A nation of diverse talents or of test-takers?
National standards will "cause irreversible damage to an education system already suffering from No Child Left Behind," writes Professor Yong Zhao of Michigan State University in The Detroit Free Press. No evidence shows centralized standards lead to higher achievement, he contends, and plenty indicates the opposite. "A child who does not read or do math at the level and time point stipulated is deemed at risk, regardless of other strengths, which may actually be more valuable in future life." This child is then put in remedial classes, and deprived of opportunities to develop her strengths "to have a dream." National standards also discourage innovation by forcing educators to focus exclusively on standards. As a parent and educator, Zhao writes that he wants his children "to have an education, not preparation to take tests. I want my children to be able to have dreams even if they did not meet the state standards. I want my children's teachers to be educators, not implementers of government mandates. [President] Obama and the nation's governors should preserve the legacy of our Founding Fathers and build a nation of diverse talents and creative entrepreneurs rather than a nation of standardized test-takers."  PEN Weekly NewsBlast, 9/4/09
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