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[Susan notes: Yeah, Don!

It's so important to rebut Podesta's dangerous rhetoric.]

Published in Washington Post

To the editor

John D. Podesta's Aug. 20 Washington Forum commentary, How Obama got it right on school reform, proclaimed the importance of disrupting the status quo and praised the Obama administration's policies of evaluating students' progress via ever more high-stakes standardized testing.

The status quo has consisted of high-stakes standardized testing for a generation now, with devastating results. This invasion of our public schools has lined the pockets of the few and has demeaned, undermined and oppressed our youth and their classroom professionals.

Mr. Podesta employed the analogy of children being tested to the testing of seafood exposed to the toxins in the aftermath of the gulf oil spill. Children are not seafood and are not akin to shrimp from the gulf -- except perhaps in one regard. Toxins in the gulf can be roughly equated with the poisons of poverty. Poverty saddles our children with all kinds of toxins -- lead in the water, unstable families, the struggle for survival. These toxins are best addressed not with additional oppressions -- such as standardized tests -- but with living wages.

Absolutely, let's disrupt the status quo. Let's consider a living wage as an antidote.

The writer is president of the Coalition for Better Education.

Don Perl

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