It is commonly known that the Chinese government keeps a “dangan” on its citizens. As The Mew York Times INTERNATIONAL explains, the dangan is a “file opened on each urban citizen when he or she enters elementary school, and it shadows the person throughout life, moving on to high school, college, employer.” It is further explained that “… the dangan [file] contains political evaluations that affect career prospects and permission to leave the country… the file is kept by one’s employer. The dangan affects promotions and job opportunities… any prospective employer is supposed to examine an applicant’s dangan before making hiring decisions.” China is a communist country, so this comes as little surprise. Citizens living in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave are free from such government intrusion and control – aren’t they? What right-thinking American would dream that our government would actually collect information on anyone’s private attitudes, values and beliefs, and thus mimic the practice of a totalitarian regime? If you think this is impossible, simply ask to see a copy of a national test your child will take in school. You will be told the test is “secure,” that the “integrity” of the test can’t be compromised. That because the test will be used in the future, you, the parent, may not even visit the school to read it. In fact, tests “administered for evaluation of student performance” are exempt from parental access under the Freedom of Information Act.` And if you request that the school allow you to see a test, you will come away with the impression that national security is at stake. Why all the hoopla? Nine-year-olds take these tests! Are schools suggesting that you will help your children to cheat? Is that why you can’t see your child’s test? Or could there be another reason? Is talk of test “security” a smokescreen? We think so, and the remainder of this article sets out to show you why.

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