This is an update to our previous post on the fantastic “Play-In” protest at the headquarters for Chicago Public Schools. The Play-In was organized to advocate for more appropriate curricula in Chicago’s early childhood classrooms and it had the support of the Chicago Teachers Union. In fact, Michelle Strater Gunderson, who is the Early Childhood Committee Chairperson for the Chicago Teachers Union wrote a powerful Open Letter to Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. She wrote:
“As an early childhood educator, I was thrilled to hear President Obama’s strong focus on preschool education in the State of the Union address. We have a preponderance of research evidence that tells us quality early childhood education makes a difference in the learning lives of children, and providing expanded opportunities for parents and children is a step in the right direction.
Yet, there are many concerns as this policy unfolds.
It is understandable that when the government spends money on a program that there should be accountability to the public. It is a grave concern, however, that most of the policy you create uses standardized testing as the measure of success in education. A regimen of intensive testing is counterproductive and against developmentally appropriate early childhood practice. Children do not need to experience their first feelings of defeat at the hands of a test when they are three.”
For a powerful visual of just how testing has taken over in the early childhood classrooms in Chicago Public Schools, check out this blog post from At the Chalk Face. Make special note of how few days are coded white – meaning there are no tests given. There are also days where three colors are overlapping – meaning teachers are juggling three different assessments at that time. When so much time is spent testing, how much time can actually be spent teaching?