Randi Weingarten “Bar-like Exam” Proposal is Shortsighted

December 7, 2012 — 3 Comments


For Immediate Release
December 5, 2012
Contact:  [email protected]

            Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers President and former United Federation of Teachers President, has been talking up a proposal that would require a national certification exam for teachers, much like the bar requirement for lawyers.  The proposal, which she first raised at the Aspen Institute, has received much attention, especially from the corporate reform crowd, who support it.
“It is shocking that our national union leader is proposing a national high stakes exam for educators, while at the same time leading a national campaign supposedly against the overuse of high stakes testing for students,” said Julie Cavanagh, NYC teacher and UFT presidential candidate with MORE caucus.  “What we know about these kinds of exams is that they sort, deter, and discriminate.  Unfortunately, Weingarten’s proposal reinforces the teacher quality problem myth and the idea that high stakes standardized tests can promote high quality teaching and learning.”
Cavanagh continued, “Instead, we need proposals that offer authentic solutions for attracting and retaining quality, experienced educators.  We know that, apart from class size, the most important in-school factor that positively impacts student achievement is teacher experience.  That experience cannot be predicted or captured in any test score.”
“Standardized exams tend to be racially biased,” said Brian Jones, MORE’s candidate for UFT Secretary. Jones added, “Over the last several years we have seen a sharp decline in the number of Black and Latino/a educators in New York City, Chicago, and across the country.  Our union leadership should be proposing alternatives that assist in the recruitment and support of Black and Latino/a educators, and historically speaking, standardized tests are better instruments of exclusion than inclusion.”
“Exams such as the bar are useless when it comes to ensuring preparation for the work force. Randi of all people should know this since she passed the bar and has described it as meaningless and irrelevant,” said Kit Wainer, Executive Board candidate with MORE caucus.  Wainer furthered noted, “Beyond issues of validity and bias, we know what these types of exams measure:  how much one prepares for the exam.  There is no evidence to show an exam such as the one Randi is proposing will in any way help to better prepare teachers; testing doesn’t produce or impact positive outcomes, they simply make some people a lot of money.”
MORE caucus, The Movement of Rank and File Educators, stands firmly against a national exam for teachers and stands for policies we know will actually help our profession and the children we serve:  smaller class sizes, more rigorous and fully funded lead teacher programs, as well as mentoring and support to develop and retain experienced educators, especially in the first three years of teaching. 

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3 responses to Randi Weingarten “Bar-like Exam” Proposal is Shortsighted


    I’m wondering why Wainer thinks exam preparation is not a useful and relevant measure of achievement? While I’m skeptical, maybe “there is no evidence to show an exam such as the one Randi is proposing will in any way help to better prepare teachers.” But maybe nobody has looked closely enough. I get a whiff of anti-intellectualism. Raising standards must be innocent until proven guilty. In this age of teacher debasement, passing a “bar” exam would gain us some slack and establish prestige. What am I missing?


    We don’t know exactly how racial/ethnic inequalities will ultimately be rectified in America. However, the MORE caucus should represent all teachers equally in our multi-racial, multi-ethnic union, so I don’t see the point of singling out Black and Latino teachers as potentially being more adversely affected by the proposed new exam. Is our goal to match the percentage of Black and Latino teachers to the percentage of Black and Latino students? If that’s our purpose, then it is hard to see how we will ever win the allegiance of the majority of teachers in the UFT. It is enough to point out that the proposed exam will be deleterious to teachers and to education and therefore to the students and their parents, the majority of whom, as we all know, happen to be Black and Latino. We do not serve our cause by making Black and Latino teachers a special interest group within the union since all of our futures are best served by our building a stronger, more democratic union together.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. MORE on Governor Cuomo’s Education Commission Report « morecaucusnyc - January 3, 2013

    [...] The recommendations for retaining great teachers include recruiting educators from non-traditional career tracks; a strategy that has produced a generation of ‘fly by night’ teachers who tend to leave the profession after only a few years. The Commission also aligns itself with AFT President Randi Weingarten’s call for a national bar-like exam for teachers, a proposal MORE has publicly opposed (see here) [...]

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