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State needs to stop labeling our students

I, along with thousands of parents from throughout Western New York, recently had the opportunity to take part in the Summit for Smarter Schools at Kleinhans Music Hall in Buffalo.

As a Buffalo public school parent, I heard experts emphasize that our schools and our children are not, in fact, “failing” – that the true failure is New York State’s obsession with using commercially prepared standardized tests to label our children, teachers and schools.

The testing experts made it clear that anyone using the rhetoric that our children are failing has bought into the political ideology of deep-pocket lobbyists pushing corporate takeover of public education.

The state standardized tests being used to punitively label our children and our schools have nothing to do with real learning. We should be outraged that the corporate promoters of commercial standardized tests get a free pass to denigrate our children and the good schools they attend. Meanwhile, they ignore the very real connection between investing in public education, which polls show the public and parents overwhelmingly support, and gains in student learning.

These test scores are the measurement being used to label our schools. We all know how hard it is to get rid of a label, even if it isn’t true. Stop labeling our kids and schools!

At the summit, we were presented with two ways forward in public education. 1) Continue on with corporate education reform that requires endless standardized testing – a one-size-fits all approach that research shows does not work. 2) Smart reform that is individual and child-centered, meeting the needs, learning styles and pace of every student. Standards will still be high, meaningful tests and measurements will be used and educators and students will get all the support needed to limit class sizes and support academics.

Our schools and our children are not failing. The tests are failing all of us.

LouAnn Loveless

Buffalo