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The Word on Tests

Secretary of Education Rod Paige is absolutely, positively unflappable in his support for annual tests, a centerpiece of President Bush's education plan. And he has strong words for those who disagree.

"Anyone who is against annual testing of children is an apologist for a broken system of education that dismisses certain children and classes of children as unteachable," read the blistering first sentence of a piece by Mr. Paige in the May 13 Washington Post.

His argument was familiar: Good tests, those aligned with the curriculum and high standards, will allow educators to measure what children are learning and adjust accordingly.

"Without those results, all those who care deeply about the success of our schools and our students would persist in the hopeful but misguided belief that everyone and every school is making progress," Mr. Paige wrote.

The proposed annual testing of 3rd through 8th graders in reading and math has its share of critics, some of whom might object to the title of broken-system apologists. They have raised concerns about an overload of testing, the perils of "teaching to the test," and the possibility that the mandate might beget federal control of education.

Clinton's Long Goodbye

Bill Clinton, meanwhile, continues to defy the convention that recently retired U.S. presidents keep a low profile.

He drew a rousing response for a May 12 speech to the United Federation of Teachers, the New York City union.

Mr. Clinton called for Congress to restore funding for school construction and reauthorize the 3-year-old program he initiated to hire 100,000 new teachers and reduce class sizes.

The UFT's president, Randi Weingarten, joked that Mr. Clinton should consider running for New York City mayor.

But Mr. Clinton remained noncommittal. "Maybe someday I'll run for something again," he told the crowd.

—Joetta L. Sack [email protected].

Vol. 20, Issue 37, Page 25

Published in Print: May 23, 2001, as Federal File

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