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Book Review

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In his quest to map the evolution of discourse pertaining to standards and accountability, Peter Taubman exhausts the literature as he reviews a wide array of sources that range from policy reports, scholarly articles and books, newspaper articles, and speeches. Readers will find themselves reflecting upon their own perceptions of the purpose of education, their definition of learning, and the heavy burden of responsibility placed on today’s educators. In addition, readers can expect to find a pervasive sense of paradox throughout the book. From the statistical impossibility of all students meeting grade level standards, to the punitive hierarchy created among the very groups meant to be helped by standards, to teachers’ powerlessness resulted from surveillance that is intended to provide autonomy, the elucidated contradictions are fascinating. Perhaps the ultimate paradox, explored in chapter six, is public education’s embrace of a system that ultimately contributes to its demise.