Texas hasn't gone soft. As a parent of two sons in public school, I can vouch that we all still want our kids to get good grades so they can go to good colleges. But the tests, which were promised to bring improvements, are increasingly impediments to education.
Daily, members of Congress orate on the need for American schools to improve. Yet yesterday, the legislation authorizing every major federal program to assist education has expired or will soon lapse due to the lack of action by Congress.
While the Race to the Top program has been widely praised (despite no formal evaluation data to consider yet), the Education Department's granting of No Child Left Behind waivers has raised concerns, especially as it pertains to holding schools and states accountable for student achievement.
For the last 20 years, however, non-educators have rolled the dice in the quest for "transformative change." They have tried to blow up "the status quo" in the faith that something better would naturally emerge.
What we should have learned from No Child Left Behind is that you can set a goal of 100 percent proficiency for all students, but if you don't have the policies to support that goal, you are going to fall far short.
America's schools aren't doing nearly well enough, especially for our neediest children. We need accountability systems that create urgency and push for significant gains every year. Ideological arguments and utopian objectives don't help.
We have been living with such a false divide in our understanding of education. The belief that art and science were two separate disciplines demanding different teaching methodology is not serving our students or our economy very well.