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Friday, May 16, 2014

Have It Our Way: Serving Up High-Stakes Standardized Tests

Public education serves many purposes.  Schools promote the values that make our democracy run more smoothly.  Schools help rear a civic-minded and socially concerned electorate.  Schools train our workforce.  They also provide the skills necessary to help the next generation ascend the social ladder.  Schools help children function as part of a larger community, strengthening the social bonds that hold us together.  In the past, schools promoted cultural assimilation.  Today, they appreciate diversity.

In the last decade, education has taken on new roles.  Some charters mold themselves into profit-making machines; others operate as nonprofits.  Still, there is an increased opportunity for corruption (
here and here, to site only two of myriad examples).

Some charters demand discipline without question or expulsion.  Some charters demand students nod their heads in robotic unison (SLANT).   Some charters contribute to increasing segregation in our society.  They weaken the glue that holds society together and deplete the core values of our democracy.  

In order to please financial backers, charters must show progress.  Some schools prep to perfection so students can shine on standardized tests.  Students assimilate into a new culture that values high-stakes testing.   

Placing a premium on cutting costs, charters opt for a non-unionized workforce.  Attrition rates are high.  Teachers become transients, a floating, inexperienced bottom, McPreppin' for dear life as they serve up Double Test Burgers for small fries.  As the middle-class shrinks, more and more graduates will come to understand that society has served them an
 UnHappy Meal.  

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