Public Values

Obama adopts groupthink of standardized testing

Progressives started Ontario schools down this slippery slope to placate conservatives.

Newt Gingrich with Rev. Al Sharpton and Pres. Barack Obama - misguided alliance on education?Canadian parents, teachers and progressives looking for leadership in campaigning to reverse the drive toward standardized testing should not look to US President Barack Obama. Konrad Yakabuski, conservative commentator for the conservative Globe and Mail , reported this week with alarm about the "groupthink" to which Obama, along with leading right-wingers, has subscribed in favour of "Race to the Top" funding. Under this scheme, schools with good test scores will be rewarded and schools, and teachers, with low scores will be punished.

This push is bound to be counterproductive in terms of educational outcomes. In Ontario, for instance, the NDP government introduced standardized testing and other so-called measures of educational accountability - the sort the Right had demanded for years. Since then, Ontario students and teachers have been saddled with the demands of the testing bureaucracy. Instead of devoting resources to students' actual needs, schools are forced to "teach to the test." It works for some, but this approach locks in disadvantages for many students.

"Of all the strange sights to which the Bizarro World of American politics has borne witness of late, perhaps none is as strange as the coming together of Arne Duncan, Newt Gingrich and Al Sharpton as Barack Obama's education musketeers," writes Yakabuski. "A more unlikely political alliance is hard to imagine."

Posted: April 13, 2010


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