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Dept of Education reassures the public about funding: The new tests will survive, even if school doesn't

Washington D. C. --Dolores Umbridge, Assistant Secretary of Education, US
Department of Education, reassured educators and parents today that the huge
budget cuts mandated by the new budget agreement will not harm our children.

"The essentials, the new tests, will remain intact," she announced.

"The Department of Education is firm on its plans to require end-of-year
tests, formative tests, and, we are hoping, fall pre-tests in all subjects. We
are also firm in our resolve to require pre-kindergarten screening, and, as
planned, all tests will be administered on-line."

Reporter H. Potter from the Hogwarts Daily led the question
and answer portion of the press conference with this question: "What about
the huge expense of the tests? It has been estimated that just getting each
student connected to the internet will cost billions?"

In response, Umbridge admitted that the new budget was a
"game changer": "Yes, of course we will have to cut back
elsewhere. The Department of Education has planned for these immediate
steps: The first step will be to fully adopt the Teach For America model: All teachers
will be hired for two-year terms. This will eliminate extra pay for seniority and, of course,
retirement benefits, so teachers will no longer be able to live in luxury when
they retire. Cuts are also planned
for other non-essentials. We will immediately eliminate wasteful programs such
as free breakfast/lunch programs, school nurses, and libraries. School, we
believe, should not be a welfare program."

Mr. Potter then commented: "Why not just get rid of
public schools while you're at it?"

Umbridge responded that this option was also "on the
table": "This is a creative idea that we have been discussing. We
would, of course, keep the tests. It would be up to the families to help
students prepare for the tests, which will be a great incentive for private
school and tutoring entrepreneurs. In doing this, we are simply taking the idea
of school turnarounds to the next level: We will turnaround every school in the
country, and replace them with vigorous private-sector services that focus
students on what really counts: test preparation.

And to make sure we remain financially solvent during the
coming hard times, a modest fee would be charged for taking each test. The
tests, of course, would be required for every student up to age 16 to make sure
all children are making adequate progress in mastering 21st century
skills."

Umbridge concluded by restating her pledge: "Remember
what Secretary Duncan has been saying: 'Don't act softly and tinker on the
margins.' Our plans are to use the
crisis as a way of making things better. It forces us to eliminate useless
programs, and sharpens and intensifies our focus on what really counts:
Tests."

Mr. Potter managed to get in one more question: "We all
agree that some testing is a good idea, but isn't this too much testing?"

As she was leaving the podium, Ms. Umbridge answered:
"You can never have too much testing."

— Stephen Krashen
The Eggplant

2011-08-03


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