Statement from our Executive Director on STAAR 2020-2021
Contact: Rev. Charles Foster Johnson
Pastors for Texas Children
Because many have asked us, we want to issue a clear and concise statement about the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness—the STAAR test.
The pandemic has placed unprecedented stress on our dedicated Texas educators. Teachers are burdened to the breaking point already by the challenge of simply keeping their children connected and accounted for.
These professionals have a firm, personal grasp on the progress of each child in their school. They do not need a standardized test to tell them.
Administering a faulty, controversial test during this historic crisis is foolish. Texas educators have overwhelmingly concluded that STAAR does not accurately assess a child’s academic performance.
Ministers and faith leaders are frontline pastoral care providers to our public schoolteachers and administrators. We bear unambiguous testimony that their jobs are unduly complicated by STAAR.
Teachers routinely report the waste of valuable instructional time on the mechanics of standardized test-taking. Parents overwhelmingly testify that the test traumatizes their children.
Why have it when teachers and parents abhor it?
We know why. Rich, powerful political forces that seek to dismantle public education and privatize it for their personal profit need the arbitrary pretext of the standardized test to declare schools failed, thus paving the way for their market-driven control. If you think this is homiletical exaggeration, see New Orleans where corporate charters have educational monopoly, and Houston which is being relinquished of its local control and placed into the centralized authoritarian hands of the Texas Education Agency.
To attach high stakes of school funding to a child’s standardized test performance is not only inefficient. It is immoral.
Children are “fearfully and wonderfully made” humans created in the image of God. No standardized test can ever properly capture their uniqueness and individuality. To cram this uniqueness into a computerized and depersonalized test is wrong.
The billions we spend on this broken tool should be rechanneled back into academic, artistic, athletic, vocational, and technical training programs that are tried and proven strategies for training a child to be a productive and responsible citizen.
Meaningful assessment is essential. The governor should appoint a special commission of classroom teachers to determine how best to implement it.
Pastors for Texas Children is a ministry that serves Texas’ neighborhood public schools through prayer, service, and advocacy. We support our schools by initiating school assistance programs with local congregations, promoting social justice for children, and advancing legislation that puts the needs of Texas children, families, and communities first.