Ellen, an old family friend, former teacher and Brooklyn artist who recently moved to Pennsylvania, has a deep appreciation of the value of education. As do other educators, she recognizes it is a continuous, lifelong process and knows you don’t achieve it by mastering the phony art of passing standardized tests.
This year, Ellen illustrated her season’s greetings booklet with a very well-done black-and-white sketch of herself on the cover and, inside, delivered a timely message about the evil of excessive testing. She also offered the hope that someday the powers-that-be — the politicians and privateers who are souring the classroom experience for millions of schoolchildren and compromising their futures — will come to their senses.
Ellen noted that George Washington Carver, the historic and well-respected African American educator, defined education as the process of “understanding relationships.”
Contrast that to the reality of untold numbers of public school classrooms throughout the country today, where, as she noted, “education is defined as learning from teachers how to pass standardized tests.”
She asked: “Don’t we want to understand relationships in order to save our planet; make beautiful music; create masterpieces in the visual and literary arts; cure all old and new diseases; change an age of greed into an age of green; transform hate into love?”
We do, Ellen. Most of us parents and others who value public schools certainly do.
On that note, I would like to wish everyone a safe, happy and healthy holiday season, while those of us at TSTA also take the occasion to recharge our batteries for another year of trying to educate state policymakers about education.
See you in 2015.