You got it all wrong. You really did. If I had to assess you off of a one-day parade then I would have to say no. No, you are not acceptable. No, you should not get promoted. You see I have taught 4th grade writing for 8 years. Every year I see kids progress throughout my short span with them. Kids that could not write a sentence are able to write a whole story by the time that they leave my class. Kids that could not put their thoughts down on paper can draft beautiful stories that are focused and creative by May. Then you come in with your bubbles and overwhelming questions and the doom and gloom associated with your name and you ruin it all. You scare my students so badly that they cannot even function the day of the test. Some leave throwing up. Some start the morning off in tears. Students that have grown, students that have learned, students that are proud of their accomplishments will be told that they are not good enough. So, State, I am mad at you. Come May you will saunter in with your numbers and data and teachers that are amazing, teachers that have taught for decades that know the trade in and out will be told that they are not good enough. They will be told to work harder, and then you will give them even more ground to cover when you never let them cover the basics in the first place.
State test you are so omnipotent that it’s all we can think about. The most stressful day for a teacher is the last class day before their “test”. It’s go time. It’s the last inning with two outs and a full count. It’s 2 seconds on the clock and you’re a point behind. And it shouldn’t be. Let me tell you what really bothers me. My grandmother passed away, and I am headed to Dallas the last class day before you show up. I should be grieving for her right now, and I am. I should have the opportunity to reflect upon and honor the matriarch of our family, but because of you State I am not granted that right in full capacity. I am not fully capable of putting all of my focus on my grandmother right now. You are lingering. I’m always thinking about you. Always wondering if I did enough. If my kids are ready to tackle you on Monday. So, today I am grieving for my students because on the last class day before my test, their test, their number one fan will be missing. For the last play of the game I will be gone. And it makes me sick. You’re not a teacher, so you don’t understand how I feel. State, you don’t know how it is to hold 75 hearts in the palm of your hand. To tell them day in and day out that you love them, that you are proud of them, that they can do anything and then not be able to show up and blow the whistle. To give them their final pep talk. You DON’T know. State, you are killing kids, and you are killing teachers. You are way too important. There is way too much focus on you. Some things should take precedence over you. However, you are an attention hog. You are the talk of the town, the belle of the ball, and the shiniest red shoe on display that I’ve ever seen. You have stolen our attention, and you have stolen our thoughts.
Dear State, I hope you realize what you are doing, what you have done. I hope that you come to your senses before it’s too late. I hope that my six year old does not have to endure the pressures of state testing like my eleven year old has. I hope that this one-day parade era will end soon, so that when stuff comes up, when life throws you a curve ball, teachers, students, and parents are able to place their focus where it should be. I hope that you will see that students should be assessed differently. I hope that you will see that every child is different, yet amazing in their own way. I hope that you will let them be. I hope that you will let them learn. I hope that you will let them be kids. State, listen to your parents, your teachers, and your students. Open your ears and your heart. Please.
Teacher, Mom, & Human