Welcome to "The Gods Are Bored," viewing the teaching profession as a dispassionate outsider!
Emm, except we at "The Gods Are Bored" aren't dispassionate about anything. Have you noticed?
The famous Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education put an end to "separate but equal" schools in America. But I don't think Mr. Brown or anyone else foresaw the debacle known as "No Child Left Behind."
Needless to say, NCLB is one of the smaller debacles of our sitting president, who -- trust me implicitly on this one -- could not pass the New Jersey High School Performance Assessment test.
When the bright young minds who conceived NCLB wrote up their reports and collected their consulting fees, they forgot something. Or rather, several things. To whit:
1. Public schools should not perform the same function for each and every student.
2. Some students have special talents that are not reflected in the standardized assessment tests. Some kids who attend high school every day are not mentally able to learn the material they need for the tests, so they don't get a diploma.
I'm seeing all of this played out through the point of view of a Vo-Tech student. And I'm thinking that NCLB isn't getting its fair share of ridicule, considering all the other ridiculous things our fearless leader has laid on us.
Let's take a hypothetical case in point. Let's call him Larry.
Larry comes from a tough neighborhood in a really tough city. He's had a sub-standard education until he arrives at the Vo-Tech, and he continues to struggle academically there. He manages to pass his high school courses. But where Larry excels is in auto shop. He's fascinated by cars and learns quickly how to diagnose and fix them.
Along comes the NCLB tidal wave. Larry flunks the NJ High School Performance Assessment. Even though he's had perfect attendance and passed his courses, and even though he's aces with the cars, he can't get a diploma.
Okay, maybe an auto repair business will overlook Larry's lack of diploma. But what about the nursing home where Lisa wants to work? Lisa's in the same boat. She sucks at math, couldn't pass the damn HSPA, but she's really great in her allied health shop and works well with patients. What's the minimum requirement to work in a nursing home? You got it. High school diploma.
If I had a kid who had good attendance and passing grades through 11 years of school, and that kid couldn't pass the standardized test, I would jolly well sue someone.
These days, showing up at school and doing the best you can doesn't cut it. You gotta be able to read Beowulf and factor quadratic equations.
I don't know why they don't cut to the chase and call it "No Rich White Child Left Behind." Because the poor kids are hearing about these standardized tests and they're saying, "I'm not going to pass it, I might as well drop out now."
Hey, Dubya! Sit down. Here's a little test for you. If you don't pass it, you've got to live the rest of your life on the bottom rung. But don't worry. I'm sure you understand Beowulf. It's about war, and you're really good at that. Right? Right? Right?