Monday, June 18, 2007

Secretary of Education Announces National Non-Testing Day

Susan is a leader in the national test resista movement. She was one of the organizers of the ACTNOW conference John Lawhead and I attended in Birmingham, AL at the WOO a few years ago, a remarkable group of people. Her daily updates are loaded with goodies. This is one of the best. Check out her series of Margaret Spellings walks into a bar jokes.

by Susan Ohanian

Washington, D. C.

In a bold move to forestall the national testing industry meltdown, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, nicknamed the "princess of darkness" by teachers in her home state of Texas, has declared October 21, 2007, as National Non-testing Day for Children in Grades K-3. "This will give our friends at Harcourt and CTB McGraw-Hill a week to clean the vomit off returned tests," announced Spellings. "And minority kids can use a break."

Such a move struck many Washington insiders as a last-ditch effort to forestall a Rupert Murdoch takeover of the U. S. Department of Education. With the imminent Murdochrization at The Wall Street Journal, can the U. S. Department of Education be far behind?

Several key details in the Secretary’s plan still need to be worked out, such as what role Bill Gates and Eli Broad will play during the testing downtime. Gates, busy changing the lightbulbs in his 40,000-square-foot bungalow, was unavailable for comment. Eli Broad, famous for the long hours his employees work, pointed out that a business model should be applied to schools. "If people are golfers and their handicap doesn't go up, they're not doing their job."

"American youth cannot afford to go a day without testing if they are to keep with international competition," warned Harold McGraw III, chairman of the Business Roundtable and Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer, McGraw-Hill Companies. "If the U. S. hopes to regain its position in preparing tomorrow’s workers for the Global Economy, kindergartners must learn that life is no bowl of cherries. Schools must maintain rigor and continue to raise the bar."

A spokesman for Pearson Educational Measurement said that top executives are too busy trying to figure out how to buy the Wall Street Journal to comment at this time.

Speaking beyond the grave, longtime American Federation of Teachers leader Albert Shanker pointed out that the AFT has always stood for accountability. "We have, in fact, created a paradigm for accountability." Shanker offered union distribution of incentives for students who work hard during the day of no testing.

Professor Snig Diddleworth, scholar-in-perpetuity at the think tank wannabe Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, pointed to research showing the increased test scores of five-year-olds who were force-fed All Bran when compared to those who eat Lucky Charms. Barack Obama’s campaign office made available his landmark speech on the importance of breakfast, prepared by the Center for American Progress.

Secretary Spellings will moderate a nationally televised debate between 143 candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination, where each candidate is expected to stake claim to the title of offering the most rigorous school reform agenda.

As a pre-debate special, Education Trust, furthering its mission to help teachers improve instruction in their classrooms, will sponsor a mud-wrestle between Secretary Spellings and presidential hopeful Senator Hillary Clinton.

Saying that it is too early to assess the effects of a week without testing, President Bush reminded the nation of the real question, first uttered in Florence, S.C., Jan. 11, 2000, and still of paramount importance: "Is our children learning?" Bush’s office refused to comment on whether this decrease on testing is a step toward implementing the policy hinted at aboard Air Force One, June 4, 2003: "I'm the master of low expectations."

Susan Ohanian, June 16, 2007

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