Standardized testing: the governments way of determining if our children are up to speed.  What it really is, you see, is another fine example of why you should fear anyone who says 'I'm from the government and I'm here to help you'.  Science, Social Studies, Reading and Math assessments they call it. Sure it is.   TAKS is soon to be out and STAAR will be shining bright, right in your face like the blinding light of an interrogation room lamp.  Like so may other things, what might well have begun with the best of intentions has evolved into a mammoth task that takes up precious time to satisfy the whims of empty suits who think that, somehow, they are more capable of knowing what is best for your child than you or the teachers possibly could.  The tests are administered to the districts at the point of a gun.  There are no options. Public schools are not given a choice.  They have to do it.  I have not talked to a single teacher, parent or student who likes it or believes that it can truly measure intelligence, ability, knowledge or anything else.  It is universally hated, it seems.  So why then does the Texas Legislature continue to force this stuff?  It's a federal thing.  We (Texas) get money from Uncle Sugar.  Uncle Sugar says "you will prove to me what your kiddos are learning and this is how you will do it."   The money from DC comes in many forms (funding for free and reduced lunches, grants, etc..) and has a billion strings attached.  So Texas, like every other state, teams with private firms to develop these so-called standardized tests to satisfy the Big Bad Wolves in DC.  Remember 'No Child Left Behind'?  That's just one of the reasons we are where we are.  Thanks, 43.  The STAAR, which hits next schools year, is meant to comply with SB 1031.  SB 1031 says Texas will transition from the TAKS nightmare to 'end of course' exams.    STAAR is TEA's answer to replacing TAKS and still being NCLB Act compliant.  Just teaching isn't enough.  The classroom grades just cannot stand alone.  The students are force-fed standardized testing year round it seems and yet, out here in the real world, we don't seem to be reaping any great benefits now do we?  Trust me, Mr and Mrs Taxpayer, you ARE paying for all of this and heavily.  It will only get more expensive.  Somewhere, a printer is getting wealthy.  Perhaps it's time to cut the strings and stop taking Uncle Sugar's money.  Perhaps what we need are leaders with the courage to de-fund and ultimately eliminate the U S Department of Education.  Does the term local control mean anything to anyone anymore?  That's a whole other blog, folks.