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Letter: Schools would be safer if we had fewer tests, more character
Sardis Enrichment School's Caroline Bull, right, and Ali Jae Bull work in a classroom Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. - photo by Scott Rogers

As an educator and parent, I become overwhelmed by our obsession with guns and school shootings — and testing. My superintendent, Will Schofield, has spent countless hours assuring the public that we are ready, and we are doing what we can to protect our students. I’ll be there for my students and my colleagues will as well. For that, I am ever so grateful, and it is important.

I am concerned we do not talk enough about the first word of our mission: Character. It is in the first position of “Character, Competency, and Rigor ... for all” for a reason. But how often is it overlooked because we can’t easily measure it and so we default to test scores? The more our country and states want to test, test, test, the less time teachers have to document and give attention to care, love and concern.

In my classroom, we are a family and I am able to witness regularly how that is manifested by my students and respective peers at Sardis Enrichment School. Perhaps a student with the fear of recurring cancer becomes the center of our attention for a while, or a study of what love means captures our curricular attention and, by the way, it’s way more than roses and candy. Ask my students. Or another student who is just sad on a given day needs us to listen, or a divorce weighs heavily on a student’s well-being. Maybe a student is hungry or just needs a snack. 

Have you spent an hour in a school? Teachers sign up for more than teaching academics and we love it. In fact, it’s the “calling” that lures us there in the first place. 

Recently, I heard a musical artist new to me, Andra Day’s song “Rise Up,” and am about ready to make a poster or plaster it on my walls. Come on, let’s do this and change our world through character:

You’re broken down and tired

Of living life on a merry go round

And you can’t find the fighter

But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out

And move mountains

We gonna walk it out

And move mountains

And I’ll rise up

I’ll rise like the day

I’ll rise up

I’ll rise unafraid

I’ll rise up

And I’ll do it a thousand times again

And I’ll rise up

High like the waves

I’ll rise up

In spite of the ache

I’ll rise up

And I’ll do it a thousand times again

For you

Songwriters: Cassandra Monique Batie / Jennifer Decilveo

Shane Rayburn

Gainesville

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