"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Education Secretary as Dominatrix

Way back in the 1920s, IQ tests provided a "scientific" way to sort children for their future adult roles. All across America, immigrant children took these culturally-biased tests in a language they could neither speak nor read. The scores were used to place them in industrial training programs or programs for retarded children that would get them ready for their second-class adult destinies.

We have not come so far since then. Instead of IQ tests, though, we have a new torture tool called the high-stakes standardized achievement test to label children as failures at an early age. In nine states and New York City now, we use them to keep poor children in their place by denying them access to the next grade if they don't pass the test. And even though failure in school is what children fear most besides the death of a parent, their dread does not seem to be enough to stop the emotional and intellectual genocide against them.

In all states now we use these tests to determine if entire public schools will be labeled as failures, along with the teachers, administrators, parents, and certainly children. And we continue to insist that special education students, immigrant children, and children of poverty-riddled schools pass these same tests and at the same rate as white, privileged children from the suburbs. We insist on this, even though we know they will fail.

In the meantime, Spellings talks about being "aggressive and hard" and about continuing the impossible demands even though she admits that we don't know how to make these children pass the tests: "We have to crack the code on how we're going to transition and educate people whose first language is not English," she said. "It's not, `Let's figure out a way to wiggle out of addressing it.' "

And if your school in the suburbs has even a small number of poor, immigrant, or special education children who have no chance of passing these tests? Well, your entire school is going to be labeled a failure, too. As we move closer to 2014 and the required passing percentage is elevated, the vast majority of all schools, suburban or otherwise, will find themselves on the failing list.

How long will the American people submit themselve to this outrage? How long will we continue to pretend that the thugs in Washington and their cronies in the reform industry are not attempting to give the public schools over to private management? How long will we allow our children and teachers to be sacrificed for this cynical scheme?

So far the most helpless have functioned as the canaries in this dark mineshaft. As this weekend's Asbury Park Press shows us, though, is that "failure" is coming to a school near you soon.

2 comments:

  1. And there's poor Edward Westervelt of Red Bank Regional High, "No Excuses" for those lousy test scores from those poor immigrants and African American children.
    Do you think he knows the Thernstroms?

    "We will be off the list next year" - yeah right.

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  2. Come to think of it, Westervelt might actually make it next year - thanks to eminent domain.

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