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[Susan notes: We don't expect a U. S. Secretary of Education to be qualified for the job, so it's not surprising that the media don't feel any necessity to know anything about education before commenting. ]

Submitted to Newsweek but not published

To the editor

Eleanor Clift ("Obama's stealth education reformer," August 15) is as unqualified to comment on Arne Duncan's educational policy as Duncan is to be Secretary of Education. Neither has a clue.

Thanks to NCLB, our schools have been converted into test-prep factories, with English and math tested in grades 3 through 8 and once during high school. Duncan's proposal will make things far worse.

Everyone in education understands the value of having some common benchmarks as well as the value of assessment. Duncan's push for narrow and rigid national standards and national tests, however, according to his own statements, will result in standardized tests being given in all subjects in all grades, and quite possibly more frequently than just once a year: Duncan has stated that his goal is to ensure that all children know where they are "on every step of their educational trajectory."

This assembly-line approach is completely out of tune with what is known about the way children learn. Ms. Clift, a professional political writer, and Mr. Duncan, a former professional basketball player, have not spent enough time with children and teachers, and neither they nor their staffs are familiar with the vast research literature that says that children are not programmable robots.

Stephen Krashen and Susan Ohanian

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