Save our Schools March & Rally: Parents speak out against standardized tests in Greeley Colorado one week before national march in Washington, D.C.

This march in Greeley, Colorado, reported in the local news story below, was one of many that went on throughout the country this summer with the hopes of reducing the amount of high-stakes testing in the public school system. The SOS Rally and March for Justice in Education took place in Washington, D.C., July 30, 2011. The coverage of the march in Greeley was more than many of the nation's media gave to the D.C. rally and march.

People angry about high stakes testing in Colorado

By Jon Tattum, Greeley Tribune, 2011-07-23

Nina Bishop introduced herself to her crowd Saturday as a “really mad mom.”

She told them about her son, an honor student with a learning disability who is no longer allowed to attend the Rocky Mountain Classical Academy in Colorado Springs. Her student was declined re-enrollment after Bishop refused to sign a school document, which would require him to take the Colorado Student Assessment Program [CSAP] and other standardized tests.

“He was gravy to them,” she said. “They said he’d pass with flying colors, so when we refused, they were mad.”

Bishop said she thinks they wanted her child’s standardized tests scores to boost the school’s overall average score. She was one of 10 speakers who participated in the Save our Schools March & Rally in Lincoln Park, 10th Avenue and 8th Street in Greeley. The group is opposed to the CSAP tests administered annually in Colorado public schools.

About 35 people attended the event. They met under the park’s gazebo and heard from speeches before marching down 9th Avenue to the Greeley-Evans School District 6 Administration Building carrying protest signs and wearing yellow shirts that read, “Opt out now ask us how.”

They stopped in front of the building and yelled chants such as “Down with CSAP” and “Care for kids.”

During her speech, Bishop encouraged parents to investigate their schools. She said part of the reason she enrolled her son into the academy was because it was a charter school, and she didn’t think it required standardized testing.

“It’s your duty as an American to know your rights, exercise your rights,” Bishop said. “And you need to investigate your schools.”

Motivating parents to become more involved in their school’s education system was a common theme throughout the rally. Another theme was that too much time was being spent testing instead of teaching. Patricia Kennedy, who taught in District 6 for 23 years, talked about her experience as a teacher.

“We were expected to grade tests and enter all of the data in for school records,” Kennedy said. “We were finally doing nothing but testing and keeping records.”

Alison Montana, the Save our Schools coordinator for Colorado, said the No Child Left Behind Act, which requires states to develop standardized tests for public schools, sets absurd and unreachable goals for teachers.

“The craziest thing about No Child Left Behind is that all kids have to be 100 percent on grade level by 2014,” said Montana, who taught in Adams County School District 14. “That would include my kids and I work with the most severely disabled kids. It’s like saying, ‘If you can’t fix their chromosomes, you’re a bad teacher.’”

After the rally, she brought up another point that was common in the participants’ speeches: the contempt and distrust for teachers that standardized tests can bring.

“If someone says to me, ‘Should I be a teacher?’ I couldn’t recommend it,” Montana said. “It’s too hard, too dangerous and people feel like they can’t change it.”


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