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Topic: Union boss derides "test mania"
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
Union boss derides "test mania"
Posted: Jul 8, 2000 11:30 AM
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From the Chicago Tribune, Tuesday, July 4, 2000, Section 2, p. 3

Teachers union boss derides schools' 'test mania'

By Vanessa Gezari

The head of the country's largest teachers union Monday lambasted a
test-driven educational culture that he said sets students up for

Speaking to 9,500 teachers and educational support employees at the
National Education Association's Annual Representative Assembly at
McCormick Place, union President Bob Chase said the current "testing
mania" does a disservice to students because it ignores inequalities
between rich and poor school districts.

Struggling students who fall short of standards don't get enough
chances to catch up, he said.

"One state, Virginia, expects 3rd graders to describe the ancient
civilizations of Greece and Rome in terms of geographic features,
government, agriculture, music, art, men, women and children," Chase

"Days, even weeks, of valuable class time are now being consumed by
test drills. Material that's not on the tests, especially in the arts
and sciences, is being tossed out."

Though Chase said he supports high standards for students, he said
the current standardized testing system would benefit from a generous
dose of common sense.

In an interview, he praised a proposal issued Monday by the American
Federation of Teachers that would allow students who have trouble
meeting standards to tack on an extra year of high school.

"I think it has a lot of merit," he said. "I'd like to see programs
in place to [help students] achieve standards. That's the kind of
thing I'm talking about."

Gov. George Ryan, who also addressed the gathering, said the
five-year high school option "would be something I'd look at."

"They talk about summer schools and mabye lengthening high school. I
don't know," he said. "That's going to take a study by a lot of
people to decide."

Ryan touted his spending record on education and won applause for
promising to continue investing tens of millions of dollars to hire
teachers and reduce class size.

The NEA used the gathering to martial its 2.5 million members'
political clout behind issues like gun control and opposition to

In his speech, Chase took aim at the National Rifle Association and
raised the specter of a conservative president who could appoint
Supreme Court justices unfriendly to the union's position on such
issues as school prayer, vouchers and employee rights.

"We must exercise the power of us to prevent this from happening," he said.

Chase called on members to endorse Vice President Al Gore for
president, and delegates were expected to vote on the endorsement
Tuesday. Gore is scheduled to address the convention Thursday.
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618) 453-4244
Phone: (618) 453-4241 (office)
(618) 457-8903 (home)


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