Send a postcard to Michelle Obama – End High Stakes Testing

Time Out From Testing and other organizations and individuals from across the country are launching a May 29th postcard campaign asking First Lady Michelle Obama to encourage the President to put an end to the use of High Stakes Testing. On the campaign trail, Michelle Obama stated:

No Child Left Behind is strangling the life out of most schools…. If my future were determined by my performance on a standardized test I wouldn’t be here. I guarantee that.

Time Out From Testing is asking that everyone send a postcard on May 29th. You can write something like this:

Dear Michelle Obama:

We want the same education for our public school children that you provide for Malia and Sasha. Our child is not a test score.

Encourage the President to end the use of high stakes standardized tests!


Mail to: First Lady Michelle Obama
White House,
Washington DC

Finally, let Time Out From Testing know that you sent a postcard so that it can have an accurate count of the postcards sent.

24 thoughts on “Send a postcard to Michelle Obama – End High Stakes Testing

  1. Maybe throw in a comment no her anti-obesity campaign. How useless homework overload keeps kids inside, not playing, not in nature.


  2. ***
    We want the same edu­ca­tion … that you pro­vide for Malia and Sasha.

    My kids are already getting the same education as Malia and Sasha. They’re attending an expensive Quaker school!


  3. So I was talking to a new neighbor about the schools here. She asked if my kids attended the local public school and I explained (briefly) that we took the kids out of public school after older dd couldn’t handle the pressure of 5th grade.

    I said that it seemed the pressure really went up in 5th grade because they’re trying to “get the kids ready” for middle school. The new neighbor said that she noticed the pressure getting worse for her stepdaughter in 4th grade. The kids were getting letter grades and big tests every week.

    So apparently the school realized kids couldn’t handle the pressure of 5th grade — and their solution was to increase the pressure of 4th grade!

    I often think of going back to the public schools because of the mega $$$ that we’re currently sending to the private school, but then I have a conversation like that one.


  4. I just wrote about this on my blog. My son, in the gifted program at his school, just finished his Virginia SOL (Standards of Learning) tests last week.

    The school had gotten him (and several of his gifted, and high intensity) friends so keyed up about the tests that they were literally ill last week. Stress-induced illness in nine-year-old gifted kids. What is this world coming to?

    Next year, at the potential peril of my job and my sanity – I am going to unschool this child so that he can de-pressurize from the agonies of day-to-day stultifying homework and mindless busywork. It is a crime to take a child that loves to learn and teach them to hate and fear school. I am going to try to nip this growing feeling in the bud.

    Digression: SOLs?! Someone in the Commonwealth clearly has a sense of humor.


  5. Hi K! I wish you luck in your homeschooling endeavors.

    It’s interesting what you say about the gifted kids. My kids are now in Quaker schools, which don’t do “gifted” because of their commitment to equality. However, my older dd was in the gifted program back at public school and it was a mixed experience at best.

    They had a once- or twice- a week pullout with a teacher who was actually qualified to teach gifted kids, and that went well. They did some interesting stuff and dd enjoyed it.

    I had a couple of objections to the pullout program — first, it was completely inadequate (at most, dd had 1 1/2 hours out of 30 hours a week with a teacher who knew something about gifted ed.) And besides that, why can’t the average kids get a chance to do something interesting?

    But for the most part, the attitude our district takes toward the gifted is that they are high-achieving robots. There is no limit to the pressure they can be put under and the work that can be loaded on them. Their function is to achieve and perform and make the district look good. In that spirit, my daughter was put in an “accelerated” math class, which was a disaster and one of the reasons we left the public schools.

    It is a crime to take a child that loves to learn and teach them to hate and fear school


    Best of luck to you. I hope you’ll let us know how it’s going.


  6. HomeworkBlues said:

    FedUp, as Alfie Kohn likes to say, “when it doesn’t work, we do more of it.”

    HWB, absolutely right. When it doesn’t work, they do more of it, and they push it younger, contradicting everything we know about normal childhood development.


  7. FUM on Gifted education…

    Gifted Education is just a different form of special education. And, in some cases, it is really a little of both ends of the spectrum.

    What we keep seeing, though, is gifted education as MORE, not MORE INTERESTING.

    And, that doesn’t serve anyone.

    Now, my second child is on the verge of making it into the gifted program – not sure we’ll accept. Odd place to be.


  8. K says:

    What we keep see­ing, though, is gifted edu­ca­tion as MORE, not MORE INTERESTING.

    There’s an appalling lack of imagination in our public school district. They can do more of the same old stuff, they can do the same old stuff at a quicker pace (accelerated math), or they can do the same old stuff in an earlier grade (“to get them ready for …”). What they can’t seem to wrap their heads around is the idea of doing something different.

    And when they decide to quicken the pace, how much do they quicken it by? A year, so they won’t have to restructure any of their existing classes.


  9. I had one of those light bulbs go off for me this morning…I’m in the midst of sending a letter to our school about how I want homework to be optional next year for my Grade 4 daughter knowing full well that the demands will be even greater next year. I’ve watched the demands creep up and I’ve finally reached that point where enough is enough. And it has nothing really to do with academics…and everything to do with her being a child. She just turned 9.

    And the Ah-ha thing? I was 8 and was one of those accelerated I was in Grade 5, almost 2 grades above where I should have been. All the teachers said…”she can do the work”, “she’s doing fine”, she’ll be bored with less”. But my Mother knew…the demands were too great on this child. She pulled me out of Grade 5 in October and put me back in Grade 4 with a teacher I loved. So I breezed through one year…my Mother got her little girl back, instead of a stressed out, treading water, scrambling to fit in pre-teen.

    History is just repeating itself. But it’s funny how between 1968 and 2010 …42 years and schools still don’t get it. There’s no point rushing.


  10. Psych Mom- As someone with a background in psychology, who do you think gravitates towards teaching elementary school today? I find it frustrating that many teachers who write in can’t see their lack of logic (and lack of ownership for their jobs) in what they write. Also, they don’t see the hypocrisy in their “I love children” declarations.


  11. By and large, it’s a profession dominated by women, right? Here in Canada I think it’s a fairly well paid profession….(I’m happy to be corrected by any Canadian teachers who want to write in), which I don’t think is so much true in the States. But having said that, I don’t think women choose it for the big bucks to be made. I do think that many stay because of pensions to be had, but that may change within the current economic climate.

    Whenever I’ve asked a teacher why she got into teaching it was because of a love of kids. But I think the same thing happens as with some people who enter the helping professions (who just “want to work with/help people”). When they realize it’s not what they thought it would be like, they either burn out, or they find a way to adapt. The trouble with the profession of teaching, from my perspective, is that there isn’t a lot of academic professionalism. How many teachers keep up with the scientific journals about childhood behaviour or learning? How many understand research and statistics? How many even understand basic growth and development?

    Liking kids is good. Facilitating learning …whole other thing.


  12. Great insights. In the affluent suburbs in the U.S., teaching is also a fairly high paying profession. Also, it is extremely difficult to get fired. I just find it fascinating that some teachers feel it is their place to demean and belitttle their students (and mothers).


  13. Whenever teachers tell us how quickly they could lose their jobs if they don’t do (fill in the blank. Reading logs, recess punishment, test prep), I’m always a little suspect. Where I live, I’ve been told it’s almost impossible for a teacher to get fired.

    We hear a lot about the low pay. And believe me, I’m not unsympathetic to declining teacher conditions. But it often pays more than a great many other professions, particularly when you factor in that teachers get almost the entire summer off.

    A friend who’s a retired teacher receives a hefty annual pension. She once complained to me that the highest a New York City teacher could be paid is around 95,000. Think how many people today don’t even make that much in their jobs and never will.


  14. Not according to this woman, who worked in that system. Principals in my area make much more than that!


  15. Hey, the woman who runs tech support for the Lower Merion School District, which is currently in big trouble for spying on students via the webcams on their school-issued computers, is making $105K per year. She’s currently on paid leave because it’s near-impossible to fire anyone.

    A first-year teacher in Lower Merion makes $48K plus change, as of 2008. That’s with just a bachelor’s degree.

    If it’s any consolation, $95K isn’t such a huge salary for NYC. It’s a very expensive place to live.


  16. FedUp, I KNOW New York is expensive. I’m a New Yorker, albeit expatriated. But there’s some myth out there that all the other New York professionals are making much more and that is just not the case. We live in the DC area and although we are well educated, we pretty much live paycheck to paycheck.

    I’m not saying teachers are getting rich. You don’t go into it for the money. I wish school districts skimmed central staff and directed that money to the teachers. I wish we could weed out the mediocre ones, hire great instructors and pay them accordingly But this myth that teachers are akin to nuns, subsisting on meager wages for the public good is just that, a myth.

    There was an op ed piece in the Washington Post last year about the tough salary conditions of area teachers. Someone wrote a well crafted letter to the paper in response (I wish I had the time to look this up and post it) that the starting salary lamented is actually not all that bad. In fact, he pointed out, it’s more than many other professions. My daughter, after five years at a selective accredited architecture program, may not make as much as starting teachers. And she won’t get summers off.


  17. “A first-year teacher in Lower Merion makes $48K plus change, as of 2008. That’s with just a bachelor’s degree.”

    To prove my point further, in this economy, there are engineers coming out of school not making this much. It’s not much. But it’s not unusual.


  18. “With 2 graduate degrees and 25 years plus experience, I’ll still never make 95K.”

    Bingo. Again my point. There are many people with top degrees from top schools and over a quarter century of experience not making 95K.

    I used to think teacher salaries were a scandal. Until I started looking into it. Truth be told, many teachers will tell you it’s not the “low” pay but the working conditions that become a sticking point. But that’s another story.

    Again, if you are making close to fifty grand, why do you need unpaid parent volunteers to do your job for you? I don’t ask teachers to do mine. And I work pretty hard.


  19. HWB said:

    I used to think teacher salaries were a scan­dal. Until I started look­ing into it.

    HWB, I think what we’re seeing here is the long lag time of cultural memes. The image of the overworked, underpaid teacher-martyr got into the culture at a time when there really was some truth to it, and has stuck around even after teacher pay has risen dramatically. Teachers may still be overworked, although as I always ask, how much of that work is worth doing?

    In some ways, the job of public-school teacher is now at the place where the job of auto-assembly-line worker was a generation or two ago. It’s one of the very few solid, secure, decent-paying middle-class jobs left. I wonder how long it will last.

    I personally think we have only begun to see the changes wrought by a decade of economic mismanagement.

    There was an article in the NY Times about the poor job market for teachers. The husband of a friend of mine is experiencing this first-hand. It’s rough out there.


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