Our public schools need support. President Obama understands what his daughters need -- occasional low stakes tests used to find out their strengths and weaknesses, and a rich learning environment with lots of engaging projects. Unfortunately the policies of the President's Department of Education are moving us in the wrong direction, towards more tests, with even higher stakes.
If we continue down this path, schools will be completely driven by tests. Scarce resources will be spent on huge expenditures for computers, tests and scoring software, and precious school time will be wasted. Our students will become ever more focused on tests, and less on authentic learning.
With this petition we ask President Obama to bring his education policies in line with the vision he shared on March 28, at the town hall meeting. We invite him to endorse the principles of the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action, and to speak at our rally in Washington, DC, on July 30, 2011.
On March 28, 2011, you said the following:
"... we have piled on a lot of standardized tests on our kids. Malia and Sasha, my two daughters, they just recently took a standardized test. But it wasn't a high-stakes test."
"Too often what we've been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools. ...one thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching to the test. Because then you're not learning about the world; you're not learning about different cultures, you're not learning about science, you're not learning about math. All you're learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and the little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test. And that's not going to make education interesting to you."
We agree with what you have set forth as a vision for education here. Unfortunately, this vision is exactly the opposite of the education policy your office has promoted nationwide. By encouraging states to tie teacher pay and employment to test scores, and continuing the punitive, ineffective “turnaround” strategies of No Child Left Behind, your administration has increased the amount and importance of standardized tests given to children in our public schools.
Mr. President, what’s good for Sasha and Malia’s education is good for public education. The vision you proposed aligns with the Guiding Principles of the Save Our Schools March and National Call to Action. We hereby request that you endorse these principles, and more importantly, we implore you to bring the policies of your Department of Education into line with your vision. We furthermore invite you to address citizens concerned about these issues at the Save Our Schools rally at the Ellipse in Washington, DC, on July 30th.