Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Want to Choke on a Pom-Pom (Education Series: Part 3):
In Marlborough, Massachusetts, a thousand students gathered yesterday for a pep rally to defeat a test. No, more precisely, to beat a score, 240, on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, or, you know, test. In Massachusetts, in 1993, the legislature passed and Republican Governor William Weld signed into law the Education Reform Act, which created as series of outcome-based assessments, including the 10th grade test that determines whether or not the path to graduation is smooth, bumpy, or blocked off.
In the early days, tests were given in grades 4, 8, and 10, as a way of measuring progress. And, in a negotiation with Democrats, Weld even agreed to pretty much double the amount the state gave to local government for education in order to institute the "reforms," unlike the Bush administration, which just said, with No Child Left Behind, "Here's a big fucking mandate. Do it or we'll crush you." Yeah, back in the 1990s, with the introduction of charter schools as "competition" to general public schools, as well as a negotiated end to some tenure protections to teachers, it was the beginning of the wet dream for the public school destroyers on the right.
The Glee-ready kids up there, with their enthusiastic teacher, dancing and singing to Michael Jackson's "Beat It," are from 8th, 9th, and 10th grades, and they are the product now of a system that has told them that their worth is based, year after year, on a test. And they are also doing the bidding of the Marlborough schools, who, according to every new law crammed down their throats, need to maintain a certain level of achievement or face all kinds of penalties, including being taken over, no matter how many traditionally underachieving students a school might have (and Marlborough's median income is above the state average).
The Rude Pundit will return tomorrow to the discussion of the failure of a business model imposed on school reform, but, for now, he offers again that picture: students fighting to beat a test. As a professor, he can tell you: if you view a test as an opponent, then that test is worthless.
(Tip o' the rude hat to Gary Z for the pic.)