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Hey, children, what's that sound.........?

Congratulations Class of 2013! This article documents what we are doing right in Montclair in public education.   Why else would Ivy League colleges/universities and others as well, look favorably on MHS student applicants?  Nonetheless, this does not mean as educators and residents, we have achieved the promise of free public education in the US, the achievement gap, and issues of bias and intolerance are extant. And we know it in Montclair, which makes a world of difference:  bigotry and intolerance starts with a self-reflexive dialogue and uncomfortable conversations which Montclair teachers encourage. encourages. iIt's only in the critique of acknowledging and naming the weaknesses and inequities in our public school education that we can begin to meaningfully address them. This is -- in my opinion -- the only hope for access to any type of equality to emerge in this town and others across the US. But let's not be blind sided and throw the "baby out with the bathwater;"  while Montclair needs to ensure increased equal access to all to quality public education, let's not forget this struggle started some forty years ago, and most likely, no reasonable Montclair parent and/or resident would question a plan of action that offered an evidence-based magic bullet to achieve that goal.  Yet, all these years, all we had to do, according to the BOE, was quarterly testing, and in one fell swoop -- bingo, we will achieve equal access to quality public education. It is quite mystifying why no one had thought of this over so many board meetings, community forums, township hall debates, and so on. As a Montclair parent, resident, and life long academic the "magic bullet" theory of resolving unequal access to and the equal delivery of public education to all Montclair children   does not exist.  Nonetheless, what Montclair residents over forty something years have achieved is incremental resolution of creating a system that is self-reflexive of its own biases, and intolerance, and opportunities for teachers and students to examine those inequities, and try to address them. Nonetheless, the BOE, in one fell swoop -- in a heartbeat, has the answer to closing the achievement gap and its members are so certain of its results that sight unseen, the BOE unanimously and in great haste, approved the "magic bullet" quarterly assessment tests will be admininstered to all Montclair children from Gr. 3-12 beginning in fall 2013. How will they affect my two sons, ages 7 and 9? I have no idea. How will it affect children with specific learning disabilities and special needs? I don't know, the BOE doesn't know either. The tests haven't been developed yet. So, when they are developed by fall 2013, we are told as parents, and implemented at the same time, there will be no discussion about how they turned out. What they ask, if these tests themselves are biased? Who is making them? And how were these folks and by whom were they chosen? and why? Montclair public schools (as also reflective of the national trend) need to work hard to develop programs, and interventions that can address the achievement gap. It is top priority if we are to remain true to the promise of public education as the great, and now, only possibility of equality in our town and in the US.  While vigorously pursuing avenues to close this intolerable gap to  equal access to quality public education for all; accepting the BOE's  "magic bullet" strategic plan for quarterly assessment testing without even seeing the tests, nor have they been developed, or a sample distributed, nor was there ample discussion by community residents, and an opportunity to review the tests, critique them, and perhaps, even if they are acceptable, revise them with the wealth of ideas and input from the Montclair community.  As a reasonable person, Montclair parent and resident, I have to question the BOE's haste and disregard for the opportunity to offer Montclair residents and parents the opportunities to see the tests first before voting for something you haven't even reviewed.  The Montclair community may have valuable insights that can be incorporated into testing if the goal is to close the achievement gap and make our children more college and career ready. I truly believe that if the BOE has the interests of Montclair's children and their access to equal and quality public education, then the BOE members should at the very least, see what they are voting on to implement. There is something wrong here. I don't know what it is, but as the song goes:  hey, children what's that sound........?  

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