Diane\'s Blog

Scott Schneider

Dr. Ravitch:

I am a high school teacher in North Rockland, a district just about 30 minutes North of Manhattan. Our district has been financially beleaguered recently by many things, not the least of which is the advent of the testing movement. It is a rare moment when I turn inward and find hope that I have chosen – and must stay true to – the right path for myself.

Yesterday, I graded the 8th grade ELA’s with my colleagues. A friend noted, when I exclaimed my disbelief at the inconsistent nature of the exam, exemplars, and rubrics and the testing conditions students had to endure, that the test itself is a product of McGraw-Hill – NOT the Board of Regents. While I have always been aware of the hands of publishing companies in the test-making process, I, at least, held out some naive belief that the Regents themselves actually had some input as to the design and execution of the exams. I was wrong. And then I was reminded of your book The Language Police. If I place that book alongside your most recent (in my mind), I see a nefarious wedding of massive lobbying efforts, Republican – and now, even Democratic – demagoguery, and billions of dollars fueling a “reform” movement that truly exists in the pockets of vested corporate interests and NOT in the hands of those most fit to execute reform: the teachers themselves.

Perhaps it is naive to have a revelation like this; after all, look at Wall Street and the recent near-collapse of the world economy that stemmed from corruption. I must admit I was stunned, though. It is because of this quasi-revelation that I wanted to thank you for writing what you have and for turning against No Child Left Behind, the very movement you helped to start. The greatest intellectuals in history never felt encumbered by the hobgoblins of foolish consistency. The only caveat any thinker needs to have is that he/she has the right, as a thinker, to re-think and even shift a previously-held position. Thank God you did.

Now, write a book about this nefarious marriage I mention. It’s the educational equivalent of the military-industrial complex President Eisenhower described. It will, I believe, destroy the very core of what “public” education means if left unexposed. Thank you once more. I look forward to reading you again!

Scott Schneider