By Todd Smithee

Educational issues frequently dominate the headlines of major news outlets.  On the national scene, we constantly hear about “No Child Left Behind.”  In our own states, we hear about how our schools stack up against each other based on statewide standardized testing.  In Michigan, a new bill calls for new, burdensome screening of Kindergartners as well as 1st through 3rd grade students three times per school year to evaluate their reading skills.   While I believe supporters of these testing initiatives truly want to improve our educational system, they are placing increasingly time-consuming requirements on our teachers, reducing the time they have available to actually teach our children.

We need to take a fresh look at how our children are educated.  The 1950’s model of preparing our children for factory work, complete with ringing bells designed to get children ready to punch a time clock, is no longer effective in the information age.  Furthermore, training a child how to pass a standardized test reduces the time our teachers have available for teaching important skills such as critical thinking, communication, scientific inquiry, and team-building.  In short, we need to move away from training our children and get back to actually educating them.

So please get involved.  Attend your local school board meetings.  Ask teachers about the amount of time they spend preparing their students for tests instead of teaching the important skills that will prepare our children for the new economy.  Call your politicians and ask about their stance on these issues.  Our economy is dependent on educated children who can think outside the box.  Let’s all do whatever we can to reduce standardized tests that lock our children in the proverbial box instead.