An incredible story this week highlights how out of control the American education system has become. Susan Sluyter has been a teacher with the Cambridge Public School District in Massachusetts for 25 years and has obviously seen a great deal of change take place in the education system. Because of the dramatic shift in education requirements recently, Sluyter made the decision to resign.
Last month, she wrote a letter of resignation (“with deep love and a broken heart”) explaining that she no longer could align her understanding of how young children learn best in safe, developmentally appropriate environments with the testing and data collection mandates imposed on teachers today. Image credit: viralnews365.com
“In this disturbing era of testing and data collection in the public schools, I have seen my career transformed into a job that no longer fits my understanding of how children learn and what a teacher ought to do in the classroom to build a healthy, safe, developmentally appropriate environment for learning for each of our children,” Sluyter wrote to the Cambridge Public School District last month.
The kindergarten/Pre K teacher says she’s watched her job expectations “swing away from a focus on the children, their individual learning styles, emotional needs, and their individual families, interests and strengths to a focus on testing, assessing, and scoring young children, thereby ramping up the academic demands and pressures on them.”
“Each year I have had less and less time to teach the children I love in the way I know best — and in the way child development experts recommend. I reached the place last year where I began to feel I was part of a broken system that was causing damage to those very children I was there to serve,” Sluyter says.
Sluyter feels the new standards are leading children to feel “incompetent and frustrated”. She believes it is the reason for the ”extreme behaviors” of her students, a result of them not being able to fully comprehend the content.
“I recognize many of these behaviors as children shouting out to the adults in their world, ‘I can’t do this! Look at me! Know me! Help me! See me!’ Sluyter’s resignation read.
In a recent interview, Sluyter was asked where she believes all of the is began. She believes it started with The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
“Over the years I’ve seen this climate of data fascination seep into our schools and slowly change the ability for educators to teach creatively and respond to children’s social and emotional needs. It started with the upped grades and has trickled all the way down to Pre K.” She wrote that it started with a push for an overload of literacy that eventually led to more standardized testing.
She also blasted plans to cut play out of the curriculum for kindergarten and Pre K students. “Play is essential to healthy development and deep foundational learning at the kindergarten level,” she wrote.
“Teachers everywhere are seeing an increase in behavior problems that make classrooms and schools feel less safe, and learning less able to take place. Children are screaming out for help,” Sluyter wrote. “They are under too much pressure and it is just no longer possible to meet the social and emotional needs of our youngest children. They are suffering because of this.”
You can see a sampling of the curriculum here.