Art imitates life and sometimes art exaggerates it. That’s what we see in the Twilight zoneZone episode, “Examination Day,” embedded below.  The episode is from 1985, but it manages to paint a picture of education that in part rings true today – the centralized control of education by a too powerful government and the erosion of society’s celebration of the individual and the unique gifts each of us are given.

George Bush gave us No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and with it the beginning of a commitment to standardized testing which has turned our schools into test prep factories rather than centers of learning and discovery.

Once government is set down a path it rarely turns back.  No Child Left Behind was a disaster, so let’s try Common Core, a set of education standards that homogenizes learning across all states and takes the testing in NCLB and puts it on steroids.

Children today are given a numeric student identifier so that private student data can be tossed around like a football at a tailgate, from the third party test administrator, to the state, to the feds, and to hired contractors of the same.

Parents are placed on the sidelines as education is turned into a high stakes game of Jeopardy and their children are naive pawns believing that the education establishment has their best interests at heart.

As education is homogenized and standardized, so is the individual.  Students will increasingly conform to a norm set by government bureaucrats and think tank personnel they will never meet.  Those students who do not fall in line risk being regulated to second class status unappreciated for their uniqueness.

Art’s power lies in its ability to challenge and to shock.  “Examination Day” does plenty of both.  The viewer should pause and consider the undeniable truth the episode exposes:  Centralized power cannot abide by the extraordinary.  It finds safety in conformity and the mundane and it will work to mitigate that which diverges from the norm.