It would seem that only leaders chosen by the national media or politicians are leading education reform. The “man on the street” interview also plays a huge roll in what is going in education today. The politicians who control the purse strings of education seem to depend on the businessmen who control the purse strings of politicians for advice on how to improve education. After ten years of increased dependence on standardized testing at a cost of billions of dollars with little improvement in the system, we must wonder why we continue down this path. The four companies benefiting most by these testing policies are: Harcourt Educational Measurement, CTB McGraw-Hill, Riverside Publishing (a Houghton Mifflin company), and NCS Pearson. Suspicious minds might wonder what lobbying efforts these companies have in place to secure testing in national education policies. More on that here: The Testing Industry’s Big Four
Where are the leaders passionate about education and learning? I can’t believe that they don’t exist. We have institutions of Higher Education teaching courses and programs on educational leadership: where are those graduates? Where are the panels of educators discussing not the failure of the system, but rather the failure of standardized testing to make positive changes? More testing does not equate to more learning. Why is this not being articulated with passion to the public?
Who will stand up passionately for a profession targeted as the reason standardized testing has failed for all these years? Who will stand up and say that it is the policy of testing that is the failure?
After ten years of policies that have not worked, I find it hard to believe that there are no education leaders that have not put together a better way to do things differently for a better outcome. Finland has been pointed out as a world leader in education. The question was then posed: How can we compete with Finland? Where are the leaders who should be screaming: What can we learn from Finland? Finland gives NO standardized tests. They do not spend months in test preparation. They teach and their students learn. Where are the American education leaders to lead us to the same policies and outcomes as Finland? We need leaders to learn from Finland and not attempt to beat them in some imaginary competition for world domination in education. Competition is the way of business and politics. Collaboration is the way of education. We need leaders to make that point clear, but few are coming forward.
Ask why standardized testing is not working and fingers are pointed to the teachers, unions, tenure, length of the year, homework, class size, professional development and even the length of the school day as problems preventing positive testing results. How many education leaders have pointed to the tests themselves as being flawed? Certainly many of these issues need to be improved, but even if all of those issues were changed, I would venture an admitted biased opinion that there would still be problems with the standardized tests. I cannot be the only one who thinks this. How do we convince leaders to stand up for educators and education? What do we do to show our support for these people? It seems to me that Diane Ravitch has many supporters, but why are no other education leaders coming forward in a national forum? Where is the collective voice of educators? Of course there is always the possibility that I am the only one who sees it this way. Your comments on this are certainly welcomed.