Lacey Slekar – our Newest Student Hero

On May 22, 2015, 12 year old Lacey Slekar stood in front of the Board of Education in her school district and tried to convince the adults in the room that standardized testing is bad for children. Her speech was eloquent, well-organized, and very persuasive. She is a hero for writing and delivering a speech that truly presented the student point of view.

Her father, Tim Slekar who writes the Busted Pencils:Fully Leaded Education Talk blog and pod-cast, was not aware his daughter was even researching this topic. As Tim writes in his own blog post,

“Lacey wrote a research paper about standardized testing. We had no idea she was doing this until she asked Tim for some advise. She felt very strongly about sharing her findings with the school board. Her teachers encouraged her to read it, so she did. Wow, very proud of our BustED Pencils Student Correspondent.”

Here is the video of this student hero fighting to eliminate standardized testing from her school:

And here is the text of her persuasive speech:

Hello, my name is Lacey Slekar and I am a student at Badger Ridge middle school. I am here to share with you my concerns about standardized testing. I believe Standardized testing should be banned from all schools.

First of all, Standardized testing causes harmful stress on students. The stress and pressure put on students is not healthy. It can cause kids to cry, vomit, and get angry with themselves, or all at the same time. Students should not have to take the whole year preparing and stressing over one test that doesn’t even count towards your overall student grade. In the past, one student I know got so stressed about the test that she ended up wetting her pants. That is definitely not healthy.

Secondly, Standardized tests are an unreliable measure of student performance. Your test score can be affected by your physical and mental feelings that one day of testing. A series of tests throughout the year can accurately measure your student performance. Standardized testing does not provide feedback on student performance. Results aren’t given back to teachers until months later. For a student who may creatively answer, doesn’t get full credit because the test is graded by a machine or by someone who is not qualified and will be marked wrong for not following the correct format. Students should be able to think outside the box and still get full credit for it.

Lastly, Standardized testing is wasting time and money that should be being used for educational purposes. Dr. Timothy Slekar says it is a waste of time for teachers to prepare students for tests when they should be teaching students the correct things they need to be learning for their own education (bustedpencils.com). They are called teachers for a reason, not testers. According to standardizedtests.procon.org, No Child Left Behind on January 8, 2002, the amount of money spent on standardized tests rose from $423,000,000 to about 1.1 billion in 2008. This is an unacceptable waste of money that could be used for educational purposes instead of buying standardized tests.

I feel very strongly about my argument and I hope people will help put a STOP to standardized testing.

Lacey – we are all so proud of you and encourage you to keep researching, asking the tough questions, writing and speaking out for what you believe is the right thing. You are a Student Hero for sure!
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Luca Valentino – Another Student Hero Speaks Out Against Ed Reform

Another Student Hero – for sure!

“This letter is written by Luca Valentino. He is 11 years old and a 6th grader in a Westchester NY Middle School.

This is how our children feel. This is why we are here.”

stopcommoncorenys

This letter is written by Luca Valentino. He is 11 years old and a 6th grader in a Westchester NY Middle School.

This is how our children feel.  This is why we are here.

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Seems this child has had a pretty good education, even prior to common core. We couldn’t have said it better.

Shared with permission from his amazing parents. That’s an awesome kid you’re raising.

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Sanise Lebron – My Student Hero and My Soulmate

My friend and fellow activist Michael Elliott was published in the Huffington Post the other day. His article, You Can’t Measure This, is a powerful critique of the newly adopted teacher evaluation law in New York State. In this article, I met my newest student hero – Sanise Lebron.

Michael and his co-author, Kemala Karmen, have reminded us of the most powerful force in the battle to reclaim our public schools. They have caused us to recognize the secret weapon for conquering the invading armies of reformers. They have presented to us STUDENT VOICE.

Please take 3 minutes and 33 seconds to watch as Sanise appeals to the hearts of our fathers and to the hearts of our daughters. As you watch this, remember that Sanise is only in 8th grade and is speaking to her peers at CASA Middle School in the Bronx. It is powerful.

<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/123437662″>Sanise Lebron – CASA MIddle School, Bronx NY</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/michaelelliot”>nLightn Media</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Now – all you fathers – go and hug your daughters. And all you daughters, know that you are greatly loved even if your Dad is not around. And you education reformers – get your hands off our public schools and our children.

A Call To Action – Tweet For Principal Jamaal Bowman and CASA Middle School Students

First – please watch this amazing video produced by the students and staff at CASA Middle School in the Bronx. It is based on Sean Covey’s book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.

Second – TWEET out the following message:

VOTE 4 CASA MS Bronx NYC
100% GRAD RATE No bigger ROE THAN A LOVE OF LEARNING
@asugsvsummit @jamaalabowman #GSV2020vision

Jamaal and his students are in a competition. They need only 1,000 tweets today to beat PEARSON – yes, I said – PEARSON in The Voice of an Educator at an Ed Reform Event!

Third – share this far and wide.
If you are interested in reading more about the 7 habits – here is a document that summarizes them very nicely.     HB_Seven_Habits_of_Highly_Efffective_Teens8

A Saturday Poem – Priceless

Sometimes, I really have to remember why I am teaching. This morning I read through some of my old poems, just to get some hope and inspiration. I found this one that I wrote six years ago as I watched 21 young people receive their high school diplomas. I am in this teaching gig for the miracles – the miracles that occur when I am a very small part of transforming a young life.

Our kids are so much more than a test score.

I hope you like this one. If you are a teacher, I thank you for all you do for your students. Keep – keeping on. Don’t give up. Fight on for a better day for our children and grandchildren.

Priceless is the smile
on her face –
she who was abused
battered
violated at only four years old.

Priceless is the smile
on his face –
he who was ridiculed
demeaned
called filthy names by his friends.

Priceless is the smile
on their faces –
they who were once labeled incorrigible
a threat to the classroom
those kids who will never learn.

Priceless is the smile
on each face –
as they sit in cap and gown
with their senior class
and receive their high school diploma.

Who could ever put a price tag
on even one of their miracles?

And – one more little inspiration for you all today – Don’t Give Up from Peter Gabriel.

This is what we are fighting for – exceptional children like Super Ewan – all children are exceptional in my world..

Super Ewan has made it to the main stream TV news! Last night he was on Erin Burnett’s Out Front show on CNN. He is totally amazing.

150313202434-eb-super-ewan-comes-to-detroits-rescue-large-169Click on this link to view his appearance on CNN:

http://edition.cnn.com/video/api/embed.html#/video/tv/2015/03/13/exp-erin-dnt-burnett-super-ewan-comes-to-detroits-rescue.cnn

Super Ewan represents all our children. They are wonderful – unique – powerful – and full of all the good things that can turn this world around. They are not common and standard as the school reformer’s rhetoric declares to the world. We adults must protect ALL, empower them, allow them to speak out in truth, and help them make the world a better place.

We salute you Super Ewan and we support you as you help the people in Detroit. You inspire us grownups to do the right thing because … it is the right thing to do. Thank you.

Please visit Super Ewan on his FaceBook page and on his website. Also, you can help his cause from afar by supporting his Gofundme account.