High-Stakes: Tests Leave No Corporation Behind
The sole genuine promise of the Bush-Gore Education act is that no child will go untested, and no corporation will be left behind.
Conducting school reform without carrying out social and economic reform, in nation where the rich get richer while the poor grow poorer, is like washing the air on one side of a screen door.
High stakes standardized tests are an international phenomenon. They represent a powerful intrusion into classrooms, often taking up as much as 40% of teacher time. The tests pretend that one standard fits all, when one standard does not fit all.
High-stakes test pretend to neutrality but are deeply partisan in content, reflecting the needs of elites in a world becoming more inequitable, less democratic. The tests are commodities for opportunists whose interests are profits, not the best interests of children. The exams amount to a false, and low, horizon for learning.
Big Tests gauge for the most part, parental income and race, and are therefore instruments which build racism and anti-working class sentiment--against the interest of most teachers and their students. The don't test for smarts, they test for privilege and acquiescence.
The tests deepen the segregation of children within and between school systems. Inner-city families and poor families are promised tests as an avenue to escape the ghetto and poverty, when the tests are designed to fail their children, boosting dropouts, leaving more children trapped in the ghetto and poverty, deepening inequality.
The tests foment an atmosphere of greed, fear, and hysteria, none of which contributes to learning. The tests create an atmosphere that pits students against students and teachers against teachers and school systems against school systems in a mad scramble for financial rewards, and to avoid fiscal retribution. Recent studies show that kids learn from reading real books, not taking alien tests.
The tests set up a false employer-employees relationship between teachers and students which damages honest exchanges in the classroom, shattering a vital relationship that is key to learning
We have seen repeatedly that the exams are unprofessionally scored, for example in New York in 2000 when thousands of students were unnecessarily ordered to summer school on the grounds of incorrect test results.
Designed to replace the mind of the teacher with the mind of the Boss, the tests have been used to unjustly fire and discipline caring educators throughout the country. In addition, the exams have been used to excuse the abolition of elected school boards and the takeover of school districts, as in Detroit, where the assault on voting rights is leading to civil strife.
The Big Tests are not educational tools, but political and financial weapons. In Michigan the exam is administered not by the Education Department, but by Treasury.
The exams represent an assault on academic freedom by forcing their way into the classroom in an attempt to regulate knowledge, what is known and how people come to know it.
The tests destroy inclusion and inquiry-based education.
In a society that offers its children a future of perpetual war, the Big Tests are designed to mask the fact that some people profit from war, while others fight and die. The tests seek to regiment patriotism, the last refuge of the profiteers.
We have fought the tests and won. Contact the Rouge Forum.
A Rouge Forum Broadside May 2002
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