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Veteran educator Arnold Dodge is one of the leading voices for good education on Long Island,Néw York, where he has been a teacher, principal, superintendent, and now teacher educator.
In this article, he reminds us why what is now called “reform” is a fraud and a cruel hoax.
“Wealth stays with us a little moment if at all: only our characters are steadfast, not our gold.” — Euripides
“Many of our schools have become dry, lifeless places. Joy and spirited emotions have been replaced by fear, generated by masters from afar. These remote overseers — politicians, policy makers, test prep executives — have decided that tests and numbers and drills and worksheets and threats and ultimatums will somehow improve the learning process. The engine that fuels this nefarious agenda is the imposition of mandatory testing, an initiative that insults teachers and students, and sucks the life out of our schools.
“What’s more, this system of tests is invalid on its face.
“When a student does well on a reading test, the results tell us nothing about how well she will use reading as a tool to learn larger topics, nor does it tell us that she will be interested in reading at all. What it tells us is that she is good at taking a reading test. Nevertheless, the insistence that students take these tests has become the sine qua non of a movement started with No Child Left Behind, and taken up a notch by its cousin, Race to the Top. With the battle cry “College and Career Ready,” the champions of standardization are determined to drum out every last bit of creativity, unpredictability, humor, improvisation and genuine emotion from the education process in the name of useful “outcomes.”
“No more coloring in school — time only for black and white answers to life’s complex questions.
“The self-righteous, powerful and moneyed, if they have their way, will eliminate from schools kids who have character — or kids who are characters, for that matter. But who are we to challenge the likes of governors and commissioners, and heads of global conglomerates who remind us regularly that the gold ring of success will be awarded to those who follow rules, no matter the cost to verve and spontaneity?
“Euripides was a lightweight compared to the genius of the political/business corpus.
“But there is another way. If we believe that children are imaginative creatures by nature with vast amounts of talent waiting to be mined, and if we believe that opening children’s minds and hearts to the thrill of learning — without competition and ranking — is a healthy approach to child development, then we are off to a good start.”
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