State of Education #2: Stop the Madness (May 15)

Stop standardizing education. Stop coercing teachers to teach directly to a test. Stop slapping failing grades on kids, schools, and communities. Labeling children failures only creates failures. The human spirit cannot flourish in a thoughtless environment.

Teaching to a test guarantees the obfuscation of ideas. There are no ideas on a test; there are only “right” answers. When the student fails to select the “right” answer,  they are taught that wrong answers lead to a future of failure.

But in a successful life, the wrong answer leads us to the right answer. Only through failure can the human spirit find success. Standardized education instills a fear of “wrong.”

When kids fear “wrong,” they are never sure if they are right. They seek reinforcement from the outside, paralyzed by the possibility that they may be “wrong.” Standardization mutes the mind, chains the spirit to an anchor that digs in deeper and deeper, sinking the unique and individual.

As social and economic issues have become more and more complex, our system of education has moved in the opposite direction. Standardization of the American system of education is an attempt to simplify, to minimize the variation in human abilities.

A thoughtful being will question policy, seek personal truth, and fight injustice. A standardized being will distrust themselves and, therefore, seek direction from the outside. A standardized being empowers those in power.

Look closely at who is driving our current reform efforts. From Diane Ravitch’s article, Bill Gates: Selliong Bad Advice to the Public Schools:

As I showed in my recent book, The Death and Life of the Great American School System, Gates is one of a small group of billionaires that is promoting privatization, de-professionalization, and high-stakes testing as fixes for American public schools. I called this group “the billionaire boys club,” which includes Gates, the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation.

It is time to stop the madness.

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