Children's Authors Beg Obama for Relief from Testing Insanity
Wish in one hand, and spit in the other; see which one fill up first. From MSNBC, of all places:
Famed author and poet Maya Angelou and 120 other children’s book authors are challenging President Obama’s national education policy over what they call an “overuse and abuse” of standardized testing. They say the focus on testing hurts children’s imaginations and has a negative impact on children’s love of reading.
Obama’s signature education program, “Race to the Top,” has been criticized for heightening the value placed on students’ performance on standardized tests as an indicator of a teacher’s success in the classroom.
Read the letter below:
President Barack Obama
The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama,
We the undersigned children’s book authors and illustrators write to express our concern for our readers, their parents and teachers. We are alarmed at the negative impact of excessive school testing mandates, including your Administration’s own initiatives, on children’s love of reading and literature. Recent policy changes by your Administration have not lowered the stakes. On the contrary, requirements to evaluate teachers based on student test scores impose more standardized exams and crowd out exploration.
We call on you to support authentic performance assessments, not simply computerized versions of multiple-choice exams. We also urge you to reverse the narrowing of curriculum that has resulted from a fixation on high-stakes testing.
Our public school students spend far too much time preparing for reading tests and too little time curling up with books that fire their imaginations. As Michael Morpurgo, author of the Tony Award Winner War Horse, put it, “It’s not about testing and reading schemes, but about loving stories and passing on that passion to our children.”
Teachers, parents and students agree with British author Philip Pullman who said, “We are creating a generation that hates reading and feels nothing but hostility for literature.” Students spend time on test practice instead of perusing books. Too many schools devote their library budgets to test-prep materials, depriving students of access to real literature. Without this access, children also lack exposure to our country’s rich cultural range.
This year has seen a growing national wave of protest against testing overuse and abuse. As the authors and illustrators of books for children, we feel a special responsibility to advocate for change. We offer our full support for a national campaign to change the way we assess learning so that schools nurture creativity, exploration, and a love of literature from the first day of school through high school graduation.
Alma Flor Ada Alma Alexander Jane Ancona Maya Angelou Jonathan Auxier Kim Baker Molly Bang Tracy Barrett Chris Barton Ari Berk Judy Blume Alfred B. (Fred) Bortz Lynea Bowdish Sandra Boynton Shellie Braeuner Ethriam Brammer Louann Mattes Brown Anne Broyles Michael Buckley Janet Buell Dori Hillestad Butler Charito Calvachi-Mateyko Valerie Scho Carey Rene Colato Lainez Henry Cole Ann Cook Karen Coombs Robert Cortez Cynthia Cotten Bruce Coville Ann Crews Donald Crews Nina Crews Rebecca Kai Dotlich Laura Dower Kathryn Erskine Jules Feiffer Jody Feldman Mary Ann Fraser Sharlee Glenn Barbara Renaud Gonzalez Laurie Gray Trine M. Grillo Claudia Harrington Sue Heavenrich Linda Oatman High Anna Grossnickle Hines Lee Bennett Hopkins Phillip Hoose Diane M. Hower Michelle Houts Mike Jung Kathy Walden Kaplan Amal Karzai Jane Kelley Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff Amy Goldman Koss JoAnn Vergona Krapp Nina Laden Sarah Darer Littman José Antonio López Mariellen López Jenny MacKay Marianne Malone Ann S. Manheimer Sally Mavor Diane Mayr Marissa Moss Yesenia Navarrete Hunter Sally Nemeth Kim Norman Geraldo Olivo Alexis O’Neill Anne Marie Pace Amado Peña Irene Peña Lynn Plourde Ellen Prager, PhD David Rice Armando Rendon Joan Rocklin Judith Robbins Rose Sergio Ruzzier Barb Rosenstock Liz Garton Scanlon Lisa Schroeder Sara Shacter Wendi Silvano Janni Lee Simner Sheri Sinykin Jordan Sonnenblick Ruth Spiro Heidi E.Y. Stemple Whitney Stewart Shawn K. Stout Steve Swinburne Carmen Tafolla Kim Tomsic Duncan Tonatiuh Patricia Thomas Kristin O’Donnell Tubb Deborah Underwood Corina Vacco Audrey Vernick Debbie Vilardi Judy Viorst K. M. Walton Wendy Wax April Halprin Wayland Carol Weis Rosemary Wells Lois Wickstrom Suzanne Morgan Williams Kay Winters Ashley Wolff Lisa Yee Karen Romano Young Jane Yolen Roxyanne Young Paul O. Zelinsky Jennifer Ziegler