A recent live telecast was launched by ABC’s 13 News entitled “Our Kids, Our Future.” Sue Freeman and Sheri Clegg attended the telecast at CNU to witness the opening discussion on four statewide concerns of which included the state budget and Standards of Learning (SOL). In attendance to discuss topics and answer questions from the audience was a panel of representatives from the Senate, Boards of Education, city Mayors, local School Superintends and members, Teachers’ Union Representatives, and a Hampton Roads college professor. Bottom-line discussion about the budget revealed; 1) schools reporting 30 – 35 students per classroom, 2) teachers without raises for years,
and 3) the unpopularity of, and wasteful spending on, SOL testing.
Because 50% of Virginians polled earlier in the month opposed the SOLs, this topic supplanted all other planned discussions for the evening. Major takeaways from the panel discussion and teacher responses are presented below:
2. Teachers claim having no time to teach new skills before the next testing cycle, and no time for students to understand or grapple with the new skills taught. No time to assign learning projects.
3. Teachers would like to teach problem solving, critical thinking, leadership, creativity, and courtesy, but there is no time budgeted for such “soft” skills.
4. Too much paperwork, too little real teaching.
5. Teachers report strict punitive measures for students and teachers who do not produce acceptable scores. The words “very stressful” were used multiple times during the evening.
6. Writing skills are at an all-time low.
7. College professors have come to expect that SOL-trained students will ask, “What do I need to memorize for your test?” It takes weeks to un-teach SOL mentality.
8. Very little remediation when students do not pass. SOLs are punitive rather than preparatory.
Note: SOL testing was born out of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, and was designed to offer a standardized rigorous educational experience for children across the state. The panel members unanimously realize there is still much work to be accomplished toward this goal. We are very grateful for Christian workers God has placed in the throes of public education who love teaching, love their job, and love the Lord.