What’s worth learning — both in school and out?

A tiny, potent, potpourri of perspectives:

The first two from Hahvaahd:

What’s Worth Learning in School

and

The 2011 Commencement Address

Next, what’s obvious to anyone who once squirmed for hours in a tiny seat while “learning” to memorize “facts” (factoids) with a half-life approaching zero. However, what we do need to remember is that the original function of compulsory education was to train docile and obedient factory workers.

How much has changed? We’re still training “students” to take directions, be quiet, not question authority, stuff their minds with so-called info they (rightly) forget immediately upon testing, and, of course, compete with others for money and “goods.” Oh, and now we’re also teaching them “group think,” in teams.

American Schools Are Training Kids for A World That Doesn’t Exist

A year or so ago, this amazing little video made the rounds.

And just this week, New Mexico students stood up and walked out.

Protests hit Albuquerque schools

albuquerque-student-walkout

Between 900 and 1,000 students held protests at seven Albuquerque Public Schools high schools and at one local charter school this week, angered by new “high stakes” PARCC standardized testing that is debuting across the country this year. One week earlier 200 hundred students walked out in Santa Fe.

The tests form one plank in the corporate-backed educational reform model that began with Bush’s No Child Left Behind and was extended with Obama’s Race to the Top.

PARCC will be used to rate students, teachers and schools. In the United States, there are affluent districts with abundant resources, and poor districts that lack those advantages. As Diane Ravitch, education historian says, this “opportunity gap creates a test score gap.”

“We are not our test scores,” an Albuquerque Middle school student proclaimed. “A test score shouldn’t determine how valuable a person is or how intelligent they are,” said 7th grade student Angelina Romano.

Students and teachers alike are taking a stand against the corporate reform onslaught of standardized testing. It is happening not just in New Mexico, but all over the country. Those who truly care about public education and the future of our children are fed up and ready to fight.

On February 15, led by the local teacher unions, hundreds of teachers marched and rallied in Santa Fe where they vocalized their frustration with everything from over-testing, unfair teacher evaluations, and the Public Education Department in general.

Ben, an Albuquerque middle school teacher, attended the event and said standardized test-driven teaching was not what he signed up for. “I wanted to get into my subjects. I wanted to dig into history and get into the science of the world. And the kids love it too. They’ll geek out about Stone Age cultures and the Periodic Table if you can engage them. It’s beautiful. But test culture does not engage students. They do not get excited about PARCC Practice Day.”

When over 200 hundred Santa Fe students walked out of school in protest, they marched to the NM Public Education Building. Students asked to speak with Jeb Bush-protégé and NM Education Secretary Hanna Skandera. Skandera refused, as she had earlier with the state’s teachers.

Governor Susana Martinez responded to the student cries by taking the patronizing stance, “I support the rights of the students to walk out, but they are only hurting themselves. When it’s time for them to be in class, that is where they should be.”

If Governor Martinez is so concerned with students losing valuable hours in the classroom, she should ask how many valuable hours of learning are being wasted teaching and administering a one-size fits all rote-memorization test.

Interim Superintendent Brad Winter threatened students who joined the walkouts with zeros. Principles threatened students that they risk possible suspension and trespassing charges. Far from being “lazy” or “wimps,” our kids are brave for staring down those threats and joining in the great legacy of civil disobedience in pursuit of their right to a real education.

Some have said that student protests are distracting. But most teachers know that the real distraction from student learning is the endless cycle of corporate-style accountability testing.

Now is time for students and teachers alike to voice their concerns. Educators, our unions, parents, community members, and students can stand together in solidarity against the corporate-education money-making machine, fighting to keep public schools public, and corporate-pushed standardized testing out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the alabama lady —

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