Reader Christine Langhoff says it is amazing that teachers and students have persevered. One big event that is missing from her catalogue of catastrophes is Sandy Hook and other inexplicable school shootings, where educators laid down their lives for their students:

“The test scores are always supposed to rise, n’est-ce pas? And it’s assumed that the students are somehow static, unchanging from year to year. But teachers know it’s not true: one year you have all lovely children whom you want to adopt and the next it’s the class from hell.

“So, what has changed since 2000? Well, we went to war in two countries, sending parents away from their children. We had a nearly total destruction of our financial system. Unemployment reached record numbers and we have had a jobless recovery. Tens of thousands of families went through foreclosures, many became homeless. Hurricane Katrina destroyed New Orleans and its public schools. TFA became a hurricane of its own. The rate of poverty among school children rose above 50%. Public school budgets have been slashed and not restored. Class sizes have grown. Teachers have lost job protections as well as hard-earned pension benefits, making teaching a tenuous profession. An unproven, developmentally inappropriate curriculum has been forced on children and teachers by a few billionaires. Money has been sucked away to charters and to paying for Ipads and Chromebooks.

“Since test “results” reflect the circumstances of those who take them, it must be only the hard work of classroom teachers everywhere, who have remained focused on delivering the best education they can muster to the kids in their care, which has prevented the tests scores from plummeting to the very bottom of the reformsters’ charts.”