OP-ED | STANDARDIZED Lies, Money & Civil Rights: How Testing Is Ruining Public Education

Stephen Stollmack February 17, 2014 0

Henry A Giroux, in a recent Truthout | Op-Ed, called attention to the fact that “The democratic mission of public education is under assault … by a host of religious, economic, ideological and political fundamentalists, the most serious attack being waged by advocates of neoliberalism, whose…  efforts focus narrowly” on tightly controlled lesson-modules with scripted standardized presentations for ‘teachers’ regardless of socio-economic or geographic locus of the school or special needs of the children.  It also underscores a current pandemic of “… high-stakes testing, traditional texts and memorization drills.”

At the heart of this approach is an aggressive attempt to demote or fire teachers, using a statistical model (called VAM), lacking in any reasonable validity, to label them as being the cause of low student-test scores, to label schools with the low percentage of students passing as ‘failed’, and to close and “Disinvest in (these) public schools, replace them with charter schools, and remove state and federal governments completely from public education in order to allow education to be organized and administered by market-driven forces.” 1

Americans have always valued most the ‘independence’ the country afforded them (that they assumed due to them because of their special abilities and willingness to work hard), especially in terms of the degree to which it allowed them to select and pursue a vocational career that suited them best or to select none, if they were not ready at the moment, and still have the opportunity there for them when they were ready. Of course many white Americans still do not realize that what allowed them to be free in that regard was the degree to which to which our society subjugated and enslaved immigrants, women, and later people of color, brought here as slaves or enticed here to immigrate here as NAFTA wage-slaves. Bottom line, we all grew up believing that if we worked hard enough success in life would always be within our grasp. This is not the case anymore for whites and it never was for blacks and browns, soon to be the majority of our population.

Now although a great social upheaval and wealth realignment is upon us, most of the defrocked middle class seem intent on looking the other way. While it is clear that corporate person-hoods, cronies, grafters, lobbyists, and mafia-extortionists are taking complete control, good people look the other way because they don’t have entry into those professions. It is all like a movie or TV series to them that will end when the sun comes up the next day. In the same way, the massive incompetence of most of our elected and appointed government officials (as opposed to our hired bureaucrats) has led many to shake their heads and welcome the corporate-industrial model as their next savior.

Change, profound social and economic change, is coming to America and most of you are not part of its driving force – the change is not coming by way of a people’s revolution. It is being engineered from above and its focal point is currently in the public schools of our nation. This change will determine your children’s happiness and the emotional stability of children today and as future adults; it will determine where or even if your children will work and whether or not they are fairly compensated for their time and dedication. It’s about time you found out exactly what is going on and what you can do to protect their lives.

Here is your chance: STANDARDIZED Lies, Money & Civil Rights: How Testing Is Ruining Public Education, A Documentary, will be shown at ASU in Tempe on February 22, 2014 ($5.00 at the door to reimburse people who have put up the money to bring it to you.)

The rest of this article presents reviews endorsed by the film’s producers and promoters.  See you there.

Review By Daniel Hornberger February 7th, 2014 Phoenix, AZ – Reading, PA-based Rockfish Productions’ documentary STANDARDIZED will make its Arizona debut at 1:00 PM on Saturday, February 22nd at Arizona State University (117 Ed Building, Gammage Parkway). STANDARDIZED opens with a brief synopsis of the history of standardized testing in public schools. While many point the finger at the failed NCLB program, the desire to create a national curriculum began many years before the presidency of George W. Bush. The film covers the general public’s perception that these tests are accurate measurements, but when closely examined, they merely make a great deal of money for the test manufacturers (and education reformers) and provide practically no insight into a student’s ability. The film also follows the money trail and sheds light on just how much money is generated by tests and their supporting materials. Strong testimonials by educational experts such as Dr. Mark Naison, Dr. Yong Zhao, Dr. Shaun Johnson, Dr. Timothy Slekar, and many others prove that the only people benefiting from these tests are those who are creating them. The concluding segment provides options to improve schools without testing.

The 74-minute documentary premiered in Reading on December 7, 2013 and has had screenings scheduled in Lancaster, PA; Rockville Centre, NY; Chicago, IL; Nampa, ID; Philadelphia, PA; and Orlando, Florida.

The Arizona screening is sponsored by the School of Social Transformation and the Roosevelt Education Association. A Q&A session will take place immediately after the film. Tickets, $5, are available at the door.

About Rockfish Productions

Dan Hornberger is a 23-year high school English teacher. He earned a B.A. in Communications from Temple University (’84), then landed a job at the United States Tennis Association, where he produced educational videos. He earned his MFA in Educational Leadership from Lehigh University. Jim Del Conte, a Pottsville native, has produced and directed electronic media around the world including television broadcasts, web media, and interactive media. Jim is currently an instructor for the Communication Media Program at the Berks Career & Technology Center. He graduated from Kutztown University with a degree in Electronic Media and acquired a Masters in Instructional Technology from Wilkes University.

To learn more about this film, please contact

Dan Hornberger
Rockfish Productions

1Giroux continues to say: “Schools would “become simply another corporate asset bundled in credit default swaps,” valuable for their rate of exchange and trade value on the open market.2 It would be an understatement to suggest that there is something very wrong with American public education. For a start, this counter-revolution is giving rise to punitive evaluation schemes, harsh disciplinary measures, and the ongoing deskilling of many teachers that together are reducing many excellent educators to the debased status of technicians and security personnel.”