After reviewing her students’ Common Core tests, a teacher confronted the Board of Education with a simple question that immediately had the community giving her a standing ovation.
Jennifer Rickert is one of those rare teachers who cares so deeply for her students that she knew she had to take action. Giving a voice to the voiceless, the sixth-grade teacher from Ichabod Crane Central School District decided to address one of her biggest concerns in front of the Board of Education in upstate New York.
While most teachers care for their students’ education and wellbeing, there are always those few educators who are willing to risk their career in order to fight for their pupils. Often times, these special teachers are recognized by the community due to their relentless pursuit of higher learning standards for the children who pass through their classrooms.
At the risk of losing her job, Rickert criticized the state’s Common Core standards of testing, arguing that it not only harms students but provides teachers with faulty information about each child’s ability. However, it was the question she boldly posed through her cracking voice and tearful speech that caused the community to stand to their feet.
Accusing the board of reducing children to numbers in an inaccurate ranking system, Rickert slammed the strenuous series of Common Core tests, asking why students are being forced to “spend nine hours of seat time…on these inappropriate tests” that require them to answer questions sometimes “5 years above their level,” according to The Washington Post. She followed this up by condemning the fact that students are then reduced to a number based on the performance they’ve shown on this one set of tests, which she claims is detrimental to both the child’s education and the teacher’s performance.
“In summary, we are going to ask 11-year-olds to read and comprehend passages that are taken from higher grades, some at 5 years above their level, with controversial and provocative language, based on abstract literature and historical documents that the students have not learned about yet, and choose an answer from several plausible choices?” she asked. “We are going to have our students spend nine hours of seat time, allowing extra time for our Special Education students, on these inappropriate tests? (Add another nine hours for math.)”
Although Rickert is a veteran educator with 22 years of teaching under her belt, she explained that she couldn’t continue to support this standard of testing. As such, she used her time at the podium not only to denounce the curriculum but also to request to opt out of administering the tests.
“With all due respect to my students, their parents, my administration, and Board of Education, I must go on record as strongly objecting to this test. I respectfully request reassignment on the dates of the 2015 Common Core ELA Assessment,” Rickert said.
Visibly emotional, Rickert concluded her oration by reiterating that she loves her job and, most importantly, her students. Before she walked away from the podium, she reminded both the Board of Education and the parents of her reason for addressing them.
“As I said, I have the greatest job. I am a teacher. I, today, am standing up for my students. Finally,” she stated.
Jennifer Rickert’s poignant speech earned her a standing ovation from the audience. The passionate middle school teacher walked past dozens of applauding parents and fellow educators as the board contemplated her words.
Regardless of how you feel about Common Core and state testing, we can agree that public schools are in desperate need of more teachers who are impassioned for their students and are willing to go above and beyond like Jennifer Rickert.