Most of what’s wrong with our country’s education system can be summed up by a Time Magazine cover published yesterday. “The War on Teacher Tenure!!” declares Time emphatically atop a graphic with a gavel coming down on “rotten apples” — presumably the teachers in question. The article’s subtitle explains: "It’s really difficult to fire a bad teacher. A group of Silicon Valley investors wants to change that.”
As if union busting right-to-work laws and the charter school privatization movement weren’t enough, now Silicon Valley has decided to weigh in on our public education system. It’s probably fine, though, right? It’s not like the perpetual standardized testing process could have anything to do with the sudden interest from the technology sector…
Resistance to the monetizing of primary education and to standardized testing specifically is growing across the country. Boycotts, demonstrations, community forums, and opt-out campaigns like the successful one last year in Seattle have spread to Austin, Portland, Chicago, Denver, and Providence with more student, parent and teacher groups joining all the time.
Testing Overload in American Schools released a report released last week on just how much time our students take filling in bubbles on tests instead of learning. On average, across the 14 school districts surveyed, students took one to two standardized tests a month. A companion report by the Center for American Progress adds that this “test preparation culture” has “put a premium on testing over learning.”
The reports were scathing enough that even President Obama — who’s education secretary Arne Duncan has been decidedly right of center on tenure and testing — was forced to weigh in and support a "cutback on unnecessary testing and test preparation" and "the smarter use of tests that measure real student learning.”
With the release of the reports and the White House comments, now is the perfect time to join the movement for assessment reform. The National Center for Fair and Open Testing has a comprehensive compilation of resources for anyone looking to support opting out and resisting No Child Left Behind “reforms.” Visit FairTest.org for fact sheets on tests, explanations of federal policies, the consequences of high-stakes testing, and better ways to evaluate students and teachers.
You can also sign the American Federation of Teachers' petition calling out the Time Magazine cover — which doesn’t even accurately depict their own journalists’ reporting, let alone the state of public education. Since we all know more people will see the cover than read the article, most Americans will get the wrong impression and not hear any of the concern surrounding testing industry ties to Silicon Valley.
Effective public education is an issue that concerns all of us — whether or not we are students or have children of our own. It’s not an overstatement to say that the future of our country very much depends on our investing in the next generation. So, visit FairTest.org and join the movement to let our teachers get back to, well, teaching.
Sign AFT’s petition: "TIME: Apologize to teachers”
The awful Time article for those who want to read it: "War on Teacher Tenure: How Silicon Valley Wants to Fire Bad Teachers”
"Florida schools rail against explosion of new tests” via Orlando Sentinel
Hear the segment in context:
Episode #871 "Your child is a widget (Education)"
Written by BOTL social media/activism director Katie Klabusich