Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Calling All "Ed Reformers" Where is Your Impassioned Plea for More Standardized Testing?

Your Child's Future Brought to You by Greedy Billionaires and Bought Off Politicians

Unless you've been in seclusion with your B-lo Sabres HAM radio waiting to see if Darcy is going to bring Patrick Kane to Buffalo you have probably noticed quite a bit of buzz in the local "media" on the topic of New York State testing that will greet our kids soon after they return from Spring Break. WKBW has a story about it. WGRZ has at least two stories about it. WIVB sent a reporter to the forum last Saturday and she did an excellent job of telling the story exactly as it is : Parents are sick of seeing their kids' education time wasted on pointless testing. But as good parents, they want to look before they leap and are asking what will happen if their kids skip the tests. Again and again the point repeats itself, why should we let the state and companies like Pearson waste out kids' time and our teachers' energies handing out tests that:

A. Have no bearing on the kid's average or grades
B. Have no bearing on whether or not the kid graduates or gets promoted
C. Offer no insights into the kid's needs for extra attention in reading or math
D. Are often shittily written and stupid as we saw with the Pineapple Hare section last year

Of course the state knows damned well that these tests are meant not for kids but to target teachers and to further enrich corporations like Pearson who have huge contracts to keep cranking out and recycling these moronic clods of prose on a perennial basis. Pearson has New York in lockdown for a 5 year bid at $25 million.  They are also interested in mining our kids' "data" and selling it to every half baked Neil Bush-like edu company that can scrounge a P.O. Box and a crate of copier paper. The state, through its politically anointed sycophants in NYSED hopes to forward the so-called "school reform" agenda of billionaires and corporate Gargantuans like Microsoft and Amazon using these weaponized tests to bust teachers and out them as "bad" and their schools as "failing" which at a certain point will become so contagious that public education will cease to exist and become like every other shitty, poorly constructed, cost inefficient product they throw at us. These tests will be used to create the illusion of widespread "ineffective" teachers who can be sacked after two years of such a rating. And how hard will it be to set up any teacher if you can create  their schedule and fill it with low achieving or extremely high achieving learners whose growth is nearly negligible? The point of ed reform isn't to improve education and the point of these tests isn't to see what Juany is learning. The point of both is to facilitate the end of public education, bust teacher unions and hand our schools over the the very same motherfuckers who run Wal Mart and refuse to pay their serfs a living wage. 

So if you've been watching the news and paying even a fresh out of adderol ADHD kid's modicum of attention you've been seeing some stories about standardized testing. NONE of them are good and ALL of them call into question the very premise of this annual event that I am certain Shirley Jackson wishes from her grave that she could have written about. Have we all seen the NYSUT video about the child who vomits on his test paper and the teacher is instructed by lackeys in Albany to collect the paper, put it in a plastic bag and return it with the others?

Here is my question to the proponents of high stakes standardized testing : 

Where is your I had a Dream Speech, your Gettysburg Address, your Friends, Romans, Countrymen, your Ask Not What Your Country Can do for You speech that will quiet the masses and soften their hardened hearts to standardized testing? Where is your impassioned, articulate, spine tingling, hair raising oratory that will lift us up out of our seats and bellow Yes ! Yes ! Yes ! Sharpen the pencils, fill the water bottles, cancel Art, Gym, Spanish, French and Music. Damn the extracurriculars, down with sports, clubs, European class trips and the Chopper Club (laugh but Eden HS has one and they build a chopper every year) cancel Bring Your Tractor to School Day and let's get real about test prep once and for all. Gimmee a T... Where is it Buffalo ReformEd ? Jason? Hannya? Where is your best rhetoric that will convince the rest of us that the very lynchpin on which your entire careers hinge is even worth the graphite that will be wasted coloring circles on it? How about the Chameleons ? Steve Polowitz, Amy Friedman? Where is your pro standardized testing manifesto? Charter schools live and die by the standardized test and devote huge chinks of their mission to drilling and killing for these tests. Where are you to defend them and exhort the rest of the civilized world to join you in your allegiance to Pearson and the sacred bubble sheet? Funny but I wonder just how many of these tests Hannya Boulous the Executive Director of Buffalo ReformEd ever took between her stints at Nichols and Georgetown. From what I was told Nichols doesn't even bother with them. So again we have another case of it's good enough for your kids but not for me and definitely not for my kids. And how many circles did young Jason Zwara the edu policy chief at Buffalo ReformEd take in his law school at Notre Dame? Probably about as many as Polowitz took when he was in law school. Does Amy Friedman of Chameleons have a long list of experience taking these tests or do any of these "reformers" kids attend a school where these asinine instruments are inflicted on their kids? I am betting the smart money here and guessing not. So let's hear it "reformers" let's hear your best MLK, JFK mashup on the topic of standardized tests. Seems as long as you live and die by them as you do one of you must have the stones to stand up and tell us why we're wrong to point them out as the weaponized garbage and the waste of time that they are. 

It's amusing how loud and brash the anti-public school and teacher bashing crowd are when they think they have the mob of their side. ( Remember that ridiculous parade in the freezing drizzle outside BTF HQ when Phil Rumore actually took pity on them and invited their soggy cold butts inside to get warm?)  But when parents call them out it's as if they've disappeared into the Witness Protection Program. Ya'll love to bray and crow about "accountability" when you're attacking teachers but now that your own methods are being called into question I just don't see any "ed reformers" standing up to be counted or standing up to defend your pathological testing fetishes. Score one for dishing out but not taking it. Make sure you color it in completely and erase any stray marks too while your'e at it. 


  1. Peg :) Opting-Out !April 3, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    ...On the picket line in front of Arne Ducan's office tomorrow morning. I'll give him the "bird" for you!

    Thanks for always keeping me up to date. This is another terrific Post.
    " You 'da man" ,Sean!

  2. Peg,
    Give us some eyewitness reports from D.C.! Can't wait for some of your insight.