It's a mad, mad, world out there and everyone is fighting for a piece of the pie. Education is no exception. David Hursh's book High-Stakes Testing and the Decline of Teaching and Learning poses a strong argument for how education is becoming more complicated and political than previously imagined. Specifically, "we decreasingly think about democracy and our commitment to one another in terms of community and the common good, and instead conceptualize democracy as the individual rationally choosing within a competitive marketplace" (pg. 7).
Hursh is passionate about supporting the clarity of thought on how neoliberalism in education is doing more harm than good to our school systems. His "goal is to describe what is possible, to critique the increasing emphasis on markets, accountability, and high-stakes standardized testing, and to describe what we might do to reclaim education as a profession" (pg. 7). He uses in own experiences as a student and as a teacher in both public and private school to argue how schools should work and what students should be doing. He uses examples of what it looks like using schools in New York and Texas, and what it should not look like with reference to Chicago's inner city schools. Hursh continues to reference how our educational system is creating a society in our country that has now shifted to support a competitive global economy rather than collaborative supportive society.
Hursh revisits the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, which he believes contributed to our neoliberalism educational system by created mandated state standards, testing requirements, and school accountability measures. Specifically, "Standardized testing is promoted as a means of assessing the quality of students, teachers, and schools, thus ensuring that all children are treated fairly" (pg. 85). "Furthermore, NCLB promotes the view that like other neoliberal reforms, we have no choice but to submit to the discipline of the market, rather than relying on process of deliberative democracy" (pg. 95). We all get to have the pie, but not select the flavor.
Although I don't agree with many of Hursh's views I applaud his unwavering efforts over the lifetime of his career. He states in the last chapter, "I want to reassert the possibility of a society and schools that support community welfare and the public good over corporate profit, and propose how we might work towards those goals" (pg. 122). He suggest alternatives to neoliberalism in education including, refusing to buy into adopting neoliberal reforms due to globalization and by allowing individual choice of where and how we receive our education. Hursh also address the importance of actively collaborating together when developing educational policies. This way all of our children receive an equitable piece of the pie.