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Arne Duncan and a Little Girl, named, “Susan”

Arne Duncan and a Little Girl, named, “Susan”

April 21, 2014

Today I read that Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, dismisses those who question Common Core and Smarter Balanced Assessments as simply “lots of drama, lots of noise.” (  Simultaneously, my phone was ringing, and I was hearing from families and teachers.


It seems to me that the tide is turning. The ground is shifting. The momentum is mounting.  We are approaching critical mass.  I have heard all of the clichés, as have you.  But, something significant is taking place. It does not matter where I go (grocery store, schools, church, any public event), someone wants to talk about Common Core, Smarter Balanced Assessment, and/or how to opt-out.


If you can take one more cliché, I think the genie is out of the bottle.  I have thought for a long time, that when the mandated testing process actually starts in various states, and families can see the heartbreak in schools today, something will change. The testing season has begun, and the families and teachers, who talk to me, are in agony.


I’ve read of very sick kids in various states still being required to take the tests; I’ve read about pediatricians telling about the symptoms they are seeing in children during these tests; I’ve listened to countless teachers and families share the pain of their experiences.


However, it is the nightmare of testing for one little girl this week, which so clearly is a microcosm of what is happening in schools today.  Let’s call her “Susan.”  In her brief span of years, life has already dealt her more pain than any little child should ever have to experience.  However, her teacher this year slowly and lovingly has been restoring Susan’s fragile identity.


Two full days of tests were scheduled, but within the first hour, Susan broke into tears and began sobbing. The teacher walked her out of the classroom and tried to assure her of how valuable and wonderful she truly is. Next, the teacher, as required, had to walk her back to the computer to finish the test.  It was a traumatic experience for all in the room.  Susan and her classmates have enjoyed a particularly successful school year.  Lots of learning and lots of love.  The year had been all that anyone could possibly wish for children. And, yet, the beautiful year seemed to disappear with the Susan’s tears.


More test prep for another test begins next week.


Now, maybe this is just “lots of drama and lots of noise” for Arne Duncan, but I assure you: This is lots of needless pain.  Please remember that there is absolutely no empirical evidence to support the use of Common Core and the accompanying tests.  This is a massive educational experiment being tested on kids throughout the nation.  Try to explain that to Susan.


  • Ceci Estes

    I think Arne needs to step out of his posh office and smell the donuts. Hey Arne how would you like it if you were sick and had to take a test no matter what?

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