When Education and Politics Meet

Article excerpt

I think the more attention an important issue gets, the better things usually are. Call me naive, but I still believe that a variety of informed opinions will lead to a smart, sensible decision. Months ago in this space, I favored the debate about whether the Harry Potter books were fit for children to read, even though I think anytime you have children begging to read 300-page books, something is right.

Now with the election season bearing down, education is getting the kind of attention I would usually find good. Gov. George W. Bush is touting his "Texas miracle" while he runs for president and a variety of other candidates, both Republicans and Democrats, are calling for tougher standards as they seek political office.

This attention isn't bad, but the results might be. Educators have a touchy balancing act to perform; in many cases, they must weigh public and political sentiment against what they know is right.

The crux of the debate is seen in the proliferation of high-stakes tests. More states are adopting such tests even though most educators and test-makers agree that a single test should not be the only judge of what a student has learned for a particular year or their entire public school education. Even test preparation publisher The Princeton Review, while coming out with state-specific guides this fall, admits it is worried about the overreliance on high-stakes tests today. …