I wanted to respond to Harry Carnes’ Jan. 5 letter about the nomination of Miguel Cardona for Secretary of Education. I, too, believe that Mr. Cardona and the incoming Biden administration bode well for public education, but my reasoning differs.
I am hopeful that the new secretary will create policy that stops encouraging state legislators to “throw money” at expensive standardized testing that only makes corporate entities like Pearson wealthy. These costly assessments offer us an insignificant snapshot of students correctly bubbling in responses and give little data about achievement. Our industrial age-based education system needs to shift from knowing the “correct” answer to enabling our students to find many answers to problems. The needed job skills just 10 years from now will look very different from what they are today. Students need the ability to think creatively to solve problems. Standardized testing does not reflect the ability of our students to problem solve.
Funds should go to teacher development. Students’ needs change regularly, based on personal and community adverse experiences. Students come to school with disabilities, from poverty-stricken homes and often from neglect. In order to teach our students anything, teachers must know how to effectively deal with our students’ learning impediments. Our school systems need to recognize racial bias and begin to implement restorative and mindfulness practices for both students and teachers while offering equity of experience.
We need to care for a profession of dedicated teachers by providing an encouraging and enriching work environment. Our societal perspective on educators needs to shift dramatically if we truly believe that our children are our treasures. Policies to enrich the education profession need to be implemented to begin to eliminate the teacher shortage crisis our country faces. It is time to stop demeaning these professionals.
Mr. Carnes identifies “big metropolitan areas” and “failing schools.” Many of these schools are in high-poverty areas and have become part of the schools-to-prisons pipeline. These schools, especially, do not need a “failing” status based on standardized assessment scores. I would encourage Mr. Carnes to examine some of the recent research on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), brain-based learning and restorative practices. After-school programs, mentoring and smaller class size would benefit all of our schools.
Parents should not “extricate” their children from local schools. We need to look at new models of instruction that can be incorporated in all public schools. Our founding fathers believed that public education should establish “an enlightened citizenry.”
President-elect Biden is including educators in his Department of Education. Educators who dedicate their lives and professions to the betterment of public education. I am hopeful that change is coming.
Lois A. Jarman
Lois Jarman is a former member of the Frederick County Board of Education.
It has been more than a week since Alderman Ben MacShane’s astonishing accusation against Alderman Roger Wilson. What is surprising is that the following week brought public pledges of future investigation and suggestions that new policy and legislation are needed.
But facts? Reasons why a day-after-Christmas Facebook post was MacShane’s only outlet for such serious allegations? MacShane seems eager now to put new policy/legislation front and center but is still mute on specifics, and no complainant has come forward. This is fairness? Meanwhile, Wilson is left to twist in the wind.
As the circles of damage spread, MacShane’s reputation is also in tatters, and indeed, the future legal rights of the complainants (assuming they exist) are likely being compromised.
Any investigation that occurs should, it seems to me, include an investigation of why MacShane has acted as he has. Indeed, in the absence of any compelling documented complaints, why not investigate ALL the aldermen for violations of the type levied so far at just one?