May 2, 2013

Letters to the Editor: May 2, 2013

Protecting education

TO THE EDITOR: John Sims’s letter, accusing New York State United Teachers of undermining education reform by campaigning against standardized tests was as inaccurate and misleading as it was nonsensical.

NYSUT has never advocated for the elimination of state assessments. What’s more, the union has long maintained standardized tests have a place in education — if they are used as one of many measurements to evaluate student and teacher performance rather than a single blunt instrument.

What NYSUT is against is the state’s insistence on testing children beginning in April on a new Common Core curriculum that hasn’t yet been taught and then using results to evaluate students and teachers. Even the federal government recommends Common Core testing not start until 2014, yet New York is going ahead with its decision.

That’s why NYSUT is calling upon the State Education Department and Board of Regents to use these test results only to evaluate this year’s Common Core implementation, not in any high-stakes decision-making regarding students or teachers.

NYSUT has said repeatedly it supports the framework and potential of the new standards. What the union vigorously opposes is the state’s hurried and uneven implementation of the curriculum. It’s not, nor has it ever been, about the absence of testing. It’s about common sense.

Sims also alleged NYSUT’s true motivation lies in protecting union salaries and New York’s national-leading per-student expenditures. As indecipherable as that logic is, financial interests do lie at the heart of this issue: Private, for-profit testing companies have discovered there’s big money in the relentless testing of students.

NYSUT’s campaign is really about protecting the future of public education. And that’s a fight from which the union will never back down.

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