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COMMENTARY

A Tennessee teacher's apology

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COMMENTARY

I was going to write about the Tennessee online testing fiasco (TNReady…not), and then a teacher sent this to me. It is quite powerful, and eloquent. She wishes to remain anonymous, but wants her message to be seen. Please read and share:

Dear Tennessee Parent,

I am writing to express my heartfelt apology regarding your child’s education. You have put your trust in me this school year to ensure your children receive a quality education that meets their needs and helps them master the Tennessee state standards required to pass into the next grade. I am writing to all of you tonight to let you know that I have failed.

This year, teachers across the state were asked to buy into a new state standardized test called TNReady. This test would assess mastery of our new (common core-like) state standards. We were informed that the new testing platform would be a program called MIST, that it would incorporate technology, and make the students more college and career ready. We were told time and again that we needed to prepare our students for this new testing platform, because it would be ready come testing time in February.

About this time your children and I were becoming very close. We were getting to know each other as the year got started. I came to learn that many of them didn’t have access to a computer at home and were very unfamiliar with anything that wasn’t a tablet or smart phone. Typing was definitely not their strong suit. However, I was determined to make sure they would feel successful, so the test prep began. In the first few months we would visit the computer lab twice a month, then we increased it to once a week to make sure that the students were comfortable typing, using the testing platform, and simply using a computer for an extended period of time. In the weeks leading up to the test we practiced and prepared every day. Your children knew what was expected of them and how to tackle writing a response to what they read on the computer.

Then test day came….

Some students were nervous, of course, but most were confident. They spent most of their year being prepared for this. They were going to nail it!  Until the program crashed after the first 20 minutes. Your children were patient and understanding as we scrambled to try to fix the problem. Come to find out, it is nothing we can fix.

That seems to be the theme of education today. It is out of the teacher’s hands. We are not trusted to educate children, no matter what degrees we have earned. We are told when and how to educate these kids and if we don’t follow suit, we don’t get a raise, we are moved to a different position, or we are simply asked to leave. This year, I followed the rules. I practiced and prepped so our kids could succeed on our computerized test. Then, after a huge letdown from the state via their MIST platform, I have been informed that your children will not be taking the test on the computer, but a paper/pencil version will be provided instead.

This is where I have failed your children. I cannot count the hours we spent practicing typing instead of doing science experiments, the minutes lost on learning how to navigate a worthless program instead of diving into books that will make children love reading, or the precious seconds I could have been showing your children the love and attention they deserve, but couldn’t because we had to take a practice test that day. This is where I have failed you, but the department of education has failed us both. So, I am here to say what they won’t say:

I’m sorry.

Sincerely,

A Tennessee Teacher

(From David Carroll's ChattanoogaRadioTV.com)

To read more from David Carroll's "Thinking Out Loud" blog on WRCBtv.com, click here.

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