The OEIB met Tuesday in Salem to a crowd that showed little if any support of the OEIB's proposed education funding plan. What is clear is that funding a well-rounded education is a top priority for the public and that the OEIB, Gov. Kitzhaber, and Dr. Rudy Crew need to make decisions that not only reflect the voice of the people, but also directly impact our students in the classroom. Here is testimony from a counselor from Salem who attended the meeting. --Oregon SOS
October 23, 2012
Good Evening Members of the Oregon Education Investment Board,
My name is Pete Teller. I am a middle school counselor in the Salem-Keizer Public School District. I am also on the organizing committee for the Salem Keizer Education Association, a member of Social Equality Educators, and I belong to Oregon Save Our Schools.
Recent figures show that 58% of Salem-Keizer’s students receive free or reduced lunches. The Marion County numbers show that 59.2% of all school-age children are eligible for free and reduced lunch. Marion Polk Food Share reports that in 2011, an average of 12,200 hungry children a month relied on emergency food. What are the implications of these figures? Over half of our students are likely to arrive at school lethargic, withdrawn or agitated, anxious, easily frustrated, and unable to concentrate.
We then compress them into classrooms with class sizes of 36 or more when the Oregon Administrative Rules governing registered family child care homes prevents registered child care providers from caring for more than ten children ages 13 or under at one time. And to make matters worse, the classes that are available to our children siphon off any creativity or inspired thinking they might have because the elective choices have been lobotomized from the curriculum. Those classes that feed the spirit and nourish the soul have been replaced with the drudgery of remedial classes that given the opportunity would be totally unnecessary if there were smaller class sizes that offered more individualized attention.
An extremely rational question now presents itself. Why has the number of remedial classes spiked across the state? Is it because we have seen a drastic decline in the overall intelligence of our 21st century students? Has our students’ ability to learn been so compromised that they can no longer master instruction at the same pace as their predecessors? I have not seen any literature to suggest that either of those two conclusions are correct but what I have seen is evidence that indicates that the over reliance on learning outcomes assessments generated by the insane emphasis on standardized testing has driven the miraculous desire to learn right out of the hearts of our kids!
Now think seriously for a moment, which students are likely to be the most impacted by this ridiculous emphasis on standardized tests that are written for the predominantly white affluent student? It is our students of poverty, our ELL students, our special needs students, and our students of color. These students are subjected to one intense class after another and required to go six straight hours or more minus a lunch break in our exaggerated attempts to get them to score acceptably on our OAKS test. How outrageous is that? Students who are no less creative, no less inspired, and no less competent are burned out before they finish eighth grade or act out just to get some relief!
We are failing our kids each and every day of the entire school year in this unrealistic quest for academic superiority! We are wasting the minds of this brilliant generation with the demands for conformity, unquestioning passivity, and the total disregard for any real critical thinking! And then the OEIB has the audacity to sit here after handing out salaries of $260,000 a year plus perks and not even suggest the need for more classroom teachers, school counselors and specialists, licensed librarians, and instructional assistants or paraprofessionals and expect us to believe that with your high powered salaries we should believe that you know what’s best for our students; well I’m sorry but you’ve got another thing coming! Si Se Puede!