Cathy Fuentes-Rohwer sent the letter below to the Indiana Select Commission on Education, established by the state legislature to review Indiana’s new A-to-F school grading system, teacher evaluation and licensing rules and other policies established by the state Department of Education. The commission, made up of members of the House and Senate education committees, had its first meeting last week. Fuentes-Rohwer is a Monroe County parent and chair of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education of Monroe County and South Central Indiana.
It’s an example of how much of the opposition to reforms pushed by Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett and others is coming not from teachers’ unions but from ordinary citizens. See also retired Monroe County principal Mike Walsh’s op-ed column on vouchers in the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette (also published Sunday by the Indianapolis Star but apparently not posted online there), recent posts at the Northeast Indiana Friends of Education blog, and the national resolution against high-stakes testing spearheaded by Parents Across America.
Dear Committee Members,
I am the mother of four children in our Indiana public schools. I am also a concerned citizen worried about the state of our democracy and the special interests which seek to undermine it.
I understand that your commission is reviewing the recent educational issues at the center of Superintendent Bennett’s reforms. I am so glad that you are pausing to look things over. We as a state have been racing at a breakneck pace in our efforts to reform public education and it would be a full time job in and of itself to keep track of the measures and legislative changes that have taken place. I am thankful to you and all of the committee members for your attention to these matters.
Take for example, the IREAD-3 and its implementation. No one could argue with the state’s desire to have all children read competently by third grade (although any parent knows that children learn different things at different times, on a continuum of growth). But there is virtually no research or data which shows that retention will help in that effort. It is common sense to know that a test reflects a child’s test-taking abilities and a test score is likely a better reflection of a child’s socioeconomic status than his or her ability. I am not against all assessment. I think there is a place for evaluation. But to punish children and label them for life as failures at age 8 or 9 is irresponsible and unfair.
What does the research and data show that WORKS for having children competently reading by 3rd grade? Early intervention. Preschool. Addressing the effects of poverty for children. How can a child read competently when she is hungry or distracted by stressful home environments? Continue reading