WIDA--my state's new evaluation test for our
English Language Learners. Poor ESOL parents and children! Some of those children were born in the US. Their parents,
at registration, indicated that they speak another language at home. That "yes" throws children into
the mucky oozing "ESOL program." There are five levels and children may languish there for years.
Level five indicates "escaping-er-I mean-exiting" the program.
I've been WIDA testing children I know. I know they speak English. Children whose speaking skills, if it
were allowed, I could evaluate "lickety-split!" Instead, I punch buttons and we-one child at a time--spend 40 minutes
together. Yes! ONE CHILD AT A TIME! Must be like the elementary school FAIR.
"Now it's your turn..." This is some boring BS!
So, what are we measuring? Have all the variables been controlled,
in this God awful experiment at the expense of children's hopes, dreams, aspirations?
"Now it's your turn..." To do what? To have what? To languish
in "Developmental" classes that are mistaken for Spanish classes because so much Spanish is spoken there?
"There has been a mistake", said the Polish speaking Maurice's
translator. "You've put Maurice in a Spanish class, not English."
And so, a return to the question; "What are we really testing with the WIDA test?
Perhaps we're testing concentration. The prompts are so boring that kids don't
focus. They then can't answer. But not because they don't speak English, but because the prompts and the deliverers
(Ms. Chang and Nelly)-blah, blah blah in perfect English about blah, blah, blah.
And for me, the test administrator, one on one, over and over, it's crazy making. "WHERE ARE YOU
FROM, MS. CHANG?! ARE YOU FROM THE "W"OF WIDA, WISCONSIN?! Tell us about your personal life...
I and my students might listen to prompts about Ms. Chang's personal life.
How, for instance did a Hispanic woman--for Ms. Chang's picture is surely a woman of hispanic heritage--end up with
the "apellido" Chang? How did she end up in Wisconsin of all places? How did she find employment with the
Florida Department of Education? Now THAT would be a prompt I might listen to!
"Hello, my name is Ms. Chang. I divorced my philandering philanthropist
of a husband and had to go to work. I'm really an oceanic photographer and upcoming, you will have a chance to talk
about past (that's the key word, children: past) uses of oceanic photography equipment. Might I suggest you write of past
surreptitious spying on CHEATING SNORKELING MEN?!
you can only see here my smiling face, I am obese; larger that the main barn of my childhood farmhouse in Guatemala. I
blame my poor nutrition on my ex."
"Now it's your turn. Explain
what "bigger than a barn" means.
More coming up!
fiend." "Fiendish wretch" Wily woman...just having fun.
"Thus strangely are our souls constructed, and by such slight ligaments
are we bound to prosperity or ruin." Mary Shelley in her book "Frankenstein".
I pull my hair flat and peer at my roots, trying to gauge, after more
than ten years of dying my hair, just how gray I am.
damn gray and I like it. I want to feel the velvety natural hair of my youth, not dyed straw.
I just can't quite get the conditioning of processed hair. Sounds
like processed meat and I avoid that. So, maybe I need to avoid processed hair too.
Gray hair at sixty,
speaks to me of freedom. Authenticity. It speaks of being this old and embracing it. I honestly like this me. This
menopausal me. Wrinkly me.
me. Hairs now grow on my neck and chin. I can't see them very well. They're white. But I can feel
them. Prickly bastards! Stubborn brutes!
go to battle. I put on my glasses and peer into magnifying mirrors. I pluck them from their pore trenches.
My "ah-hah!" moments are different at sixty. Now it's a successful
tweezer's yank. "Ah HAH! Gotcha! I WIN!"
Until the next time...
smile at that. There will be a next time.
like "mind speaking" me. "Heart feeling" me. I like "amused-at-whisker-yanking" me. I
like that I can laugh and write about my whiskers. Surely I am not the only sixty year old woman wielding tweezers and
going to battle in front of bathroom mirrors!
Nora Ephron wrote a book called "I Feel Bad About My Neck." She's pictured on the front cover with
a turtle neck pulled up to her eyes. She laments the waddle and cleverly writes about aging women. Nora ties our
woman waddles to any number of aging woman woes. And aging triumphs. For isn't that how a life is lived?
writes of reading's importance to her. I understand that. Writing and reading give my life substance and depth.
The sheer (and mere) act of sitting for an hour--no cell phone nearby--and taking in words' richness is one my most
satisfying activities. I just yesterday finished Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein." I delighted in her "oft
used" words to describe the monster. "The fiend." "The wretch." Still, Mary's monster seemed
to have a conscience and a desire to be loved.
Writing, too, is satisfying. Of late, I write for me and then I share it with any one who wishes to
read it. It's the "woman waddle" thing. I mean, if you've got a waddle, you've got experience and maybe
you just don't care about anything else than the truth. And the truth is illusory. Not real. An illusion.
Because each time I observe it, break it, put it together, it changes.
Bullied by a principal? Worst thing ever! Best too. Redefined me.
But would I return? To my fiend? My wretch? Oh no! "Not by
the hair of my chinny-chin chin!"
have a good day out there, ya hear?!