Monday, March 14, 2005

Hack hack wheeze

So it wasn't a cold. It was an infection. I guess in my sinuses, but then spread to my lungs, throat, the whole deal. A lot of fun and I'm still recovering. Much better now that I can think somewhat straight and the fever, it seems, has broken for good. So I called in sick Friday and today. Today I talked to my AP to let him know why I was out and that I'd be in for Parent-Teacher Day tomorrow no matter what. He let it slip that Friday, while I was out, my principal took that chance to go into my room and "clean things up." I don't know the extent of the damage but I was enRAGED when I found out. Now, it's silly to get that angry over something so minor but it's just more of a "last straw" type of situation. Being a male elementary teacher, I'm a bit of an oddity. And I'm naturally less neat than pretty much all of my coworkers. I just am and always will be. So they come in and bug me about it almost weekly. I clean up everything I can, have my kids clean, really do my best and it doesn't seem to be enough. It's the very definition of frustration. If I devote more time to organizing the way they want it, it will hamper my actual instruction time.

The proof will be in the pudding, from what I've heard. My kids' test scores. New York, in all its wisdom, has decided that third graders' promotion will be decided not on teacher opinion, classroom work and achievement, or how far they've come in the year, but on how they do on two standardized tests in April. They fail one of them, they fail third grade. No questions asked. It's complete and utter bullshit. These tests are designed to trick my kids. I'm forced to spend much of the year teaching the kids how to take these useless piece of shit tests instead of useful knowledge or skills. And if my kids don't do well, then I am a Bad Teacher. Never mind that my average kid came to third grade with first grade skills and that I've brought them up end of the year second grade/beginning third grade level skills. That's not fucking easy to do, but it doesn't matter, because they'll be tested on a level that, no matter how far they've come, they are not ready.

I keep hearing "No ones, Rice, no ones," (one being the lowest and failing score on the test). I'm going to have ones. I'm going to have a few. These children were not ready for third grade and they've done everything they can (well, most of them have). So they're going to be held back because of this useless test made for rich white pieces of shit, be put down and seen as failures and so will I.

Thanks a lot, New York Department of Education.


At 7:04 PM, Blogger Jo-Fan said...

I'm sorry that you and your kids have to jump through bullshit hoops. The problem is that most of those officials in charge have never taught in their privileged lives, would never in a million years walk inside an underprivileged classroom and don't give a damn about bridging the achievement gap. Damn Republicans!

At 7:09 PM, Blogger Joe Rice said...

Nail on the head, dear, nail on the fuckin head.

At 1:58 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Standardized testing is the bane of the American educational system. I figured that one out at my first SAT prep class, when the instructor went on at length about how he was going to teach us how to "trick" the test, which meant angling through little multiple-choice loopholes that would enable us to answer the questions without really knowing the answers. I stayed until the end and never came back. I *knew* how to take a test; I was interested in actually learning something. If he wasn't going to provide that, I had better things to do with my Tuesday nights.

I ended up with a good score (won't reveal it here for modesty reasons, and because SAT scores are largely bullshit once you're accepted into college), but I came away from the whole thing pretty disillusioned about testing. Schools sanctify it so much that education loses its meaning. It's just a measuring tool, and a pretty narrow one at that. There are other and probably better things to consider when gauging how well a school teaches its students.

I often wonder about the guy who came up with standardized testing. Optimist that I am, I like to think he thought he was making something good, and had no idea how bureaucrats would transform it into the Lovecraftian horror it is today. I like to think that.

At 12:35 PM, Blogger postmodern_cowboy said...

Holy fuck, I've stumbled on the pride of Boyd County. Its your forgotten classmate Mike Frazier the reinvented "Hillbilly Monk." just wanted to tell you that I'm joining the world of published authors. One legged cow press is publishing my chapbook(along with my wife's). My email is love to hear from you.

At 3:44 PM, Anonymous Morts said...

Teaching to the test...stupid, stupid BS. GHA!


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