NEW YORK (AP) -- A big buzzword in education right now is "school choice," which would allow students looking to boost their learning experience to attend another institution if they're not satisfied with their local public school.
Another headliner is "standardized tests," which many people rely upon to gauge whether the school is offering a satisfactory education.
But according to John Merrow, author of "Choosing Excellence" (Scarecrow Press), it's those tests that are eliminating any and all choices schools might make in an effort to improve.
In a recent interview, Merrow, the host and executive producer of the education-geared "The Merrow Report" that airs on PBS television and National Public Radio, touted his book as a guide to teaching concerned parents how to get the most out of their schools.
In Merrow's view, creating successful schools would mean setting aside those end-all, be-all test scores for a while.
These scores have created adversaries out of school administrators, teachers, parents and students, Merrow says, when, in fact, all of these people need to be collaborators to ensure the best education possible for the nation's kids.
"We have to see schools as 'our schools.' ... And realize there are multiple measures of excellence."
Merrow, also a former teacher and education correspondent for the "MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour," writes in the introduction of his book, "To be perfectly honest, I would be thrilled if this book were to help slow down -- or even derail -- our mad (and doomed) rush to find a single measure of school and student quality."
If all we care about is a bottom-line number, Merrow asks, what happens to the student who is gifted in art? What happens to the teacher who allows a student interested in architecture or engineering to spend a little extra time on a building project?
"We're moving away from allowing teachers the license to get to know each kid and to develop each kid," Merrow says.
He adds, "We either have to get away from quantifying everything or we have to quantify the unquantifiable, like the joy of learning."
The first step toward boosting the overall learning experience is for everybody to stop playing "the blame game, Merrow said.
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