This book examines the changes in educational policy in the U.S. and Britain over the last twenty-five years. Hursh argues that education in the States and Britain has been radically transformed, first through efforts to create curricular standards, more recently through an emphasis on accountability measured by standardized tests, and currently, efforts to introduce market competition and private services into educational systems. Hursh offers an alternative to the neoliberal conception of society and education complete with examples of parents who reject the current emphasis on individual success and schools that promote civic-mindedness.
Part of what makes this book accessible is that Hursh roots much of his discussion in his own experiences as a working class youth and as a teacher in progressive schools. Avoiding jargon, he has assembled a rich array of evidence of the economic and social effects of neoliberalism, focusing on its consequences for education. He also details the many forms of damage caused by high-stakes testing, contrasting test-driven schooling with high-quality teaching and assessment practices. . . . He concludes with a call for teachers to reject the neoliberal framework and participate in wider political efforts to ensure both high quality schooling and other programs that support human and social needs.
David Hursh has done what many before have tried and failed to do: without sacrificing complexity, he has woven the many disparate strands contributing to the current crisis in education—historical, philosophical, economic, political—into a seamless whole. Those who do not as yet understand why high stakes testing has been mandated despite its obvious harmful effects will, by the end of the book, have a deep and sophisticated understanding of the societal forces that have produced the perfect storm currently destroying teaching and learning in schools. This book is a tour de force that belongs in every educator’s library.
In this unusual book, David Hursh combines rich recollections of classroom teaching with trenchant analysis of the "real crisis" in education today-the neoliberal package of high stakes testing, accountability, markets and privatization. The result is a deeply disturbing but compelling and original book that puts democratic education back where it should be—at the center of discussions about schools and schooling.
David Hursh has given us the most compelling reason to challenge today's high stakes testing mania - to get back to the central responsibilities of teaching and learning. By moving from his own personal story of exploring the real meaning of schooling in a democracy, Hursh explores the impact of high stakes testing and draconian accountability measures in the widening circles of local, state, and international schooling. You must read this to understand the contours of this important debate.
As a practicing urban school principal, I found David Hursh's book to be direct and highly motivating. It challenges the current direction of public education, which most public educators have bought into 'hook, line and sinker,' and it enlightens readers regarding where to direct their efforts for change. Hursh's book should be read by every educator and citizen in the U.S. who is concerned about the quality of education our schools are providing.
(Te-Mat) Teacher Education Materials Project
This extensively documented history of a political movement and its implications for the classroom will enlighten teachers and other stakeholders in the educational system about the background, motivations, and possible consequences of today's movement toward high-stakes testing....The book's overall tone, style, and length will enable teachers to pack it on a short trip and come away with deep understanding.
Michael W. Apple
David Hursh's thoughtful book provides a clear and powerful analysis of the current crisis in education and of the dangers associated with so much of the currently accepted policy.
Chapter 1 Situating the personal in the political Chapter 2 Demystifying education: Theorizing practice and practicing theory Chapter 3 Years of struggle and hope Chapter 4 Conflicting visions of schooling and teaching: The historical and political context Chapter 5 The rise of high-stakes testing at the state and federal levels: New York, Texas and No Child Left Behind Chapter 6 Chicago's Renaissance 2010: The reassertion of ruling-class power. Chapter 7 Imagining the future: Alternatives to high-stakes testing and neoliberalism