Imperfect Parenting in a Perfect Town #statetesting

Being a parent in 2015 is a huge challenge.  Raising children today is much different than when our parents raised us.  Let me rephrase that.  Raising children today for many “perfect” parents is much different than when our parents raised us.  Evidently, we got all messed up years ago.  Evidently, our parents didn’t know what they were doing.  Evidently, today’s generation of parents know better.  And they also know how to shove their parenting i the faces of the “imperfect” parents.

Every child is unique, therefore, every parenting style is going to be different.  Actually, many things I did with my daughter I do differently with my sons, and sometimes I need to handle situations differently even with my three boys, including my twin boys.  I’ve learned that there is no CORRECT way to parent, and for the most part, whatever works for you as a parent is the right decision for you.  That is why it makes my blood boil when other parents feel what they are doing is the ONLY correct way.

This week, drive through Massapequa and you will see a ton of lawn signs telling other parents to refuse the state tests.  I respect any parent’s decision to opt their child out of state testing, however, I am disgusted with having it shoved in my face.  I guess I would not have such a sore spot if I hadn’t seen so much negativity on this topic.

I have researched and read arguments on both sides of the state testing argument.  My husband and I have decided that our seventh grader will be taking the tests.  At this time, our boys are too young to take them, but as it stands now, they will be when the time comes.  The arguments have not swayed me to opt out, and many of the arguments have actually turned me against opting out.

Go into any Massapequa facebook group today and you will see discussions.  Read through the comments and you will undoubtedly see some mother who is opting her children out basically calling out another mother who is not, and the words used such as “stupid”, “ignorant”, “lazy”, “arrogant” , “uneducated” are some of the words that she uses to describe those who are having their children test.  I have seen too much of that, and it leads me to wonder which parents are the ones who are uneducated, ignorant and stupid?  Any parent, specifically mother, who can call another mother stupid and ignorant is NOT someone I will take advice from.

I have even tried to get a much better understanding from a teacher’s point of view.  Two of the biggest arguments I see regularly are 1. “My job depends solely on test scores” and 2. “I do not want to teach to a test”.

First of all, I have asked in numerous forums to provide even one name of a teacher who has lost her job or otherwise has been discriminated against due to her students’ test scores, and to date, no one can do this.  My experience in the Massapequa schools has been wonderful.  My children’s teachers are awesome, and not only by educational standards.  After my husband’s heart attack last year, each of my kids’ teachers have gone above and beyond to help and be there for our family.  I am 100% against grading a teacher solely on test scores.  However, that being said, if 100 fourth grade teachers are in this district (using 100 for easy math, ironically) and 85 of them have see a positive percentage of increased grades but 15  of them see a decrease, you bet your ass I hope the district looks more closely as to WHY 15/100 did poorly.

Now, I understand that inclusion classes and special needs children are taking the same tests, often without the provisions they need.  If my child fell into this category, I would be fighting my head off to make sure my child took an appropriate exam for her needs, and if she did not, I would be petitioning the state, even getting an attorney to help me in this fight.

Second of all, about “teaching to a test”, I really am not liking that argument.  My kindergartener is learning basic algebraic functions at FIVE YEARS OLD!  He is reading on a second grade level and not only does he complete the algebraic functions and reading material, he can EXPLAIN the math and tell me about what he just read!  My first graders are doing math problems I don’t think I did until 4th grade!  They are doing very well in school and are LEARNING!  My seventh grader, while we HATED Common Core when she was thrown into it after learning one method for 6 years two years ago, is thriving and excelling, and the teenager actually LIKES math again!  If these teachers ARE teaching to a test, then they are doing a damn good job because my children are doing VERY well and learning incredibly well!

I have heard arguments that these kids are taking exams that are 2 grade levels ahead of them.  I recall being in the top 5 of my 8th grade class.  Taking the Co-Op exam and the Entrance Exam for the top city high schools (I really wanted to go to Bronx Science), that exam was so difficult, I did not get in.  I recall being in the top ten of my high school class.  When I took the SATs, I was an average student.  Why?  The SATs were at a much higher level than I was at.  These kids have to face challenges the rest of their lives!  I tell my children to do their best, and we will work with them wherever we need to.

How about the argument “let kids be kids”?  I couldn’t agree more!  But taking a challenging exam and “learning to a test” (which I have already established may not always be such a bad thing) is not keeping kids from being kids!  It is the 100 activities after school parents have their kids in when they could be playing outside or using their imaginations to do something new!  It is the scheduled “playdates” and the constant entertaining some parents need to line up for their children, instead of spending some time just playing a silly game with them!  Yesterday the kids and I played a game of “what’s grosser than gross” and they had more fun than I’ve seen them have with the thousands of dollars of toys they own!  It is the hours and hours of television and video games these kids are in front of all the time.  Let them go outside!!! And if you don’t feel it is safe, get your ass out there to watch them!

So this post has actually started to sway a bit in the direction I did not want it to go.  The point of my post was how tired I am of other parents throwing their parenting down my throat, and the last thing I want to do here is the same.  I am a working mom, I have four children and a husband on disability.  I know first-hand how difficult life is.  I know first-hand how time is not always something of abundance.  I know first-hand how things happen that we did not plan.  But I also know that my way of parenting is right for my family.  Your way of parenting is right for your family.  Just like whether or not you chose a VBAC or C-Section after your first child or if you breast fed or formula fed or if you co-slept or didn’t or if you did private school or public or if you went back to work or became a SAHM, we ALL need to do what is best for our families.

I am NOT opting my child out of the NYS testing.  If you are, I respect your decision.  Possibly next year I may feel differently.  I am not married to my decision, and each of my children have different needs.  But I will not force you or any other parent to follow my decisions.  Good luck!

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