30 July 2012

Annual Teachers Meeting in Detroit Brings Resolution on Testing

Story first reported from Detroit  Free Press

American Federation of Teachers members took a stand against what they say is a fixation on high-stakes testing in U.S. schools – unanimously passing a resolution today that says testing should inform education, not impede it.

Randi Weingarten, AFT president, said that teaching should be the center of education, not testing.

The Washington, D.C.-based union – which has 1.5 million members – is holding its annual convention this year at Cobo Center in Detroit. Nearly 2,400 people from across the country are registered for the convention, officials said today.

The testing resolution was one of the most important the delegates were to consider, Weingarten said in the days leading up to the convention. 

The resolution says assessments are an integral part of public education. But it takes aim at the current environment, saying the test-and-punish model has damaged public education.

Among those who spoke in support of the resolution was Donald Brown of the Pajaro Valley Federation of Teachers in California.

Brown said the tests were a humiliation, and only showed students what they weren't learning.

Andrew Dewey of the Houston Federation of Teachers in Texas said testing is turning children into data points, and feeding data to an accountability monster.

Earlier today, the delegates heard from Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers, who railed against what he said is right-wing politics that have reduced funding for schools, reduced support services in schools and left class sizes bulging.

King said the testing vilified teachers, speaking before teachers gathered at Cobo Center for the annual meeting of the American Federation of Teachers.

The AFT convention in Detroit, its first one here in several decades, has so far drawn 2,350 delegates from across the country. The convention began Friday and runs through Monday.

King said the labor movement in Michigan “is fighting a difficult battle.”

He specifically noted the state’s emergency manager law, saying it is anti-democratic and should not be allowed.

The EM law, efforts in Michigan and across the country to adopt what he described as voter suppression laws, and efforts to curb collective bargaining rights are destroying democracy in America.

He said President Barack Obama should be re-elected, saying no one else has stood for collective bargaining like he has.

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