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

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Middle & Upper Class Anxiety over Testing

Today's story on the front page of the New York Times paints a portrait of anxious and angry middle and upper class parents in NYC who appear to be increasingly horrified and disgusted with the relentless focus on standardized test prep that now characterizes public school education. Despite good intentions by these parents to support the city's public schools and expose their children to the real world, the mind-numbing, narrow curriculum is driving them away. Here's an excerpt from the article that pretty much sums things up:

"Her most particular concern was test preparation. "I felt, how could I be doing this to my own children?" she said. "I could understand if test prep was part of the curriculum, but test prep was all the curriculum."

Some wonder how we can be doing this to anyone's children. One of those liberal college professors who thinks poor children are also entitled to a real education was also quoted:

"Nobody gets shortchanged the way the poor do," said Joseph Viterelli, a professor of public policy at Hunter College. "I'm sympathetic to the need to accommodate the middle class community and the dilemma it presents, but the bottom line is that the people who get shortchanged the most are the people who have no options."


  1. Senator Bill Frist recently announced his SMART Grant incentive for poor students that would enable them to get college funds for their education. I hear from middle class undergraduates that they have to take the 5 or 6 year route to get the bachelor's degree. These students are working part-time to make ends meet; they are extremely motivated. Should we not also invest in the middle class, the work horse of the economy?? The middle and the upper classes know what is happening in the world economy from The World is Flat. Regardless of class standing, these students will be competing for jobs globally. A new form of affirmative action has evolved but now it plays along the lines of economics.

  2. Anonymous7:29 AM

    Queenanne -- Yes, we should invest in the middle class kids, too. See Joanne Jacobs post on December 27th about gifted children. I think it is the third post down from the top.