Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Regents Exams Are Perilous. Sitting in Faux-Distanced Classes Is Fine

That seems to be the logic of the resident geniuses in Albany. They can't be bothered pondering the abysmal quality of the exams they offer. That's neither here nor there. Still, they're willing to boldly make decisions at their Zoom meetings that, hopefully, give students, teachers, and parents that safety is paramount for them. 

Honestly, I'm not terribly disappointed. My least favorite activity, as a teacher, is proctoring tests. I sit at a desk facing the chemistry test-takers, like a scarecrow, and students ask me questions I don't even understand. Or maybe I'm in a history exam, and I actually understand the language and deduce the answers, but I'm not sure whether or not it's okay to answer this question. 

Probably my beginning ESL students are sitting in some room, answering ABCD questions about the History of Cement, and they're with some teacher who knows nothing whatsoever about cement. And honestly, how are they going to learn the fine points of just how much sand, how much gravel, and how much water it is you need to create a Roosevelt Island?

Perish forbid they let those of us who know and care for the students administer tests, let alone write them. We'd just pass everybody. That's why we so frequently get called in by our supervisors so they can complain we passed too many students. (And just in case you aren't a teacher, the most that really happens is never.)

Now don't get me wrong, like many people I'm glad these stupid tests won't waste the time of students that week. But that's not at all why the Regents stopped them. Again, they stopped them on the basis of safety. Just minutes ago, a colleague asked me, "Why is it too dangerous to take a Regents exam, but okay to sit in a classroom?"

That resonated with me. I'm in a half classroom limited to 23 students, but I'd argue that 15 ought to be the max for that space. Any more than that and I have to place cardboard dividers between them whenever I give a quiz or test. In fact, there are always more than that, and it's impossible for me to determine how two kids sitting at a table made for two kids entails any social distancing whatsoever. 

Omicron is spreading like wildfire. Over in the Situation Room, pictured just below,

a bunch of people sit around and decide whether or not dozens of COVID infections should close a school building. Maybe it's just a coincidence that all those people got sick. Also, who cares if almost half of them are staff (like in my school). Could it mean that adults are more likely to be symptomatic, and therefore more likely to be tested?

Of course not. The fact is we now won't have Regents examinations so it's perfectly safe for you to attend a school with dozens of COVID cases. Any cases that weren't reported simply do not exist. The testers come prepared to test 10% of the people in the building, all volunteers, perhaps the same ones each week, and the other 90% make no difference whatsoever. 

This is the logic teachers have been living with for decades. It's pretty frustrating just how many blithering idiots with money, like Mike Bloomberg and Bill Gates, appoint themselves experts. More frustrating is the blind acceptance by incurious journalists, even those in the faux-liberal NY Times. But hey, we're used to it.

And on the positive side, if we can survive this, we can likely survive anything.

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