- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Maya Angelou, a well-known author and poet who’s been a major supporter of President Obama, now says he’s faltering on education, unwittingly driving away children from reading due to onerous standardized testing.

Ms. Angelou was one of 120 in the field of writing who signed a letter to Mr. Obama requesting he scale back federal education policies that require across-the-board testing due to their anti-reading fallout, The Washington Post reported.

The letter states, in part: The tests work negatively “on children’s love [of] reading and literature.”

Ms. Angelou has also specifically condemned Mr. Obama’s Race to the Top legislation as a “contest” that doesn’t really drive children to read, or to glean an understanding of happenings around the globe. The initiative is a multibillion dollar campaign of the U.S. Department of Education that pits states and school districts against each other to win federal dollars.

Ms. Angelou has been a steadfast supporter of Mr. Obama’s. But she has recently joined a growing list of critics who say Race to the Top has increased standardized testing as a means of rating which schools and states win the federal funds.

“Race to the Top feels to be more like a contest,” she said, The Washington Post reported, “not what did you learn, but how much can you memorize.”

• Cheryl K. Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com.

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