Testing Abuse

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Monday, June 18, 2007

A Call for the Protection of the Innocents

A war is coming. This battle is currently silent to the general public, and yet it will rage with the intensity of a mass forest fire. Except this inferno will be poised to consume public education, a cornerstone to our democracy. The No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), with testing as its oppressive tool, has left the door open to those that would abuse the school system: corporate America. Privatizing education would mean billions in tax dollars for them and a nonstop business training ground. The cost for U.S. citizens? Our children.
The current fear based message by big business is that schools are not being productive enough for their tastes. It is the frightening notice sent by CEO’s such as Bill Gates and Eli Broad that as a nation we are competitively and economically falling behind the rest of the world. Yet in an interview on National Public Radio, Vivek Wadwha from Duke University, addresses a study that was done there that refutes Gates’ claims that there are not enough highly skilled engineers to support the high-tech industry. He stated,” We researched exactly what was going on in India and China and the USA. We looked at the graduation rates of all three countries. What we found was that India and China have no real advantage in the quantity or the quality of the graduates they produce. In fact, the USA is far ahead by almost any milestone. We also asked companies why they’re going overseas and the number 1 reason was cost, cost, cost. It’s not about a deficiency in the U.S. worker or shortag e over here. It’s about the economic benefit that they get in India and China.”

The report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, “Tough Choices or Tough Times”, is supported by many CEO’s. The report suggests that public schools could be overseen by private companies and that students, when reaching tenth grade, will be directionalized using a standardized test to see if they can stay in school, or pushed to move to the private sector to work. If they pass, they can go to a university. There will be very little choice in the matter. Researcher Dr. Gerald Bracey has stated, ”There is a cottage industry in this country that generates reports devoted to keeping Americans anxious about the future and laying the responsibility for that future on the schools which are never working as they should be.”Public schools have been taken over in many parts of the country already, such as in Oakland and New Orleans. An EdWeek report states that Cristal-Rey schools in Chicago, another Gates supported operation, has already crossed a dangerous line. A proposal to the labor department has 14 to 15 year old students working up to eight hours a day week at banks or law firms contracted with the schools, while still going to class. This scheme would currently violate child labor laws.

The focus of where education is heading is clear: Children are being setup to be trained to enter the work force younger and younger--and at a dear price. The pressures and nonsense thinking of standardized tests are preparing many for thoughtless tasks that fit in perfectly with the corporate mold. If one isn’t taught to think critically, one can’t challenge. If one can’t challenge effectively, then one can be controlled easily. It is about power and the silencing of the innocent. A report from the Alliance for Childhood’s 300 physicians and educators out of Maryland, suggests that children have become more and more violent at younger ages due to, among other things, the “culture of high-stakes testing, standardization, and scripted ‘teaching’ that has overtaken so many schools.”

What is good for the health of our children? Is it acceptable for them to be put in a high-stress exam environment and “measured” against others--a mirror of the vicious, profiteering, dog-eat-dog corporate world? A child’s heart and humanity cannot be measured, and their creativity should not be ignored. Think about who really has children’s interests at the center. Many citizens are asleep, but Paul Revere is riding and he’s screaming,”The corporates are coming! The corporates are coming!”

Educators and Parents Against Test Abuse
Educator Roundtable
Fresno, CA


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