A group of 19 Civil Rights organization just joined Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a plea to retain annual testing of public school students as a way of gauging progress we are making toward education equity.
I get why they did that. They are terrified if we don't have statistics documenting how far low-income students and students of color have fallen behind their more advantaged peers, those students will be neglected because educators and elected officials will feel no pressure to make sure they catch up.
But there is another, and perhaps, worse danger -- one we are experiencing right now: low- and moderate-income students are being deluged with a test-driven curriculum, taught by browbeaten and terrorized teachers, that will kill their intellectual curiosity, make them hate school, and cost so much that their schools will drop the very activities that most promote school engagement -- particularly, sports, the arts and physical education.
Right now, with the toxic combination of Common Core, school closings, charter school preferences, and test-based teacher evaluations that are accompanying a regime of universal testing, low-income students are actually falling further behind those in higher income families
Why? Because wealthy and advantaged parents understand the value of creative thinking, the arts, and relationship building in their children's education and do anything to make sure their children benefit from those experiences, either by enrolling their children in private school, home schooling them, or opting out their children and putting pressure on their schools and school districts to drastically lower the number of tests.
The U.S. Department of Education and its short-sighted cheerleaders among civil rights groups are actually hastening the development of more of a two-tier education system than we already have -- with poor and moderate income kids having nothing but testing and test prep imposed on them by revolving door teaching staffs, while wealthier children have a more personalized education where testing takes a back seat to content- and experience-based learning taught by teachers enjoy their jobs.
I understand that most Civil Rights groups are led by lawyers, not teachers, and that lawyers believe that extensive data gathering is essential to the achievement of equity in all walks of life
But the collateral damage their approach has imposed on the unfortunate children they claim to be defending dwarfs the gains their approach might produce
There is no excuse for making our needest children , who should love school the most, hate their school experience
The Civil Rights groups endorsement of universal testing a terrible, terrible mistake.
With A Brooklyn Accent