Jill Berardi is the parent of a child in kindergarten in New York. She is also the assistant principal of a middle school in Red Hook. Here she appeals directly to Michelle Obama to take action to help children like her own. Maybe The First Lady will read it.
Mrs. Obama: Save our Children!
Dear Mrs. Obama,
Your husband, our president, is surrounded by policymakers who are not listening. It is high time that mothers evaluate what is best for our children! I am writing you an open letter because you receive much mail and my letter could be tossed aside by one of your aides. I am also interested in consensus and feel that this is a time when the more voices that are heard, the better our correction course may be!
My son started kindergarten this year and one of the first letters home was about the Common Core Curriculum and how there would be homework every night. And so it began, it is mid-year and I have hundreds of worksheets at home. This is because I only allowed him to do what could be done in a half an hour. He started the school year at four years old and needs time to play, eat and talk with his parents.
Had I allowed him to do all of the nonsensical worksheets that were stamped Engage NY from the New York State Education Department, his parents would have spent more than an hour every evening with a child, who according to good education theory should not be holding a pencil yet.
Those who can afford prestigious private schools are buffered from the impact of U.S. education policy gone very wrong. For the rest of us, our children are being oppressed by developmentally inappropriate curricular materials designed by non-educators. Some of the worksheets are not understandable to me and I find myself wondering how much stress this must cause to mothers who have several children and do not have a Master Degree in Education, as I do.
You see, I am writing to you as a parent, but I am also an assistant principal in a high-performing middle school. In response to this outrage, I am writing a curriculum that will address the “whole child.” Like teachers, children cannot be reduced to a numeric score! The fragmentation that some cavalier policy entrepreneurs think will help kids excel is in danger of producing stress, breakdown and the first generation of American conformists as everyone competes for the correct answers. This unfortunate situation is motivating the design of my social curriculum, which is based on brain-based theories of development related to the main principles of healthy communication, working with others, working independently, empathy and evolution of personal strengths. Personal resilience and wellbeing are the educational foundation that all children deserve so they can learn, thrive and grow.
There are so many things wrong with politically driven education reform that it is difficult to figure out where to start to make sense of a high jacked domain! As a parent of a kindergarten student and an assistant principal in a high-performing middle school, I am asking you to stop the test score harvesting debacle known as RTTT. By removing the number score on teacher evaluations that is related to student performance, much of the unhealthy tension and nonsensical tests and formulas will be lifted off U.S. public schools.
If you would like to meet or speak with me, I would be very happy to come and help you understand how as First Lady you can save a generation of students from the fall-out of a failed education policy.