NJ Spotlight asked its readers a week ago what was on their minds about education at the start of this new school year. Here are some of the responses:
Melissa Tomlinson, teacher
As an educator I am really worried about the direction our educational system seems to be going. The push for more standardized testing and teacher evaluations being based upon these test results is worrisome. The amount of time that is needed to complete the tests throughout the year is becoming a huge detriment to the amount of teaching time that we have available to us. There is no longer time in the classroom to teach to the whole child. I think the future of our society will be damaged by this. But this worries me even more so, as a parent. What will my son’s education look like in five years? Will he be able to enjoy the experience of school as a child like I did? Do we want to rob our children and their children of this part of their childhood?
Rita McClellan, parent
The hard push by the Christie administration of the Common Core (State Standards). The continued push of charter schools and vouchers in poor districts. The new teacher tenure rules.
John King, freeholder
There are currently 30 school districts serving 26 municipalities in Hunterdon County. This will (hopefully) begin to change with the combination of the South Hunterdon districts and creating a regional K-12. There are great opportunities to establish similar models throughout our central and north regions that will improve the quality of services delivered (education) and either lower the costs to residents and/or put more money in the classrooms. There has to be an educational leader willing to take the steps necessary to surface and enact those opportunities and to reach the desired goals.
Martha Brecher, education advocate
Privatization of schools, overreliance on testing, tying teacher evaluations to student performance, inadequate school funding, continued threat of vouchers, inadequate supervision of charters, allowance of failed charter operators from other states to enter New Jersey, virtual charters.
Lee Schaefer, parent
I’m a parent. I am concerned about the new PARCC testing that will be piloted this year and implemented next school year. Also concerned about the spread of charters. Also concerned about the role of private philanthropy in our schools — example: Broad Foundation.
Donna Chiera, teacher
“We are beginning a new phase in education. The implementation of the common core. Students, schools, districts, and staff will be held accountable by new assessments. Will we be prepared to meet this challenge? Are we spending our efforts focusing on testing and consequences rather than teaching and learning?”