Dear Dr. Branch,
Several parents were shocked to read your comments in the 1-18-18 briefs. It’s obvious that you don’t understand what is really going on in Arizona’s classrooms —which is very disappointing, since you are a candidate for Superintendent of Public Instruction.
You have a massive misunderstanding on the recess issue. The traditional three 15-minute recess has been eliminated in most schools across the state. Many schools are down to one 10-minute recess per day, and some have no recess at all! These are not college students. They’re young children! They need to move! Studies have shown that physical activity improves academic performance. Americans are well known for their creativity and ingenuity —unlike China where academics are all that matter. We foster entrepreneurs and inventors in the USA. Recess promotes these desirable American characteristics. Recess is correlated with improved student behavior in the classroom. Recess also promotes social skills and helps kids learn how to deal with bullying —which is the opposite of giving them “comfort lamas and safe places,” as you stated.
AzMerit is the new federally-pushed Common Core test. Of course our children will perform poorly on it! It is a Common Core test! Common Core is not developmentally appropriate and is not a time proven method of teaching. AzMerit was designed to be a high-stakes test –even though no validation or field testing was done. As for the AzMerit test’s validity, barring independent, peer-reviewed documentation, it is not possible to honestly claim that AzMerit measures what it claims to measure – academics. Thus, AzMerit test scores mean little or nothing. Also, “testing” is not the same as “teaching,” as you inferred. Today’s test prep averages 2 months—2 months of wasted academic time.
Parents want schools to return to the traditional elements of public education that made America great. Please don’t attack other candidates who speak out for parent wishes for traditional recess and less testing. We are the most important stakeholders in education, and these are our children. This is why we parents and members of the Mommy Lobby support Frank Riggs for Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Quint & Chelly Whipple
Shelly Wasko Sundarum
Jennifer Barney Lewis
Doug & Heather Weber
High Stakes Testing by Gerald Brace
Under the gun of the tests, teachers are abandoning their usual curricula and modes of teaching to lecture about test-oriented material. In many instances, they are omitting aspects of the curriculum not on the test. One local school board in a large Virginia district held a special session to determine if they needed to mandate recess for their elementary schools because so many of them had abandoned it in favor of test preparation. In Texas, where science and social studies were not initially included in testing, teachers reported that those subjects virtually disappeared. When the science and social studies tests appeared, science and socials studies were quickly geared to what those tests tested. Tests can easily misrepresent the achievements of a school. For instance, six high schools in Miami-Dade and Broward County, Florida, made the College Board’s list of the top 100 high schools in the entire nation, based on the number of Advanced Placement examinations taken per student. Yet, in the Florida state accountability system, which grades schools from A to F, all six received a grade of C.
As you might know, the Congressional Review Act which Rep. Riggs co-authored/sponsored has been used by the Trump Administration and the current Congress (under a Resolution of Disapproval) to repeal 14 major regulations enacted in the last 90 days of the Obama Administration (including the latest regulations under the Every Student Succeeds Act, aka the Elementary and Secondary Education Act).