Educators tackle “corporate-driven testing culture,” other issues facing students, schools


by Félix Pérez

By one estimate, nearly one-third of school time is now spent preparing students to take standardized tests, administering the tests and reviewing the test results. Educators increasingly are saying, “Enough is enough!”

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The national rising tide against over testing is about to enter a new phase if 9,000 educators gathering the next four days in Denver approve the “National Education Association Campaign Against Toxic Testing.”

An open letter  from NEA and the “educators of America” states, “It is time to end this toxic testing and implement real accountability in our public education system. As educators who have dedicated our careers and lives to our students and their success, we will not stand silent while commercial standardized testing is used to reduce our public education system to wreckage.”

Join the national campaign to end excessive and toxic testing.

The comprehensive campaign would seek to end the abuse and overuse of high stakes standardized tests and reduce the amount of  time consumed by them. It would also call on the the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Consumer Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission to name a “testing ombudsman” to serve as a watchdog over the testing industry and its market power in education. NEA would also press the president and Congress to end the mandate for annual tests and repeal federal requirements that standardized test scores be used to evaluate educators.

Speaking with reporters, Arizona high school math teacher and NEA President Dennis Van Roekel said, “This entire accountability system that’s based on tests will crumble. It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.”

The NEA Representative Assembly, known as the world’s largest democratic deliberative assembly, brings together teachers, education support professionals, higher education faculty, student and retired members from every state and various countries. The Representative Assembly delegates constitute NEA’s  primary legislative and policy-making body.

Among other business and activities to be conducted at the meeting:

  • International advocate for girls’ right to go to school Malala Yousafzai will receive the Friend of Education Award. Malala was 15 years old when she was shot in the head by the Taliban while on her school bus in her native Pakistan. She was singled out for refusing to stand down for what she believed was right. Her foundation has brought to light the plight of millions of children around the world who are denied an education.
  • Four educators — one each from Arizona, Kentucky, Maryland and Virginia — are vying for Political Activist of the Year. The finalists are being recognized by their peers for leading the way in election campaigns and legislative advocacy efforts through actions such as sending letters and emails to elected officials, calling fellow members, and knocking on doors to speak up for their students and public education.
  • Delegates will elect a new president and officers. Arizona’s Van Roekel has served the maximum two three-year terms.

Reader Comments

  1. Was it Einstein who said,” Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted, counts?”

  2. I retired from the teaching job I loved when I kept hearing, over and over: “If it’s not on the test don’t waste time teaching it.”
    Working in a highly mobile community we were also told it doesn’t matter if the student moved in a short while ago or if the student hardly ever shows up for school or is totally distract or distracting when s/he is in class, you are responsible for the test results of every student.
    Teaching is not a magic trick. Smoke and mirrors can’t be used. Skill hard work and dedication is all we have. In too many cases it is just not enough.

  3. Out here in the west (Colorado) we like to quote my good friend and science teacher Bob K. “How do you fatten a hog when it’s on the scales all the time?” Since the testing legislation went into effect, (I call it “punitive legislation”) I have seen more students and younger students with physical ailments brought on by the stresses of testing. Emotional and mental illness go hand in hand with the physical, which comes 1st the chicken or the egg, does it matter? What are we doing to our most valuable and vulnerable citizens? Does congress and the testing industry care? I think not! What is the size of the testing lobby in Washington? My guess it rivals tobacco in it’s heyday along with firearms and the NRA perhaps both combined. The testing industry is a multi-billion dollar business that is after what will fill pockets not ever what is good for our children, do not forget this. No matter how you dress up this wolf it will eat away at the Little Red Riding Hood we know as Education until it is no longer recognizable and will die a painfully slow death. Just let teachers teach and the sky’s the only limit. Done for now.

  4. It’s going to be very difficult to stop the current movement in public education- toward more testing and ranking of schools and teachers according to non-scientific data. The people currently running public education are politicians hell-bent on privatizing education. To accomplish this, they have successfully convinced parents and tax-payers that teachers are stupid and lazy, and that public education is corrupting their children’s Christian beliefs.

    1. Clearly, the rot will not stop anytime soon. My suggestion is stop supporting our Democrats-turned Republicans. None of them passes the smell test – if anything we have been supporting folks who have been shafting us and taking our voting power for granted. Maybe running our own independent candidates makes more sense. After all, both Dems and Republicans pursue equally harmful policies. Let’s give up on this futility- at least I have especially on all matters of national importance: climate change, education, foreign policy, etc.

      1. I agree…historically I have voted Democrat, but maybe it is time to start a party called the Education Coalition Party. Voters should insist all that all parties a have voice in primaries as well as final elections, with clear platforms… no more piggy-backing onto partisan political parties (Tea Party has repeatedly hitched their cart to Republicans, why can’t they stand alone? Hmmmm….). An Education Party could cross typical party lines to stand alone, as I am sure there are folks from all walks that are sick to death of business as usual at the “top”.

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