- Subject: Action ideas
- From: Monty Neill <monty@FAIRTEST.ORG>
- Date: Thu, 25 Jan 2001 17:16:48 -0500
- Comments: To: ARN-state <ARNfirstname.lastname@example.org>, "email@example.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Organization: FairTest
- Reply-to: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
- Sender: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
To: Listservs and others
From: Monty Neill, FairTest
Actions to take in response to Bush testing plan
Here is an initial set of actions people could take to respond to the
Bush testing plan. I posted some of the arguments you might use
separately, and we will work to develop shorter key arguments (so we are
interested in a discussion on which arguments are most central -- tho
that may differ depending on whom you are talking with) and on catchy
phrases etc. to sum up the arguments (let them eat tests; many left
There are a few key lines of action:
1) Reach congress people directly.
2) Persuade groups you are a part of -- union or association of
eduators, parents, etc. -- to openly oppose the testing.
3) Educate and mobilize locally, via the media, local groups, etc.,
which includes getting them to do the first two.
I will address each specifically:
1) Reach congresspeople.
Contacting congresspeople is very important. If your senator or
represenative is on an education committee, it is even more important.
We will email around and post committee members, chairs and key staff
names and addresses to our website (www.fairtest.org), but they are not
all complete as yet.
A. Call or write or preferably both to your congressperson and
senators. The succinct message is that you oppose the testing provisions
of the Bush school reform plan and ask that the congressperson oppose
them. You could say that the current testing provisions in Title I are
OK and should not be expanded. You can give reaons, both personal (as a
parent, a teacher, etc.) and more general (see the list of arguments you
can take from). You can call or write them in DC or in their home
district. While you can send an email, it will be nowhere near as
effective as writing (first) or calling (second) -- the evidence seems
to be that most congresspeople largely ignore emails. Similarly, form
post-cards or petitions are not very effective.
If you call, ask to speak to the legislative aide who handles
education. If you write, specifically ask for a response to the
particular points/questions you raise. If you get a letter back that
actually says something, it can help you in planning further contact,
either thanking them (and sharing with others any reasons why the person
agrees with you) or continuing to press the issue (responding to the
reasons why the person supports Bush).
B. Meet with representative or senator. Try to arrange a meeting with
the actual rep or senator, not a local staffer -- local staffers do not
deal with policy. Reps are usually easier to meet with than senators. If
you want to do a meeting, send a small group (if possible) that
represents different constutuencies (parent, teacher, different
demographic or geographic groups). Plan your presentation ahead and
leave written materials.
C. You might write or call committee chairs and ranking members. If you
are not from their state/district, this might be less valuable, except
for national groups. However, these people are very important and should
know of opposition. Some of this information is:
-- The chair of the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources is
James Jeffords (R-VT) 728 SHOB, Washington, DC 20510; (202) 224-5141
-- The ranking Senate Committee member is Edward Kennedy (D-MA) 315
SROB, Washington DC 20510;
-- Chair of the Subcommittee on Children and Families is Judd Gregg
(R-NH), 393 SROB, Washington, DC 20510; Tel: 202-224-3324.
-- Note also Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who has introduced a bill that has
similarities with the Bush plan (we do not have the exact bill) and may
be an important factor in the Senate's debate. SHOB, Washington, D.C.
20510; (202) 224-4041
-- The chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce is
John Boehner (R-?) 1011 Longworth HOB, Washington, DC 20515; (202)
-- I think the ranking minority member is George Miller, D-CA, 2205
Rayburn HOB; Washington, D.C. 20515; (202) 225-2095. Miller has become
We will post more on this when it is available. When contacting them,
note that as chair/ranking member, they have particularly great
influence, which is why you are writing/calling them even though you are
not from their state (unless of course you are).
2) Persuade groups you are a part of:
Part of the way we can win this is to develop a coalition of groups to
oppose the Bush plan. Education and civil rights groups are most likely,
but other civic groups might be persuaded to participate. For example
(and just an example!), while a high-ranking NEA staff person questioned
the testing plan, the NEA has not yet taken a public stance. We do not
know of any state NEA affiliates who have taken a stance. Thus, you
could reach your state NEA and or reach to the national or have the
state reach to the national. We will be posting names of organizations
that take a stance on this as they do so -- see our website as well as
we will send to the listservs.
A. If you reach some local or state group(s) work to get them to
collectively reach out to their reps and senators. If there are a number
of them, get them to form a coalition to do this.
B. If you get local or state organizations to take this up, work with
them to do so publicly, to not just pass a resolution but to act on it
in terms of reaching congresspeople and the public.
C. Possible draft resolution your group or coalition could endorse (and
could use in framing a letter to the editor, etc.):
"We, the members/board of _______ hereby call upon the Members of
Congress who represent city/state/region in the U.S. Senate and House of
Representatives to oppose any legislation mandating that every state
test ever student test every year from grades three to grade eight. We
believe that this one-size-fits-all bureaucratic scheme will neither
promote accountability not improve those schools which really need help.
Instead it may damage both equity and educational quality by diverting
resources to the narrow coaching that can improve test scores."
3) Educate and mobilize locally and in your states.
A) Send letters and op eds to your local newspaper(s), both dailies and
local weeklies. The letter you send to your congressperson can usually
be a basis for a letter to the editor.
B) Contact local education reporters, who might be doing "local react"
stories about the Bush ed. plan. Also meet with editorial boards of
local newspapers, especially major ones.
C) Call local talk shows, get on local cable TV shows, etc.
D) Speak to local groups
E) This effort overlaps with reaching out to local groups and getting
F) Use this as an opportunity to address state and local testing issues
and to link the two -- for example, in many states the Bush plan would
increase the amount of state testing, or it would force states to use
them for accountability in ways they are not now doing. Overtesting,
misuse of tests, all the harmful consequences, are similar regardless of
who mandates the testing. Put another way, use the Bush plan not only as
a threat, but an opportunity to further the work on this issue.
Lastly, circulate these ideas and arguments against the Bush plan far
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