A Kindergartner Reserves a Space for #OptOut2020

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Welcome to the season of testing, our vernal blood sport. Uploading the schedule took forever. It must have been the server of the New York State Education Department, sclerotic as the bureaucracy itself. But there it was, a memo signed by Deputy Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green. An exam for every public school student on the “education” spectrum—if one could dignify it as such—from third through eighth grade.

Action has intensified in recent weeks. New York State Allies for Public Education, which has long guided parents in the process of refusal, expressed outrage at a toolkit sent to . . . Read full article →

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Ana Menéndez Mourns Her Four-Year-Old’s Childhood

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It’s come to this. Four-year-olds in our assessment-crazed land are waking up in the middle of the night whispering sums. They’re facing the rigor of the Common Core State Standards, squirming in little chairs, deprived of gold stars—the littlest victims of educational goals and grownup folly.

Ana Menéndez, the daughter of Cuban exiles, is a journalist who has covered conflict across the globe. The author of four books of fiction, including The Last War and Adios, Happy Homeland!, earlier this year, she took to the pages of the Miami Herald unwittingly entering a . . . Read full article →

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A NYC Teacher Breaks the Silence on the Power of Play

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Play is the sine qua non of early childhood education. “It has long been noticed that the smartest mammals—primates, cetaceans, elephants, and carnivores—are the most playful,” anthropologist and neuroscientist Melvin Konner wrote in his epic work, The Evolution of Childhood.

Yet we continue to ignore the evidence. We’re stealing it from the classrooms of young children as young as four. A trio of studies conducted in low-income, community-based child care centers over two decades, book-ended by the publication of A Nation at Risk, in 1983, and the enactment of No Child Left Behind, found . . . Read full article →

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Ms. Rumphius on the Torture of Untimed Testing

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In January, as New York’s State Education Department grappled with the burgeoning wrath of parents, commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced that several “major changes” were afoot for the high-stakes assessment regime. Among them was untimed testing.

Conceding the stress—on young children in particular—Elia offered her solution: “If they are working productively,” she noted, “then they will be able to continue the assessment.”

She was decidedly not making the world more beautiful, the life’s work of Miss Rumphius, the eponymous heroine of Barbara Cooney’s beloved book, first published by Viking in 1982. I read it often . . . Read full article →

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