Frank Breslin is a retired teacher. He taught English, German, Latin, and social studies for forty years.

In this article, he writes that Chris Cerf “is driving a stake through the heart of public education by his maniacal insistence on perpetual testing.”

Breslin writes:

Welcome to New Jersey, Land of Standardized Testing and Education’s Brave New World. Without relentless testing of the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic, students cannot hope to survive, let alone prevail, in the Darwinian jungle of this world. So, at least, runs the advertising copy.

Yet, as crucial to survival as these basic skills are, there exists the danger that we can lose our perspective concerning these tests. Amid the incessant drumbeat that the basics alone should be taught and frequently tested, we can neglect the very things to which these basics are basic!

The question, of course, is “Basic to what?” If this question isn’t answered, New Jersey’s students will, indeed, not survive —not because of not learning the basics, but rather, having learned them alone, they needed far more, which they couldn’t get, because it was never offered.”

Please understand the context. New Jersey is one of the highest performing states in the nation on the NAEP.

In fourth grade reading, New Jersey ranks second in the nation, behind Massachusetts.

In eighth grade reading, New Jersey is in a three-way tie for first place with Massachusetts and Connecticut.

New Jersey has a specific problem of low academic performance in its poorest and most racially segregated school districts.

Yet Chris Cerf insists that all public school students must submit to endless rounds of standardized testing.

Breslin says the consequences are devastating to the quality of education: Christopher Cerf is literally ruining education in New Jersey.

Breslin writes:

Teaching only the basics is the rankest of follies, since one would be taught only to crawl, but never to run; be given only the building blocks, but no idea of what to do with them; be able to survive, but not know the things worth surviving for.

“Yet this is precisely what is occurring in New Jersey today. Chris Cerf, commissioner of education, in essence is saying: “Away with everything except tests and preparing for them! What isn’t tested isn’t important and needn’t be taught! And to make sure that teachers teach to the test, they’ll be graded on how their students perform!”

Breslin suspects that Cerf’s demolition of education in New Jersey is a purposeful, calculated effort to destroy public education so that parents in the cities and the suburbs are so disgusted that they clamor for charters, where teachers and students will be free of Cerf’s testing mania.

He is on to a big idea here. Politicians who want to privatize public education, like Cerf and Christie, are tightening the regulations on public schools, choking them with testing, demoralizing their teachers, at the same time they offer privately managed charters as a refuge from their own policies. in this way, they create a public demand to abandon the public schools that their policies have made unbearable.

They must be stopped. There must be non-stop exposure of their war on learning, their war on communities, their war on public education.

Frank Breslin’s terrific article is a good beginning.