"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Congressman Miller: Will You Now Sponsor a Bill to Protect Children from Testing Abuse

The Honorable Congressman touts his work on stopping abuse and seclusion of children:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House Education and Labor Committee today passed bipartisan legislation to make classrooms safer for students and school staff by preventing the misuse of restraint and seclusion. The Committee passed the Preventing Harmful Restraint and Seclusion in Schools Act (H.R. 4227) by a vote of 34 to 10.

A U.S. Government Accountability Office report released last spring exposed hundreds of cases of schoolchildren being abused as a result of inappropriate uses of restraint and seclusion, often involving untrained staff. In some cases, children died. A disproportionate number of these victims were students with disabilities. In some of the cases GAO investigated, ropes, duct tape, chairs with straps and bungee cords were used to restrain or isolate young children.

“This bill makes clear that there is no place in our schools for abuse and torture,” said U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-CA), chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee. “The egregious abuse of a child should not be considered less criminal because it happens in a classroom -- it should be the opposite. I’m proud that this bill has bipartisan support and I hope the full House will vote on it soon.”

And yet Miller is one of the most adamant and enthused supporters of non-stop testing in schools, a practice that has done more damage to children and their abilities to learn and live than all other abuses against them combined. Harold Berlak has been an active supporter for such a protection act for years, going back to 2000 when Paul Wellstone was the only true advocate for children in Congress.

Will you, Congressman Miller, support a resolution similar to the one below that I first posted in 2007?:
I am neither attorney nor legislator, but here are some ideas that need to be included in any state bill that takes a moral stand against the most socially-corrosive education policy in history. Use what you want of it--no charge, no copyright.

Updated March 30, 2007

The Paul Wellstone Memorial Family and Students Testing Protection Act, in Honor of the Experience, Insight, and Courage that Enabled Him to See What His Peers in Congress Could Not—the Ultimately-Disastrous Consequences of High-Stakes Testing*

WHEREAS, high-stakes standardized testing of children constitutes the year-round focus in public schools classrooms; and

WHEREAS, the over-reliance and continued emphasis on high-stakes tests has a corrosive effect on preparing children for citizenship in a representative democracy; and

WHEREAS, many high stakes standardized tests administered to children are neither reliable nor valid; and

WHEREAS, emphasis on testing math and reading has resulted in the de-emphasis and disappearance of other important subjects and learning activities; and

WHEREAS, high-stakes testing of young children is inappropriate and harmful to their emotional and intellectual health; and

WHEREAS, results on a single test have been used to justify retention policies that ignore scientific evidence regarding the harmful effects of such practices, and

WHEREAS, poor, non-English speaking, and special education students bear the brunt of disproportionate failure on standardized tests; and

WHEREAS, the preponderance of high stakes standardized tests has neither closed the achievement gap, nor has it altered the economic and social factors that are responsible for those gaps in achievement; and

WHEREAS, failure to meet unrealistic testing targets undermines public support for their schools, thus opening the door to privatization; and

WHEREAS, the institutional stress of high-stakes testing undermines the supportive and challenging school climate required for children to learn and grow; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that schools will develop and use multiple forms of assessment to make high-stakes decisions regarding students, teachers, and the curriculum; and be it further

RESOLVED, that all standardized tests administered to school children will be psychometrically valid and reliable; and be it further

RESOLVED, that standardized tests will not be used as the sole criterion to make student promotion or retention decisions or as determinants of the curriculum and/or the operations of the public schools; and be it further

RESOLVED, that student scores on standardized tests will be used to help to help teachers address student knowledge gaps; and be it further

RESOLVED, that all testing of children will strictly follow ethical guidelines of the education profession and the professional recommendations of licensed psychologists and pediatricians; and be it further

RESOLVED, that standardized tests will be used to measure individual student gains over time, rather than arbitrary target scores that ignore the disadvantages that accrue from poverty, disability, or language status; and be it further

RESOLVED, that no test results will be used to justify punitive sanctions against individuals or schools; and be it further

RESOLVED, policymakers, classroom teachers, school officials, and parent representatives will constitute the appropriate body of stakeholders to make and to modify testing policies for schools; and be it further

RESOLVED, that school systems will have funded public awareness programs to gather public feedback and to disseminate information on the purpose and limitations of assessment programs.

*Use of Paul Wellstone's name in association with this effort approved by the Wellstone Action Network.

No comments:

Post a Comment