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

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

By Any Means Necessary: Stop Sanctioned Child Abuse in Schools

The testing hysteria has reached levels in schools that require parents and teachers to take action to protect children from further harm.  Teachers, parents, and children should feel justified to take whatever nonviolent actions are necessary to promote healthy learning environments and healthy children and to stop the testing abuse that is destroying the capacity of children to grow and learn.

From Zahra Lightway:
As you are getting ready to go back to school, you may be feeling pleased that your child is going to a school with high test ratings. Before you decide if that's a good thing or not, read this story. You may be shocked at the lengths many schools and districts will go to, to raise their test scores.  After reading, go to your child's school and start asking some hard questions. Need help with the questions. Contact me.

My last assignment in a public school was in Houston, TX where I worked at the Aldine Independent School District.  I worked on a 5th/6th grade campus.  The children began the school year by spending their first two days of school taking practice tests in all the tested subjects under test conditions.  Welcome back to school kids.

Then throughout the year, every three weeks, the children take short practice tests in math, reading (which no one is even pretending to call English or language anymore), science and social studies.  Teachers are then to take those results and aggregate, disaggregate, vomigate them and submit them to the administration on the school level.  This alone takes their "planning" time for that week. If students do not score well, teachers are threatened immediately by the principal.

So with one day used for the practice test questions, one day used for going over the test questions and really all the other days used to prepare the kids for the practice tests, there are 0 days from August to the end of April, when children are not preparing for tests.

Then come the tests. Children arrive at school and are given snacks (only on test days) so they can think better...these are snacks that contain food colorings and preservatives etc..a whole other topic. Then the grueling day begins.  In Texas the test is untimed. All students must sit all day long.  If a child finishes early, they must sit at a desk in silence with nothing to do for up to the next 5 hours.  They cannot read a book or otherwise engage in activity. They can put their heads on their desks. Period. There is one break for lunch.  Children are not allowed to speak at lunch for test security purposes.

If I asked a parent what they would do if they discovered that their babysitter had forced their child to sit at a desk in silence for six hours with one short break, they would fire the babysitter and possibly press charges for child abuse. Let us not kid ourselves. What is being perpetrated on children in the name of "excellence" and "high standards" is nothing short of child abuse.

And it gets worse.

If a child fails a test, the school has one month to prepare the child for the "re-take". In that time, the child is removed from physical education and their elective classes and instead spends three hours a day preparing for that next test.  On top of preparing for upcoming tests in the other subjects.

If the child fails again...the same is repeated for another month.

Another failure results in summer school which is again spent preparing for the test.  By the time a child is held back, they have been totally demoralized and probably pretty much destroyed psychically, emotionally and mentally.

Of course that’s in Texas.  The truth is though that the testing movement is a political rather than an educational move in every state. It sounds good on the surface, but the reality is that it’s destroying your children’s chance at a real education.  When local Colorado school district staff at the top levels agree that the system is broken and that testing is not working…it’s time for Coloradoans to pay attention too.

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