I’ve been getting progressively more alarmed at all of the shameful stories coming out lately on the spread of high-stakes testing into so much of our public school system. The simplistic argument underlying it smells exactly like most of the other simplistic bullshit Republicans incessantly excrete*:
The Bible for opponents of high-stakes testing is a 2010 book called The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education, by Diane Ravitch, perhaps the nation’s preeminent education historian. Ravitch, who grew up in Texas and attended Houston public schools, was once an advocate of both high-stakes testing and charter schools. She served as the assistant secretary of education under President George H. W. Bush and was later appointed by President Bill Clinton to head the National Assessment Governing Board. [...]
“Like everyone else,” she told me during a stop in Austin in February, “I was drawn to the idea that schools might benefit from a business sensibility, that we should set goals and then reward high performers and punish low performers.”
Throw our children into the cutthroat world of private enterprise and profit maximization? What could go wrong?
One of the key things that pisses me off when I read yet another story about the harm all of this is causing is that it seems to be the millionth recent example of trying to treat the symptoms without dealing with the underlying disease:
“The number one determinant of how well kids will do in school is socioeconomic background,” Ravitch told me. “It’s not how good your teacher is or which school you go to.” Ravitch makes a convincing case that those pining for a lost golden era of American education are misremembering. Sixty years ago, black and Hispanic kids weren’t allowed to attend public schools—or at least, not real ones—and most didn’t even go to high school. Kids with disabilities were excluded as well, and there were far fewer recent immigrants enrolled. Comparing that system with the one we have today makes no sense.
Why would we want to throw any additional money at alleviating poverty or child hunger, when we can just throw countless $billions at dubious, unproven band-aids that probably aren’t doing much of anything to cure just one of the dozens of symptoms of poverty and child hunger?
Read the whole article from which I took the quotes above. It will make you angrier than anything you’ve read recently.
* And yes, Democrats (the “Me too!” party) have, true to form, signed onto the same bullshit.
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