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Open Letter against high-stakes testing to President of the United States... 120 famous writers denounce overtesting of the children of Chicago and America

Not that anyone in Chicago will get to read about it (the Chicago Sun-Times is still devoted to promoting Chicago's mayor, even in the most trivial instances, with a front page photograph at least once a week), but a large number of some of the most famous writers (and children's writers) in the United States of America have denounced the overtesting of America's children. The Open Letter went directly to President Barack Obama, with a "cc" to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Coming on the eve of another vote by the Chicago Board of Education to expand the overtesting of Chicago's children, the Open Letter is even more poignant. The letter is to President Obama, more or less ignoring the underlings like Arne Duncan -- who are simply the implementers of corporate school reform. Obama's "signature" education program, after all, is the test-obsessed and eugenics-based program called "Race To The Top."

Maya Angelou has joined more than 100 other writers in denouncing the overtesting of America's children.The letter, released on Monday October 21, 2013 by Fair Test, came with a press release. Following are (a) the press release from Fair Test and (b) the letter to the President of the United States.

FAIR TEST PRESS RELEASE:

FairTest News Release on Public Letter about Standardized Testing by 120+ Children's Authors & Illustrators

Submitted by fairtest on October 21, 2013 - 6:00pm alternatives assessment authentic assessment fairtest on national high stakes k-12 k-16 national national legislative news whats new

for further information: Dr. Monty Neill (617) 477-9792

Bob Schaeffer (239) 395-6773

for immediate release -- Tuesday, October 22, 2013

120+ CHILDREN’S BOOK AUTHORS AND ILLUSTRATORS TELL PRES. OBAMA,

“WE ARE ALARMED AT NEGATIVE IMPACTS OF EXCESSIVE SCHOOL TESTING”

SIGNERS INCLUDE MAYA ANGELOU, JUDY BLUME, JULES FEIFFER, DONALD CREWS

SAY POLICIES UNDERMINE “CHILDREN’S LOVE OF READING AND LITERATURE”

More than 120 leading authors and illustrators of books for children, including several national award winners, are calling on President Obama to “change the way we assess learning so that schools nurture creativity, exploration, and a love of literature.” Their letter delivered to the White House today stated, “Our public schools spend far too much time preparing for reading tests and too little time curling up with books that fire their imaginations.”

“All children must have the freedom to grow, to evolve, to develop,” explained acclaimed poet Maya Angelou, who spoke at President Obama's inauguration. “We parents, authors, illustrators are standing up for our children. We desperately need you and your administration to stand with us.”

The authors’ and illustrators’ letter continued, “We are alarmed at the negative impact of excessive school testing mandates, including your administration’s own initiatives, on children’s love of reading and literature. Recent policy changes by your Administration have not lowered the stakes. On the contrary, requirements to evaluate teachers on student test scores impose more standardized exams and crowd out exploration.”

Signers of a “Public Letter on Standardized Testing from Authors and Illustrators of Books for Children and Youth” include such other notables as Alma Flor Ada, Judy Blume, Jules Feiffer, and Donald Crews, as well as National Book Award winners Kathryn Erskine and Phillip Hoose.

The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) coordinated signature gathering for the letter. The assessment reform organization’s executive director, Dr. Monty Neill, explained, “The authors and illustrators recognize the damage done to young children by testing overkill. The new Common Core assessments will not reverse the damage. In fact, they will mandate more standardized exams in more grades. It is time for an indefinite moratorium on high-stakes exams.”

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- The letter to President Obama with a complete signers’ list of children’s authors and illustrators is online at: http://www.fairtest.org/public-letter-on-standardized-testing-by-childrens-authors

- A fact sheet on Common Core assessments is at: http://fairtest.org/common-core-assessments-factsheet

THE OPEN LETTER WITH THE NAMES IS BELOW HERE:

Public Letter on Standardized Testing from Authors and Illustrators of Books for Children and Youth

Submitted by fairtest on October 21, 2013 - 5:49pm alternatives assessment authentic assessment fairtest on national k-12 k-16 national national legislative

October 22, 2013

President Barack Obama

The White House

Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

We the undersigned children’s book authors and illustrators write to express our concern for our readers, their parents and teachers. We are alarmed at the negative impact of excessive school testing mandates, including your Administration’s own initiatives, on children’s love of reading and literature. Recent policy changes by your Administration have not lowered the stakes. On the contrary, requirements to evaluate teachers based on student test scores impose more standardized exams and crowd out exploration.

We call on you to support authentic performance assessments, not simply computerized versions of multiple-choice exams. We also urge you to reverse the narrowing of curriculum that has resulted from a fixation on high-stakes testing.

Our public school students spend far too much time preparing for reading tests and too little time curling up with books that fire their imaginations. As Michael Morpurgo, author of the Tony Award Winner War Horse, put it, “It's not about testing and reading schemes, but about loving stories and passing on that passion to our children.”

Teachers, parents and students agree with British author Philip Pullman who said, “We are creating a generation that hates reading and feels nothing but hostility for literature.” Students spend time on test practice instead of perusing books. Too many schools devote their library budgets to test-prep materials, depriving students of access to real literature. Without this access, children also lack exposure to our country’s rich cultural range.

This year has seen a growing national wave of protest against testing overuse and abuse. As the authors and illustrators of books for children, we feel a special responsibility to advocate for change. We offer our full support for a national campaign to change the way we assess learning so that schools nurture creativity, exploration, and a love of literature from the first day of school through high school graduation.

Alma Flor Ada

Alma Alexander

Jane Ancona

Maya Angelou

Jonathan Auxier

Kim Baker

Molly Bang

Tracy Barrett

Chris Barton

Ari Berk

Judy Blume

Alfred B. (Fred) Bortz

Lynea Bowdish

Sandra Boynton

Shellie Braeuner

Ethriam Brammer

Louann Mattes Brown

Anne Broyles

Michael Buckley

Janet Buell

Dori Hillestad Butler

Charito Calvachi-Mateyko

Valerie Scho Carey

Rene Colato Lainez

Henry Cole

Ann Cook

Karen Coombs

Robert Cortez

Cynthia Cotten

Bruce Coville

Ann Crews

Donald Crews

Nina Crews

Rebecca Kai Dotlich

Laura Dower

Kathryn Erskine

Jules Feiffer

Jody Feldman

Mary Ann Fraser

Sharlee Glenn

Barbara Renaud Gonzalez

Laurie Gray

Trine M. Grillo

Claudia Harrington

Sue Heavenrich

Linda Oatman High

Anna Grossnickle Hines

Lee Bennett Hopkins

Phillip Hoose

Diane M. Hower

Michelle Houts

Mike Jung

Kathy Walden Kaplan

Amal Karzai

Jane Kelley

Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff

Amy Goldman Koss

JoAnn Vergona Krapp

Nina Laden

Sarah Darer Littman

José Antonio López

Mariellen López

Jenny MacKay

Marianne Malone

Ann S. Manheimer

Sally Mavor

Diane Mayr

Marissa Moss

Yesenia Navarrete Hunter

Sally Nemeth

Kim Norman

Geraldo Olivo

Alexis O’Neill

Anne Marie Pace

Amado Peña

Irene Peña

Lynn Plourde

Ellen Prager, PhD

David Rice

Armando Rendon

Joan Rocklin

Judith Robbins Rose

Sergio Ruzzier

Barb Rosenstock

Liz Garton Scanlon

Lisa Schroeder

Sara Shacter

Wendi Silvano

Janni Lee Simner

Sheri Sinykin

Jordan Sonnenblick

Ruth Spiro

Heidi E.Y. Stemple

Whitney Stewart

Shawn K. Stout

Steve Swinburne

Carmen Tafolla

Kim Tomsic

Duncan Tonatiuh

Patricia Thomas

Kristin O'Donnell Tubb

Deborah Underwood

Corina Vacco

Audrey Vernick

Debbie Vilardi

Judy Viorst

K. M. Walton

Wendy Wax

April Halprin Wayland

Carol Weis

Rosemary Wells

Lois Wickstrom

Suzanne Morgan Williams

Kay Winters

Ashley Wolff

Lisa Yee

Karen Romano Young

Jane Yolen

Roxyanne Young

Paul O. Zelinsky

Jennifer Ziegler

CC: Secretary of Education Arne Duncan



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