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Passionate California Student Speaks Out Against School Reform

A student from the state of California put the education reform debate into perspective in live and in real-time during a community event in California featuring educational reformers Michelle Rhee, George Parker, and Steve Perry.

Standing in front of a packed auditorium and speaking directly to Rhee, Parker and Perry, Hannah Newwhen asked educators to “listen to the students”. Newwhen argued fiercely against school reform:

“I felt like this whole event was looking at the education policies issues as a reformers versus teacher’s unions kind of issue, and as a student, standing here and watching this battle is really disheartening. Because it’s a lot deeper than that, and these are our [students’] every day realities. This is more than a reformers versus teacher’s union battle; this is a social justice issue.”

Newwhen received resounding applause from the audience before she was cut short because the moderator had “run out of time.”

In a follow-up blog post called “What I would have said if I had gotten more time”, Newwhen continued her arguments against high stakes testing and educational reform:

“Students are not data points on a graph you can talk about but never listen to. They are humans with hearts, minds, and stories of their own. They are resilient and beautiful and insightful. They deserve better than high stakes tests that don’t capture their humanity…”

Newwhen went on to voice her views on schools, poverty, and policies that are written without student input:

“[Students deserve]…better than charters that exclude and criminalize certain youth, better than the poverty that creates an opportunity gap well before they begin school, better than limited curriculum that doesn’t allow them to explore other options, better than policies that instill fear and oppress critical thought, better than budgets that leave their schools and classrooms dilapidated and unbearable, better than decisions that are made without their input.”

Newwhen left her readers with a call to action to refocus school reform on students.

“We can do better than current reform. We can do much better because our youth deserve much better,” she said.

Missouri Parent would like to hear your thoughts on the issues:
- Do you think that the education policy debate has become a “reformers versus teacher’s union issue”?
- If you’re a Missouri student, do you feel that students’ perspectives are being heard and respected by policy makers, educators, and reformers?
- What do you think about high stakes testing; do you think that high stakes testing ignores the humanity of Missouri’s students?
- Leave a comment letting us know what you think, and if you want to stay up-to-date on school reform issues and how they affect Missouri’s public schools, subscribe to the MOParent Blog at the top of this page.




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