Two Words: The Blog of the Center for the Art of Translation

Maya Angelou and More Than 100 Writers Criticize Obama On Student Testing

Posted on October 30, 2013, 06:00:00 AM by Erin Branagan

Celebrated author and poet Maya Angelou has been joined by 120 other children’s writers in signing an open letter to President Obama criticizing his education policy and its “overuse and abuse” of standardized testing. They are concerned that over-reliance on testing hurts imagination and destroys children’s love of reading.

Here’s an excerpt from the letter:

We the undersigned children’s book authors and illustrators write to express our concern for our readers, their parents and teachers. We are alarmed at the negative impact of excessive school testing mandates, including your Administration’s own initiatives, on children’s love of reading and literature. Recent policy changes by your Administration have not lowered the stakes. On the contrary, requirements to evaluate teachers based on student test scores impose more standardized exams and crowd out exploration….As Michael Morpurgo, author of the Tony Award Winner War Horse, put it, “It’s not about testing and reading schemes, but about loving stories and passing on that passion to our children.”

You can read the full letter here. If you agree that education should inspire curiosity and independent thinking, read our last post “3 Things You Can Do To Help Arts Education”, share it with your friends, and become an active supporter of arts education in your community.

(photo by Brigitte Lacombe)

3 Things You Can Do to Help Arts Education

Posted on October 29, 2013, 02:28:00 PM by Erin Branagan

October is Principal’s Month, and before it’s over in a few days, we thought we’d pass along some ideas about how school leaders can increase arts education in classrooms. The Arts Education Partnership has come up with 3 simple suggestions for teachers and principals. If you believe in the value of arts education, please share these no-cost ideas with other parents, teachers, and administrators:

A establish a school-wide commitment to arts learning
B create an arts-rich learning environment
C rethink the use of time and resources

Read the full article here. (pdf)

Even the President’s Council on the Arts and Humanities agrees that arts education is critical for student learning and engagement. Involvement in artistic activities—music, dance, drama, performing arts, literature—can give kids a reason to come to school and a new interest in learning. Unfortunately, the last twelve years have seen huge cuts to arts instruction. If more schools start following these tips, it could make a huge difference in kids’ lives.