State BOE president gets an earful during listening tour

by Charlie Koenig - Posted on Nov 20, 2013 - 01:29 PM

Photo: David Foster, president of the Virginia Board of Education, came to Mathews last week on a listening tour. Approximately 50 people, mostly local educators, school administrators and elected officials, attended the program at Thomas Hunter Middle School. Photo by Charlie Koenig

David Foster, president of the Virginia Board of Education, came to Mathews last week on a listening tour. Approximately 50 people, mostly local educators, school administrators and elected officials, attended the program at Thomas Hunter Middle School. Photo by Charlie Koenig

David Foster, president of the Virginia Board of Education, came to Mathews County on a listening tour last Thursday night. And he certainly got an earful.

Much of the two-hour long meeting focused on complaints about the state’s Standards of Learning and what is seen by many of those present as an overly demanding emphasis on increasingly rigorous standardized testing.

About 50 people, primarily local educators, school administrators and elected officials, attended the program, which was held in the Thomas Hunter Middle School multi-purpose room.

"I beg of you—stop the insanity of SOL testing," urged Judy Rowe of Gwynn, a retired educator and self-described student advocate. "I am not against standards and testing," she said, "but I am vehemently against what Virginia has done with these two essential components. Sir, you have put them on steroids. We are testing kids to death.

"When a third or fourth grader spends seven hours taking a test, what damage does it do?" Rowe asked. "Then there is the high school student who works from 8:15 a.m. until 4 p.m. with no bathroom break, no water, no lunch. What in God’s name are we doing to our children? … This is child abuse."

She said that Virginians have become "pawns" of Pearson, a company that publishes textbooks, produces grade book programs, publishes the state’s SOL tests, both paper and online. "Pearson also scores these tests and produces endless data upon which you judge our children, our teachers and our schools," Rowe said.