Tag Archives: education

Testing… testing

Our school district – in its wisdom – decided that the kindergarteners need to do a week of standardized testing.  This despite the fact that half the kids can’t read and the other half will be too distracted by picking their noses for the test to have any validity. Now, normally, I would just chalk this up to a colossal waste of time and resources.

However.

The kindergarten teachers felt they needed to reassure the kids that testing is not a big deal.  For a week and a half before the actual testing begins.

Yes, they announced to the kids a week and a half ago that there would be testing.  They had the children practice using privacy folders, which are meant to curtail the wandering eyes.  They told them to be sure not to tire themselves out, eat a good breakfast, and get plenty of rest.

Now, if you want to make sure that my particular kindergartener does not get plenty of rest, the best possible way to do so is to inform him a week and a half before you start testing that he is going to be tested.

He began by telling me he would need to miss tae kwon do on testing week.  I got his teacher to talk to him and explain that physical activity is actually a good thing to engage in.  She told him that testing really is nothing to worry about.

I repeated the message, as did his therapist.  I even went so far as to explain to him that the testing was just there to help figure out if the teachers are teaching the material well.

Clearly, he was unconvinced.  He has been awake for hours every night, eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling.  He fell apart on a playdate.  He has been hideous to his mother and brother.

OK, that last one has nothing to do with the testing, but I wanted to complain about it anyway.

Testing starts this morning.  It will last a week.  On the one hand, I am thrilled to get started so it will be over with soon.  On the other hand, I know this is just the beginning of two decades of this shit, starting with the kindergarten tests in which they have to identify which picture is three o’clock and ending in cold sweats for months before the LSATs.

I wonder if he’ll need a privacy folder for the Bar Exam.

Representation

New Jersey has made a bit of a muddle of things, as you may have heard.   The state is just this side of completely belly-up, and they have had to make a whole hell of a lot of cuts.  In fact, only those of us who moved here from California aren’t complaining about the state of things.

The cuts that most directly impact us are the ones to the local schools.  Our district has lost 100% of state funding.  That means that it’s all on the residents of Rockwelland to fund our first-class schools.  The superintendent and school board has held a series of meetings to show the town where and how they are making cuts in response to the crisis.  They are being remarkable fiscally responsible.

But they are also asking for tax increases in a town with very, very high taxes.

Today, we go to the polls to vote on the budget.  If it is defeated, they will need to make deeper cuts in the school budget.  If it passes, our taxes will go up.  It’s a secret ballot, of course, but I don’t mind telling you that I am voting for tax increases.  There just ain’t nuthin’ more worth spending money on than education.

There are those who are opposed, and I get it.  Their taxes are pretty damned high.  But I think if you can afford a house that is appraised at a gazillion dollars and you are sending four children to the school district, you should probably at least consider the merits of a 2% tax increase.  I’m just saying.

Plus, maybe if we do a better job of edumacating these kids than the last couple of generations, they’ll grow up knowing how to balance the state budget.

Education dollars at work

            Remember Mr. Holland and his opus?  It’s a pretty schmaltzy movie, but the place it gets real is when the principal informs Richard Dreyfuss that the school is cutting the arts programs because they need the money for fundamentals like long division.  Mr. Holland gets all Mr. Holland-y and tells the dude that “Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want, Gene. Sooner or later, these kids aren’t going to have anything to read or write about.”

            Now, I’m not much of a movie-crier, which makes attending movies with my husband rather embarrassing.  I think I’ve mentioned that the end of An Officer and A Gentleman makes him weep every single time…  But, those teacher movies often have their way with me, and Mr. Holland’s Opus is no exception.  I may not have outright shed tears in that final scene, but I definitely got a little choked up.

            J, of course, was sobbing.

            We need to fund arts education.  You want me to give you some reasons?  Sure, I’ll give you some reasons.  How about building self-esteem?  Bringing meaning into kids’ lives?  Providing an outlet for children who might not have the words or the therapist or whathaveyou to let out all the emotion that goes along with growing up?  Building music- and art- and theater-lovers for the next generation so that our world doesn’t become just a web of criss-crossed highways and rising temperatures? 

            Or, maybe I could just give you one reason:

            Yeah, I cried when I watched that one, too. 

            In case you need it, here is the link to their blog.