stephanie jones

Day Two: More Strikes, and Some Activism

In communities, critical literacy, families, high-stakes tests, NCLB, personal narratives, politics, social action on April 23, 2009 at 1:16 am

Hayden came home from the first day of testing and seemed mostly fine – she had a dance recital rehearsal and seemed content to put 100% of herself into dancing, so I thought things had gone fine.

Things looked even better when at 6:00 this morning I realized Hayden had slept all night, but they quickly fell apart.

“Mommy,” sniffle, cry, cry, “I don’t wanna go to school today.”

“What is it honey?”

“My stomach hurts.”

And so on and so on.

Right before 7:00 (when the bus is going to pull up) she tells me, “The test is sooo long and sooo boring, and we have to wait for EVERY SINGLE KID to finish, and it’s sooo long…”

and the best part:

“…and one reading part was so long and I didn’t like it, so I just didn’t read it and just guessed at the answers. I’m sure I got ’em right though.”

“I’m sure you did sweetie…”


“Hayden’s not feeling well, so she won’t be riding the bus this morning.”

“But they have their big test today,” the bus driver tells me.

“I know.”


Hayden decides to write a letter to Governor Sonny Perdue (and plans to write one to Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton). She uses colorful markers and five pages (I’ll make a pdf of it at some point and post it here).


I am being very patient with Hayden and really listening to her. But I tell her that if she doesn’t go to school today, they will just make her take the test when she goes back to school.

“I know mom, but it will be a make-up test and there won’t be so many kids.”

Ahhhh….she has the whole thing figured out already, and she’s only been through one day of testing.


I’m getting closer to convincing her to let me drive her to school – but mostly because I’m starting to feel anxious about the meetings and other work waiting for me at the office (just being honest here…)


The phone rings.

“Where is my little friend?” Hayden’s teacher asks.

“I’m trying to convince her to come to school,” I say, then give the phone to Hayden.

Hayden tells Ms. Keller all about her letter to the governor, and Ms. Keller asks Hayden to include the fact that she doesn’t like the tests either. Hayden smiles and looks at me. I can see she’s ready to go – perhaps she just needed an ally from school.

“Stephanie, if she’s not here before 8:30 they’ll keep her in the gym [until the end of testing]”

“Okay. We’re on our way.”

We jump up, grab our things, and run out the door, pulling up in front of the school at 8:28. Hayden gives me a high-five, holds onto her letter to show her teacher, and tells me she’s going to kick the CRCT’s butt.

While she’s at school her teacher tells her about a website where you can submit a letter to the governor online. Hayden’s pumped. Before she goes to bed she dictates the following to me and we send it to Governor Perdue:

Dear Governor Perdue,

Please stop the CRCT. It is boring. You may think that it helps us but it doesn’t. You made it happen so make it STOP!!!

My friends Avery, Emma, Mason, Anna, Naiya, De’Andrea, and Wendolyn and Jimena and all of the rest think that the CRCT is very, very, very boring. And we had to practice for many, many days, and we shouldn’t have practice because we would see it on the real day!

Some of the test is really easy, but all the answers on the test might seem like they’re right, but they’re not. If you had kids, would you like to make your kids do a test and they’ll be tricked, and then they’ll be against you about the test? Because you would like it and they wouldn’t?

We should be learning about the earth, and how Earth Day started – and by the way, Happy Earth Day! And I think you’re a great governor.

So are you with me? Or against me?

I think that the CRCT is unstoppable, but I know that you will help us.

All you want to know is are we doing good in school? You should go to Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School in Athens, Georgia to see how we are doing for yourself.

Thank you for letting me write this note to you.
I wouldn’t have done it without you, and I liked writing it.


Hayden Jones

P.S. I go to school at Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School in Athens, Georgia. My principal is Dr. Dunne, my teacher is Karen Keller, and I’m going to tell everyone in my class and maybe my whole school about this letter and about being against the CRCT. I hope you come to visit us.

  1. Hayden *totally* has the whole thing figured out! It’s becoming less surprising to me how accutely lots of young children have already perceived the problems with this kind of testing, and then what becomes more frightening to me is the thought of what happens to kids’ perceptions of testing, learning, school , and themsleves over years of this. Haha – I feel all that performativity stuff invading my thoughts again, so I’ll stop.

    But Hayden’s letter gives me hope because she is *doing* something about it. And I love the fact that she says we should be learning about Earth Day. I hope she gets a real reponse!

  2. Love this! And I love how having an ally in school helped her make the choice to go. Being our students’ ally is so important.
    Did she get a visit from the governor?

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