The "Tough Standards" Movement
Shaun Kerry, M.D.
Is such a movement
harmful? Most people oppose it, yet it seems to be forced on
In 1959, John Holt noted that a consequence of "tougher standards" in education is that children are too
busy to think. A pioneer of school reform, he made a noteworthy
contribution to education with a series of books that are partially
listed in the bibliography. For a more complete listing of his
works, please refer to Amazon.com.
Alfie Kohn has led the next generation of
writers who expressed a similar opinion. In his books,
all extremely content-rich, he sets forth a series of principles that
more concisely define the problems of the 'tougher standards' movement.
A preoccupation with achievement is detrimental to learning.
● The tougher standards
movement treats kids as though they were inert objects, and
then tries to shove 'core knowledge' down their throats.
● This movement is wedded to
standardized testing, along with
buzz-words such as ‘excellence’ and ’higher standards'.
● The movement consists of
requiring a specific type of curriculum and methodology.
● The notion that 'harder is
better' prevails throughout the movement.
When discussing these ideas with
parents, students, and teachers, they most always agree strongly with my
assessment of the situation. The 'tough standards' movement,
however, seems to be widely accepted by school board officials, and in
political circles; among both democratic and republican leaders.
The Business Coalition for
Education Reform, Business Roundtable, National Alliance for
Business, Committee for Economic Development, and other such
corporations have purposefully released deceptive reports that use
standardized test scores to support their belief in the "tough
standards" movement. Their findings should be questioned, as they
may be driven by an ulterior motive.
Many of our elected officials have entrusted the control of our
schools to corporate interests, because corporations provide
a majority of the funding required to sustain our political parties.
This raises deep concerns, as the goals of corporations differ sharply
from the goals of parents and students.
For example, many corporations want
employees who are easily led
and not inclined to think for themselves.
Most large businesses want people who are hard-driven and achievement
oriented, even though this attitude may ultimately be harmful to the
employee. They want people who are willing to 'play the game' in
order to increase their profits.
Furthermore, corporations tend to neglect the
medical and psychological consequences of the learning
process that currently prevails in our schools. They believe in
the 'tough-standards' theory, and hire social scientists and writers to
conduct tainted research, and publish the results of biased studies
that support their preconceived notions.
Control of the American government must be returned to the people.
This will occur, but only once the populace is enlightened and
finds the clear path that it must follow. Our
political reform site
covers this subject in detail.
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