MEDIA WATCH: 'We are alarmed at the negative impact of excessive school testing mandates, including your Administration�s own initiatives, on children�s love of reading...' Maya Angelou's denunciation of high-stakes testing craziness ignored by corporate media, White House in eulogies' hypocrisy

Maybe we've missed it at Substance, but we haven't read in the eulogies in the corporate media that one of the last acts by Maya Angelou as a public intellectual in the United States was to join in a denunciation of the test craziness forced across the nation by President Barack Obama and his "Race To The Top." The authors' Letter to President Obama criticized federal education policy in no uncertain terms. And of the more than 100 authors and illutarators of children's books who signed the appeal, Maya Angelou stood proudly.

Maya Angelou defended President Barack Obama against the racism of many of his fiercest critics, but he didn't even respond to her criticism of the federal government's Race To The Top test-based corporate school "reform" program.There was no mention of her opposition to federal testing mandates in White House, City of Chicago, and other official proclamations about her life.


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

Jos� Antonio L�pez

Mariellen L�pez

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 Pe�a

Irene Pe�a

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


May 30, 2014 at 12:27 PM

By: Susan Ohanian

Maya Angelou

I'm unwilling to confer sainthood on Maya Angelou because passages from her work were so widely used on high stakes standardized tests. Here's one example:


But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage (stanza 2)

Which of the following best describes the effect of the metaphor in the stanza above?

It explains that the bird that is trapped may

A. break the bars that confine it.

B. not hope to see the outside world.

C. soon grow to accept the situation.

D. be consumed by its own anger.

Ohio Graduation Test, "Caged Bird" by Maya Angelou

No, she didn't write the test questions, but she held the copyright to the work that was used.

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