Test our elected officials


Published: Friday, August 1, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, August 1, 2003 at 12:26 a.m.

There has been much interest recently in testing students, from kindergarten through the university level. To those proposing standardized testing, the tests themselves seem to be the panacea to "fix" educational problems and to ensure some vague measure of accountability.

The motivations of those demanding testing, the validity of their premise and solution and their qualifications to make these demands, seem woefully under-examined.

However, as I pondered the problems facing the local municipal, state and federal governments, and as I have watched the antics of legislators and administrators in agencies, legislatures and Congress, I, too, have become an advocate of testing.

In that vein, I offer a modest proposal. Every individual considering running for elected office, from county commissioner to president of the United States, and every high-level nominee for appointed office (for example, judges, bureau heads, Cabinet appointees) should be tested

The tests should cover six areas: law, government, history (national, state or local), economics, natural resources, science and environmental function, and human societies.

Scores should be published by the news media, and the various "leadership" teams given letter grades, from A (outstanding) to F (failure).

Although it might not be possible to exclude an individual from running for office (say, for constitutional grounds), at least the voting public would know how well the candidates or officials scored in the most basic areas of knowledge related to public office of high government service.

Surely, if the persons advocating universal testing for students deem it a meritorious way to measure future promise and success, the public has a right to know the level of basic competency of those legislators and officials who make such critical decisions affecting the everyday lives of the public and the biosphere on which we all depend.

If universal testing for basic skills and subject matter understanding was mandated for city hall, Tallahassee, and Washington, perhaps we would not have some of the bone-headed decisions and embarrassing votes from which we (and our children) will suffer from for years.

Anybody with me?

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