Diane\'s Blog

Bill Mullarney

Dear Ms. Ravitch,

Thank you very much for being a voice of sanity in the madness that seems to be accelerating all around us. I have been at this for 27 years now, teaching and coaching, the last 22 in a rural district in the Finger Lakes region of New York. It has been hard to watch the effect the economic downturn has had on our district, and it’s been hard to put up with the rising wave of “reform” as we are made to focus on testing more and more. Young administrators certainly don’t want to hear about a time when small but tight-knit districts sent well-prepared kids to all kinds of outstanding schools and solid jobs and solid careers, all without the intense emphasis on testing and “accountability” we live with today. I want to make sure I express how appreciative I am for your most recent book for its historical perspective on how the current landscape took shape, and for your support of public schools and teachers. I often wonder how different things might be today if actual positive reforms had been put in place over the last few decades. I remember working as part of our district’s original Compact for Learning committee in the 80s. I thought it was a positive thing, people from many different interest groups coming together to work on what our students should know, what they should be able to do, and even what we wanted them to be like when they finished with us. One change in state government later, and that was over and done with.

I am attaching the newest document we have received, which is basically how the Race to the Top plan will be executed as we pursue College and Career readiness for all. You have probably seen it already, but just in case. As an English teacher, I can tell you that the thought of testing several times a year for every grade from 3-11 is not something I look forward to, and I would seriously consider a retirement incentive and the chance to come at this battle from a different perspective. And that’s just one of the disturbing aspects of the document.

Again, thank you for your efforts on behalf of students and teachers and public schools. You have made it easier to keep plugging away.

Bill Mullarney