“No PARCCing in My School’s Parking Lot,” by Seventh Grade Student Griffin Willner
On June 1st 2016 the New Jersey State Board of Education heard testimony on the proposal to make Pearson’s PARCC a graduation requirement. For Garn Press readers who have not encountered Pearson before, think Monsanto. Pearson is considered to be as much as a problem by many teachers and parents for artificially altering the learning of children as Monsanto is to many members of the public who are opposed to the agricultural seed products produced by Monsanto that are genetically modified for resistance to herbicides such as glyphosate.
In a post on the scheduling of more testimony on PARCC for graduation requirement: Julie Borst writes
I can’t believe we still have to protest this crap. The title of this testimony is not meant to be disrespectful to this Board, merely a demonstration of my frustration with having to continually appear before this Board and provide testimony that will only fall on deaf ears. Whether that testimony is heartfelt, stemming from personal experiences that none of you currently sitting on this Board would have any first-hand knowledge of, because (1) you don’t have children in public school, and/or (2) you aren’t the parent of a student with a disability. There is barely a hint of recognition on your part that you are missing a great deal by not listening to and engaging with the actual stakeholders in this mess, namely, parents and their children.
Among those who have testified before the New Jersey Board of Education is Griffin Willner, a seventh grade student and the son of Monica Taylor, Professor of Education at Montclair University. In an email to Garn Press Monica Taylor writes:
The New Jersey Board of Education is currently considering a law to make PARCC, manufactured by Pearson, a high school graduation requirement for this year’s 7th graders and beyond. This decision will have a serious impact on children and teachers. Teachers will be forced to spend potential instructional time preparing children for the test instead of creating rich curriculum that invites inquiry and critical thinking. We cannot test our way to achievement.
Below is the testimony of my son Griffin who is a 7th grader. He is very worried about what will happen if this law goes into effect and the ways it will impact his schooling experience. He gave this testimony at the NJ State Board of Education public meeting on Wednesday, May 4th, 2016.
Here’s a video of Griffin Willner’s Testimony:
And here is the transcript of his written testimony:
Good afternoon. My name is Griffin Charles Willner and I am a seventh grade student at Henry B. Whitehorne Middle School in Verona, New Jersey. I am here today to talk to you, state board members, to persuade you not to make the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, better known as the PARCC, a high school graduation requirement. This issue is especially personal to me because this ludicrous requirement will affect students in my year and younger. Because of this, I, though young and afraid, know I have to speak to you for the sake of children my age, my children, and even my children’s children. If you have the common decency to listen to an adolescent in pain, please hear out my perspective.
First of all, the PARCC wastes valuable time to educate and prepare students for college. Sure, PARCC is supposed to prepare students for colleges, but how is that possible if colleges did not even make it in first place?! This transcends into my second point. PARCC is designed by Pearson, and Pearson is a company that does not employ educators. A standardized test cannot mean anything unless it is actually made by someone who spent his or her whole life studying a topic. If not, then what is college for? This would be like someone learning to be an architect, but then working as a fashion designer. Would it be okay for a building maker making our clothes? Or an orthodontist to make our food? Or a football player cutting our hair? This sounds ridiculous, right? Yes, and this could be the same case for our education. Thirdly, no research has been conducted on the PARCC, meaning that no one actually knows how this test actually helps students. Making it a firm law just means that you are forcing poor unsuspecting children to take a test that is still in the beta stages and might even decrease their intelligence. Making this decision is very negligent and careless of adults, and if a thirteen-year-old can see this so easily, why can such educated adults not?
Finally, I am worried adults are making decisions for young students. Clearly, none of you are actually seventh graders born in the exact year of 2003. Why is it fair for adults to make such an important decision about graduation that only really affects people my age and younger? Imagine you were kids and I was your age and I had the power to do this to you. You would want a say. You would want to decide your own choices. You would want to be the person to steer the ship of your destiny. If not, are you even you? Are you your own person, or just someone too afraid not to listen to society? Are you your own person, or just a shell of yourself constantly living in fear of being different? Are you your own person, or just a common machine, like a chromebook, because it is programmed that way? I hope you can take the advice of someone who is truly going to be affected by this decision. My fate is in your hands.
Garn Press supports Griffin Willner, Monica Taylor, Julie Borst and all those that resist the Monsanto-like take-over of U.S. public education. At Garn we consider Pearson’s global modification of children’s learning environments as problematic as Monsanto’s GMO modification of the world’s food supply.