About Me

My name is Sarah Blaine.  I’m a 40-something practicing attorney in northern New Jersey.  I’m also the mom to a pair of beautiful daughters who attend our local public elementary schools. Before I went to law school, I earned an M.A.T. in Secondary English and taught high school English in western Maine for a couple of years. Although I’ve been out of the classroom since shortly before NCLB became a thing, I have strong opinions about teaching, learning, and education policy.

If I had to boil my philosophy down, I’d say that I believe that we can do better by our kids by listening to and respecting advice from our front-line classroom teachers.  I believe that our schools should be dedicated to instilling love of reading, joy in learning, creating broad-based interdisciplinary and experiential projects, and developing kids’ imagination and curiosity through meaningful experiences with music, the arts, and experiment-based science (i.e., pretty much the opposite of every trend pushed by the “education reform” movement, especially the trend toward more and more insane standardized testing).  Most critically, I believe that we as taxpayers pay for public education to ensure that our nation’s children are prepared for engaged and responsible citizenship.  I try to do my part by contributing to the education policy debate at a local, state, and national level.  Thank you for visiting my little corner of the world.

6 thoughts on “About Me

  1. During the last Englewood Cliffs Board of Education Meeting I informed the Board during public comment that my son will not be sitting for the PARCC testing (if they are still around) when he reaches third grade. I am quite serious as I feel PARCC and everything behind it is not in the best interest of any student. In fact, I feel that it is hurtful to students for several reasons not limited to these:

    1. PARCC will be administered on computer rather than paper which places pressure on our youngest of students to learn keyboarding and be exposed to computers even before they have had the experience and develop the proper motor skill to form letters correctly. The computer forms letters perfectly at the push of a button. In the perfect world I would prefer students be on a computer much later. In addition, tight school budgets are spending yet more hardware just to accommodate the computerized test.

    2. The type of questions I found on PARCC in taking a practice test caused me a huge headache as they were twisted and confusing. I would not subject a young mind to such an assessment.

    3. Data collection – I will not have 400 points of data collected on my son and held in a database somewhere for unknown future use. More than enough data to inform instruction can be obtained within the school itself.

    4. Two tests per year that will eventually be used to evaluate the teacher performance is a flawed logic. There are way too many variables. In addition, over evaluate and you will have no heart to inspire – no energy to motivate. Yet more tests, in most cases, are also administered for the so called „Student Growth Objectives“.

    An educational leader, in my opinion, must be a catalyst – must be the cause of positive excitement about the world – like of the world, real curiosity, knowing of the world! The American poet and philosopher Eli Siegel stated “The purpose of education is to like the world through knowing it“ and I wholeheartedly agree. I hope Mr. Hespe will find out more about his philosophy. I believe that we are presently in a situation where teachers are not lifted up – but instead, insulted through SGOs, endless data collection, performance rubrics, and more. A once more collegial relationship is being replaced by a corporate style data collecting and crunching top down management – filling out endless computerized evaluations of teachers digitally warehoused by a centralized and privatized third party company. If more weight were given to supporting and lifting our teachers – more resources given to motivating, exciting, and further educating them – it would, in my opinion, be very wise – as our students, our children, my child, would benefit.

    I intend to be a vocal critic / advocate for my son and all his classmates at Englewood Cliffs PTA meetings, Englewood Cliffs BOE meetings and even council meetings. I hope more parents will object to mandating of Common Core / PARCC / teacher evaluation, and hope that the state reconsiders how it sees its schools and all its young residents.

    Most importantly, in order to have more schools be successful, the state must work hard to close the financial gap between communities rather than attempting to run all the schools like a big business.

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  2. I couldn’t agree with you more. I am a high school and part time community college educator, and the PARCC tests will be taken here in Albuquerque, NM early this March. I am planning on ‘opting out’ my son (a junior).

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  3. Pingback: Teaching: A Profession Unlike Most Others | Daniel Katz, Ph.D.

  4. Hi Sarah- I am wondering if you know anything about the movie Education, Inc. A number of years ago Race to Nowhere was screened at Montclair HS. Wondering who would have sponsored (maybe MSU?) and how we could get this one screened, perhaps in the same venue? Any leads/ideas? My email is: pdoerriz@aol.com
    Thanks!

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  5. Found you today. I’ve just read a little but so far I’m feeling that you are a kindred spirit. We are seriously considering having our fourth grader opt out of PARCC this year, in large part because he doesn’t know how to type and the school district has recommended “Get your kids on the computer!” during non-school hours so they have a chance to learn. We would rather he play when he gets home from school at 4:15/4:30. I too was underwhelmed by the previous year’s results–received 9 months after the tests were taken. I look forward to reading more. –Another former teacher, Rio Rancho, NM

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