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[Susan notes: ]

Submitted to J. Mathews online at Washington Post but not published

To the editor

Before NCLB, schools excluded low-achieving students from standardized tests and published false, inflated scores (check with former Secretary of Education Paige, I'm sure he's familiar with the drill).

After NCLB, many (though fortunately not all) schools are herding unqualified students into advanced placement-level classes in which they learn little; and schools manipulate arguably useless scores for the sake of status.

Students are no brighter, and achievement hasn't increased, but education is presently being held hostage to a right-wing political ideology, and you're like the court jester, dancing around the media with your rosy songs and shiny "Quality Index" trinket.

My wife and I spend a good deal of time and attention guarding our children from as much of this nonsense as we can. I take some comfort in knowing that, like all fads, you and the current state of education soon will vanish.

Michael Pittard

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