Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Leave them kids alone

Nathan Newman links to a couple of articles on the new testing standards that are causing many schools previously viewed as "successful" to be evaluated as "failing."

As a parent with one child in public school and the other in private, I've seen first-hand what makes a "good" school. Motivated teachers, and curricula that encourage critical thinking work. Teaching to the test doesn't.

The more cynical side of me says that this whole "national test" thing is another tool for conservatives to use to demolish public education. "Look at the scores," they'll say. "See, we told you the U.S. school system was a failure. We should completely defund the system so people can choose better schools."

Of course, there aren't enough private schools to take up the slack, and even if there were, what's the guarantee that they'll be "good" schools? The national test isn't required of any private school that I know of ... my son, who is in private school, takes the Iowa Test of Basic Skills each year, but we haven't heard word one of imposing this national test on the kids. The ITBS isn't mandated by anyone other than the parents, teachers and staff of the school. And the teachers spend very little time "teaching to the test" from what I've been able to observe.

How ironic that people who want to get away from the mediocrity that's arising from "teaching to the test" will put their kids into the private schools conservatives hold up as the paragon of educational achievement ...

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