Thursday, October 31, 2019

Teachers Should Write Education Editorials

The NY Post gets you coming and going. A few weeks ago, they were saying that the notion of dropping Regents exams represented a total lack of standards, and that the whole state was going to turn into the Wild West. Everyone was going to pass no matter what. That was the only reason they could imagine for moving away from these tests.

Evidently, these tests ranked somewhere near the Ten Commandments, and were so perfectly formed that any criticism of them, let alone movement away from them, was absolutely out of the question. The Post showed no evidence they were actually familiar with the tests.

In our school, we have an election day PD by some company that’s visited us before. The first time they came, they showed us two essays. One was written by some spoiled young woman who complained her parents sent her to Europe. Evidently it was boring. Another was written by a young man who made burgers at a beachside stand that summer and milked the experience for all the humor that could be found in it.

There we were, challenged by highly paid PD preppers to discern between art and crap. It was my distinct feeling that anyone who didn’t recognize the crap for what it was, well, that person ought not to be teaching writing. I understand why the school is engaging them, though. A lot of students cannot write their way out of a paper bag, and many are native English speakers.

Actually, I place the blame for that on the English Regents exam, which we’re urged to prep kids for. The English Regents exam is Common Core based, and thus formulated on David Coleman’s brilliant theory that no one gives a crap what you think or feel. Since we teach students to write based on that foundation, it’s no surprise whatsoever that they produce writing no one wants to read. The truth is, no one gives a crap about writing that has no heart, passion or feeling.

I’ve actually been told that some of our highest-performing students have written college essays that were not particularly impressive. Someone who works at a college told me when she read good essays, she had no idea whether students wrote them themselves. When she read bad ones, she knew they were real.

Given all that, the Post now cries and moans that the NAEP exams are the gold standard, and by that standard de Blasio has made no progress whatsoever, and that this is "final proof."  Given the state standards are crap, something that’s utterly eluded the Post, I’m not surprised. I’m also not remotely persuaded this is de Blasio’s fault. After all, it’s the geniuses in Albany who write the tests, without which our students can’t graduate. Instead of teaching kids how to write, let alone how to appreciate reading, we’re forced to teach them to deal with crap that will serve only one purpose—helping them pass the crappy tests.

If Michael Bloomberg were mayor, the Post would be praising him to the heavens. He’d be a genius for raising state test scores. The NAEP would be ignored. The thing that really gets the Post’s goat is all that “social justice” stuff.

Perish forbid that students like those I serve should be treated with dignity as a matter of course. No, let’s go on our merry way as the geniuses in Albany cut direct English instruction. Doubtless the NY State Regents and the editors of the NY Post could go to China tomorrow and ace their standardized tests with no help whatsoever.

I’ve had it with reading education editorials and op-eds by people who not only haven’t got the remotest notion what they’re talking about, but then go the extra mile and say any gosh darn thing that will reinforce their obvious and blatant prejudices.
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