That morning I had to sit in on another of our data meetings with our "Reading Coach". She showed lots of charts and graphs to show how poorly our students are doing. 50% of our kids are reading at grade level. X amount of student students are "at risk" and x amount are "emergency". My little sweetie who read 6 words is an "emergency" according to the Coach's statistics. My jaw nearly dropped when she actually said "Data doesn't lie". Yes, Reading Lady, data does lie. It lies when you turn a child into a number and label her an emergency. That child is not an emergency. She has less than 4 months of schooling in a new country and a new language and she is reading words. She is pointing at words and trying to figure them out even without much of a working English vocabulary. She is not an emergency. She is a success. The data lies.
Disclaimer: I am going to brag here.... In my class, I have 80% of my students reading at or above grade level according to the metrics. One third of my class consists of English Language Learners. I have 4 students receiving speech, one student who has a personal aide for a medical reason, and 3 that receive OT services. Five of my students joined me after the start of the school year. If the data doesn't lie, then I guess I have a better than average success rate with my students. All of my ELL's are speaking English to some degree, most of my students are strong in math (despite Eureka Math's attempt to totally mess them up) and every one of them can write at least a paragraph to state their opinion, support it and add a conclusion. Not bad. The best metric of all is the joy and the smiles on their faces every day. They love school. We dance, we sing, we read and we laugh together.
And yet, despite the success of my class and many previous classes, I have been marked down on my latest informal observation. It was a set up and I knew it. Without going into details, I know that the powers that be are trying to silence my voice. I have been vocal about my opposition to testing and to common core. I have pointed out the flaws in the Eureka Math and the district assessments. I have written about it and I have spoken about it. I have stood up for what I believe in and I have made some waves. As a result, I feel that I am now a target. In spite of the obvious success of my teaching, I am fairly confident that I will not be rated "Highly Effective" as I have always been in the past. I have refused to shut up so now I have been told that I must move grade levels next year. This is not because I am a good teacher or "would be an anchor" at that grade level. It is because it will shut me up. I will be so overwhelmed at learning yet another new curriculum that I will not be able to write or speak anymore. I will be new at the grade level and my concerns about the curriculum will be brushed off as inexperience. I will be set up to be rated poorly. The only other alternative is to leave and to switch to a school with a first grade available. That means leaving behind the families I have grown to love and the students who I see daily for hugs and read alouds. It means leaving a place where I felt like I made an impact.
So I find myself at a crossroads. I can stay or I can go. I can be silenced or I can tell them all to go f* themselves. I can acquiesce, or I can fight. I feel that we are at this crossroads in so many ways right now. We are standing at a crossroads in Education. We can continue down this path of testing our students for no other reason to gather data and make a profit or we can choose to refuse. We can continue to allow the common core to make our children common or we can fight for the academic freedom to actually teach children to be unique and grow at their own pace. We can allow our schools to be starved of needed funding or we can demand equitable funding for our children's education. Lastly, we call allow public schools to languish and charter schools to take over or we can fight for public education in our community.
When standing at a crossroads, we must make a choice as we cannot go directly forward. We must choose one direction or the other. I choose to fight. I choose to keep speaking. I choose to be heard. I choose not to be silenced or intimidated. I choose to believe in miracles, big and small.
Update: Meme by BadAssTeachers Association! Thank you!!!