Last week, Mike Petrilli issued a “stump speech challenge” asking his fellow education wonks to come up with talking points that members of Congress might use to bolster the case for annual testing.
Be careful what you wish for, Mike. Challenge accepted. Here’s my bid:
When you and I think back on our school days, we remember football games and school dances, the high school musical, and—if we’re lucky—that unforgettable teacher who put just the right book in our hands at just the right time. One who inspired us or opened our eyes to our own potential—and what was waiting for us in the world right outside the classroom window.
What will our children remember when they think back on their school days? I fear too many will just remember taking tests.
And that’s not right.
At the same time, I hear an awful lot of cynicism about the efforts we’ve been making in the last few years to make our schools better. Some people say that all this testing is just a big game to label our schools a failure, privatize education, demonize teachers, and line the pockets of testing companies and textbook publishers.
And that’s not right either.
So it’s time to have an honest, no-nonsense conversation about our schools, teaching, and, yes, testing. But let me warn you in advance: If you’re involved in education—whether you’re a teacher, parent, policymaker, or union leader—you might not like some of what I’m going to say. But it’s...