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[Susan notes: Asking who really profits from high school exit exams is a crucial question. We need to ask it often and we need to ask it loudly.]

Submitted to Patriot Ledger but not published

To the editor

When will the media cover that story that exposes who really benefits from high school exit exams? The standardized testing industry is a multi-billion dollar business. The push for more testing is not led by parents and teachers, but by corporate leaders with an interest in (surprise, surprise) cashing in.

Today, we have teachers paying for school supplies out of their own pockets while CEOs in the standardized testing industry collect fat paychecks. It is clear that our priorities and our funding need to be examined.

When students fail these tests and leave high school without a diploma, they will not be able to get any job. In the end, we, the taxpayers, will pay for the governmentsí failure to make education a high priority.

The Pentagonís budget is $400 billion a year. This does not include the costs in Iraq and Afghanistan, in which the US is spending an estimated $5 billion a month, or $60 billion this year alone. The US has budgeted about $50 billion for K-12 education this year. Out of that budget, the schools must now pay for more and more standardized tests and the never-ending preparation for these tests.

This doesnít even take into account the lost opportunities in the classroom. For example, if Shakespeare isnít on the test, it is unlikely there will be time for it in the curriculum. Obviously corporate leaders would love it if the schools produced an entire generation of young people who neatly fill in the correct bubbles, because that would suit their needs for neatly filling their rows of cubicles thereby supporting the companyís bottom line. But what will happen to those talented artistic and innovative students who donít fit inside the box, or in this case, think outside the bubble?

High-stakes testing should be shelved.

Marianne Madeiros

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