Thursday, December 9, 2010

Race To Nowhere

Just a quick post to thank the PTA, Leslie Kuhn, Leah Barth and Victoria Goodman for the multiple screenings of the movie that is sweeping the country, Race to Nowhere.  The real appreciation goes to them not for just screening the movie, but for raising the issues in the community, for pursuing real discussion and change and for focusing their concern where it properly belongs, on our children.  At tonight's screening, Ms. Goodman mentioned that over 750 residents had seen the movie.  It was also mentioned that all the high school staff watched it and have begun their own dialog on how the staff and administrators at the high school can address the issues and concerns raised by the movie.  The central office administrators have also viewed the movie and are actively participating in the discussion.  

Lyn McKay, the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, has been instrumental in addressing a lot of the concerns of the testing and teaching through her work district wide with the curriculum maps and answering the School Board's strategic question: "How can the District ensure that all students think deeply, support their thinking, apply problem-solving skills, and actively participate in their learning as they acquire content knowledge?"

I expect to participate in what has to be a community wide discussion on addressing the pressures, primarily academic but also social and athletic, that is an overwhelming constant part of our children's lives.  A stop gap solution while we work to make true social change is in the mirror.  We as parents set expectations for our children.  Within that expectation needs to be time for kids to be kids; for our children to make mistakes without fear of retribution, to try new things that may later be discarded and to explore their own interests.  

Not everyone is going to get straight A's.  I ask one thing from my children.  I ask that they maximize their potential.  If the best you can do is a B, then get the B.  If it is an A or a C then get that too.  I ask them to recognize that they have choices and they need to make those choices.  The decision to go to sleep at midnight rather than keep working is a very valid decision, but only one they can make.  As long as they recognize the potential outcomes and can live with those outcomes then they can make that decision.  

The only competition I want my children to have is against themselves.  Only they can look in the mirror and know if they reached their potential, followed through on their priorities or have regrets.  I am very confident that there is no standardized test designed by or mandated by the federal or state government that is truly going to measure their learning and knowledge.