I don’t often delve into the dark world of what education in the United States has become since my child was in school in the 70’s & 80’s. But lately it has factored into politics here in New York State and across the country with the advent of Common Core, standardized testing and for profit charter schools that are encroaching on America’s once excellent public system of education. The arguments in the past were mostly over funding, teachers’ salaries and contracts. Parents used to just worry about homework, grades and snow days. Some things remain the same, but now, add to the list: teacher evaluations, tenure, funding charter schools, teaching to tests, vomit and incontinence:
The principals’ letter on the new exams lists a number of problems with the exams and said many children reacted “viscerally” to the tests:
We know that many children cried during or after testing, and others vomited or lost control of their bowels or bladders. Others simply gave up. One teacher reported that a student kept banging his head on the desk, and wrote, “This is too hard,” and “I can’t do this,” throughout his test booklet.
It urges parents to help children who scored poorly understand that it isn’t their fault.
It has become so bad that in NY state as many as 200,000 students opted out of the mandatory testing:
New York’s rejection of the Common Core tests crosses geographical, socio-economic and racial lines.
There are also reports that student opt-outs were suppressed by administrators in some districts, who called in non-English speaking parents and pressured them to rescind their opt-out letters. Parent activist Jeanette Deutermann states that she “was contacted by dozens of NYC teachers who were horrified by the scare tactics being used on parents in their schools, to coerce them into participating in this year’s assessments. Language barriers and the absence of a social media presence resulted in a lack of knowledge about their rights to refuse the test. Teachers reported that administrators exploited this language and information barrier, telling parents that their children would not be promoted if they refused, or that they simply had no right to refuse. This is blatant discrimination at best.”
Despite attempts to suppress opt out, refusal rates were over three times last year’s 60,000, and activist parents are already planning to increase numbers next year. The opt-out movement is spreading across the nation. PARCC opt out is taking off in Colorado, New Jersey and California, especially among high-school students. [..]
Opt out is far bigger than a test refusal event. It is the repudiation of a host of corporate reforms that include the Common Core, high-stakes testing, school closings and the evaluation of teachers by test scores. These reforms are being soundly rejected by parents and teachers.
Leave it to John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” to hammer home everything that is wrong with standardized testing:
“Something is wrong with our system when we just assume a certain number of students will vomit,” Oliver said. “Standardized tests are supposed to be an assessment of skills, not a rap battle on ‘8 Mile’ Road.”