On that day we are asking you to call your Senators and, if you tweet, send out and retweet others’ Twitter messages using the hashtag #CutFedTests.
Why should you speak up about ESEA?
Reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA- formerly No Child Left Behind or NCLB) is moving towards a possible end point very soon.
So many of you are so deep in the trenches with local fights that it’s hard to have the time or energy to take on federal education laws. You may be opting out of spring tests, speaking out for better funding, advocating for lower class size and more learning time, or challenging charter school expansion, high-stakes testing, and student data sharing in your district or state.
But ESEA affects all of these things. Fixing ESEA will make a difference in your local fights. And the opportunity to change ESEA only comes around once every few years.
Let’s take testing as a prime example. The test mania that we hate so much really took hold after the George W. Bush administration turned ESEA into NCLB and changed the grade span testing mandate to an annual testing requirement.
We can’t fix everything in ESEA – though we’ve been trying! – but we do have a chance to decrease the amount of and the stakes placed on standardized testing by supporting Option 1 of the Senate ESEA proposal.
We still think that the best way to be heard is to visit your Senators and Congressional representatives in their home offices while they are home for spring break, now through April 10.
If at all possible, it would be even better to visit on April 8, our national day of action for ESEA and testing.
You can call the local offices and make an appointment. If you can’t get in to see the actual legislator, you can still make a major impression by meeting with his/her legislative aide, talking to any aide, or even just physically showing up at the office and leaving a written or verbal message (see below). Find their home office contact info at senate.gov and house.gov.
What to say???
Legislators have a lot of issues to deal with. What really sticks in their minds are personal stories that illustrate the issues you care about. You know what those stories are – they are the experiences that made you reach out to PAA!
For background, you can stick to the first point listed below, which relates to testing. Then if you want to share the other three points, and others that you care about, go for it!
- We strongly support the Option 1 proposal for grade span testing. While this won’t end the current misuse and overuse of standardized tests, it can help ease the testing mania gripping our nation. We believe that the existing NAEP test – expanded nationwide – can provide the necessary accountability check and balance on carefully designed local assessments.
- We further ask for your support for enhanced local control in deciding how to evaluate teachers and schools: we oppose the use of standardized test scores as major determinants of teacher or school evaluation.
- We believe in supporting the public schools in our communities. Research shows that these schools generally outperform charter schools while serving a larger proportion of special needs students. We oppose programs that take scarce funds away from our neighborhood schools in favor of expanding charter schools or providing voucher funds for private schools which are not accountable to the community and have not proven to be better alternatives.
- With more than half of all public school children now living in poverty, we believe that federal funding must grow to meet the students’ growing needs and growing demands on our schools.
You can also share:
- PAA’s position paper, Testing and ESEA,
- a copy of PAA’s one-page ESEA position paper, “What Parents Value and how Congress should act,”
- PAA’s 1-page chart on the Senate bill for Senators, and
- our 1-page chart on HR 5 for Congressional reps.
Finally, if you haven’t already used this handy FairTest form on grade-span testing, do it now!