When I started teaching a dozen years ago, my job had a beautiful simplicity: teach math and science to seventh graders. No longer. Today teaching is about getting the students to pass a standardized test. In the last few years I’ve watched in dismay as my friendly, adventurous middle school has become a bleaker, more brittle experience for children and adults alike.
I decided to make a bumper sticker to express my frustration. I struggled with the wording: “another angry teacher” didn’t sufficiently convey the effects of testing on my students; “tested to death” sounded too dramatic; “race to the bottom” too sarcastic. I knew what I needed to convey: despair. I figured I’d print a couple of hundred and see if people liked them.
But my real goal isn’t selling stickers. I want to give voice to our shared outrage over what high-stakes testing is doing to our kids and our schools.
Whether you’re a teacher like me, a concerned parent or a student, I hope that you’ll share your story. Together we might actually be able to make a difference.