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Education in the Media, Leadership and Activism, Satire

A Standardized Testing Fairytale

One upon a time there were some men who wanted to change the world. The problem was that these men did not feel powerful enough, and needed more power over the people around them. There was one group which kept challenging these men, “those darn liberals.”

“We need to cut taxes!” They screamed as loud as they could. “If we cut taxes for the rich…we mean, everyone, then everyone will have more money to spend,” they reasoned, while the roads, bridges and neighbourhoods continued to decay. However every time they argued for change, some crazy left wing liberal would argue against them.

They’d been trying for decades to dominate the world by controlling popular media, and by buying politicians, but every time they looked around there were still “those darn liberals” challenging their authority. It seemed like they could make hardly any headway in their plans to dominate every aspect of people’s lives because “those darn liberals” kept interfering.

They tried everything. They started wars in other parts of the world to distract people, but that just seemed to get “those darn liberals” madder. They tried curtailing freedoms after the awful day of fire, but that just seemed to get “those darn liberals” and ‘those annoying libertarians” mad.

They wondered to themselves, where are these “darn liberals” coming from anyway? The “darn liberals” certainly weren’t learning their strange left wing ideals from the media, since that was almost entirely under the men’s control. They weren’t learning their ideals from the church. They weren’t learning their ideals from the big box businesses that had replaced most of their local businesses. Where could they be learning these strange ideas?

At last the powerful men realized that the ideas were being passed down each generation through schools.

“We must close those darn institutions,” they said.

“Schools can shape vulnerable young minds,” they complained.

“What if we were in charge of schools?” another asked.

“We’ve tried to control schools for decades, but those darn teachers are too liberal,” another responded.

They hatched a plan. They would weave a tale about the corruption of teachers and the downward spiral of schools. Since the media was controlled by them, any story they released would be BIG news, and would scare the public into ceding control of the public schools to their private interests.

The public bought their story, especially after the highly publicized release of the movie, Waiting for Standardized-testing man.The few politicians not on their payroll did the same. Very quickly they rammed through a bill they secretly called No Children Left Free. The bill deliberately introduced mind-numbing testing. “Better to control their minds if their minds are weak,” they cackled.

After a few years, it seemed like their plan was working when all of a sudden they hit a road block. For reasons unknown to them, a blue man had been elected to office! They panicked. They tried everything they could to prevent the blue man from taking office, but he seemed untouchable. “Foul!” they cried. “He was born on the moon!” they claimed. “He is not like us,” they implored, “he will sell our country out to his friends in the hot country.” Nothing worked, and the blue man became high ruler of the land.

However they discovered that although the blue man was not like them, he had a weakness. He did not understand education. So they tricked him into installing one of their agents as his leader of the schools, and all was good for them again. Their agent, a servant of the dark lords of Accountability, continued their destruction of the public schools. He introduced the Race to the Top of the Mountain bill, and everyone, except some of “those darn liberals” thought it was a great idea.

When one of the more prominent “darn liberals” spoke out against the Race to the Top of the Mountain legislation, they sent one of their attack dogs to silence her. When the teachers complained about it, they laughed and used their media servants to belittle and humiliate the teachers. “You are just being greedy,” they said as they lined their friends’ pockets with money from the government. “Stop complaining,” they laughed, as they cut services to everyone. “Education needs to be improved in this country,” they lied as they cut spending to education, and worked to destroy teachers. “Competition is healthy for schools,” they claimed, “after all businesses have to compete. Do more, with less.”

Across the country the Race to the Top of the Mountain idea spread, until teachers felt vilified in their work, to the glee of the men, and most school districts scrambled to compete for the scraps from the trough. Some school districts even found ways to replace teachers with robots to cut costs. Others fired teachers with experience and hired rookies instead, preferring to save money over having schools which worked.

As the public schools began to fail and be replaced by schools more to the men’s choosing, the men began to get excited.

Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for society, a growing movement was started, one which was aware of the men, and fought against the greed for which they stood. In the beginning of the summer of discontent, a large march was planned for everyone interested in saving public education. At one point, even the blue man was forced to admit the limitations of the testing model, although his minions from Accountability tried to spin his words to their advantage.

At the end of the summer march, there was a shift in the air. Parents realized that their schools were doing a fairly good job, but needed more support. Students gained more of a voice in their schools and talked about the changes they want to see. Educators, parents, and students, now united in purpose, cast down the lords of Accountability. The men, temporarily defeated in their battle to control the minds of youth through education decided to look for other prey.

About David Wees

David Wees is a Canadian teacher with 7 years international experience. He started his career in inner city NYC in a failing school. He met his wife in the spring of 2005 and together they moved to London, England where David taught in a small private school which was David’s first exposure to the International Baccalaureate curriculum. London was too expensive, even compared to NYC, so after 2 more years they moved on to Bangkok, Thailand where David taught for 2 years. David has co-authored a textbook for IB Mathematics, and has his Masters degree in Educational Technology. He is now in Vancouver, Canada, working as a learning specialist in technology. He blogs regularly at


One thought on “A Standardized Testing Fairytale

  1. Thank you, David – whenever I think of fairy tales from my aging nerd perspective, I think of poor Bastian from The Never Ending Story. He saved a disintegrating world and won the power to restore it. Then he nearly ruined it again in his hubris (maybe he did – the details are fuzzy). Not only do we need more young people re-imagining the world, we need an educational system that helps them act as stewards, not tyrants, as they discover and live their lives.

    Schools have to provide a counter-culture – a joyful one, a community-based one – to our corporate-consumer one, so kids have a goal to aim towards in their care for one another and us. We can help them build these communities in our classrooms.

    How do we share this fairy tale with students so they can change the scripts the system expects them to deliver?


    Posted by Chad Sansing | June 16, 2011, 8:23 pm

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