Superintendent of Pine River Area Schools Speaks The Truth: Lansing Must Listen

Wednesday , 15, April 2015 12 Comments

The Up North Progressive Lives in the Pine River Area Schools District. Superintendent Matt Lukshaitis published this letter yesterday with the request to share everywhere.

Honorable Gentlemen,

So far, the M-STEP process is a painful invasion of teaching and learning and really, state testing has become an oxymoron. The testing process is not good for kids.

17 different days of testing for 11th grade students? Really? This is the best we can do? We “improve” the test by going from 3 days to 17? Have we collectively lost our minds?

At Pine River, our computer labs are tied up from April 13 to June 4 for testing. This is a good use of taxpayer dollars? I cannot fathom how many great minds it takes to change a state system from one day of juniors taking an ACT test on a Saturday morning in a high school cafeteria to a system testing K-12 students over a period of two months, but I’m pretty sure between the MDE and the legislature that we have discovered the formula. I’m saddened by this.

Education is not happening.

Principals and teachers are in high stress mode. Students are not learning, they are are in Sarcasm 101 mode–how hard they try is going to be a true turkey shoot.

Terri and I have five children. Number five is a senior. Looking at what we are doing to the students in our public schools, I am truly glad to know this fact.

How many people have to be in charge of the local school districts? It seems like the state and the fed have over M-STEPped their boundaries.

How about the growing resentment coming from parents who are starting to demand that we excuse their students from the testing process? And the onus of responsibility is on the LEA to make these kids test? The state is setting up public schools for imminent failure. There will be test cases in our courtrooms soon. This testing system is pushing public schools over a cliff. I am afraid there may be a long, terrifying drop into jagged rocks….

I know a lot of really smart people came up with this wonderful theory of testing. The practice of teaching and learning however, is the provenance of the LEAs. Perhaps we should all take a giant step back and allow the schools to answer the needs of their community with more freedom?

Please stem the tide of this testing. It is just too much. Listen to those of us in the schools. Sitting in an office in Lansing does not help you understand the issues. Come visit us at Pine River Area Schools. Visit every district. Go see the schools while the testing is happening and talk to the teachers and the principals. Help us help the kids.

Matt Lukshaitis, Superintendent
Pine River Area Schools
Go Bucks!

Michigan’s schools are being put through superfluous testing for the sole reason of padding the corporate bottom line. Parents, you can tell your school you don’t want your children going through this. The more of us that opt-out, the stronger our voice.

12 thoughts on “ : Superintendent of Pine River Area Schools Speaks The Truth: Lansing Must Listen”
  • Barb Parmenter says:

    Well said.

  • Linda says:

    My Pine River child will be a junior next year and I have every intention of opting him out of testing. So proud to say that Mr. Lukshaitis is our superintendent!!!!

  • nancy beckelic says:

    Nicely put

  • Thomas Paine says:

    Keep this in mind: The State is asking public schools, who receive public tax dollars, to give one test a year that measures what students have been taught. Students need to be in school 1098 hours a year. The state test is a total of 10 hours grade 3-8. That equates to about 1% of the time a child is in school for the year. Students who reach junior status take a college exam (free) WorkKeys (free) and the Michigan test. Given the fact that students don’t take a test in grades 9 and 10 that equates to 3000+ hours for instruction for about 15 hours of testing. Again, about 1%.

    Go back to the paper and pencil option for schools. Tests on paper are designed to be taken in a matter of 2 weeks and done in no time. The computers would be available for instruction. School districts had the choice to chose either paper or a computer-based assessment. Many schools are not ready for the technology-based test and are underfunded, so costs are out of control.

    Please remember folks: Public schools, tax payer dollars, and accountability are all embedded in ESEA of 1965 and additional legislation. All public schools in this state accept Federal and state funding. The state is asking for students in grades 3-8 and grade 11 to take a series of tests once a year to measure what they have learned in public schools through the implementation of the standards teachers were to facilitate learning through. We asked for standards back in 1999 and have them. We need citizens who can think for themselves and have set the bar to produce outstanding young people. We want our kids to be and do great things. Start funding a world class education to help districts meet these goals!!!!!!

    Help fund schools fairly. Vote yes on Proposal 1 and set state funding at a 12,000 per pupil rate, no matter where kids live. Until then, maybe districts and leaders need shift their focus on reducing other tests they purchase and give to kids during the school year to make room for more instruction time.

    • Up North Progressive says:

      You’re ignoring a number of issues, and why these high-stakes tests are so hotly contested.

      • These tests do not assess anything but how well students take a test. I’ve heard teachers already talking about loopholes kids are finding with the online test.
      • I can assure you these tests take up a lot more than 1% of the school year. Schools are testing for the next 8 weeks.
      • Northern school districts such as Pine River are smaller districts. They have a high school and middle school linked together, and an elementary school. The high school and middle school share computer lab facilities. That means grades 6-12 all have to share computers. Due to Snyder’s school funding cuts in 2011, a fourth school building was closed. If schools struggle now to keep buildings open, where is the money to buy new technology?

      • Our state just handed two for-profit corporations $104 million to administer these tests that don’t assess anything relevant to what happens in the classroom. Both companies by the way hire temp employees for $11 an hour to score these tests. No, they’re not teachers either.
      • Voting on Proposal 1 will not set funding at $12,000 per pupil. It was a $75 per pupil increase, and with Snyder’s cutting other education funding programs, will actually be closer to $2 per pupil increase. That should buy lots of new computers.
      • Schools don’t have a choice in what tests they use. The state makes that decision. Schools want to give the best possible education they can to their students. They can’t with 8 weeks of stressful state-mandated testing that everything is riding on for the school.

      Yes, help fund schools fairly by not cutting a billion dollars out of the school aid fund, shifting school aid fund dollars over to the general fund so Snyder can buy a new ice hockey arena in Detroit, or raising regressive taxes that fund special interests before roads or schools.

    • HE says:

      Where do you propose the schools get the extra money to pay to be able to test the kids via the pencil and paper method? Or did you not know that the state is charging districts to use that option? It’s been a pretty well kept secret.

  • Anne says:

    Mr. Lushaitus speaks the truth. He is absolutely correct that the M-Step is invasive and an incredible enfringement on instructional time and districts’ technology resources. And the only accountability is on the LEA, administrators, and teachers. Students taking it today said “I’m not going to try. It doesn’t count for anything.” They are not ignorant to where the stakes really are–it has no bearing on college placement, graduation, or grade movement for them. They took the ACT seriously: it has a bearing on their futures. I appreciate his bravery in speaking the truth.

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