Kyle Olson

On July 30, 2011 a few thousand teacher union activists descended upon Washington D.C. for a “Save Our Schools” rally. The keynote speaker that day was actor Matt Damon, who took the occasion to bash standardized testing. You know, virtually the only thing used to assess student achievement and a tool for teacher accountability.

“I said before that I had incredible teachers,” Damon told the crowd. “And that’s true. But it’s more than that. My teachers were EMPOWERED to teach me. Their time wasn’t taken up with a bunch of test prep — this silly drill and kill nonsense that any serious person knows doesn’t promote real learning.”

He added that teachers should help kids fall “in love with the process of learning” rather than worrying that students are filling “in the right bubble on a test.” Damon, a proud leftist, was repeating an oft-heard criticism from the left that standardized testing harms student learning. They argue that “teaching to the test” creates student automatons who are only capable of regurgitating factoids deemed important by the government.

Many Americans reason that if the test covers the essential things kids need to know, then “teaching to the test” makes sense and wonder what all the fuss is about.

Frankly, I wondered that myself – until I came across “Teaching About Global Warming in Truck Country” by Jana Dean, an eighth grade science and social studies teacher in Washington state. Dean’s article is included in “Rethinking Our Classrooms: Teaching for Equity and Justice, Volume 1.”

In the article, Dean recounts the difficulty she had in selling students on the dangers of man-made global warming. Dean teaches in a rural community where most families still use trucks in their everyday activities. Early on in the global warming unit, one student asked if Dean was telling him he could never drive a truck like his father does.

Dean writes:

Kyle Olson

Kyle is founder of Education Action Group and, a news service dedicated to education reform and school spending research, reporting, analysis and commentary.

He is co-author of Glenn Beck’s “Conform: Exposing the Truth About Common Core and Public Education,” available at

Kyle is a contributor to

He has made appearances on the Fox News Channel, The Blaze, Fox Business Network, NPR and MSNBC. Kyle has given scores of interviews on talk radio programs coast to coast.

Kyle likes talking about his family, as well as his favorite music. Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Neil Young and Johnny Cash are at the top of the list. He has attended 25 Bob Dylan shows.

Kyle can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.