Fear Isn’t All Bad

If Standardized Tests Aren’t the Answer, Then the Free Market is the Only Game in Town

By Matt Rooney | The Save Jersey Blog

Cory Booker

Cory Booker said something that I agreed with this week, Save Jerseyans, during an appearance at NJPAC (h/t NJ.com):

The problem we have right now is we cannot get into a world of high stakes testing where teachers live in fear of standardized tests that don’t take into account the totality of the issues.”

Well, at least I agree in part.

He’s referring to the great education reform debate, and although he’s generally supportive of urban vouchers and charter schools, the Newark Mayor is looking for common ground with his own party’s coalition now that he’s the frontrunner for his party’s U.S. Senate nomination in 2004. Opposing standardized tests that teachers absolutely and universally hate is a good bet.

Where do I disagree? The part about “living in fear.” Translated, he’s referring to a hypothetical situation where a good teacher is penalized owing to the fact that her class underperforms on a standardized test that’s not a great predictor of said teacher’s ability. The most obvious example? A good teacher is saddled with a classroom of less-than-stellar students because she’s a good teacher.

Yes, that’s a bad system. But if the union that Booker’s courting had its way, living without “fear” would mean life tenure and few cognizable standards! Once again, Save Jerseyans, I think the only answer to the education conundrum is obvious: a free market but subsidized system that provides for every child but allows the marketplace — not tests or political administrators/school boards — to determine a teacher’s worth.

Then the only “fear” our teachers would face on a daily basis is the fear that ALL private sector employees share — am I doing a good enough job to keep this position and advance? If it’s good enough for the rest of us….

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