If I were to offer a subtitle for this presentation, it would be "Why are nice people like legislators in the business of dealing with testing?" After I authored the bill requiring basic skills testing in public institutions in the state of Texas, a lot of educators were publicly, and with some degree of hostility, asking the same question. They asked the question because there is a real feeling that legislators and people who form public policy ought to be in the business of appropriating money and should leave the business of educating and decisions about how to spend that money to educators.
If all things were equal in the world, that system probably would work out just fine. The truth is that some of the most critical education policy decisions in the history of our country have been made by people outside of the enterprise we call education. Take, for example, this question: "To whom should education, this wonderful vehicle for upward mobility, be offered?" For years, most educators felt that education belonged to a small, fairly restricted group. W. E. B. DuBois defined them as "the academically talented ten." It was public policy that determined that all people who had the ability to learn ought to have access to the learning process and that public funds ought to be appropriated to support that policy.
Every state in the United States has as a constitutional responsibility the charge to educate its people. And today education means much more than just: the development of a literate citizenry. Education for many states is truly the cornerstone that spurs economic growth and develops a state's competitive edge among other states and nations. Most states spend up to half, and some spend even more than half____________________