“As a professor of education, an educator of teachers, and someone who creates curriculum,” Carlsson-Paige said, “I see the harm education reform is causing children—the disappearance of play, creativity, and the arts from our schools. Evaluation is now driving curriculum, and curriculum is being reduced to something mechanistic. This isn’t real learning. Children are learning information by rote in the early years that cannot give them the solid foundation of knowledge they need to build on, as school continues. And the ‘drill and kill’ methods turn kids off from school early on and keep them from discovering the joy in learning. And this is mostly about poor children, because more well-to-do communities are able to provide all kinds of compensatory learning activities, such as trips to the museums, theater and music programs, summer camps.
“We’re losing out on the opportunity to have a well-educated citizenry,” she said. “True citizens need to be able to not take things at face value, to think critically, to question authority. Tests don’t measure critical thinking or imagination. They reduce the whole learning process to lower level kinds of information that can be tested. It’s really sad and scary to see this happening.”