Campaign for the Education of the Whole Child
Charging that current state policies have led to an increase in dropouts, narrow drilling for the MCAS tests and a failure to provide high-quality learning for low-income children, a coalition of more than 40 organizations, including the MTA, has launched the Campaign for the Education of the Whole Child.
The Alliance for the Education of the Whole Child kicked off its drive with the release of a 47-page report calling for a change in the direction of Massachusetts school reform efforts.
The full report, The Campaign for the Education of the Whole Child, and an executive summary is available online at www.citizensforpublicschools.org.
"We propose a comprehensive plan for high-quality education for every girl and boy in Massachusetts public schools," explained Ruth Kaplan, Chair of the Alliance. "Schools must meet each child’s individual needs and must provide a full range of academic, artistic and vocational opportunities in an environment that is both challenging and supportive. Unfortunately, current policies are pressuring educators into teaching the test instead of educating the whole child."
"We think we have a vision, a master plan based on collaboration among educators, parents and community. It addresses real educational needs based on better information than just test scores," added Marilyn Segal, of Citizens for Public Schools. "The Board of Education needs to be responsive to the public, not to privatizing corporations, test companies and those who would profiteer from education reform."
Among other recommendations, the report proposes:
- Implementing improvement efforts cooperatively with schools, districts and educators;
- Using multiple measures for evaluating students and schools, instead of just MCAS tests;
- Passing already filed legislation that would strengthen schooling for English language learners, students with disabilities, and vocational students
- Repairing the child social services safety net; reversing the trend toward increased racial segregation; and adequately funding needed school improvements.
"Governor Romney and Mass Insight's so-called reform proposals will only make things worse," explained Paul Phillips, president of the Quincy Education Association. "They have no program to actually improve schools that serve our most needy children, only plans to attack the teachers who work every day with children who are homeless, hungry, have disabilities, and do not yet speak English. Our educators need real support, not schemes for so-called 'merit pay' and more knee-jerk decisions made almost entirely on the basis of test scores. The legislature should reject Romney's and Mass Insight's proposals, and as a first step toward real improvement, pass the legislation recommended in the Alliance report."
"Ten thousand students a year are dropping out of our schools; a rate that has increased due to MCAS," said Jean McGuire, Executive Director of METCO, Inc. "If education policy doesn't work for all of the children, it doesn't work for any of them. The students we fail are not going to live on Mars, they will live in our own communities, alongside those with whom we succeed. The future of democracy depends upon protecting the legacy of public school education in America while guarding its birthplace in Massachusetts."
"The status-quo approach to school reform has failed to close the achievement gaps between the Dover-Sherborns and the Lawrences," said Lisa Guisbond, the report's lead author. "Evidence from across the nation as well as Massachusetts demonstrates we cannot test our way to equity. Instead of high-quality teaching tied to strong standards, our kids are getting standardized, one-size-fits-all test prep."