Thank you for the report “City Teacher Stands Alone by Refusing to Give Tests” (May 23), but the headline is misleading. Indeed, Mary King’s action in refusing to administer the state tests to her ESL students is unique, courageous and pioneering. However, far from standing alone, she is part of a growing movement of parents, teachers and students who are standing up against the egregious testing mania which is part of the current attacks on public schools.
As a middle-school teacher in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, it is my experience that it would be hard to find a teacher who does not have similar stories about how the testing frenzy has hurt individual students, let alone how it has been a central part of the destruction of real teaching and learning in our schools.
Just last week Jim Scanlon, superintendent of the West Chester Area School District, sent a letter to parents in which he says, among other things, “... we are asking our students to do something that’s entirely unfair: To spend weeks and weeks filling in bubbles, taking standardized tests and having their entire educational ambition directed toward passing them. This is not what public education was intended to do, nor should do. ... I believe in very high standards for our students. I believe in accountability. I do believe that tests can be a good thing. But not the way we are being forced, by the government, to give them.”
Many of us would welcome such leadership from Pittsburgh Public Schools, but we are not waiting for it. Saluting Mary King, and working alongside her, many of us teachers, parents and students keep working to help people stand up against the testing mania, along with all of the other undermining that the “reformers” are attempting to do to our public schools.