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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Public Education is being mobbed and bullied...

My heart sinks.  My panic grows.  Overkill.  Overkill. Overkill. The Florida Department of Education and the State of Florida's legislative branch is overkilling testing with "thousands of instructional- aligned standards resources (https://portal.fldoesso.org/PORTAL/Sign-on/Resources/Available-Resources.aspx)"; required monitoring tools, 'formative assessment' with accompanying instructional resources (isn't that redundant?); "learning tools for administrators to support 'continuous improvement'; another monitoring (and, oh yeah, a reporting tool--to whom do those reports go?) and yet another "recording and reporting" tool.  

Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.  Don't they have anything better to do?

These "tools" include: CPALMS and elPREPs and IBPT (whoops! I meant IBTP-now that makes a difference!) and PMRNs.

These tools do not include teachers' and students' ingenuity and creativity. These tools do not include wonder and excitement.

These tools do not dare address people's hearts and their brains, for each person's is different.  Each is unique.  Each has much to offer and, although the standardized tests proponents purport to honor that uniqueness, they do not.  For just the word "standardized" indicates a rote "we-are-all-alike-and-so-we-all-learn-alike-and-we-will-all-succeed-or-we-will-all-fail-together."  

There will be a scant few who, through these standardized tests, will demonstrate their "greatness."  They may only be great at taking a test or typing, but that does not matter.  They will sit atop a mountain of held back and discouraged children.  They will be "air-lifted" to an elite university where they will receive internships and scholarships...while the rest of the mountain of children is left behind.

But even the former FCAT stars are worried about the new FSA' "higher and more rigorous standards." Even they are fretful that they will be left on the mountain...

And what of the now thousands and thousands of held back, discouraged, diploma-less children?  What of that mountain?  

What of that mountain?  

What of that mountain--ever growing, ever more stinky with the rotting creativity all of the IPTPs and PMRNs  and CPALMS--that they and their like have built?  What of that?

Let's plop a putrid--hold your nose--pile of teachers' careers on top.

8:17 am edt          Comments

Sunday, March 15, 2015

"Pearson is watching..."

 "Pearson is watching..."

My ninety one year old Christian mother-in-law thinks maybe these are the end times; that biblical prophecies are being fulfilled.

I don't know about end times, but I do know troubling times.  I dreamt last night of a big eye in the heavens watching us.  In my dream it was a sober eye with rays of light extending to earth.  There was no place on our planet that eye did not see.

I'm not sure if I dreamt of God or Pearson Publishing. Both trouble me. God because he's watching me and my family all the time and we never, ever meet his standards and that's the point of being his children. He guides, protects, loves, and forgives us. Pearson Publishing troubles me because it's not God and it's acting like God.  It does not guide, it indoctrinates.  It does not protect, it withholds.  It does not love, it judges. 

Pearson most certainly does not forgive.  

Pearson is watching me and my family.  It's most especially watching my public school children. It's watching them to see if they post any little thing about one of their online tests.  These are important tests! My children prepare for hours and hours each year for these tests and I, their mother, never know the tests' content. My children's teachers don't know either. 

Pearson says its threats of "invalidation" if children talk about tests and their threats of teachers' losing their jobs if they talk about the test is necessary to "...ensure fairness for all students and teachers and to ensure that the results of any assessment are trustworthy and valid."  That's from its official statement (http://www.pearsoned.com/news/pearson-statement-on-test-security/) after a New Jersey youngster posted a comment on social media about one of its writing prompts.  

Imagine, please, the online surveillance of millions of our nation's public school children's social media accounts.  "Hey wasn't the (fill in the blank) prompt STUPID?!"  ten year old children may innocently write, in spite of having "signed their lives away" on the "test agreement" form. A ten year old may not yet be filled with the pulsating fear of "talking about the test".  They are, however, already filled with the fear of "not passing the test."  They've been filled with that fear since some of their friends were left behind in third grade, but the "YOU MAY NOT TALK ABOUT THE TEST EVER" fear may not yet be filling them. "May I go to the bathroom?" a bored student in a computer lab taking a test might say.  Quick, quick! Dim her computer screen!  Shush her!  Scurry her out so she "does not disturb others." 

But she is unsupervised in the bathroom.  There is her friend.  Maybe they quickly say to each other.  "It's hard.  What'd you write about (fill in the blank)?" Maybe not.

How, Pearson, do you control for that?

In college I had to design an experiment.  I remember feeling exasperated at not being able to control all variables, for how could I in this grand idea I had about influencing meal choice by my flight attendant description of that meal?  For instance, I'd decided to offer "beef or chicken?" to a number of passengers, then switch to "Beef Wellington or chicken" and then to "chicken or Beef Wellington" and then to "beef or Chicken Cordon Bleu" etc.  My professor asked whether I'd be smiling or frowning when I offered each meal choice.  "My God!" I'd wanted to yell at her; "You're taking all the fun out of this!" Had I actually conducted the experiment--a full 747 from Miami to L.A.--probably there would only have been time to serve First Class.

We are, without our full knowledge and against the will of many of us, participating in an experiment whose variables simply cannot be controlled.  Maybe that's what I dreamed about last night.

Maybe my dream was just a reflection of the chaotic "no-controlled-variables" life I lead and so it was God's loving and patient eye. watching over me. But maybe the dream was a reflection of my growing alarm at the insidiousness of our collective loss of privacy and the eye is not God's eye at all.

There is no place to hide. Pearson is watching.

8:44 am edt          Comments

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