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NCLB Outrages

Letter to Michael Casserly on His Call for Public Hangings

NOTE: Don Perl did not receive the courtesy of a reply.

Here are Mr. Casserly's exact words:
It's unacceptable. It needs to be stopped. People need to be punished. And where there are hangings, they need to be public and high.

You can read a transcript of the full segment at the url below.

August 12, 2011

Michael Casserly
Executive Director for the Council of Great City Schools
1301 Pennsylvania Avenue - Suite 702
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Michael Casserly:

As a lifetime educator, advocate and activist for thoughtful pedagogical practices, I was particularly interested in the Public Broadcasting System's news hour coverage on Monday evening, August 8th of the high stakes standardized testing scandal in Atlanta. I took particular note of your words as well as those of Fairtest's Bob Schaeffer.

Certainly, I would never condone the cheating that educators participated in. However, their actions continue to sound an alarm already ringing throughout the nation -- and that is the educational malpractice of such mindless obeisance to a testing regimen designed to reduce our children to data and their teachers to script readers. Now more than ever have teachers become script readers as test scores have turned into the gold standard for teacher evaluations. As never before our teachers are without the time, the energy, or even the support to view their charges as anything but reflections of their now tentative teaching positions.

Mr. Schaeffer noted that in such high-stress situations, even good people crack. You countered with this statement: "There will be punishments. Where there are hangings, they need to be public and high." For the moment I will put aside this allusion to disgraceful chapters of tortures and lynchings in the history of the South, and ask you to reflect for a moment on what you would do were you placed in a similar moral dilemma. Would you simply bow to a testing regimen that you saw as insulting -- even worse -- decimating to you, your students, and your profession? Might you put your career in jeopardy by bravely speaking out, allegorically standing in front of the tank in Tiananmen Square? Or would you lose the moral struggle and succumb to the collegial pressure of cheating, and then hope that this chapter of personal and community darkness never be brought to light?

Donald T. Campbell, American Social Scientist developed this law of social science: "The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor."

My hope is that upon reflection, upon working through the struggles you would have in a similar pressure-filled, truly non-educational atmosphere, you might see the wisdom of this law ΓΆ€“ and, too, the horror that your words evoked.


Don Perl, JD. MA
The Coalition for Better Education, Inc.

— Don Perl
The Coalition for Better Education, Inc.


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