- A Reading Affair to Remember - September 19, 2014
- What Do the Green Shoe Laces Mean in Educational Reform? - January 31, 2014
- The Current State of Education in New York: "The Hunger Games" (Part 3) - May 17, 2013
- The State of Education in New York: "The Hunger Games" (Part 2) - May 16, 2013
- The State of Education in New York: "The Hunger Games" (Part 1) - May 15, 2013
The Hunger Games series is powerful as an authentic text due to its messages of speaking out when something is wrong, and of fighting back against the bully. This is a tenet that many teachers not only preach, but practice in their classrooms. Choose to do the right thing. Choose to speak out. Choose to take action. Katniss from the Hunger Games does all of these things, and we learn from her experiences that doing the right thing is not the easy thing to do. This, in essence, is part of what makes it doing the right thing.
Educators everywhere are speaking out and trying to do the right thing, whether it is in the form of sharing articles with colleagues, attending anti-testing rallies or engaging in dialogue about the current state of education. The truth is that public education is being hurt and it is time to stand up to the bull. Even the designers of the reform are concerned. Carol Burris, the principal of South Side High School has this to say about what has transpired:
“I even co-authored a book, on how to help schools meet that goal. It is a book about rich curriculum and equitable teaching practices, not about testing and sanctions. We wrote it because we thought that the Common Core would be a student-centered reform based on principles of equity. I confess that I was naïve. I should have known in an age in which standardized tests direct teaching and learning, that the standards themselves would quickly become operationalized by tests. Testing, coupled with the evaluation of teachers by scores, is driving its implementation. The promise of the Common Core is dying and teaching and learning are being distorted. The well that should sustain the Core has been poisoned.”
It appears clear that Suzanne Collins wrote her series with the theme in mind that there are always casualties in war. By the end of the series, although the goals of the revolution are met, so many of the characters have suffered drastically in many different ways. The characters will most likely never be the same.
Much like in The Hunger Games, public education is experiencing its own set of casualties. This includes the loss of love for reading and learning as students are battered daily with test preparation exercises and test after test. This includes the loss of self-esteem as children, especially those with special needs, sit for developmentally inappropriate tests. This includes the morale of educators as they see their inventive ideas and creativity usurped by the need to prepare the children for the test that will determine the fate of their school districts and their own livelihoods. This includes the likeliness of children being career and college ready, when we have spent more time testing them than actually preparing them for the reality that awaits students after they graduate.
Educators and parents have all had enough; it is time to stop the high stakes testing. The time for change is now before public education is left gasping for breath while the movement for the privatization of public schools gains even more strength, keeping the disparity between the rich and the poor at its greatest width.