Sunday, October 21, 2012

NEIFPE Letters to the President

Diane Ravitch coordinated a Campaign for our Public Schools in which teachers, students, parents and concerned citizens wrote letters to the President expressing dissatisfaction with the current government policies towards public education. On Saturday, October 20, 2012, Dr, Ravitch reported on the results. A PDF file of all the letters collected was created by Anthony Cody. Dr. Ravitch wrote,
In a brief, two-week period, nearly 400 letters were submitted. There were many that were eloquent, many that were heartfelt, many written from personal experience.

No one was paid to solicit letter-writers or to write letters. No one who worked to bring the letters together was paid. This was an earnest and completely volunteer effort to carry the views of concerned citizens to the President.

Not a single letter of those submitted expressed support for high-stakes testing or for the policies of No Child Left Behind or the Race to the Top.
The entire file of letters from writers around the country is available HERE. Over the next few days we'll reprint a few of the letters submitted from our members.

It's not too late to tell the President or any elected officials what you think of government policies towards public education. You can find out how to contact your elected officials at


Dear President Obama,

After 32 years of teaching, I have been happily retired for a number of years. Even though I am no longer in the classroom, I have become so distressed with what Arne Duncan has done to public education that I have become a grassroots activist, working to slow down some of the reforms that I know are not educationally sound. After the damage done to education by No Child Left Behind, I was hopeful that your Department of Education would turn some of that damage around. Much to my dismay, the Race to the Top has managed to be even worse; it is a punitive NCLB on steroids.

Since all of the educational research says that high stakes testing is neither good for students nor for teachers, it defies reason as to why Arne Duncan and you are putting so much emphasis on test scores. I have heard you say that you do not believe that teachers should be teaching to the test, but that is completely antithetical to what Duncan's competitive rush towards high test scores has caused. If a teacher's performance, if a school's performance, and if a child's performance are based on test scores, how else do you think those scores are going to be raised?

In your speeches, you often claim that you support and honor teachers. Sadly, your rhetoric does not match the actions of the D.O.E. Why are teachers who are in the trenches not consulted? Why are real educational experts not consulted? Why is poverty never addressed? Why is the whole child never considered? Why do faux corporate experts such as Bill and Melinda Gates, Eli Broad, Michael Bloomberg have more sway with your administration than teachers?

Are you aware of how much money is being poured into money making schemes on the backs of the children of our nation? Are you aware of how many teachers are fleeing from the profession they used to love? Are you aware of the unintended consequences of all of these reforms? Are you aware of the level of exhaustion, frustration, and sadness that most good teachers are experiencing as a result of these so-called reforms?

I urge you to speak to those who have been impacted by these ill considered reforms. If you cannot find a teacher who is willing to voice his or her honest concerns, I would be happy to share mine.


Phyllis A. Bush


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