Albert Einstein once stated, “A question that sometimes drives me hazy: am I or are the others crazy?”
The time has come to ask a serious question: Who is crazy? Those who are no longer willing to remain silent and blind to the counter-productive and suspect actions of the NEA, or those within the NEA who have placed public education, real student learning, and support for teachers second to partnering with those who are undermining these very concepts?
What should be done if the NEA does not strongly come out against policies that are destroying a healthy and rich learning environment for student learning and for the teachers who facilitate such learning? Students are having their curriculum slashed and their ability to experience real learning stripped from their schooling. Parents are fed up with the test-centric focus of schools and are demanding that the unique needs, abilities, and complex and year-long accomplishments of their children be recognized. Teacher morale is being decimated as the value of all that they do throughout the year is being erased and replaced by the results of single tests. Meanwhile, the national union leadership has issued only soft, hesitant, and passive objections to these policies, choosing instead to protect their ability to partner with those who are undermining public education at every turn.
We are not calling for the end of NEA- we are calling for its success. We strongly believe that an organization that protects our children and promotes the individual professionalism of teachers has great value. However, when NEA bases its policy and action on how it enhances their ability to partner with destructive entities, rather than on how it supports student learning, parental input, and the ability of teachers to meaningfully impact the learning of children, the world has, indeed, gone crazy. Or corrupt.
The nation is waiting for NEA to find the voice of those who it represents, not those who stand to profit from its weak resolutions and hypocritical actions. We want the NEA to succeed. We need it to succeed. However, we are not willing to redefine success at the expense of our children.
If NEA fails, it will be at their own hand and by their own choice.-Laurie Murphy, United Opt Out National
WHEREAS, our nation’s future well-being relies on a high-quality public education system that prepares all students for college, careers, citizenship and lifelong learning, and strengthens the nation’s social and economic well-being; and
WHEREAS, our nation’s school systems have been spending growing amounts of time, money and energy on high-stakes standardized testing, in which student performance on standardized tests is used to make major decisions affecting individual students, educators and schools; and
WHEREAS, the overreliance on high-stakes standardized testing in state and federal accountability systems is undermining educational quality and equity in U.S. public schools by hampering educators’ efforts to focus on the broad range of learning experiences that promote the innovation, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, communication, critical thinking and deep subject-matter knowledge that will allow students to thrive in a democracy and an increasingly global society and economy; and
WHEREAS, it is widely recognized that standardized testing is an inadequate and often unreliable measure of both student learning and educator effectiveness; and
WHEREAS, the over-emphasis on standardized testing has caused considerable collateral damage in too many schools, including narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, reducing love of learning, pushing students out of school, driving excellent teachers out of the profession, and undermining school climate; and
WHEREAS, high-stakes standardized testing has negative effects for students from all backgrounds, and especially for low-income students, English language learners, children of color, and those with disabilities; and
WHEREAS, the culture and structure of the systems in which students learn must change in order to foster engaging school experiences that promote joy in learning, depth of thought and breadth of knowledge for students; therefore be it
RESOLVED that [your organization name] calls on the governor, state legislature and state education boards and administrators to reexamine public school accountability systems in this state, and to develop a system based on multiple forms of assessment which does not require extensive standardized testing, more accurately reflects the broad range of student learning, and is used to support students and improve schools; and
RESOLVED, that [your organization name] calls on the U.S. Congress and Administration to overhaul the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (currently known as the “No Child Left Behind Act”), reduce the testing mandates, promote multiple forms of evidence of student learning and school quality in accountability, and not mandate any fixed role for the use of student test scores in evaluating educators.
► To endorse this resolution, go to http://timeoutfromtesting.org/nationalresolution.
► For a printable copy of the Resolution, click here.
► For a copy of the resolution with a short supporting bibliography, click here.