Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott must feel a bit misunderstood. He's getting both praise and heavy criticism for railing about what's gone wrong with standardized testing in Texas public schools.
It's not that he wasn't clear. It's just that some of his words were more memorable than others.
In a span of just five days, Scott spoke out twice, very publicly, about the "perversion" that testing has become. He said many people now see state testing as a symbol of what's wrong with public schools, "the heart of the vampire." Summoning his inner Ike Eisenhower, he said businesses that have sprung up to design, prepare and score tests and provide other services related to them are "not just a cottage industry but a military-industrial complex."
It's clear that he's seriously unhappy with what standardized testing has become. He got a standing ovation for his thoughts at a meeting of the Texas Association of School Administrators on Tuesday. A few days earlier, he had voiced them at the start of a State Board of Education meeting and received praise from several board members.
But when word of his comments got around, some political heavyweights were not happy. State Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, the chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, told the Texas Tribune she was "blown away" because Scott in the past has been a proponent of standardized testing and the public school accountability system.
Shapiro told the Tribune that Scott "owes all of the legislators an explanation of his comments."