Jason Stanford listened to Arne Duncan’s put down of the “armchair pundits” who oppose Duncan’s obviously brilliant plan to reform American education. How can we forget how Duncan saved the Chicago public schools? But I digress.

Stanford, a veteran journalist in Austin, describes himself as an “armchair dad” of children in the public schools of Texas.

He has news for Secretary Duncan. Texans are sick of testing. They do not share the Secretary’s enthusiasm for the super-duper tests that will make all children college-and-career ready and tell us the truth that all the previous tests failed to tell.

Stanford points out that the Texas legislature reduced the number of tests needed for graduation from 15 to 5, in response to massive protests by parents and local school boards. The people of Texas said “enough is enough.”

But that’s not all.

Astonishlngly, the legislators “even made it illegal for testing lobbyists to give them campaign contributions, a rare move in a state notably hostile to limits on lobbying, business or giving them money.”

But that’s not all.

Stanford writes:

“The only thing wrong with these limits on school testing, say Texans in a recent poll, is that they didn’t go far enough. The Texas Lyceum polled 1,000 adults and found only 14% said the legislature should have left the 15 tests in place, and slightly more (17%) liked the changes. The shock of the poll is that 56% of Texans wanted either to get rid of standardized tests entirely because they encourage “teaching to the test” or leave accountability standards up to local school boards.

“That’s a lot of armchair pundits.”

Arne Duncan’s love of high-stakes testing has had real world consequences. It has hurt children. It has labeled them as dumb and caused many to give up. It has caused many youngsters to be denied a high school diploma whose lives will be blighted because they couldn’t pass one of the five mandated tests.

Stanford writes why this matters:

“More than a third of Class of 2015—a group of Texans equal to the population of Abilene—currently won’t graduate because the students have failed at least one state test and two subsequent retests. In elementary school, a quarter of the state’s fifth graders will be held back because they failed the reading test. In the eighth grade, a third of all black and poor students have failed the state’s math test.

“Either those scores are signs that two decades of test-based accountability has utterly failed to improve education for underserved populations, or they are proof that test-based accountability is a faith-based ideology with less credibility than believing that marking your child’s height against a wall causes him to grow. You don’t need to sit in an armchair to think that a system that excludes a third of a state’s population from public education might be a sign that you need to re-examine the basic assumptions underlying education policy.”