Zephyr Teachout is a law professor who ran against Cuomo in the Democratic primary and gained a third of the vote without any TV advertising or money. Now she is running for Congress in the 19th District of New York, where she grew up.

She took time from her campaign to describe what school ought to look like. It is a description that will be familiar to those of us who were in school long before the testing era began. Those who know only the last 15-20 years may find her article surprising.

She writes:

We are in the middle of a national fight about public education. Some people — backed by big billionaire hedge funders who would rather do away with the public part of public education — are trying to push Common Core high stakes testing down the throats of kids. But they have run into powerful resistance by parents, leading the national opt-out movement, who understand that children aren’t widgets, and teachers are good people who care deeply about their kids.

On this first week of school, let’s talk about what public education should look like, and what we, as a society, should aim for.

Schools need the resources and staff to keep them clean, comfortable, and safe. There should be nurses to meet health needs, counselors and social workers to make sure that children are making healthy choices. In a strong school system, teachers establish connections with the home, and ensure that anti-social behavior like bullying is addressed, while children struggling with such behaviors are supported to change.

I remember when I got in trouble in second grade, acting up in music class, I was disciplined; but I wasn’t rejected from the school and didn’t feel shut out: my teachers made sure I knew what was acceptable and unacceptable, but also treated me like I had potential and things to learn and contributed, instead of as a pariah.

Every child is different. It is essential to have a challenging and enriched curriculum, that respects the diversity of learners in the class. Students who struggle should get the support they need in the classroom and outside of it — my first job out of college was as a special education teacher’s aide in small rural public school, and I saw what a difference a supportive school system made.

Every school is different, too — look at Monticello, Tri-Valley, and Liberty, three school systems within 30 minutes of each other but each with different populations, with children bringing different gifts and different challenges. The one-size-fits-all model of the high stakes testing just doesn’t respect the differences within rural areas, let alone within the entire country. Local leadership in schools not only strengthens schools, but strengthens community.

Every school deserves well-prepared teachers who are evaluated and supported by well-trained school leaders and expert peers — not arbitrary high stakes tests. Teachers have some of the most rewarding jobs in the world, but the most difficult, because all the world — and the challenges in it — comes to the classroom. Teachers should have ample time to collaborate, learn, and grow.

It is painful to see great teachers, bringing enthusiasm and commitment to children, having to spend their time teaching to the test — and to Common Core testing standards that are disconnected from the curriculum. High Stakes testing narrows the curriculum, encourages teaching to the test, does not work, and pushes great teachers out of teaching when we need great teachers more than ever. Standardized low-stakes testing, given to a random sample of kids, can provide the feedback we need to know how our schools are doing.

It is all so commonsensical. Why are our “policymakers” wedded to so many bad ideas?

It would be wonderful to have someone in Congress who understands what schooling should be and who recognizes the failure of the punitive test-driven policies of the past 15 years.