Monday, July 26, 2010

A Sign of the Times

It is a terrible injustice. That mean old Bush administration came up with an oppressive policy called "No Child Left Behind" which mandated that schools across the nation establish some standards for graduation and then test students to see they achieved those goals.

Note that the feds don't set the standard or write the test. The states, through their own local state departments of education and school administrators develop the standards and the evaluation. The feds merely insure that the state program is at or above the minimum.

In Texas, the evaluation is called TAKS: Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills. Students get tested at three points during their K-12 education. By the time they get to grade 12, they are at a graduate or not point. Don't pass the TAKS and you don't get a piece of paper saying you are as good as the minimally acceptable national education standard. Ahhhh, the humanity...

So, here is the page one, above-the-fold story in today's Dallas Morning News Avoider:

Poor Ebonee Done 12 Years and Can't Solve for Y

She is 18 years old and "pretty". She's put in all those years, but naturally reserved time for "clubbing" with her "home-girls". She tries repeatedly and after eight shots at the minimum, she still can't get it.

Along the way she had time to get knocked up and now has a little baby to keep her company. The sperm donor sent her a "prison letter" to suggest that she check to see if she was preggers. He, however, would miss the delivery unless he gets time off for good behavior.

Somewhere along the way it appears she didn't pay attention in biology class either.

Is Ebonee worried? Well, yeah. She put in all these years and they haven't given her a piece of paper. She isn't overly concerned about her ignorance though. She wonders why she has to put so much effort in to learn something she plans to forget immediately.

How will she support herself and her baby? I guess that's going to be the obligation of those of us in category of wealthiest Americans.


Me said...

She named the baby Sy'Niyah? seriously?

Sounds like she missed out on a few grammar classes too.

Anonymous said...

Judging from the first comment on the DMN article (the one from the person attending UT Law School), Texas' education standards issues don't end with Ebonee.

I live in Washington State. Washington State is run by the Washington State Education Association--it is the largest, most powerful union in the state. I Washington, we have the WASL--Washington Assessment of Student Learning. In Washington State, we have an old saying: "When the going gets tough, we....uh....well, we quit!" That's how we deal with the WASL. Too many students weren't able to pass, so we got our state legislature to keep pushing back the date by which schools were required to comply. Finally, we got a union guy elected to Superintendent of Public Instruction. He won--largely on his promise to replace the WASL with something a little more culturally consistent with the realities of learning in Washington State.

Mike Brown

Ed Rasimus said...

Washington can't compete with TX. We've had schools fail to meet acceptable improvement rates for TAKS passing, so we now employ a system of "anticipated future performance".

That means we can count a number of failed students as being estimated to pass some time in a year or two. Then the school rating goes up to acceptable.

We also have a number of schools embracing a minimum grade policy that requires a grade of no less than 50% regardless of how poor the performance is. Even if you don't do the assignment, you still get 50%!

Anonymous said...

Before becoming Mrs Alemaster, my bride taught high school in Dallas for nine years. The tales she's told! Decided she couldn't educate those not wanting an education, she went to law school to prosecute them. She excelled at that! (As an aside, after a long, sucessful career in the Bexar County DA's office, she "went over" to the Fed side. She was assigned to the Del Rio office. As I still lived in San Antonio, one of us passed through the Customs check point on US 90, seen in a previous post, each week.) regards, Alemaster

immagikman said...

our future leaders :(

juvat said...

Ed, your comment about "testing at three points during their K-12 education" is technically correct but could be misconstrued. Kids are tested for record at 5, 8 and 11th grade. Those are the tests the principal fears. Pass rates on those decide the school's TEA rating and frequently (thank you President Bush for helping clear deadwood) the future employment of many school employees. However, kids are tested every year between 3 and 11 in at least one of the 4 subject areas, some of which have more than one test (e.g. there's a test in ELA (it used to be called English) in reading, writing and grammar). Additionally for the three counter tests, kids can be retested and if they pass, can move on to the next grade.
Finally, at least in our district, students are evaluated on several criteria to determine likelihood of passing and if they're deemed unlikely, they receive additional teaching in those core courses. Because school time is finite, this means they miss out on music, art, and or computer classes. We've got some pretty good teachers in those special classrooms and our results have generally been good. Given the high costs to the administration of low scores, I think many of them have similar programs. So, the "lovely" Ebonee, made a conscious decision to blow this opportunity and as they say, you can lead a horse to water, but.....

One of my schadenfreude teaching moments came when I came across one of my kids whose stated ambition in life was to work at McDonalds. It occurred in one of my once a millenia visits to re-establish my conviction that the food still sucks. There was my student, he smiled at me and said "I was wrong, I shoulda studied."

Anonymous said...

Where is this headed?

Poverty, ignorance, babies, bread and circuses, demagoguery, more poverty, and, er, war....

I don't who it will be--the Japanese? The Chinese? Maybe some kind of futuristic Blackwater International? Mexican narco militias?--but in twenty years an organization backed by a Swiss investment consortium is going to roll in and eat this country.

It's already begun.