Rallies Protest Testing Agenda

K-12 Testing

Two dozen students, teachers and parents rallied on October 9 against the high-stakes testing policies promoted by the governors and corporate executives assembled at the fourth, “leave no child untested” national Education Summit at IBM headquarters in Palisades, NY. Protestors from the Albany Free School, Bedford Academic Community of Fox Lane High, Hoosic Valley High, Nyack Partners in Education, and New York City, joined by Students Against Testing and FairTest, charged the Summit with undermining learning and educational equity by focusing on tests, and making schools subservient to narrow corporate interests.


The rally was organized by Students Against Testing (SAT), with support from FairTest and the Assessment Reform Network. The continuing chaotic conditions in nearby New York City resulting from the September 11 attack sharply reduced participation from activists who had attended a May 2001 Albany rally against testing, which drew upwards of 1500 people (see Examiner, Spring 2001). Police kept the demonstrators well away from the politicians and their big business donors meeting at IBM headquarters.
On the same day, some 10 parents and students picketed the Ohio Business Roundtable office in Columbus, OH. ARN activist Mary O’Brien charged, “Big corporations are engineering kids to be good compliant workers instead of good democratic citizens” through test-driven schooling.


Parent Jenny Rytel added, “Big business came up with this ideology and then they used their vast wealth to impose their idea of school reform on our schools.”


This Summit, organized by IBM and Achieve (an organization set up at an earlier Summit to promote state standards and testing programs), was called to fine tune state testing programs. Only 15 governors attended.


One Summit topic was the catastrophic failure rates of African American, Latino and low-income students, euphemistically referred to as the “score gap.” States and the federal government, however, have failed not only to adequately fund all schools, but they have failed to address social conditions such as lack of housing, medical care and basic nutrition suffered by many low-income children that affect school performance.


Despite the small size of these rallies, opposition to test-driven school “reform” and high-stakes testing has clearly rattled test defenders. The Educational Testing Service (ETS) issued a harshly worded statement attacking FairTest for “throwing rocks from the sidelines,” while IBM chairman Louis Gerstner accused protestors of hiding behind “the new bogeyman of testing.”


• Students Against Testing (SAT) is a new network bringing student groups together to oppose the overuse and misuse of standardized tests. SAT can be reached at http://www.nomoretests.com or by email at info@nomoretests.com. More rally information and photos are on the SAT website.
• Achieve’s website www.achieve.org contains official material on the Summit.