Why We Won't WASL
Public education in a free society should be a joyful experience. Sadly, as the educational bureaucracy has joined forces with big business and big government to oversee our school system, this is not the case for most local schools.
I believe in public schools. I believe it is my right as a parent to expect my local public schools, with my help, to offer my children a caring, safe environment and the opportunity to learn basics and explore their special interests, such as music, art, woodworking, etc... With my guidance, my children should be able to find what they need at home, at school and in our community to grow to become caring, competent, contributing members of our society.
Parents are responsible for the education of their children. Whether we choose public, private or homeschool, we must be given the right and the charge of being the final quality control of what our children are offered as learning experiences and how they meet the requirements of our local school and elected school board. Whenever possible, our public schools should offer choices and options and give us the opportunity for input to decisions about educational programming. Schools must go out of their way to communicate with parents. We are their best hope for success.
Apathy demands bureaucracy. How much easier and more profitable it is for the hierarchy to increase their hold and control than to wake the masses and empower them to improve their local schools. Our state office of superintendent employs 300 people to oversee our 296 public school districts. A system of Educational Service Districts duplicates the state administration to oversee the district administration to oversee the building administration. Is it any wonder there is a shortage of educational administrators, with all those positions to fill?
Enter higher state and nationally driven "standards" for what children must "know and be able to do" and a test to tell us whether our children can measure up for the "real world of the 21st century"-- WASL! In an attempt to guarantee order and neat "outcomes" for all students, our schools have become data analysis centers. Disregarding the fact that children in our country are paper and pencil tested more than any other country in the world, WA Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, in cooperation with testing and curriculum companies, has developed a "new and improved" testing vessel. Within 3 years they hope to be rid of recognized standardized assessments, such as ITBS, and be able to focus instruction completely to the goals and standards of Washington Assessment of Student Learning. It is planned that students in the class of 2008, who aren't able to meet the standard on WASL, will be deemed unfit to continue past high school and will not receive a diploma. The long standing reward for 13 years of educational growth and achievement will now be denied, by the state, based on one extremely subjective test result. Welcome to the bottom line oriented 21st century.
Why won't we WASL? Because we believe in parent, student and teacher rights and local control of OUR public schools.
Organizer, Mothers Against WASL
WA State Coordinator for the national Assessment Reform Network
Candidate, WA Superintendent of Public Instruction, 2004
Author, Not With Our Kids You Don’t! Ten Strategies to Save Our Schools,
Permission granted to copy and distribute this article. 10/15/02