Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pine River Superintendent Speaks Out--Eloquently--Against the M-STEP

The Pine River Area Superintendent, Matt Lukshaitis, sent an excellent letter to the district's local legislators, school staff, and the school board. His points are different from mine--as they should be, because his point of view is different--but I think they are really important points.

I wish that more superintendents would speak out as he has.

I had to look up where the Pine River area is--it's south of Cadillac. Here's a map to help orient you.

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 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!

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