Saturday, March 30, 2013

For the Kids

Another cheating scandal broke yesterday. Another Superintendent of public schools fired and this time indicted as well. Another example of the misguided policy that passes for education reform. This one could serve as a textbook example. (pun intended) This one featured the deliberate erasing of answers and changing wrong answers to correct ones. Imagine a principal calling in a select group of faculty, calling them the "chosen ones" and then secretly meeting to doctor up the test results. Bad enough right? But then, there is money involved too. Don't forget that the dunderheads that advocate this kind of high stakes testing also advocate merit pay for teachers who achieve high test scores and schools that improve dramatically. Some drama. In my view, the real tragedy is the testing itself. Testing is not teaching. If so much time and energy is spent trying to get students to regurgitate measurable bits of information, one can only wonder what gets sacrificed in the process. In reading the details of this latest scandal, one thing that jumps out is the behavior of one particular principal. Apparently this woman was a real enforcer. She is reported to have had her entire faculty fearful, paranoid, dare I say depressed. Reminds me on one of the chapter titles in Kenneth Stamp's major book on Slavery, The Peculiar Institution: To Make Them Stand in Fear. Reminds me too of a middle school principle I encountered last year. After humiliating a student teacher in what resembled an inquisition about how much learning was going on in the classroom (believe me there was plenty) How could people who are in a profession where nurturing and patience, and wisdom are so crucial be so insensitive. When you ask them, they will no doubt tell you what former Atlanta Superintendent, Beverly L.Hall and the other 34 educators indicted with her will say. They will tell you that "do it for the kids." This Just In: In a related story, it was also announced yesterday that all Seattle teachers who participated in an anti-testing boycott would not be punished for their actions. They will not be penalized with wage deductions or disciplinary action. They do it for the kids too.

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