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

Thursday, April 10, 2014

You Tell Them, Dr. Finn: Testing Today and Testing Forever

In a segment of a documentary some years back that assessed the Civil Rights Movement and its effects on education in America, Professor Chester Finn rightfully put into context all the unnecessary trouble that had been created for what, pray tell:
I don't doubt that some things are better off and I think that not being able to discriminate kids on the basis of their skin color is progress for the society--but it sure led to a lot of litigation and lawsuits and busing programs and whit flight activities and a whole slew of other things that many people would regard as having been harmful to the quality and performance of education and the health of the democracy."
Indeed, Dr. Finn--if it hadn't of been for those trouble-making loudmouths wanting something more than their own taxpayer funded schools, water fountains, restaurants, movie houses, and economic opportunities, then our democracy would never have suffered the indignities and disturbances that threatened the tranquility of so many good white folks like ourselves.  And, for sure, our schools would not have gone to hell in a hand basket just to satisfy a bunch of troublemakers that wants something for nothing.

We can all be thankful, Dr. Finn, that you were instrumental, as our dear President Reagan's Secretary of Education, in creating test based accountability measures that helped to restore much of our school purity with a scientific plan to put those uppity people back in their places where they belong.

Without the wonderful tests that your Department and your Fordham  Institute have tirelessly promoted since all the "trouble" and the education crisis that it caused in the 1980s, we would still be contending with those unwashed herds of untrained children in our public schools taking up space and time that could benefit decent children who are ready and eager to learn.  As it is, the testing programs, thank God, that you promote have successfully identified, evaluated, and placed those people in schools managed by sound business efficiency principles and practices, where they get the remediation they need and the culture and character building they require to be assets, rather than liabilities, to the job creators and for hard-working folks like ourselves.

I am so grateful to you for speaking up against this recent bunch of rabble opt-out scum that now insists that these tests can no longer be used to promote the social stability and moral enhancement that is so crucial to the enlightened guidance and efficient operation of our democracy and economy, which is now threatened by hordes of ignorant people who soon will outnumber us.

I am so glad to hear that you have concluded in your recent commentary that this opting-out silliness "is not a legitimate form of civil disobedience," any more, I might add, than it was legitimate for those trouble makers a few years back to opt out of sitting in their legally-guaranteed seats near the rear of the publicly-funded buses in Montgomery and Birmingham.

And I am in total agreement with you, too, that this opting out craziness is
probably not legal, either. If you really find state tests odious, put your money and time where your mouth is—and stop asking taxpayers to educate your children.
You tell them, Dr. Finn, and if they don't like the rules and the laws, then they can just find themselves another bus to ride or another school to go to that doesn't cost the taxpayer.  Some people can never be satisfied, no matter how much you give them.  

It's sort of like our dear Michelle Rhee says in her brilliant analogy about testing:  "Going to the dentist for a checkup every six months might be unpleasant, but it lets us know if there are cavities to address."  If I might add, sometimes pulling a few teeth is in order, as you well know.

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