It's Fall again but that sulphurous smell in the air is not burning leaves. It is the re-surfacing of an old argument for national testing. Claiming neutrality on the issue of national testing in order to hold those Republicans who still cling to the threadbare ideological tissue of local autonomy, Bush Co. has shoved out two of its stellar fallen angels to make the case: big time gambling addict and leading virtuecrat, Bill Bennett; and former ED Sec. and bagman for Armstrong Williams, Rod Paige.
The details of this national testing plan are no less vague than the new torture agreement between Bush and the Republican "rebels," but one thing is clear: the ed industry is desperate for a reliable testing system that will continue to produce failing scores for America's public schools, and a NAEP-like instrument, normed to do just that, is their preferred solution to the variety of testing regimes in the states with their varied schedules for the same inevitable end they eventually face. Bennett has his money on the virtual charter schools that hope to soak up a sizable portion of public education funds, and Paige, as the black face of Chartwell Education Group, has his nest lined with soft dollars from the Florida Public Pension Fund, managed in part by his bosses at Liberty Partners, who are the owners of Chartwell and Edison Schools. You remember Edison Schools.
The future of Edison and other corporate welfare education outfits, virtual or otherwise, depends upon hastening the schedule of the manufactured failure of the public schools. The most efficient way to do that is to remove the latitude that comes with state accountability systems and to initiate a national system controlled by ED, who will continue to seed and feed charter and voucher initiatives while the public schools are being ground up by a national testing scheme designed to destroy any remaining public confidence in the public schools.