Teachers, students mixed on two education bills

Meher Hans, Editor in Chief

The state legislation that would limit testing to approximately 24 hours per school year makes sense to English teacher Britta Schaffmeyer. Still, she notes there may be a catch.
“The more hours of testing we have, the fewer hours that students are in the classroom where they are actually learning,” Schaffmeyer said. “For every hour that a student takes a standardized test, there’s at least an hour of preparatory work. So it’s not just 24 hours, it’s quite a lot of time.”
Two education bills have made it to Congress and the General Assembly—one with the purpose of limiting standardized testing in Maryland public schools and the other with the intent of allotting a portion of taxpayers’ dollars to private schools. Students and teachers here are mixed in their responses.
The Maryland House of Delegates passed a bill, known as the Less Testing, More Learning Act, which will cap public schools’ standardized testing time to two percent of the school year Feb. 28. The bill will likely pass in the Senate in the coming weeks as 31 of the 47 senators are cosponsors according to the Baltimore Sun.
Junior Saad Fakhar was also cautious in his praise of the bill because it does not limit preparatory time.
“I think testing during my sophomore year was excessive with the PARCC tests and PSATs,” Fakhar said.
In response to the House Bill 610, a federal bill that aims to distribute a portion of public education funds to private and religious schools, Schaffmeyer and junior Harshil Patel were critical.
“The bill would make the playing field even more uneven,” Patel said, adding that the rich would benefit at the cost of the general public.
Schaffmeyer shared Patel’s concerns, stating that funding cuts for public schools, which, unlike private schools, are obligated to serve all students, would decrease the quality of public education.
“Public schools have to accept everyone and if you want an educated populous you need to educate them well,” Schaffmeyer said.
At press time, the Maryland State Educators Association planned a week-long series of events to both resist House Bill 610 and support the Less Testing, More Learning Act. The events, set for March 13 through 17, included a march of educators to the offices of senators and delegates in Annapolis.