Sydney Smoot might look like your average 4th-grade girl, but she has taken such a bold stand against Common Core that she received a standing ovation from adults at least three times her age.
The spunky student from Brooksville Elementary in Florida could barely reach the podium when she stood before the Hernando County School Board this month, but her presence could not have been clearer.
Immediately addressing school officials, little Sydney never muddled her words as she described the dangerous impact that state standardized testing is having on students.
“This testing looks at me as a number. One test defines me as either a failure or a success through a numbered rubric. One test at the end of the year that the teacher or myself will not even see the grade until after the school year is already over. I do not feel that all this FSA testing is accurate to tell how successful I am. It doesn’t take in account all of my knowledge and abilities, just a small percentage.”
Sydney asked one question that addressed the obvious flaw with exhaustively testing students at the end of a school year.
“Why am I being forced to take a test that hasn’t even been tested on students here in Florida, so how can it be valid and accurate on what I know?”
However, Sydney didn’t merely complain of the problem without providing a feasible solution. Instead, she suggested that the painstaking test be divided up into three smaller tests to determine how students are fairing throughout the year.
“Why should we have so much stress about one test when we should be learning and having fun at school?” she asked.
Perhaps the most startling moment in Sydney’s speech was her revealing of a secret contract that students must sign, preventing them from speaking with their parents about the test.
“I do not feel good about a form in the FSA that you have to sign ensuring that you can’t even discuss the test with your parents. I am not comfortable signing something like this. I have the right to talk to my parents about any and everything related to school and my education.”
Sydney told Upworthy that she owes her courage to her mother, but that it was all her idea to address the school about the issue.
“What inspired me to speak all started one day when I came home. My mom asked me how the testing went, and I told her I was told not to speak about the test to anyone. I had not felt comfortable signing something in the test. I had concerns about this test because there was a lot of stress put on students and myself. I was a little nervous before the speech, but when I was called up to the podium, I did not feel nervous because I knew this speech was going to help a lot of people.”
Sydney is living proof that even though the government has failed our public education system, they cannot smother the desire to learn, as long as we continue to teach our children that they must stand up for what’s right, especially when it means standing against what’s wrong.