The National Museum of Educational History located in Albany, New York has been a hotbed of public attention since its opening in January of 2035. Both current and former educators have perused the hallways and rooms where educational memorabilia draws spirited and often heated debate or discussion. The old timers still can't believe that they used to allow themselves to be pushed around like that back in the years of 2000-2020. The youngsters, the educators of today, can only smile and listen as they hear tales of days gone by. And each of these present-day teachers of 2035 are thinking the same thing: Thank God I didn't have to teach back then!
The exhibits were seemingly endless. There was a room dedicated to Cooperative Learning, another illustrating the now forgotten value of the Rubric and the Compact for Learning. Each exhibit represented a relic of what once was considered education. Each was an idea or a new and supposedly better way to reach the children of that era, and each was now long discarded and tossed upon the heap of educational failures. Many of the old timers experienced a very real sense of regret as they remembered how their effort to teach was stymied and misdirected by state or federal government control. In college they were taught that all children were unique. They were equipped with means and tools to reach students and to help guide them towards each child's personal destiny. For some that meant college while for others they were confidently prepared for the workforce right out of high school. The old timers' college professors equipped them well. Only at that time, little did anyone know how the state and federal government would interfere with all that they had been taught and mandate practices which undermined everything they learned in college. Even years later, it was still sad.
The most popular room in the museum was of course the one designated as the Common Core. The teachers of today could hardly believe that such an idea ever really existed in a free country like the United States. It had been the Founding Fathers' plan to maintain a state-controlled government where the federal leadership would be restricted by any efforts to exert their power over the whole. The introduction of the Common Core back in the day was a blatant attack against the Constitution which assured that states' rights would always overrule those of the larger government control. Oh, there was really nothing so wrong about having a common curriculum or preparing our young people for the next educational level. Few argued that point. The problem were the tests themselves.
Inside glass viewing boxes visitors to the museum could see the tests which once set our great country on the path to a revolution which still reverberates today. The old timers remember. Parents had had enough. It was during the fall of 2019 that a grassroots group called the Parents of Reason started a mass movement suggesting that parents throughout the country keep their children home on the days of the state exams. The governor of New York ordered the National Guard to enter into the homes of these protesting parents and have their children forcibly removed from their homes and escorted to schools where they could sit the tests. There was no bloodshed but the debate over the government's role in public education was certainly challenged. People had had enough of leadership dictating policy in an area with which they possessed little to no true knowledge. Lawsuits stressed the court system and it wasn't until 2025 that an anonymous state official admitted that the purpose of the state exams was a cleverly disguised attempt to undermine a teacher's right to tenure.
The present-day teachers of 2035 could only point at the tests and giggle over how far from reason this great country's educational system had once become. The old timers, the men and women who taught during these stressful and difficult times, found no humor in what they considered white collar crime. The crime? Their creative abilities as artists in the field of instructing young people had been stolen from them. Their unique talents were replaced by mandates, edicts, scripted lesson plans and a curriculum which stressed one thing and one thing only: These kids had better pass our tests or else!
As men and women left the museum, their collective thoughts were polarized. The young teachers were puzzled. How could such a thing have happened? What in the world was the Teachers' Union doing in those days? How did our federal government assume such power to override states' rights? Did people actually once believe that a single test should be used to evaluate a teacher, or judge an entire school district, or control a nation?
The old timers were not puzzled. They remembered. The memory of being labeled as an ineffective teacher still stung their pride so many years later. They remembered a governor, a man who had no clue of what it took to be a public school teacher back then, a man who declared war on their union by implementing a teacher evaluation system which was cruelly unjust and which ultimately earned itself the label of ineffective. Okay, so they had won the war. The days of teaching to the tests and ambiguous state exams were now a thing of the past. Public education had made its spectacular return to being about the kids, reaching and teaching youth and allowing teachers to utilize their creative and unique talents to influence the lives of today's youth.
The teachers had won. But they still remembered.