Thousands of teachers, parents and allies rallied in Albany, N.Y., on Saturday in opposition to the use of high-stakes standardized tests that are being put in place before the state and teachers have time to fully implement the new curriculum to support those tests. More than 225 buses filled with people showed up to the rally, which was sponsored by New York State United Teachers, the New York State AFL-CIO, AFT, Citizen Action, the New York Immigration Coalition and New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness.
Numerous complaints were registered both about the new standardized tests being implemented and tests used in the past. The top complaint about the current proposed tests is the fact that students haven't received the full curriculum those tests are designed to cover. Ambiguous test questions and stress and anxiety were among the other specific complaints, as were more extreme examples, such as a recent mandated computer test given to kindergarten students, some of whom didn't even know how to use a computer yet. Recent Syosset High School (Long Island) graduate Nikhil Goyal complained about the "drill, kill, bubble fill" system of education based on standardized testing that his generation has experienced. Many speakers and participants at the rally also called for increased education funding and other reforms that would benefit students.
"People have asked me, 'Who are we rallying against?'" NYSUT President Dick Iannuzzi told the crowd. "Today we are not against anyone. Today is for children."
AFT President Randi Weingarten also spoke at the rally:
This is a fight for the promise of public education and for providing the kind of educational opportunity that anchors our democracy, that propels our economy and, most importantly, that all kids need to succeed in the 21st century. Sparks of imagination start in schools, but standardized testing has loomed so large to vaporize those sparks. Students need a well-rounded education and the supports that enable all of them to not simply dream their dreams but achieve them.