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Editorial: Keep the politics out of the classroom, please

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Editorial: Keep the politics out of the classroom, please
Charleston Daily Mail editorial

If the local educators were in charge of curricula, you probably wouldn’t hear much complaining about testing requirements.

Oh sure, some students and parents would complain about the difficulty of the tests – some parents would complain that the teacher doesn’t like their kid, and so on.

But you likely would not have the power struggle over Big Education in West Virginia and the nation. The debate over Common Core and students opting out of standardized testing -- rightly or wrongly -- is a power play over who is in charge of education; national government or local teachers.

The emphasis on standardized testing since President George W. Bush pushed Congress to pass No Child Left Behind Standards in 2001 has left many distrustful of the federal government’s growing input into local classrooms.

“NCLB expanded the federal role in public education through annual testing, annual academic progress, report cards, teacher qualifications, and funding changes,” according to a Wikipedia definition.

As a result of the distrust; more students are opting out of standardized tests, including 200 at Spring Valley High School last week, reported Samuel Speciale.

“It’s turning into total chaos, and it’s ruining student -teacher-parent relationships,” said Warren McComas, coordinator for the Cabell-Wayne Campaign for Liberty, regarding the standardized testing dispute.

But what are the educators to do?

“The bottom line is that under West Virginia law, we are required to administer assessments,” said Liza Cordeiro of the West Virginia Department of Education. “If we are required to test, students are required to take them.”

Has our nation come to the point where the science of testing has taken precedence over the art of education?

“[Y]ou’d have to be blind or delusional not to acknowledge that in too many schools -- perhaps most -- the testing tail wags the education dog,” wrote Robert Pondiscio in a column for U.S. News and World Report.

“Test-driven accountability was supposed to make low-performing schools look more like high performers. Too often the opposite has happened.”

Pondiscio wrote that testing isn’t the problem, test prep is. “It can suck the life out of a school’s curriculum ...”

Considering the growing backlash and distrust of a federalized education system, Congress should scale back No Child Left Behind, as envisioned in the Every Child Achieves Act under consideration, and return more control of education to the teachers to do more teaching and less testing.