Tuesday, April 22, 2008

My Hero!

Did you hear the one about the teacher who took a stand and refused to subject his students to the WASL? He is my hero!! Consider the quote,"A hero is no braver than an ordinary man, but he is braver five minutes longer."-- Ralph Waldo Emerson. Now read the following article, imagine Mr. Chew's thought processes...the first year he gave the WASL, the second year, the seventh year, and then finally, the eighth year.It was in those "five minutes" that he made a choice. This is an example of the power of one person who takes a stand for what they believe in. When I read this article, I just beamed. I'm now imagining all of the teachers who feel the same way that Mr. Chew does and, perhaps, will finally be emboldened to act! Momentum is a powerful tool.

P.S. As of 2006 the cost of creating and administering the WASL has been estimated at over 150 million dollars!!

Apr, 22, 2008

AP State
SEATTLE -- A Seattle middle school science teacher has been suspended for two weeks without pay for refusing to administer the Washington Assessment of Student Learning in his classroom.

Union officials and education leaders say Carl Chew of Nathan Eckstein Middle School might be the first teacher in Washington state to be suspended for refusing to give his students the high-stakes test.

"Every year, I said to myself this is the last time I'm going to do this," said Chew, 60, who has been teaching for about eight years and said he has seen kids struggle through the test with few positive results to show for the time and effort expended over two weeks each spring.

He made a decision to stand up for his beliefs as he was walking down the hall to pick up this year's test booklets.

Chew said the process was all quite cordial: He wrote a short e-mail to his fellow teachers and school administrators, they set up meetings to hear his story and try to talk him into changing his mind, his principal wrote a letter outlining his insubordination and sent the case on to the school district and the district superintendent wrote back to say he was being suspended.

"Our expectation is that teachers will administer any and all state-required tests," said Seattle Public Schools spokesman David Tucker, who could not comment on Chew's punishment because the district does not talk about personnel issues.

Washington state requires its public schools to administer the WASL to students each spring. Beginning with this year's high school graduation class, students must pass the reading and writing portions in order to graduate.

Chew went to school on the first day of WASL testing, knowing in advance he would be asked to leave. Now Chew is at home, talking to reporters, responding to supportive e-mails from around the state, and hoping for better weather so he can do some gardening.

"I had no idea what to expect at all," said Chew, who estimates he will lose about $1,000 in pay for missing nine days of work.

School officials asked him what he wanted to have happen. Chew said he wanted to be back in the classroom with his students. That, apparently, wasn't an option.

"I see this very much as a win for all of us. I'm happy that the school district didn't send me packing," he said.

He said he has welcomed e-mails of support from parents and educators from around the state, but has turned down their offers of money. He asked them to make a donation instead to an organization searching for a better alternative for assessing the state's education system.

Chew said his wife makes enough money working as a medical doctor and researcher at the University of Washington to keep the bill collectors away.

Neither the Washington State School Directors Association nor the state teachers union could recall any previous cases of teachers refusing to administer the WASL.

"I know a lot of teachers have objections," said Mary Lindquist, president of the Washington Education Association. "Every day I get e-mails from our members all over the state who express their deep concern over what this test is doing to their students in the classroom."

Chew said he thinks there's got to be a better way to help students reach their potential.

"All we have to do is have faith in these kids and work as hard as we can with these kids and their families and they're going to do fine," he said.

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Nathan's Native American Button Blanket

Nathan's Native American Button Blanket
Eagle patterned button blanket designed for beauty and warmth. To see more pictures of how he made this click on the picture above.

Rick Miller - Bohemian Rhapsody