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[Susan notes: Listen to the students!]

Published in Dallas Morning News
05/19/2005

To the editor

It limits teachers



I, along with public school students throughout the state of Texas, recently suffered through the arduously dull task of Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills testing. My entire school year revolved around this momentous occasion ... and I learned little.



TAKS may keep schools accountable to the "standards" imposed by the federal government and various politicians under No Child Left Behind, but it does little to help the education of students like myself. I once arrived at school with passionate joy, with a zeal for my next lesson in literature, history, science or any other great subject; now sheer drudgery and disappointment fill my school days.



Why? I learn little, if anything, but prepackaged lessons directed toward TAKS testing. Students in generations past read Plato, Shakespeare and Joyce; modern students learn how to take tests.



TAKS demoralizes teachers; it encourages mediocrity and dispassionate, robotic teaching. A few of my educators stand as truly brilliant teachers, yet the state of Texas limits their ability to teach according to their own sound judgment. TAKS demands that classes cover a laundry list of standards, ones that limit the actual lessons learned. By forcing teachers to teach to the "standards," ingenuity and creativity, the hallmarks of good educators, are crushed by the iron heel of "accountability."



Why aren't students taught philosophy, ethics or poetry? Whatever happened to education as a form of self-betterment? Education feeds the soul, nourishing people's character, forming boys and girls into intelligent, informed men and women.



TAKS testing subverts education. TAKS testing creates a class of educational automatons, a mob of children taught merely to bubble in responses and write trite, five-paragraph essays. The core values of education matter not; TAKS leaves only dry lesson plans, lost opportunities and bitterly bored students.



For the sake of the youth of Texas, we must improve education. The legislators of Texas can start by dumping the failed experiment of TAKS testing.



A.J. Prassas, McKinney



It's just a distraction



If I hear the word TAKS one more time, I will have a seizure. I have had the word screamed at me, pushed down my throat and shoved in my eye for the majority of this school year and my schooling career. Although this year marked my last year to take it, this beast of a test's existence infuriated me, and I must destroy it.



You pay taxes so that I can be taught all year how to pass the test and, in turn, learn absolutely nothing. This presents a problem. The test accomplishes nothing in the way of actual education and is only a nuisance.

In short, it embodies a measuring tape used just so rich white men in seats of power can look at a number, then look at, say, Canada's number, and say, "Ha! We beat you in reading and writing!"



Perhaps if I didn't spend so much time worrying over a test that could potentially ruin my academic career, I could worry about learning something that would help my academic career.



It may be too late for me, but do not let it be too late for other children who still have the chance. The time stands now to look the snarling beast in the eye and say, "Mr. Senator, Mr. Governor, Mr. President, when will you put your pride and egos away?"



Then, and only then, will students of tomorrow have a chance at learning, dancing on the graves of standardized testing all around the world.



Matt Offers, McKinney

A.J. Prassas & Matt Offers


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