Table of Contents

    Cover Theme
  • "Rewriting the Script"

    Together, the following eight articles outline how the standards-tests-punishment machine has subverted public schools from their democratic promise. With action, we can write a future where education isn't a soulless profit machine for the few.
  • Think Less Benchmarks

    A flawed test does more harm than good

    By Amy Gutowski

    "Thanks to the folks at the Discovery Channel, that TV channel with the nifty little logo of the earth spinning, my 8-year-old students have four more opportunities to stop learning and fill in the bubbles."

  • Cover Story
  • Beyond NCLB

    By Monty Neill

    A new era requires new thinking

  • Teaching in Dystopia

    Testing’s stranglehold on education

    By Wayne Au

    "The problem is this: Testing is killing education. Not only is it narrowing the curriculum generally, it promotes bad pedagogy, while making some private companies very rich in the process."

  • Reading First, Libraries Last

    Scripted programs undermine teaching and children's love of books

    By Rachel Cloues

    "In these bleak NCLB days of regimented, scripted reading programs and financially drained school districts, I am deeply worried about the future of elementary school libraries."

  • The Scripted Prescription

    A cure for childhood

    By Peter Campbell, Peter Campbell

    Testing mania reaches the pre-K classroom.  "It saddened me to think that my daughter's first impression of school was based on taking a test and failing it."

  • Bogus Claims About Reading First

    By Stephen Krashen

    When it comes to Reading First, don’t believe the hype

  • Textbook Scripts, Student Lives

    A math teacher goes beyond the standardized curriculum

    By Jana Dean

    "Textbooks, published by corporations that have much to gain by maintaining business as usual, aren't likely to press students to envision a future any different from the past and present."

  • Bonfire of the Disney Princesses

    By Barbara Ehrenreich

    Contrary to their spin machine, Disney’s princesses are far from role models

  • Underfunded Schools Cut Past Tense from Language Programs

    By The Onion

    "A part of American school curricula for more than 200 years, the past tense was deemed by school administrators to be too expensive to keep in primary and secondary education."
  • TV Selfishness and Violence Explode During 'War On Terror

    2nd graders discover new trends in TV since 9/11

    By Margot Pepper

    "Six years into the 'War on Terror,' my 2nd-grade Spanish immersion students found that aggression, selfishness, and insults have exploded on national television."

  • Queer Matters

    Educating educators about Homophobia

    By William DeJean, Anne Rene Elsebree

    "While we were excited to support the opening of the educational closet, unintentionally we became seen as the 'residential experts' for all things queer."

  • Feeding Two Birds With One Hand

    Why educators should demand a national health care plan

    By Bob Peterson

    "I can't imagine any teacher union leader or local school board member who wouldn't welcome a new federal program that would make the issue of healthcare benefits a moot point in bargaining."

  • Building Teacher Solidarity

    Larry Kuehn talks about building ties between teachers in Canada, Mexico, and the United States

    translation missing: en.articles.interviewers Bob Peterson

    “I would really like to see a new movement that gives the kind of hope
    for change that there was when I came into teaching in the late 1960s.”

  • Cover Stories
  • The Power of Words

    By Linda Christensen

    Top-down mandates masquerade as social justice reforms

  • Departments Free
  • Short Stuff
  • Resources
  • Review
  • Letters to the Editors
  • Good Stuff

    By Herb Kohl

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Teaching in Dystopia

Testing’s stranglehold on education
Teaching in Dystopia

We are being tested to death.

According to Peter Sacks, author of Standardized Minds: The High Price of America's Testing Culture and What We Can Do to Change It, adults and children in the United States took as many as 600 million standardized tests both inside and outside of schools annually in the 1990s.

And this was before No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was passed in 2002.

The Education Sector, an independent think tank, reports that an estimated 45 million high-stakes, standardized tests are currently required annually under NCLB alone. Education Sector further estimates that states that have not fully implemented NCLB's testing requirements will have to administer 11 million new tests in reading and math to meet federal mandate, with another 11 million new tests needed when and if science is added to federal requirements.

There is no mystery to how we arrived at today's testing dystopia. The 1983 publication of the Reagan Administration's report on education, A Nation At Risk: The Imperative for Education Reform, set the trajectory for 25 years of education policy. It sounded the alarm alleging the poor quality of education throughout the United States, equating it with a threat to national security.

Despite the fact that it was thoroughly debunked, within a year of this report being unleashed on the United States, 45 state-level commissions on education were created, and 26 states raised graduation requirements. By 1994, 45 states implemented statewide assessments for kindergarten through 5th grade.

The march toward federally mandated high-stakes, standardized testing continued through to the presidency of George H. W. Bush. His Summit on Education, held with the U.S. governors, became the groundwork for his America 2000 plan focusing on testing and establishing "world class standards" in schools.

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