A reader (identified by her Twitter handle as mimi@zombienation15) responds to an earlier post called “Who Loves Standardized Testing?,” where I described a panel in Austin at SXSW where both Randi Weingarten and Peter Cunningham, Arne Duncan’s former Assistant Secretary of Education for communications, agreed that it was time for a Congressional investigation of the abuses, misuses, and cost of standardized testing. I asked, if no one is in favor of what we are doing now,  “Who is the man behind the curtain who is wasting billions on testing, forcing severely ill children to take tests, making little children hate school ?” Here is this reader’s response:


The “man behind the curtain” is the negative judgmental voice of authority that is now “hard wired” into almost every man, woman, and child in America. It is the voice that has resulted from people living in fear and insecurity from chronic stress. It is the voice of people who have been functioning in a survival mode for a long time, and they have become self-absorbed, callous, and dishonest. That is the hallmark of Narcissistic Personality Disorder. It is pervasive not only in the school system, but in government, business, and all phases of American society. It is a psychological plague.

We have become a society that is destroying our children. Our children cannot survive in an environment that is punitive and critical, and creates chronic stress from fear and insecurity. They are withering on the vines from lack of nurturing. Parents own fears have allowed them to become “indoctrinated” into this test obsessed data system that causes them be punitive and focus on their children’s performance, while in denial about their children’s emotional distress. They are not connecting to their children’s greatest needs. Teachers’ fear of their own job performance ratings has allowed them to become indoctrinated into a system that uses them to bully and punish children with boring mind numbing work and no creative freedom to grow independently and develop their own identity. Teachers are not connecting to children’s emotional needs. School boards and community leaders have become fearful of challenging the status quo and are impotent and in denial. They are not connecting to children’s most basic developmental needs. Government and business leaders have become enmeshed and greedy, and more concerned with their self interests. They are not connecting to children’s needs. We are a country living in fear, and the greatest price is being paid by our children.

The “man behind the curtain” represents the “weak, impotent, callous, greedy immature leaders” who lust for power and control. They are not connecting to the children’s distress, nor do they understand children’s basic developmental needs. They are using their wealth and power to gain control over all the “brainless”, “heartless”, “courage-less” submissive people in our country of OZ. These submissive parents and community members were conditioned as children to be “good and obedient and never question authority”. They were taught not to think for themselves, but only to take orders from domineering parents and teachers. Most of our leaders today are products of this oppressive dysfunctional environment that has resulted from chronic stress in the US since the 80′s. We cannot trust our leaders, but we are obedient to their abusive authority. We are struggling financially and morally, and living in chronic fear of survival because we feel insecure and threatened. Our children are endangered. We have lost our spirit.

But, we cannot afford to be idle bystanders any longer and listen to the “man behind the curtain”. We cannot continue listening to our internal judgmental voice saying “What will people think”. We cannot continue to feel depressed and helpless like most victims of bullying. It is time to step out of that helpless submissive obedient role of a victim and take action. Do not participate in bullying your children! Do not allow this psychological abuse to damage them for life. Do not let them participate in high stakes testing and obsessive test drill! Refuse the test! Demand a nurturing environment for your children. Civil Disobedience is the only immediate way to stop this insanity that is causing the US to become a pied-piper dictatorship that is stealing our children.

I have been an educational social worker for years. As others in my profession, I recognize that children’s mental and physical health cannot survive this current punitive school environment. Just like any living organism, children need a safe and nurturing place to grow. If you as a parent will not advocate for your child, who will?