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Let’s Come Together

Last week the major teachers union in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA), voiced their disdain for standardized tests, and in particular for the tests administered during the pandemic. It’s personal for the PSEA – after teachers unions like them spent much of the past two years trying to keep schools closed, Pennsylvania’s latest test results showed just how much students struggled under virtual learning.

The problem is that it’s not easy to break up with these tests. There must be a fair way to track student progress across districts and states. But many people agree it’s time to change how they’re administered. This week, Florida got rid of its yearly, days-long, testing regime, and instead will administer shorter tests more frequently. The state’s new plan is designed to allow teachers to customize learning to individual students and to track their progress.

Of course, the Florida Education Association criticized this plan as well.

If teachers unions want to stay relevant, and not just look like they’re trying to dodge accountability and disagree with Republicans, they should engage in the standardized testing debate in an honest, urgent way. We need to make sure that teachers are able to effectively teach and assess students without being overburdened by government regulations, but we also need to be able to track kids and make sure they’re on the path to success.

Let’s put politics aside and see if Florida’s on the right path. This time, it actually IS for the kids.

Brigette Herbst

Brigette Herbst is the Senior Organizing Director of Americans for Fair Treatment, a community of current and former public-sector employees offering resources and support to exercise their First Amendment rights. Prior to joining Americans for Fair Treatment in 2018, Brigette’s career included working in the public sector for New York State, teaching elementary school, coaching high school sports, and working as a municipal county employee. This unique experience offers Brigette an inside perspective on public employee culture in New York. She focuses on educating New Yorkers about their constitutional rights with regard to union membership and promoting fair treatment of workers. Brigette has her bachelor’s degree in history and politics and her master’s degree in elementary education. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and planning trips for her family.