Dear Congressman,

Here is the letter I am sending to my Congressman tonight about SB6/ PCB PT 10-02.

Dear Congressman,

As a parent, I want the best education for my child. I want her to read for the joy of reading, write to express her thoughts, make sense out of chaos with math, understand the deep workings of the universe through science, learn other ways to view her world through the arts and understand where we as a country come from. Not just numbers and facts and data. Not just the things that can be tested the things that need to be truly understood the way discussion, experimentation and thinking help you to understand something. I was raised in a house that valued learning for the sake of learning. Those who know how to learn will be successful. Those who know how to test will only be workers…they can get the right answer, they’ve been paying attention to the drills, but when you change the task, you lose the worker.

Senate Bill 6 passed.The senators of our state have said that test scores matter above everything else. Congressman…MY CHILD IS NOT A TEST SCORE! She is a beautiful, vivacious, artistic child that I have no doubt will do well on the test….but want something more for her, something that our public schools can’t provide if this bill passes.

And what of the kids who are regularly get low scores? Who would be willing to teach the poor kids? The disabled kids? The troubled kids? The transient kids? Are we willing to just toss them out? Leave them to people who only needed a job for a year or two until they found something better? If pay is tied to test scores (and if you tie it to teacher and administrator evaluations, you tie it to pay), these are the kids no one will want and no one will take a job teaching.

As a teacher I worry about what effect this will have on the future of our state. I have a mortgage to pay, college to save for, food to provide. Do you not expect me to practice test taking with my students even though my paycheck will depend on it at the end of the year? If test scores are such an important part of our evaluation, then no teacher would be willing to let a student teacher enter his or her classroom – hurting us not just today, but well into the future. Without a reliable income, teachers won’t be able to get loans.  And what of those teachers who have to take time off for surgery or injuries? What of women who take maternity leave? Will women be punished if their test scores fall while the class was under a sub’s care. My children are eighteen months apart…this could easily happen twice in five years, the amount of time the bill allows a teacher before being fired.

Brevard county is a good county. They have hard-working teachers, administrators and students that have always performed well on the state tests. This isn’t about justifying poor teaching as many proponents of this bill claim. It is about keeping good teachers and providing the same quality of education for our students as we have in the past. But this bill will tie a good school and a good school district’s hands only to punish schools that perform poorly by making teachers run from them.

I think that there are some good parts to this bill, and education reform is needed. But reform usually implies making something better. Congressman, this bill will make education in this county and this state worse. Much worse. Please vote against it. Please vote no.

Thank you,
Heather Mason

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1 Comment

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One response to “Dear Congressman,

  1. Michelle

    Heather,
    You put my exact thoughts on paper. I share your concerns and your passion for teaching. These proposals don’t really make me angry, they make me very sad. I am sad for my son, for teachers who try so hard everyday to do what is best for our students, for our students who will be robbed of many good teachers who may decide it just isn’t worth it anymore, and for our state that is making this poor choice. I don’t know what will happen, but like the politicians I have some hard decisions to make. Do I want to stay in this profession? This state? Do I want my son to go to school here? What they decide on this bill will determine my future in many ways but even though they don’t believe it…I have a choice. I guess they will make their decisions and then I will make mine…

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