New Name, Same Game

7 02 2007

. . .and if this isn’t proof that Schooling by now has muddled the ability of whole generations of supposedly educated adults to think productively about public policy, then what IS?

The FCAT will be revamped to match pending updates in the Sunshine State Standards for math and changes for reading and language arts approved last month by the State Board of Education, said Kris Ellington, the Department of Education’s student assessment program director for kindergarten through 12th grade.

At stake is whether third graders are promoted and high-schoolers graduate, whether schools are rewarded or punished and whether teachers receive merit pay.

“It’s going to be a new test,” Ellington said. “A new name may be advisable.”

The Republican-controlled Legislature, however, is unlikely to make any drastic changes in that role, given in former GOP Gov. Jeb Bush’s A-Plus accountability program.

“The world that we live in is a world of high-stakes testing,” Committee Chairwoman Anitere Flores of Miami, said in a Tuesday hearing. “The SAT exam is a high-stakes test. A job interview is a high-stakes test. Your election was a high-stakes test.”

Huh? Job interviews and elections are not standardized, not predictable, often not even explicable after the fact! — she may have been to school but she’s really not educated as an analytical policy thinker, is she?

And she CHAIRS a state legislative education committee?? Well, she may know how to jack up schools yet not know jack about education.   I had to look her up after I read this. No wonder I never heard of her, she just got here ten minutes ago.

Did she wear the same dress for her First Communion and her admission to the Florida Bar? She’s what we call a Baby Lawyer, finished law school the year terrorists tried to finish NYC, wasn’t even born yet when I finished my first degree from the same university that would eventually grant her JD, nor when I got my first real job working in Florida public education.

All of which is to snarl that she sounds just as wunderkind-idealistic and clueless about the real world of school versus education, as I was back then. She has SOOOO much to learn, but given what I see in her bio brief, she most likely won’t. She sounds like she’s been pretty thoroughly brainwashed by the learning-as-competition model; winners usually buy into it in the worst way.

Maybe getting elected IS a high-stakes test though, like school testing in purpose (win-lose competition) and effect (focus on the lowest common denominator, stalemating innovations and reform, etc.) . . . look at the minds who do get elected these days, compared to minds who don’t and most especially, compared to minds who refuse any part of taking that test in the first place.

Do we really think politicians are quantifiably better thinkers, for having gotten themselves elected?

I don’t. I think they are demeaned and degraded in their thinking and principles and practices, by the very process of “passing” that high-stakes test. I certainly do not equate it with demonstrating they are doing a great job for the public to whom they are rightfully accountable.

Now compare students and parents who get all caught up in school competition and testing — to the point they confuse it with education and higher-order thinking — with those who know better, who opt out of the whole Testing game no matter what name it goes by, and find more meaningful paths to authentic learning and creative contributions to society, on their own.

Yeah, it’s the same discouraging game, she may be right about that. Who cares whether you call it a Democrat or Republican win, an election or a contest, or just a test? Call it “new” if you want but it’s the same old politics as usual. She can say life is all about “passing” and in a sense she may be right about that too. Just don’t call any of it education and expect Thinking Parents to salute.



2 responses

9 02 2007

Today’s Palm Beach Post editorial starts by agreeing the name change thing is really stupid, agrees it’s time to sing “Ding Dong the Winn is Gone” and adds:

“Perhaps Gov. Crist, who correctly ousted some of ex-Gov. Bush’s worst education appointees, will sense through his finely tuned political antennae that the public wants a better test, with more emphasis on diagnostics, and that the public wants some of the improvement – a changed schedule, an end to misleading school grades – much faster than five years from now.

Gov. Crist said this week that he wants elementary school students to get 30 minutes of activity a day. He’s offering no money, but he suggested that teachers could lead three 10-minute sessions of jumping jacks. Teachers might be more willing to lead jumping jacks if the state made them jump through fewer FCAT hoops.”

9 01 2008
Lying, Cheating, Labeling, False Beliefs, You Name It. . . « Cocking A Snook!

[…] schools competing to run up the (test) score and garner enough votes to keep the cash flowing their way, rather than preserving the principled integrity of the […]

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