Statement

Why this song?

As a kid who grew up in NYC, I am a great fan of America’s public education. I attended P.S. 41 in Greenwich Village, then P. S. 8 in Brooklyn Heights, then on to Brooklyn Technical High School and S.U.N.Y. Plattsburgh.

And now, as a father and a grandfather, I so appreciate the tough job that faces every teacher. I believe they need all the help they can get: anything that excites a student, opens their eyes, and hearts and minds is a positive that makes a child invest in school.

Music, art, drama and sports - these are what kept me involved when I was in school. And these very things, that make a teacher’s (and student’s) job easier and more rewarding, are what’s been cut from curriculums across the country.

Now we are teaching by rote again - where the test, and only the test, becomes the reason to teach and study.

It’s no secret that American industry has outsourced most factory jobs to other countries to take advantage of cheaper labor costs. So why are we putting so much effort into a form of education in which there is no creativity? This is the time that our youth should be taught to think ”out of the box,” not be put into a tighter one! 

This is the larger context that John Forster and I wanted to address in a satirical song for NPR’s “Morning Edition.” 

-Tom Chapin


Lyrics

Not On The Test
by John Forster & Tom Chapin
© 2008 Limousine Music Co. & The Last Music Co. (ASCAP)
 
Go on to sleep now, third grader of mine.
The test is tomorrow but you'll do just fine.
It's reading and math, forget all the rest.
You don't need to know what is not on the test.
 
Each box that you mark on each test that you take,
Remember your teachers, their jobs are at stake.
Your score is their score, but don't get all stressed.
They'd never teach anything not on the test.
 
The School Board is faced with no child left behind
With rules but no funding, they’re caught in a bind.
So music and art and the things you love best
Are not in your school ‘cause they’re not on the test.
 
Sleep, sleep, and as you progress
You’ll learn there’s a lot that is not on the test.
 
Debate is a skill that is useful to know,
Unless you’re in Congress or talk radio,
Where shouting and spouting and spewing are blessed
'Cause rational discourse was not on the test.
 
Thinking's important. It's good to know how.
And someday you'll learn to but someday's not now.
Go on to sleep, now. You need your rest.
Don't think about thinking. It's not on the test.  

 

Not On The Test
Sung by Tom Chapin
Written by John Forster & Tom Chapin
© 2008 Limousine Music Co. & The Last Music Co. (ASCAP)
Not on the Test video: Directed by Yuichi Hibi
Edited by Timothy Gregoire
Art Direction: Marie Christine Katz
Production Coordinator: Mary Croke