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Change Takes Effort

Lily Eskelsen García, our new NEA president, is quoted in the Washington Post as saying, “The revolution I want is ‘proceed until apprehended.’” The WP goes on to say that the translation given is “teachers, administrators, and everybody else involved ‘the right thing’ for kids.”

At MEA we need to be the agents of revolution and resistance. We must lead the way to developmentally appropriate, academically challenging, educational opportunities that are right for our students in preK through higher ed classrooms.

No more fear. Doing the right thing takes courage. Our strength is in our numbers and we are 24,000 members strong. But we can’t do it alone. We need to begin by including parents as we resist education policies that are bad for our students.

Most members of the MEA, and many parents, are willing to resist the current onslaught of standardized testing brought on by the adoption of Smarter Balanced Assessments. These assessments are closely intertwined with Common Core State Standards, Race to the Top, Educator Evaluation, and No Child Left Behind. High-pressure, high-stakes testing is bad for our kids and we should all be shouting that fact loudly and clearly until state and federal leaders listen.

But the testing associated with Common Core State Standards is not the only area for which we need to build resistance.

Repeatedly we share stories about the consequences of Mass Customized Learning (MCL), standards-based education (SBE), proficiency-based diplomas (PBD), and Common Core State Standards (CCSS) implementation. Are these right for our students? We must stop and consider the lasting impact on this generation of students as we muddle our way through from fad to mandate to poorly designed policy. But nothing will change until we organize the larger community of parents to say, “enough is enough.”

Change takes effort. Our effort starts with organizing others with similar points of view ~ that every child matters. As García said to state presidents recently, “it all comes down to building personal relationships, personal relationships with someone who’s not always your friend, or maybe you didn’t think could be your friend. But you try.”

The time is now to build support for our students’ well-being. Insist on professional development to learn, and preparation time to turn what we learn into what we teach. Develop reasonable student evaluation alternatives to standardized testing. These are only a few places to resist what is being done to us, and to take charge of our students’ success.

We cannot continue on the road that we are on. The wholesale adoption of bad policy and mandates, whether from Washington, Augusta, or a local district, one on top of the next, is the wrong direction. We must stand up, resist, and do the right thing for our kids. Let’s not wait. We must act now, because tomorrow is too late.

MEA Benefits Trust

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