Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Why Not Opt Out of Midterms?

That's the question the Daily News asks. After all, the stakes are pretty low, as the state has agreed not to count the results for a few years. This is true for students and in many cases for teacher ratings as well. So what's the big hooplah, the News wants to know. Why don't these goshdarn kids just sit down and take their tests?

That's a much more reasoned approach than that taken over at the Post, where they concoct a ridiculous strawman argument suggesting that parents who opt out are simply petulant, over-privileged, self-serving lunatics who don't want their kids to fail. At the same time, they are helicopter parents making ridiculous demands for their pampered children. Patrick Walsh had a great piece on his blog in response: 

Its always a good sign when shills for those who are systemically attempting to undermine public education, the better to privatize it, are reduced to making public arguments that read like they are written by a person on a six day drunk.

Read the whole piece.  I'll just address the piece at the News, which makes a more reasonable argument. There's actually a pretty reasonable answer, too.

Midterms are usually written by teachers. They’re usually graded and returned to the students, so the students can see how they did and what they may have done wrong. That’s not the case with these tests, whatever the stakes. And if the stakes are so ridiculously low anyway, a better argument might be that they ought to simply be canceled.

A lot of us are labeled as anti-testing, when that's not precisely the case. We are against high-stakes tests that don't really help our children. And while it's true that there is a temporary reduction in the stakes, the tests still don't help our children. I don't know much about these tests, but from what I'm reading, even disregarding the fact that our kids will never get them back or learn anything from them, they don't appear to be of very good quality.

They don't necessarily test what kids need. They aren't necessarily developmentally appropriate. And the notion of kids sitting indefinitely to take these tests appears not so much a concession as an implement of torture. 

But even more important is the fact that we won't be fooled. You can't just tell us, hey, we won't count it for a few years. Please drop your organizing and go away. Maybe that's not what the Daily News editorial board had in mind. But it certainly appears to be what Cuomo had in mind.

And to Governor Cuomo, I have just this to say. We did not just fall off the tomato truck from New Jersey.

And we are not going away.
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