Tuesday, April 19, 2005

More on Education Woes

I visited with my mom yesterday, and she was complaining about all the testing she is required to do. Her school has a federal grant, so they have to do tests for that. The district requires her to test the students with their tests. The state requires additional tests. Further, her school and district require that she not conduct the tests during regular class time so as to not interfere with lessons. My mom is a Kindergarten teacher, so she will have to test each child individually. There just isn't room in the schedule to do all this testing and all the education and also use the bathroom.

Clearly, this is unworkable. So what's to be done?

Well, suppose we want to keep funding at its current levels and from its current sources. Then there are three possible scenarios that I can see:
(1) eliminate all the testing by just eliminating required testing in general.
(2) eliminate much of the redundant testing by using a limited number of tests for multiple purposes.
(3) give up on actually educating children and just test the crap out of them.

#3 is not an option, and #1 is inappropriate because (as I noted in an earlier post) if you're taking the public's money, you damn well better be able to tell the public what it's getting for its money. That leaves #2.

So suppose that by some miracle we were able to get the state, the feds, and the districts all to coordinate with each other and accept that there will be, say, one reading test and one mathematics test and one miscellaneous test given three times a year (beginning, middle, and end) to the Kindergarteners. Who do you think would be at the front lines opposing this? The very teachers whose work loads are supposed to be lightened by this compromise would scream "Ooooh, it's so not fair to students to have so much riding on just one test!!! What if they fail?"

When you shoot yourself in the foot, don't complain about all the blood.