Is our Children learning? - G.W. Bush, during the push for the failed US No Child Left Behind debacle.
A couple weeks ago, I received a notice in my daughters backpack telling me about some testing that is to be done. Glowingly talking about how IMPORTANT it was......etc. But that these tests would not in fact make any difference to my kid's grades or anything, merely for statistical purposes. For magical funding that never arrives. There are a lot of questions as to what happens with these test results? But then......
My brain twigged....Oh Yes. The numbers that the Fraser Institute programs into their broken data sets to give one of their ideological "report cards". You may recall those? Where they "grade" schools based on the FSA numbers. Real estate is bought and sold based on these numbers by parents who mistakenly believe them.
Fraser Institute is an ACR favourite topic. If I mean in the same vein as spiders and other creepy crawlies.
The next week, I received a sealed envelope that held an informational package from the teachers federation that confirmed my hunch. It included an opt out form which I signed and sent back. Besides the massive waste of time from the actual curriculum and the incredibly stupid waste of money that could be used for books and other things the schools need.... I am not going to allow my child's hard work to be used as cannon fodder for a tobacco-big oil- conservative funded think tank. A think tank that is seeking to destroy the public school system on the altar of Milton Freidman. (here is a cute bunny picture to sooth your brain if you clicked that last link)
Today......The Principal called me to ask why I had signed, and I told her.
But its the LAW. She said.
Pardon me? I will just keep her home during the test then I said.
So she interjected that the tests are being held from now until February the 20th. (So they they would lie in wait or something to force test her? Or, we would have to keep her home for a month?) She seemed to think it was important that I knew her kids took it. Why she thought this I have no idea, still puzzling over that one. It wasn't like we were talking about a possibly dangerous physical activity and I needed reassurance that no harm came to her kids? Or that she was being condescending and telling me it should be good enough for the likes of my kids?
My next stop was the BC teachers federation where I spoke to a gentleman about the whole thing, to see what our rights are as parents.
Next up! the School superintendent. Condescending much? Heh.
He pushed all the wrong buttons. Big mistake. Big. HUGE.
At one point I asked what the repercussions of said "law" were if she decided not to take the test...... and he decided to attempt to shame me for my bad bad parenting. You would not want to embarrass her or anything would I? That is pretty much where the conversation left the rails. It was like talking to one of the converted. Hallehleuah!
Now, some parents pull their kids from stuff like sex ed, or field trips that are actually part of the school curriculum, but thats ok in our schools, because.....Personal values..... Its part of their morally held beleifs, or they don't feel comfortable.
But to not have your child tested because you actually know the damage this testing causes to all the schools of BC and you do not want to add to it? Apparently closely held ideas with actual proof, and beliefs not of the squirmy/religious variety are not applicable.
But there is also this; kids who are "special needs" or in ESL classes, or who are having reading difficulties, are excused. Exceptionable circumstances. One of the people I did talk to today asked me if my kid is receiving extra supports. Nope. My kid is a bright little button with good marks, and really agreeable at school. (Not the latter at home. LOL ) And then it kinda made sense if you look at it from another angle. They don't always include the kids who won't get good marks if they have a label or who are struggling. :) Marks would be higher ya think? (See this link for a HI-larious guide to the twisted gnarled paths that the Fraser Institute uses to get to their forgone conclusion)
I was also made aware of the fact that some schools may have been holding cram sessions to ensure better results. Hours of valuable class time to practice for a test that is supposed to create a random snapshot of the education system to evaluate it- But that do nothing whatsoever for their grades..... Makes TOTAL sense. Cheating or gaming the system is what some of us would call it.
I have no idea how many Canadians are aware of the abysmal results in the US with the teach to the test methodology of schooling. The ensuing awful result, is something they have attempted to tie around the necks of teachers with pay cuts based on myriad standardized tests. Many schools can no longer offer any sort of Art, PE or fun activities into school. It's all about the tests. See this nine year study that found testing was caused more harm than good. Kids who are not engaged will leave school before graduation, the good teachers will resign in disgust.
We are no where near that here, even though it appears that many conservative types in Canada would love to emulate failure.
The FI would love us to base teacher pay on merit pay. IE: student performance. The schools that perform the lowest are usually in socio-economically depressed areas, and that would be the main driver for how kids learn. We have studied this many times and we know this as a fact, perhaps those administering the FI need some remedial edumacation themselves. They don't read too good. :)
Charter Schools are big in the US, school vouchers. Ask Sweden about that too.
A few years back, the FI gave the polygamous school at Bountiful top marks. Bountiful teaches creationism as science, and cannot offer graduation certificates. Rather disturbing, no?
Blast from the past.....Recall when the FI tried to interject their climate change denial in the schools? OHHH! Do you also remember the time they told us second hand smoke was ok, in a study that was funded by tobacco companies? Ah. Oh, and I just recalled the FI "study" that concluded...
Obesity isn’t an epidemic so we don’t need more government regulation, the study concludes, and besides, the obese die younger, saving us precious health care dollars. Nothing to worry about.
So. At the end of all of this; we are asking our smart, wonderful, kind little girl if she would prefer to just read a book during this hoopla. This is the same kid who tells her little sister that we will not be buying Littlest pet shops at Amazon, because Amazon the company is bad to their workers. Who knows that Walmart is the same, and who also knows what poverty and hardship does to children and families. The same wonderful person who takes spiders outside, and cried when her bean plant passed away.
Teachable lessons. Honour, respect and standing up for what is right. That is our job, and the BC Government should consider this a lesson as well.
Wonder if they take lessons very well?
I think the answer to that is obvious. They don't even follow the laws of the land.
Bonus giggle. The film Rock n Roll high school popped into my head last night. The subplot other than the awesomeness of the Ramones; The principal wanted the school to become a place of boredom and no fun.