Talking about Education as a commodity

Education as a commodity

Walking along the hallways one morning, where I was gainfully, I came upon a group of people engaged in an emphatic conversation about their children’s education. Hearing the subject matter I slowed down my pace to eavesdrop. I have a particular passion for education so anything I hear or see about the subject matter peaks my interest. It centered about a third grader’s academic prowess or lack there of. The parent was contesting the teacher’s view that socialization was an integral part of the overall success of the student. The parent argued that there will be plenty of time for the student to make friends and that it is more important that the student be “where they need to be”, meaning performing at what the parent decided was the appropriate level (compared to others of high academic standard and peer group of the parents).

The conversation never got to what was best for the student but was suspended around what the expectations of the parent’s perception. The parent was more concerned with the status of the student in comparison with “where the others were and where they need to be”, rather than what was the capability and need of the individual child. They wanted a measurable result that was being equated with a cost per value added comparison. Much like you would do when comparing one product against another.

This is not unusual stance. Unfortunately it has become the normal parental expectation. The attitude expressed was one that you can encounter on a daily basis. It was consumer oriented. What I mean by that is that the education was something that was purchased and they expected to get something for the price.

This conversation made me sad. It has come to the point where the needs of the complete individual are no longer considered. The individual is devalued and valued only in terms of a commodity in the midst of similar commodities. The intent of education should be how to help the individual become the best individual that they can be. It can help make a person a better citizen, one willing to serve the greater good in being able to bring to the table a mind ripened through the ability to think, render opinion and contribute, in service, to the rest of humanity. As a by product of this ability, the individual will have the ability to obtain a rewarding life through their creative effort to produce one. It is based hopefully upon an education that acts as a launching pad allowing them to discover the fields of knowledge that will promote their talents. The above parental conversation is proof that we have strayed far away from this noble path. Notice that even within my conversation – I am using industrial production terms to describe the learning process. This is how much it has infected our way of thinking. It has become routine to view how we learn in the same terms we watch an assembly line.

In defense of what we do call education, we have forged ahead with all the newest teaching techniques, based programs upon Bloom’s taxonomy, and trained our educators to a higher degree. This is a very good because we have at last recognized that people approach problems, inquiry and knowledge from different perspectives. This will help enrich the individual by allowing them to see the other perspectives while enabling then to grasp the concept from their own. We have recognized that all should be given equal opportunity to the foundations of education so that they can make informed decisions. We hold schools accountable for the content of their teachings and involve the community at a deeper level.

However here is where I and the praise must part company because we have perpetrated a great disservice upon the educational system. We have crippled it by making it into something that it can not be. It is not a commodities manufacturer that can turn out product of a desired nature. It can not take an amount of; flesh, bone, muscle, blood, nerves, and brain, and then mold it into a preconceived standardized person. You can form opinion and you can direct thought, but you can not stamp out exact replicas of a particular model year as you would a car, refrigerator, or piece of military equipment. As hard as you might try, sooner or later the individual appears.

Unfortunately the state of education has been reduced to an industrialized manufacturing ground where by all are held to an artificial system of measurement and standardization that is doomed to failure. We can not accept the present state of education. The standards to which they aspire are not attainable because they are not based on the human condition but rather manufacturing and consumerist philosophies. We make the basic assumption that testing will allow us to continually tweak and adjust the assembly line process to insure quality performance in all fields. That through this continual testing that the individual with come up to a predetermined rate of performance based upon an idealized set expectations of development. This is, of course, done under the mistaken assumption that each individual’s life can be placed on a pre-plotted graph of development. That each individual without question can achieve the exact same level of presupposed development and ranking and assumes an idealized equality in everything that defines the individual. It assumes that each individual wants the same things, has the same desires, has the same advantages, has the same talents and capabilities, and has the same ability to learn at a predetermined rate of speed.

This negates the truth of the individual and corrupts the truth of what equality is. This also puts an artificial definition of talent, intelligence, and capability on the individual that promotes the very elitism it tries to eradicate.  Not all individuals have the same experience, social status, capabilities, aspirations, needs, wants, and/or desires. What for ever reason our system has emphatically stated that they do and must. Testing of an individual should be nothing more than a gauge to measure an individual’s assimilation of knowledge against the material presented. Did they get all, part or some? It should not be a measure of that individual’s life expectation, aspirations, and ability to obtain that.

We design cars to meet average generalized needs. They do not all perform well in all areas however they do rate well enough as to be transportation in general. They just are better suited to specific situations and needs. A sports model does not perform to peak in the conditions of grid locked commuting. Yet when presented with the open road it meets or exceeds expectations. Put the commuter car and sports car in the mud and both perform poorly. No one expects them to because they were not designed to. Put a four wheel drive vehicle there and it performs well. Yet we do not call them poor vehicles when they can not perform well in other areas. Yet when a student can only do well in one subject matter and not in all, we call them failures. Not only do we call them failures but we call the system a failure. Instead of recognizing them for their abilities, celebrating their capabilities, and fostering those attributes, we place them into a forced march of you must reach this level of performance. And to add insult to injury we add the or else clause to the proceedings.

So to compensate for the supposed failure of the student, we place the blame upon the education system. Before we continue, let me say that there are many instances where inadequate educational experiences are unavailable and that needs to be addressed. However the purposes of this piece are to address the general condition and assumptions that drive the overall state of education. We have arbitrarily placed exorbitantly high expectations for the education of our society. They are standards and practices that are placed on no other sector of our society. We must remember that we are dealing with unique individuals possessing free will. It can not be predetermined exactly what an individual might do with what they have been given. For that fact the question arises whether or not they will find anything they have been given worth using.

How often have you heard this complaint from adults’ years later that they really have not used any of what they have been taught? The popular show “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader” is comical proof that most of us will prove that we are not. Do you realize that most newspapers in this country are not written at a fifth grade reading level?

We can not predict nor dictate, through the use of any testing method, how, when or if a person will develop. We can hint at it and speculate at it, but we can not be absolutely sure what will ever come about. Yet we demand that a person chase after a paper certification that states that they have met a level of testing that insures that they are capable of achieving something. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I have told and used this story many times but this time I will put a different spin on the ending. I had an English professor my freshman year of college. He was a highly educated individual having several degrees. He had all of them on his desk the first day of class. They were all neatly framed. Now at this point you would probably think that they were there to impress us with what this man had accomplished. However I assure you that wasn’t the point. He addressed us all as Ladies and Gentlemen (something that we were all far from) and held up one of his degrees. He stated that some of us in the class might just be lucky enough to survive the college experience to gain one of these, a bachelor’s degree. He then placed it back upon the desk where the others stood, but he placed it face down.

He grabbed another one and held it so that we could all see and then proclaimed that fewer still might go on to gain one of these, a master’s degree. He then placed that one back with the others and placed it and their mates gently face down. He then he reached for the last remaining framed soldier on the desk. He held it in front of him with a certain sense of peace and proclaimed that still fewer if any of us would reach this level, a doctorate. And then he placed that one back in an open brief case, wrapping each one carefully and placing it in the case.

We all looked at each other as if to say, oh yeah, so what. He then turned and addressed us, “You know ladies and gentlemen what all those pieces of paper mean? (Not giving us an opportunity for snide comments he continued) It means that I positively, absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, know absolutely nothing…..but I just might be able to begin to know where to look for an answer. And if you learn nothing else from this class but this: that a piece of paper does not mean you know it all. It does not mean that you will ever stop learning, but it does mean that you can begin the journey of where to look for the answers to the questions of your lives.” With that he began his class.

I do not remember anything from that class as it was pretty much of a blur, except for that incredible precious nugget. It truly is the defining concept of what education is supposed to be. It is a journey that involves a life time of learning and searching for answers, passing on what you have learned from what you have applied so that the next generation has a basis from which to start their journey. They do not have to re-invent the wheel but they can most certainly improve upon the existing design or perchance move beyond it with new concepts that it might inspire. It is the training of a mind to learn how to creatively approach life. A piece of paper is nothing more than a statement that you have survived a process – not that you are prepared for anything.

This ultimately is the purpose of a good education – not to provide you with the answers and not to insure that you will have a fantastic job – but to provide you with the basis upon which you can seek to gain the knowledge to help solve problems and begin to answer questions. It is the basis of creative solutions put together from a sampling of life’s present and expanding knowledge. Anything more than that is beyond the human condition. Why is that? It is because the human condition is in constant change. We are being taught by humans in the fields of human knowledge that are continually expanding, growing, restating and improving.

We once believed the world to be flat, and the earth was the center of the universe. We now know that it is complete and utterly different from what we have found out and are still finding out world to be. How then can you expect to have something give you an absolute when the absolutes are changing? The computer that once took up entire city block, shrunk through changes in knowledge that it could be place on a small space ship holding two people and land on the moon. That same computer can now be held in your hand as an advanced calculator. The fields of knowledge changed that brought about that transformation. The horse, had given way to the horseless carriage capable of amazing speeds of miles per hour to present day computer controlled machines that can recognize seat positions of individual drivers and capable of speeds of 200 mph.

The basics of how these things work are still there but the implementation has radically changed. Not because it was taught but because it was dreamt of from a basis of knowledge. It was never an absolute. Education was never an absolute be all and end all; it was and is an absolute beginning. But yet we describe aspects of it as terminal degrees, or if you have this degree or education you will be set for life. That has been negated statistically. The average job only lasts 3 to 5 years. We look at it as if it is a commodity to be bought rather than something to be aspired to. See how many people with a be all and end all superior degree are on the unemployment line or are working below the capabilities of their degrees because they bought into the lie. They thought that it would insure life long employment, success, and benefits.

A piece of paper is no more that a witness to where you have been and in some cases what you have endured. It is a badge that says you have been through it. It does not have a guarantee statement written on it. It is not redeemable at the personnel office of a major corporation. It is not an insurance policy for successful life. It is not proof of intelligence or common sense. You and I have both met incredibly ignorant people who have multiple degrees and just as many without any degree at all who are exceedingly intelligent. But yet we demand through misplaced expectation that the path to an education be issued absolute guarantees.

We put ridiculous constraints, demands, and criteria for education to achieve. We use standards of operation that it can not obtain because the human is neither a machine nor raw material to be shaped, molded, and stylized to fit a particular need in a factory, research laboratory, office or sporting event. But yet we are forcing our educational institutions to adopt criteria and standards that we do not place on the business world that we model our measuring system after.

To illustrate my point, let us look at the places that our society worships and hold them to the same standards and see how they fare. Let us take a look at the sporting world. A simple example is to look at baseball batting averages. They are based upon the system of 1000 times at bat. Your average is placed against this in percentage and given as a ranking. Thus as each time you are at bat and you are successful at getting on base, your percentage remains high. Thus a 100% would mean that you are successful at all 1000 times at bat. (this not taking into account that at each at bat you are given several attempts to connect with the ball: 3 strikes, 4 balls, and foul balls; thus if given full opportunity the potential to have multiple swings per at bat plus the additional factor that you must make it on base to count.). However we know that this is an impossible task.

If you are successful 50% of the time you would have a .500 batting average. This is still an impossibly high ranking at the professional level. Quite honestly, most of the high dollar heavy hitters have averages of 200 to 300. This means that they are only successful twenty to thirty percent of the time and yet they are earning thousands of dollars per swing of the baseball bat. Yet no one thinks them inadequate for only producing a twenty to thirty percent success rate. They are hailed as superstars. Yet if a child gets a 20 to 30 percent success rate we do not call them superstars but call them failures. The parents are questioned, the teachers are examined, and the school is scrutinized. The fact of the matter is that it takes an entire team to support these super stars so that they become a winning team. The entire team’s batting average does not come that high. The fact of the matter is that it is the team with the fewest errors that becomes the champions. In fact a team with a 50 percent success rate can become world champions. But yet schools with graduating levels of 70 percent are deemed to be substandard.

Leaping to the advertising world now let us consider the advertising campaign. Millions if not billions are spent trying to entice you to by something you really have no use for. They hold target groups, focus groups, opinion surveys, test marketing and a host of other technological tracking systems just to see how to entice you to buy. Yet with all this, if an advertising campaign reaches just one percent of its marketing audience it is considered successful. That means that of 1000 pieces of spam, junk mail, flyers, pamphlets, handbills, and telemarketing calls that are sent, handed out, or phoned in: if 10 out of the 1000 produce a sale – you are very successful.

If you do not believe me, take a look at what McDonald’s spends on its advertising budget per year just to get you to stop in and buy a happy meal. Take that and compare it to the percentage of profit which that expenditure gets. Then tell me if that would be a reasonable rate of success for a graduation rate.

If in the music business if you cut a CD with 10 songs and just one of those songs produce a hit, you stand to make millions. Of course you have to take into consider how many other CD’s are out there to make a recording company successful. Just look at the thousands of song compilations released as opposed to those that are truly successful.

If you consider how much a modern company spends to make a profit you would see that they seldom reach a standing of profitability in the double digits but yet are considered to be a really successful company if they can produce a 7% profit margin.

Here is another factor that these tests do not take into consideration. In order for someone to be educated, they must want to be educated. They must see the ultimate value in it. It is difficult to begin to imagine what use your education is when you do not have hope for your future, you do not have enough to eat or even a place to sleep. Random algebraic equations no matter how locally or culturally presented are going to convince anyone of the value of math. Getting good grades to get you into college is not a motivating factor when you can not afford food, rent, and clothing or save enough to go to college. We have removed the inspiration of education for mere function. Mere function does not inspire. It does reduce education to a series of tasks that must be accomplished to get to the next level. It becomes a check list of been there done that now what. It becomes a means to an end that says that someone is supposedly entitled to something, not that they must aspire, strive or work for it.

The concept of business success is to minimize the risk factors as to increase the possibilities that what you set out to do will be close to what was intended. You have to take certain amounts of risk to place you in a position to succeed. Education’s goal is to expose you to as many fields of human knowledge and endeavor as possible. Grammar school (which is now separated into elementary and middle/junior high) was designed to allow you to obtain a basic knowledge. From here you would be able to fully participate in life with a basic understanding of how to communicate, have basic math skills, and have a basic understanding of how the society you live in works. . Take a look at an exam that I have found from 1865 given as an exit exam for 8th grade.

Now before you start the see he is relying on tests to prove his point let me explain. I had been looking for a test to make comparisons not for academic prowess but one that help explain the differences to approach of the educational systems. The test was given to the few remaining students who either had the wherewithal financially to make it to this level or whose parents sacrificed to allow them to continue. Most did not make it this far not because they were not able to academically but rather they did not because of the financial potential these children represented to the families economy. Children were a large portion of the labor force that could mean success or ruin for a family. For some as long as you could read a little, write a little and do your basic math, you could help the family succeed and not be cheated. Third grade was about the limit for a lot of people and that was mostly the male population. Girls got little if any education at all.

So you see comparison of early test scores against modern test scores is not valid. You also have to take into consideration that “formal” education was not available to large portions of the population either because of distance, race, creed, or gender. So you see score comparisons are artificial amongst the years. Publicly funded Grammar schools were few. No many towns could afford the cost of a school teacher – usually a female. High schools were a rare commodity that you had to travel great distances for and they were by no means inexpensive or free. However style and purpose of education are important factors.

You learned the basics of your language by learning to read, how to count (add, subtract, multiple and divide), learn about your culture, community, country and the world. Along with that you were hopefully exposed to the creative process of thought. Not everyone is going to be successful at everything. Some are better in theory that in practical application. Some are better at conceptualization rather than realization. Some can play a violin and make it sing while others can not make it do anything but appall. Some can throw a football with a phenomenal accuracy under pressure and others can not hold it steadily in their hands.

We belittle the ones who do not do well in a particular subject. Somehow it is believed that this will motivate them. This is not the case for most. If anything it is another factor in turning people off to the process of education. But the belief is that it is okay as long as they pass a test that tests what they have been tested on. But yet grace and forgiveness is readily given to those who succeed in life in one area or another. How about the Quarter Back who sang at the Chicago Cubs game – “Take Me Out To The Ball Game”. Did anyone think him a loser because he could not sing on key? No, if anything he was celebrated for the performance.

Education is like going to the local buffet. There are two ways to approach this amazing collection of food. The first is to get the most for your money approach. You have seen this type of person. They come to the buffet table, plate in hand and begin to pile large amounts to food on their plates. By the time they have reached the end, everything is running together in an undistinguishable collection of flavors. Their objective is to simply stuff as much as they can into their stomachs without much regard as to what it was that they had consumed. Their only objective is to get every dollar’s worth and more that can be possibly crammed into them.

Make sure you do not fill up on salad bar, leave the bread behind, don’t fill up cheap beverages, just stick to the high priced items so that you are guaranteed to get the greatest value. The concept of a balanced meal is thrown out. A balanced meal is one that the plate doesn’t have too much on one side or the other.

Plate, after plate is piled high with swirls of colors, textures, and smells without much regard to what each piece represented or was. The objective is to consume to get your money’s worth. They do not recall what it was that they ate, just that they were able to consume a lot. It wasn’t the quality, it was the quantity. The rating is given as to how much was consumed not by how much was actually used and enjoyed. The best buffets are rated by a ratio of cost versus consumption. Little consideration if any is given to quality of the food, presentation, color, surrounding atmosphere or quality of the staff.

Then there is the person who comes to the table, plate in hand and walks up and down without putting anything on their plate right away. They check things out, see what is being made available and what might look interesting. Then they go about taking small samples of what they think they might like. Their plates are not piled but carefully arranged so that flavors do not run together and may actually compliment one another. They go back to their table with what might look like nothing and taste their selections paying attention to savor the favors, textures, colors and smells. They pass judgment as to what they like and don’t by making mental note of it. Then they go back to the buffet to sample more. They even might retry something because the flavor was interesting but just did not go with what they had on their plate at the moment.

They do this, until they have exhausted the list of what they might think to be good. They sample from the bread, salad, appetizer, main course and desert tables. They might not be able to accomplish their goal in one outing until another visit to the restaurant. Then and only then will they make an informed decision as to the value of the restaurant. If they find it lacking, they move to another that might offer something more pleasing to the palate. When they come back, it is to eat a meal of what they are in the mood for that day: seafood, vegetarian, or possibly a red meat feast. Then if anything new is added they can sample that as well. They might just have several restaurants they frequent to satisfy taste, mood, and atmosphere. The complete experience is valued. Consideration is given to quality of the food, presentation, color, surrounding atmosphere or quality of the staff. They even make a note of how they might be feeling that day or what might have influenced their decisions for that day.

The pile it on your plate method seems to be the way that schools are structured and valued. The end result is measured in a consumerist tidal wave of gluttony in compiling grade point averages. There is little or no regard for actual learning. It is simply a system of we paid for this, because we believed we would get that. We seem to be sated by the awarding of test scores and not for the real value of what was supposedly learned.

If anyone was to really put all the statistical data together in a cohesive manner, they would be able to see as they have adapted these industrial standardization techniques that the cost is not in dollars but in the poor quality of life it has extracted.

What is my point? Simply we are willing to consider a thing successful if it produces a small percentage of success. We do it in industry, with inventions, with concepts and ideas but yet we do not hold the same true with education – because we hold the thing and not the individual responsible. We hold to an artificially high standard that we would not accept or expect to obtain in any other endeavor in life. We strive for a goal that is unobtainable on a personal or societal basis that is endangering the welfare of students.

In order to obtain this mythological goal we adopt industrial standards of production. The production line example of standardization is adopted. One size fits all and all must conform to this standard to work. These standards negate any true empirical data based along the observable differences in learning styles. It throws out the understanding that there are those who do not do well on standardized tests for numerous reasons from sociological factors, mental capacity, disabilities (physical or mental) and just plain trauma response to the artificial pressure to perform (translated panic attacks).

Have you ever seen the stress levels at a school during one of these infamous standardized testing forced marches? Elementary students are stressed to the point of tears; teachers and administrators are at wits end and High school students are stressed because their very futures ride high upon these supposed indicators of what has been learned. Countless hours are spent in preparation to take the test. Countless hours are spent in making sure that the conditions are favorable for the test. Countless memos are sent to staff and parents on how to prepare the students for the test. Countless hours are spent prepping students on how to take the test. And all for what? So that some bureaucrat’s career track can be elevated, and Washington and the industrialists can pat each other on the back because the statistics look good and the tax money spent on education appears to be well spent.

What does it all prove? That we have successful trained a dog and pony show. It has no real value but it looks really good. As my grandmother used to say – figures never lie, but liars always figure.

A child is no longer an individual but something that is to be managed, measured, developed, molded, controlled, and progressed along a standardized grid of acceptable performance goals so that they can find a good job. To ensure that the educational complex is running at performance standards, we apply artificial means to measure what would be considered the base line of acceptable performance models. Notice how industrial terms have even infiltrated education. We even have termed the act of being educated as the process of being educated.

The thing that is so amazing is when you look at when these standards; the system has failed to produce any real success at all by its own criteria of success. If you look at the statistics that were produced you can see that students are in fact sliding backwards. Yet they continue to tweak the system to the point where many are now teaching to the tests (although they vehemently deny it and will produce more statistics to prove their point). And still it does not produce the desired results. So they have eliminated what was considered wasteful: programs, topics, subjects and materials in favor of re-emphasized specific learning fields of math and science. This again flies in the face of all empirical data gathered by our noble government that conclusively shows that the very classes they have eliminated are the very ones that will cause significant improvements in math and science skills. Yet the educational industrial complex insists that we continue to narrow the focus to insure productive results for their profit margins. Yet they continually move jobs off shore to lesser trained countries to make a larger profit.

To use their industrial standard of product comparison – our standing in the educational field is dropping considerably up against supposed third world entries. Yet deeper and deeper into the abyss we plumb the depths in order to see what chaos they might use to rectify the solutions to producing a better end result. The truth of the matter is painfully obvious. They choose to persistently ignore it, continually deny the facts, lie about the data, and summarily dismiss anything that does not support their failing concepts. The system is broken according to their standards yet somehow it still produces some of the finest minds in the world.

We hold schools accountable, teachers accountable, parents accountable, and societies accountable. We test, retest, test our tests, and finally test the test makers. We train our teachers to know how to increase the results of the tests. This is the same concept as teaching a parrot how to speak, repeat it long enough with the right rewards and the parrot will perform the desired task. We log statistics to be used as statistics to prove that the statistics are validating our approach. The truth of the matter is that we have a broken system. Yet like those in the book “Who Moved the Cheese?” we continually go back to the same spot expecting different sets of results. However, according to the teachings of the father of modern advertising, Bernay, repeat a lie often enough and it will become someone’s perceived truth.

We are turning our students into flesh colored vending machines. The hope is that by placing the right grouping and series of products within the numbered and ordered display, that when the right button is pushed the perfect product dumps forward onto the test page assuring not only positive testing results but insuring the ability to obtain the perfect job for life. Well guess what, vending machines jam, do not always function properly, and do not always have the perfect product lining the display. That is life.

The problem with education is our view of education not its delivery. Education is more subjective than objective. It is just as objective as it is subjective. Testing can only sample where you might be not where you actually are. Testing is not an absolute only a potential indicator of how something might perform in a theoretical setting. You can see at the grammatical level where things might need to be corrected but not how they are implemented. You can see where one and one makes two, but you can not show how that information was arrived at or how it will be used in future thinking patterns. You can not accurately measure those results no matter how you try.

Consistently, the largest and most prestigious universities have abandoned the concept that the most academically gifted will succeed. Many have abandoned sole use of the SAT as the measure of a student’s capability. They have found that it is the average student who will make and have the most impact upon their world and society. Much to their dismay, they have realized that they have squandered years of resources on the supposed academically superior. It is because these average students can assimilate the information that they are given and turn it into true knowledge that is usable. They participate in life and do not rely upon mere rote memorization, they use application. They assimilate information into productivity. This is the process of creative thinking. It is the process that we have eliminated from schools in order to produce robotic reactions in testing.

Education is not about getting a better job. This is a chance by product. Just look at today’s job market. Jobs exist that didn’t exist 5 or 10 years ago and there are jobs that existed five years ago that are no longer to be had. If you train for a specific job you will be likely out of it in five years. Information doubles at the staggering rate every six months. So how is it that our educational system is to train people for better jobs when we never know exactly what will be available for them to be trained for in 16 years of “basic” education? It can not be logically or successfully done.

Industry is waking up to the fact that their best employees are those who have come from a liberal arts background. They have been exposed to wide range of thought and possibilities rather than just a narrow set of tables, graphs, and programs. Adaptability and creativity is the new axiom. You can not build a better person but you can expose them to the limitless possibilities of human thought, concepts and idea.

With that in mind, we then have to recognize the limitations of education. It can not be all things to all people. It can not provide child rearing, social skills, sex education, moral and ethical training, recreation, and baby sitting services. That is a parent’s duty. Society is not responsible for the individual but is responsible to provide the basis on which everyone can participate in that society. It can not make those who do not wish to learn, learn. It can not magically make all people exactly the same, performing at exactly the same rate, at the same development level or gift them all with exactly the same, talents, capabilities and abilities. No standardized test can produce that or guarantee that.

It is your right to be educated. No one has the right to take it away from you. But you must want it, pursue it, and use it. It can not be stuffed into you, poured into you, beaten into you, bribed into you or in anyway tricked into you. You have to want it. The purpose of education is not to get you a better job. Its purpose is to help make you a better person by exposing you to the possibilities. You have to make yourself a better person. No teacher, school, district, state or nation can do that for you. You must do that for yourself. No standardized test will insure that – no matter how many times you take it.



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