Did Hawaii start the war against RTTT, NCLB?

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Teachers in Hawaii served a crushing blow to President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative, when 67% of the state’s teachers voted against a new contract that would require merit pay, if the state was to earn RTTT money.

Courtesy: Hawaii Tribune-Herald

If a large majority of 9,000 teachers in a state are willing to say no to $75 million in government dollars, because they are so staunchly opposed to being judged on test scores, one must wonder when other states will follow Hawaii’s lead.

An even more significant question might be, is this the beginning of the war between educators and politicians that will ultimately strike down No Child Left Behind, putting an end to standardized testing once and for all?

Since NCLB’s inception, teachers and researchers nationwide have complained in books, articles and at national conferences that high stakes tests are ineffective in evaluating student performance and, in fact, detract from learning. However, there has not been the solidarity necessary to make a large enough statement to get the attention of education lawmakers and of the Obama administration.

The courageous teachers in Hawaii have made a resounding statement. Perhaps their vote was the first shot fired in a war that has been a long time coming.

Maybe, in addition to saying no to Race to the Top, the teachers in Hawaii were saying good-bye to No Child Left Behind. Maybe they were saying they will no longer stand for high stakes testing. Maybe they were telling President Obama and Arne Duncan that they will not stand for a failing education system. Maybe they were saying that the testing has to stop.

Maybe they were starting a war that every teacher in America needs to join.

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Mark Barnes is the author of many education books, including Bestseller Hacking Education, part of his Hack Learning Series, books that solve big problems with simple ideas. Barnes presents internationally on assessment, connected education, and student-centered learning. Join more than 100,000 interested educators who follow @markbarnes19 on Twitter.

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