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.”
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.