fast they pass.  Rachel wil start 1st grade in a few short weeks...FIRST GRADE!!! When the baby days were here...all I could do was "wish" for the days when she would walk, talk, be able to do things for herself...almost seven years later, I'd love to have the baby days back. I'm sure most of you share that sentiment.  Neediness has given way to independence, a mind of her own (that warrants trouble at times :-)) and a battle to hold onto the child while letting her grow into a young woman. 

As I was perusing the "chaos" that has built up in "office" I also happened across our wedding album...hard to believe we were ever that young and just beginning our life together. That couple has experienced a lot of "life" changes in 11 years...but only recently have I become more aware of how God used each of those "trials" in our lives to bring us to the here and now.  At times I am utterly amazed at my husband "sharing" at CG. Only God can do that. I could have never imagined it.  It's been a roller coaster ride through these years, but I know that God has a plan and it so neat to see what he'll do when you least expect it or are tired of trying to "fix it yourself" (because without God, it can't be fixed).

So, dear readers, tell me, do you ever walk down memory lane and look back and see how the Lord has used everything in your life to bring you to where you are now?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Please Stay Tuned

To my followers (all four of you...)

I have several posts brewing in my head...just haven't had the time or "clear" thought process to get them all hang in there...I will be back when life settles down a bit. Thanks for not giving up on me...


Friday, June 3, 2011

A Letter to my Daughter

How did we get HERE? RE you are about to "graduate" from Kindergarten and move onto grade school. Where have the past 6 1/2 years gone?  What happened to my sweet little baby who would climb on my lap and you are up to my waist! Time flies so fast and memories are all that's left behind.

I am learning to savor each and every moment since the moments pass so quickly it seems.  I never thought I would long for the "baby" days of diapers, bottles, and firsts like I do now that independence has replaced need. How could I have known that the "quiet" when we feared you wouldn't talk (you were just taking you're time...), would become "long" conversations (more like debates/discussions) that seem to never end! :-)

I love you RE with all that I have and all that I am. I am so proud of the young lady you are becoming. You are truly a light from the Lord and I treasure the blessing that you are to me and all those that you encounter. You're heart to pray for your friends/family and to serve others absolutely amazes me at times. God has truly blessed your daddy and me with a precious gift.

I love you snugabug!!! May God Bless you richly and always hold you in his care.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011


A very good friend of ours sent us the youtube video for this song.  (but modern technology to download has me stumped tonite!) Therefore, I offer just the lyrics, which have truly spoken to my heart in recent weeks.

As for an update to my last post...PRAISING GOD for his merciful kindness (ref. Psalm 117) in the midst of the storm. The Lord has truly shown me his love and grace throughout this season I'm in and has used many wonderful friends to be support and his Light. The prayers of his saints have been one of many blessings that have come. I thank God for all of you...and it is so nice to know we don't do this life alone. Laura Story
We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we'd have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise
I am also looking forward to "counting my blessings" in the next several months. I am excited that our Care Group Ladies Breakfast meetings will be focused on the popular book "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp ( { sidenote...check out her is excellent!!!).  Can't wait to see what the Lord brings to light during this study!!!

Praising God for his faithfulness and love even when I've lost focus!!!