Childhood Lost: How American Culture Is Failing Our Kids

By Sharna Olfman | Go to book overview

9
[No Child Left]: What Are
Schools for in a Democratic
Society?

PETER SACKS

In recent years, policymakers have been engaged in a massive and unprecedented social experiment on American schoolchildren. This experiment in public school accountability was launched upon the implausible notion that learning and teaching could be precisely and unambiguously measured with standardized tests, and that such tests would prod children and schools to perform their best. The costs of this experiment have been staggering, not only in terms of the taxpayer outlays to support these new huge testing and accountability bureaucracies, but also in terms of what we lose as a democratic society. What are we giving up as a nation for the sake of this exceedingly narrow definition of school accountability and academic success?

Americans are relinquishing democratic control over their public schools to a new generation of rather cynical politicians and technocrats who have defined education in the most self-serving and narrow of terms. The wizards of the accountability machine have fostered the dubious proposition that technological fixes alone, with more standards, more standardized tests, and harsher sanctions attached to these tests will fuel lasting gains in academic achievement for all children and lead to a more prosperous and productive citizenry.

The grand experiment on American schools and schoolchildren has transformed the very meaning of what it is to be an educated

-185-

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Childhood Lost: How American Culture Is Failing Our Kids
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • Part I - Children's Irreducible Needs 1
  • 1: The Natural History of Children 3
  • 2: Why Parenting Matters 19
  • Part II - How American Culture is Failing Our Kids 55
  • 3: The War Against Parents 57
  • 4: The Impact of Media Violence on Developing Minds and Hearts 89
  • 5: The Commercialization of Childhood 107
  • 6: Big Food, Big Money, Big Children 123
  • 7: So Sexy, So Soon 137
  • 8: Techno-Environmental Assaults on Childhood in America 155
  • 9: [No Child Left] 185
  • 10: Where Do the Children Play? 203
  • Index 217
  • About the Editor and the Contributors 223
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