Standardized testing fails in the United States

by: Maayan Schechter – mschect@unca.edu – assistant Campus Voice editor

As the country moves toward reforming education, teachers unions  scramble to gain a louder voice ahead of politicians.

Lasting more than a full school week, the recent Chicago Teacher Unions strike has come at a time when the country is seeking to expand charter programs, stop public schools from failing by getting private companies involved and grade teachers according to their students’ evaluated test scores.

Charter schools, unlike public schools, receive public money or private donations and are not subject to the same kinds of rulings and regulations. They may charge tuition, or use a lottery-based system to bring in new students. Charter schools, once unheard of, are becoming popular in minority neighborhoods across the United States.

The Democrats are split on how radical reform should be within education. On one side is the teachers unions, whose job is to protect all teachers from methods of accountability based soley on test scores. The other side are the reformers, who want teachers to be put under a microscope and want schools to be placed on a higher pedestal.

President Obama’s education policy, “Race to the Top,” sparked resentment from many teachers as some say it resembles George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind.” The teachers union made its message very clear. Whether or not you are a Washington elite or politician, the union is in charge of what happens in public schools. But what happens in public schools does not really ever stay in public schools.

Teaching-to-the-test to meet standardized guidelines is obviously not a successful way of teaching. In terms of education and test scores, the United States cannot even keep up with other countries. Students leaving elementary education heading into middle school do not even have the most basic of knowledge to enter a higher level. Disappointment stings as this country has not glued together the cracks within public education.

While some may argue standardized testing can be used as a measure of learning, these tests are a giant waste of time and resources. If this is the only indication this country has as to whether or not a school is succeeding, then we as a country need to try harder. Students may not always love school at first. However, if a student has a place to go to, to not only be educated but also to be motivated to do and be better, then that student can and will succeed.

It is time to stop pointing fingers and shouting the reason our public schools are not doing so well is the lack of funding. In every foundation there will be flaws, but blaming a lack of funding will never solve a problem. The successful schools in Finland do not always have adequate funding, but somehow their students come out with higher math, science and reading levels than our students who are given laptops as part of some school technology boost.

As much as teacher unions want politicians in Washington to quit using them as scapegoats for everything wrong             in American education, now is the time for teacher unions to stop wi dening the gap of communication and to take higher responsibility. Yes, teachers in this country must get paid more and have full parental support. But students need teachers, they need motivators.

Already, the teacher unions and parents are protesting screenings of “Won’t Back Down,” starring Maggie Gyllenhall and Viola Davis as mothers and one teacher who try to take over a failing inner-city public school.

Many objectors feel this movie portrays negative stereotypes  and spreads false information about teachers. As the Chicago Teacher Union strike progresses and the heat of education reform increases, it seems like a perfect time for a controversial movie to come out and spark a much needed conversation about education.

As a country, we keep talking about how education needs to be fixed, but no one is fixing the public education problem.

We are just building more charter  schools and potentially leaving behind students who fail to make the lottery or the best and brightest students in public education.

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