“What are the pros and cons of standardized testing?”
It was a pretty controversial #StuVoice Twitter chat topic. The issue of standardized testing has created a deep divide between its proponents and opponents. Both sides passionately defend their stances; proponents advocate for an objective assessment of students and teachers, while opponents charge standardized testing as an inadequate measure of student performance. Often, the divide is so deep that defense of one position shifts to heated criticism of the other.
As with all #StuVoice chats, our discussion on standardized testing started with participants posting their thoughts on the issue into cyberspace, and then engaging in respectful discussions with others about their views. Having meaningful and civil discussions is one of the qualities of our weekly #StuVoice chats which I love and which keeps participants coming back week after week.
Unfortunately, on this particular week, a number of these discussions weren’t civil or respectful in the slightest. Many opponents of standardized testing began pointless bashing and name-calling, making claims such that it was Michelle Rhee’s goal to create an “army of mindless drones”, and that other reformers such as Bill Gates were only interested in ending creativity once and for all. A potentially meaningful discussion soon lost all meaning.
As I was reading the insults some of my fellow students posted on Twitter, one question crossed my mind. All of us were part of this chat because we want to empower students and increase student involvement in government. I wondered: is bashing and name-calling supposed to be a part of the grand plan to empower the student voice?
Who are we to demand that adults listen to the student voice when we don’t listen to our fellow student voices? And how can we expect adults to respect our opinions if we don’t show respect to them and to each other?
Respect is a two-way street. If you want people to listen to you, then you need to listen to them; if you want people to consider your opinions, you must consider theirs.
Being a part of the Student Voice movement is about more than just talking and expecting people to listen. It’s about leading by example. A student leader listens to those who disagree with him, engages his opponents in a respectful discussion, and offers compromises to find meaningful, moderate solutions. These are the skills that extend beyond our time as students and into our adult lives in government. And if there’s one thing our government needs, it’s more problem-solvers and more moderate policy solutions.
Partisanship, unwillingness to listen, and lack of compromise are crippling our Congress, and as a result, our entire legislative process. It affects our government’s ability to solve our country’s problems and craft moderate legislation. An organization called No Labels strives to solve this problem, stating its belief that “common sense solutions exist for our national challenges… [and] our government should be capable of finding them.” On January 13-14th, No Labels is hosting a conference in New York called the “Meeting to Make America Work”, where they will be emphasizing the importance of working together in the interest of solving our nation’s problems.
Every #StuVoice Twitter chat should be a “Meeting to Make America Work”. Students are this nation’s future: if we aren’t willing to work together to solve our nation’s problems, who will?
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