Torn. Emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually torn. At present, this is my frame of mind. The conscience wrestling is exhausting and draining me at every moment. It does not stop. An endless loop of guilt, pain, and frustration haunts me both night and day.
The braver, bolder me begs to shout from the rooftops that I will not go gently into that good night. I will not surrender my knowledge, my experiences, or my beliefs because the feds or the state say I must. I will not knowingly inflict harm on those entrusted to my care. I will not fail them, nor will I fail the faith they place in me. I have earned their faith in me and I will put my all on the line to stand up for them. I will not administer PARCC.
Then, what? Not easily done, but shifting of proctors could and would occur. My students, ultimately, will take the sacred tests. Even if I refuse to give the tests, they will be subjected to the very harm to which I object. And the cycle starts all over again.
The meeker, more timid me still clings to the belief that I can soften the harsh blows my students will endure. I can be present to give reassuring nods, thumbs up, smiles, and try to remind them of humanity behind the madness controlling our schools. I can help them to relax with a corny joke or by reminding them to use deep, cleansing yoga breaths. I cannot abandon them in what I foresee to be their greatest moment of need.
I can only relate to how dismal the testing experience has been up until this point. But this year promises to bring a whole new horror to our school district. In sixth grade alone, mandated tests will increase from four hours to thirteen hours and twenty minutes. I do not want my students to face this at all, but if they must, I need to be there for them and with them. And the cycle starts all over again.
As the testing window nears, the pressure builds. A million questions race through my mind. Am I enabling abusive testing policies? Am I abandoning those who I swore to protect? Am I able to provide the antidote to their testing ills? Am I able to be content with either decision? Am I able to follow the rules and my heart? Can they overlap at all? These are but a few of the questions that scream in my mind both consciously and subconsciously. A non-stop swirl of torture.
While I am not sure which me will win, I continue to wrestle with the consequences of either path I choose. When I dreamed of being a teacher, I imagined such trivial problems compared to those I actually encounter as a veteran of the profession. I never could have imagined the dilemma I now face. I never could have imagined a vision of education for our country defined in terms of a race, explicitly stating there will be winners and losers in educating our children.
I face what I fear most: That no matter which choice I make, I cannot protect my students from the impending harm I feel certain will result from these tests. And the cycle starts all over again. I am stuck between PARCC and a hard place.
~ by Brittany Alexander