"The whole people must take upon themselves the education of the whole people and be willing to bear the expenses of it. There should not be a district of one mile square, without a school in it, not founded by a charitable individual, but maintained at the public expense of the people themselves." -- John Adams

"No money shall be drawn from the treasury, for the benefit of any religious or theological institution." -- Indiana Constitution Article 1, Section 6.

"...no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities." – Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, June 27, 2010

We Didn't Devote Our Lives to Testing

As a candidate, Barack Obama spoke against No Child Left Behind. In the clip below from his presentation to the National Education Association's Representative Assembly he described a few of the problems with NCLB.

At 1:01 into the clip he said, "Don't label a school as failing one day and then throw your hands up and walk away from it the next."

Immediately following that (1:10) he added, "Don't tell us that the only way to teach a child is to spend too much of a year preparing him to fill out a few bubbles in a standardized test."

Finally, he acknowledged teachers' dedication to our profession by saying (at 1:27), "You didn't devote your lives to testing. You devoted it to teaching, and teaching is what you should be allowed to do."

Watch it below...


Where does President Obama stand? Well, it seems that President Obama is doing exactly what Candidate Obama spoke against. The same "test and punish" strategy which No Child Left Behind used to leave so many children and schools behind is now being used in Race to the Top.

Instead of supporting "low performing schools" (aka "failing schools") Race to the Top throws up its hands and walks away...it closes schools and replaces them with charter schools which, as shown in recent research, do no better than public schools. (See also here and here.)

Instead of supporting the teaching of problem solving, higher level thinking skills, creativity, and the ability to apply knowledge, Race to the Top will likely increase "test-prep" by placing even more emphasis on standardized tests. Race to the Top is encouraging testing in more subjects more often...and misusing those tests to evaluate teachers.

President Obama has lost his direction. He's apparently lost the understanding that he had as a candidate. More testing, charter schools, closing schools, and firing staffs won't solve the problems of Public Education. They will only make things worse. Magic Bullets like these won't help children learn. It's time to focus on the real problems of the "Achievement Gap" -- lack of jobs, poor nutrition and health care, limited access to reading material, and the rest of the damaging effects of poverty.

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