We Don't Need No Thought Control

In 1979, as I neared college graduation, an anthem swept the nation—Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall. It quickly soared to the top of the charts with students shouting the lyrics, “We don’t need no education. We don’t need no thought control.”  It protested rigid schooling and government control. 

We’ve come a long way since then—in the wrong direction. In the past forty years our schools have transitioned to meet increasing government demands. With tax dollars funding schools, accountability is needed, but our kids and their teachers are the ones paying for it.

In the final months of the school year a slew of tests are scheduled in classrooms across America. You can go cross-eyed reading various reports on school performance, testing, and education reforms. 

But if you really want to know what’s happening, talk to a teacher. Ask them how these tests impact their instructional time and how it affects the kids.

Unraveling this knot is going to take time, but there’s a multi-national company yanking the strings making the knot tighter. Pearson rakes in 4 billion dollars every year testing our kids. Not only do they sell the tests, they write many of the textbooks—controlling the content taught. They also sell the software that grades student essays and tracks their behavior. Pearson also administers teacher licensing exams and advises principals. A top executive at Pearson boasted that their company is the “largest custodian” of student data anywhere. Scary prospect.

Had enough? Many parents have and are opting out of student testing. Nathan Hale High School in Seattle is opting out of testing juniors. Parents are sending their kids to school with “opt out” forms. 

Schools need help, but not from the likes of Pearson—a corporation reaping billions of our tax dollars and controlling our schools. Who gets a failing grade? Not our kids and their teachers.

Here's a link to a website offering perspective and advice from a former school administrator, teachers, and parents. ConversationEd.

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