Along with 120 other children's book authors, beloved poet and activist Maya Angelou has called President Obama on the carpet for his "testing overuse and abuse." The authors say that the pressure on children to learn narrow testing materials, and then perform well, robs them of a love for learning. Among the authors on the list are Ruth Spiro, Whitney Stewart and Alma Flor Ada.
The letter, addressed to President Obama himself, scolds the Administration's role in heightening standardized test ramifications and therefore putting more pressure on students and teachers to perform. Some highlights of the letter include:
"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."
"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."
"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."
While many teachers, parents and education experts (like Diane Ravitch) have spoken out about their concerns with teaching-to-the-test, and most recently the Common Core Standards, this is the first time such a list of "who's who" has come out against reading and testing culture. Angelou has always been a strong and vocal supporter of Obama so it will be interesting to see if and how he responds to this latest point.