March 26, 2021

Linda S. Locke: The Emperor’s New Clothes

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At the Mindful Presence Ministry blog, Dr. Locke shares the letter that she wrote to the Ohio State Board of Education; the Education Committee of the Ohio House; Education Department leaders, among others. In it, she addresses the issues she sees in early childhood education. 

I began this journey two years ago to address my concerns regarding the formalized testing of early learners and the continued disregard for what we know to be true regarding normal growth and development for learning. Especially during a pandemic when students have not had enough time with formalized schooling to continue these unreasonable tests is, in my opinion, child (and teacher) abuse.

I actually retired three years early (and live on only 2/3 of my pension) because I felt that I was out of integrity with what I know about these truths and the apparent lack of concern for meeting the needs of our youngest learners, particularly those from generational poverty. Even more disturbing is the massive pressure on teachers and principals to fix the problems created by these unrealistic demands.

Remember the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes? The arrogant emperor had been swindled into believing he was having new clothing made of spun gold, riding in a parade completely naked while no one dared to speak what they were seeing with their very own eyes. That is, until a child said what was obvious to everyone else who were too afraid to admit the truth. I feel as though we are living this now. It is obvious that mandated high-stakes testing is hurting our most vulnerable children, widening the gap between our children from poverty and those who have adequate family resources that are so fundamental to succeed in school. Yet we pretend to not notice.

This is a striking post, methodically breaking down her argument and including multiple sources in an almost-scholarly manner, yet also passionate and stirring. This is one of the most complete arguments you will find against the “pushing down” of inappropriate content into the early years.

The longer we wait, the more of our children are being hurt and the more of our best teachers are leaving the profession .

Who needs to be at the discussion table so that the early childhood expectations can be properly aligned with developmentally appropriate practices? Who is willing to say that what we are doing is not working, so doing more of the same will never resolve the very real problems that we face? Who is willing to fight for our most precious commodity—our children?

Who understands the importance of removing the pressure from high-stakes testing for our earliest learners to give all of Ohio’s students an equitable opportunity to excel in ways that align with developmentally appropriate practices? When will we start the real discussion?

I hope decision-makers are genuinely listening.

You can read the complete post here.

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