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

Thursday, January 24, 2008

All the March Nooses Across Louisiana

Racism has never been just about Jena, Louisana. Since 2000 the Louisiana State Department of Education has used the Louisiana Education Assessment Program (LEAP), with its ground-breaking 4th and 8th grade retention policy that Michael Bloomberg has now emulated, to strangle children, teachers, and schools into a rigid, mindless, behavioral control system that would be an embarrassment even in a totalitarian state.

While music, art, social studies, science, health, recess, field trips, and loving teachers have been left behind, the constant surveillance of practice tests, the fear of failure on an individual level, and fear of failure at the school level (thanks to NCLB) have turned poor, black, and brown Louisiana schools into year-round test preparation chain gangs.

Children in grades 4 and 8 have to pass both the reading and math sections of the LEAP in order to move on to the next grades. All Louisiana elementary schools are to have a School Performance Score (SPS) of 120 by 2014. At Lincoln Elementary in Iberia Parish, they started this journey in 2000 with an SPS of 54.8. Now 7 years later they are at 71.7. At their current rate of improvement, the 4th graders today at Park Elementary will be 30 years old when their school reaches the 2014 target for all schools in Louisiana.

In the meantime, hundreds of thousands of children will have been labeled failures because of the poverty they can do nothing about. In the meantime, they will have been robbed of an education whose purpose of democratic citizenship, creative thinking, survival and health skills, cultural and artistic awareness, global awareness, ecological understanding, will have been all sacrificed in order to obtain an iron-fisted control over the next generation of compliant, ignorant, dependent, duped, and incapacitated drones willing to be ordered about by a numerically-shrinking white elite. This is the true banality of evil, unacknowledged in our presence, and given the name of equality and goodness. What kind of people have we become.

And in the meantime, too, test preparation goes forward at Park Elementary with the hollow hope of success this coming March. Last March 50% of 4th graders failed the LEAP, thus learning the loss of hope at an early age. From the New Iberian:

BY RANDY LOUIS, THE DAILY IBERIAN

Teche Area students are preparing to take high stakes testing.

This year teachers and staff members at Park Elementary School are making sure every student is prepared for the LEAP and i-LEAP tests by offering after-school tutoring to give students a second look at the math concepts and language arts skills they will see on the two tests, which are March 10-14.

The LEAP test taken by fourth- and eighth-graders determines whether students pass to the next grade. The i-LEAP, taken by students in the third-, fifth-, seventh- and ninth-grades, does not determine whether a student is promoted to the next grade.

Evelyn Louis, principal at Park Elementary School, said about 80 students at the school have taken advantage of the after-school tutoring.

“We have been preparing students since Oct. 1 for these high stakes tests that they will be taking later this spring,” Louis said. “The students have 30 to 45 minute intervals in which they focus on Math and English-Language Arts skills to help them prepare for the test.”

Louis said students recently took a benchmark test to see where they stand and most of the students did pretty well on the practice test.

“Some kids have a little touching up to do before the big test, but for the most part, I think the students and teachers are doing a really good job preparing for the test,” she said.

“The kids are into it and overall everyone is doing pretty well. Hopefully the afternoon training will benefit all the kids on the i-LEAP and LEAP tests who have participated in the after school tutoring.”

Llamira Crosby and Tanasia Leon, fourth-grade students at the school, said they have been attending after-school tutoring since it began in the first week in October.

“Tutoring has been a little sophisticated but I have been doing pretty good with all of my worksheets that we have been working on,” Crosby said. “I know I am going to pass the LEAP test because I am focused and I have been doing the necessary things to be successful on it.”

Leon agreed.

“During tutoring we have been doing a number of math and English activities,” she said. “Staying after school has helped me out a whole lot, and I believe I am ready for the LEAP test. I know I will pass it.”

Will Leon be in the 50% that does pass it?

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