Writing in Huffington Post, historian and teacher John Thompson reviews the dismal failure of high-stakes testing and the inability of its advocates to face reality.

 

He deplores our current testing regime, which has cost billions of dollars and produced little of value to anyone:

 

The obvious problem is that Duncan, with the assistance of the Gates Foundation, has already coerced states into changing their laws. By now, I bet, most states would love to toss value-added evaluations into the ash can of history. What lawmakers need is a fig leaf to allow them to undo a rash mistake without getting blamed for having leaped before they looked into the merits of using test score growth to evaluate educators.

 

The bigger problem, I suspect, is that it would be hard to create a fig leaf huge enough to provide cover for Arne Duncan and Bill Gates, the architects of the sham which is vams for teacher evaluations. Whether or not it was Gates behind the scenes pressuring him to do so, it was Duncan who coerced states into linking the individual teachers’ test score outcomes and their evaluations. He’s not likely to admit to the foolishness of this overreach.

 

But we Democrats should not simply lay the blame on Duncan and Gates. To a greater or lesser degree aren’t we all guilty of trying to look tough so that Republicans can’t paint us a liberal wimps?

 

And that leads to another thought experiment. What if we abandoned the blame game of the last 15 years? What if reformers who say that hate the use of tests to punish agreed to stop using tests to punish? What if we worked for a real civil rights movement of the 21st century? What if we dared to say out loud that Americans should invest in schools where all children get the education that they need and deserve?