NCC Committee on Public Education and Literacy has created
a faith-based study guide to support your justice committee or
adult Sunday School or congregational reading group as you undertake to
reflect on Linda Perlstein’s book TESTED: One American School
Struggles to Make the Grade (Henry Holt and Company, 2007).
explores the test-and-punish philosophy embodied in the federal education
law, now called the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which was scheduled for
its five-year reauthorization in 2007.
book is available in your local bookstore, and will be available in
paperback later in the summer.
study TESTED in your congregation? The reader spends days stretching into
months with the third-grade teaching team at a school struggling to retain
the Adequate Yearly Progress rating required by NCLB. “Bombard, bombard,
bombard those children with the kinds of questions they’ll have on the
test,” the principal rationalizes. “You want the students at a level of
automaticity with reading those test-like questions.” We watch teachers
collaboratively plan each day to the minute, and we listen as the children
yearn for more at school—to do some science, read for fun, perform a play.
Will the school raise its scores enough? Suspense mounts until the last
chapter. Then the reader must weigh the benefits and costs.
It is now likely that NCLB
will not be reauthorized until 2009, when there is a new President, a new
Congress, and a new Secretary of Education. The delay provides an opportunity
during 2008 for us, as people of faith, to reflect the reforms that will be
necessary in the federal education law for our society to expand access for all
children to opportunity through excellent public education.
let us know
about your study of TESTED so that we can compile a list of the
congregations engaging in this study and so that we can contact your
congregation for further action in a few months as the discussion heats up in
You can contact Congress
right now by printing out (and editing if you like)
and sending it to your Congressperson and your Senators. It is
important to remind them that justice in public education is much on your mind,
even as the reauthorization of NCLB is delayed.