Mothers like me did not vote for Glenda Ritz because we were influenced by teachers or their unions; it wasn’t because we didn’t like Tony Bennett. Many of us had no idea what he was like.
We voted for Ritz because we could see that our children’s communities, their schools, were being torn apart. We voted for Ritz because our children were coming home and crying that they were bubble kids (kids in the bubble who almost, but not quite, passed ISTEP+). Test scores were increasingly emphasized in everything written and talked about on education. When the public education budget cuts of 2009 occurred, the pain to my children’s schools was felt by them and the whole community. When the laws and regulations tied test scores to funding (or state takeover), the stress level was palpable. Now we have pep rallies for ISTEP.
Maybe Sen. David Long’s vision is that my children grow up to be phenomenal test-takers. That is not mine. He wants to grade all schools and the children within them based on this one skill. But Ritz ran on the platform of more teaching and less testing, and that is why so many parents voted for her. Ritz understands through her education and experience that our children are more than a test score. Where Long has supported the idea that one 40-question test (IREAD3) should override the professional opinion of my 9- year-old’s teacher on whether or not he is prepared to go to fourth grade, Ritz wanted to relieve my child and others of that kind of stress.
But this state board, the governor and the legislative majority have stopped at nothing to throw roadblocks in the superintendent’s way. Long continues to defund our schools through vouchers and charters; he speaks of choice while stealing my child’s choices: programs like band and art, teacher librarians and class sizes are inevitable casualties of this competition for resources.
Long should not continue to fool himself that it’s Ritz somehow orchestrating this. These are the voices of those closest to the victims of your educational reform. We are angry. And we vote.