Table of Contents

    Cover Theme
  • "Rewriting the Script"

    Together, the following eight articles outline how the standards-tests-punishment machine has subverted public schools from their democratic promise. With action, we can write a future where education isn't a soulless profit machine for the few.
  • Think Less Benchmarks

    A flawed test does more harm than good

    By Amy Gutowski

    "Thanks to the folks at the Discovery Channel, that TV channel with the nifty little logo of the earth spinning, my 8-year-old students have four more opportunities to stop learning and fill in the bubbles."

  • Cover Story
  • Beyond NCLB

    By Monty Neill

    A new era requires new thinking

  • Teaching in Dystopia

    Testing’s stranglehold on education

    By Wayne Au

    "The problem is this: Testing is killing education. Not only is it narrowing the curriculum generally, it promotes bad pedagogy, while making some private companies very rich in the process."

  • Reading First, Libraries Last

    Scripted programs undermine teaching and children's love of books

    By Rachel Cloues

    "In these bleak NCLB days of regimented, scripted reading programs and financially drained school districts, I am deeply worried about the future of elementary school libraries."

  • The Scripted Prescription

    A cure for childhood

    By Peter Campbell, Peter Campbell

    Testing mania reaches the pre-K classroom.  "It saddened me to think that my daughter's first impression of school was based on taking a test and failing it."

  • Bogus Claims About Reading First

    By Stephen Krashen

    When it comes to Reading First, don’t believe the hype

  • Textbook Scripts, Student Lives

    A math teacher goes beyond the standardized curriculum

    By Jana Dean

    "Textbooks, published by corporations that have much to gain by maintaining business as usual, aren't likely to press students to envision a future any different from the past and present."

  • Bonfire of the Disney Princesses

    By Barbara Ehrenreich

    Contrary to their spin machine, Disney’s princesses are far from role models

  • Underfunded Schools Cut Past Tense from Language Programs

    By The Onion

    "A part of American school curricula for more than 200 years, the past tense was deemed by school administrators to be too expensive to keep in primary and secondary education."
  • TV Selfishness and Violence Explode During 'War On Terror

    2nd graders discover new trends in TV since 9/11

    By Margot Pepper

    "Six years into the 'War on Terror,' my 2nd-grade Spanish immersion students found that aggression, selfishness, and insults have exploded on national television."

  • Queer Matters

    Educating educators about Homophobia

    By William DeJean, Anne Rene Elsebree

    "While we were excited to support the opening of the educational closet, unintentionally we became seen as the 'residential experts' for all things queer."

  • Feeding Two Birds With One Hand

    Why educators should demand a national health care plan

    By Bob Peterson

    "I can't imagine any teacher union leader or local school board member who wouldn't welcome a new federal program that would make the issue of healthcare benefits a moot point in bargaining."

  • Building Teacher Solidarity

    Larry Kuehn talks about building ties between teachers in Canada, Mexico, and the United States

    translation missing: en.articles.interviewers Bob Peterson

    “I would really like to see a new movement that gives the kind of hope
    for change that there was when I came into teaching in the late 1960s.”

  • Cover Stories
  • The Power of Words

    By Linda Christensen

    Top-down mandates masquerade as social justice reforms

  • Departments Free
  • Short Stuff
  • Resources
  • Review
  • Letters to the Editors
  • Good Stuff

    By Herb Kohl

Short Stuff

  Illustration: Tony Auth
©2008 The Philadelphia Inquirer. Reprinted with permission of Universal Press Syndicate

McDonald's Gets Low Marks

Under intense pressure from parents and national organizations, McDonald's quickly suspended placing marketing messages on children's report cards in Seminole County, Fla.

The joint 10-year business partnership between the county's school board and McDonald's was scuttled in mid-January. In exchange for printing costs, McDonald's was allowed to print ads on report cards that offered students free Happy Meals for good grades.
"The offer, announced in conjunction with a smiling picture of Ronald McDonald printed on report card envelopes, was valid from kindergarten through 5th graders," Brandweek magazine reported.

The partnership didn't sit well with Susan Pagan, a mother who contacted the Cambridge, Mass.-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Pagan said she was outraged by the district's actions, which she said is tantamount to exploitation.

Beyond the ethical considerations of branding report cards, the CCFC raised concerns about the nutritional value of Happy Meals, which they said are high in calories, fat, and sugar.

Illinois District Just Says 'No'

A boycott by a suburban Chicago school district caught national attention in February for the district's refusal to give state exams to English language learners.

Administrators at DuPage County's Carol Stream Elementary District 93 are the first "school employees to say publicly they will not administer the test to some students," the Illinois State Board of Education told the Daily Herald.

District officials told the paper they were "willing to break the shield students from the frustration and humiliation of taking an exam not designed for them."

A spokesman from the federal Department of Education told the Daily Herald that the boycott could jeopardize the district's federal funding.

"While there may be consequences for the adults in the organization, we shouldn't ask kids to be tested on things they haven't been taught," District Superintendent Henry Gmitro told the Daily Herald.

Last fall, the U.S. Department of Education forced Illinois to drop a test designed for English language learners, saying it wasn't an adequate measure of state standards. Illinois is currently developing a test to meet federal guidelines, according to the Daily Herald. In the meantime, Illinois will allow accommodations such as extra time or audio recordings to English learners taking the standard tests.

Protesters Detained

Twenty-five demonstrators — many from Baltimore — were detained by police during a Feb. 6 protest of Maryland's "historic underfunding" of the state's public schools.

The protest, organized by the Baltimore Algebra Project, a student run-tutoring and advocacy project, was held on the steps of the Maryland State House and drew 150 high school and college students. The group, the Baltimore Sun reported, cited a lack of education funding for the increase in juvenile crime, and, more specifically, the murder of an Algebra Project member who was shot during a robbery attempt. A coffin symbolizing his death was laid on the steps.

Before lying still in front of the building's doors, 25 protesters moved past guards and strung crime-scene tape along stair railings to say that the Gov. Martin O'Malley's education budget was a crime.

The Sun also reported that the governor's proposal for calculating education funding would mean that, "Maryland public school districts would receive about $133 million less than they had expected."

The detained demonstrators — a Baltimore public school teacher and two dozen students, including an 11-year old — told the Sun that a provocative protest was necessary to bring attention to their cause.

"This is beautiful. This is exactly what we wanted," a handcuffed 16-year-old protestor said. "We've been ignored for too long. All we're doing is fighting for our schools, our education, our future."