The quote is attributed to Winston Churchill as he received the King’s appointment to be Prime MInister in May 1940 to form a new government and prosecute the war with Nazi Germany. However, for the last 20 years, it is the plaintive cry of every American school child in grades 3 through 10 taking numerous state tests because we must have data to measure … it used to be student learning, but now takes in school quality, teacher accomplishments, administrative worthiness, and district whatever … Grumpy Old Teacher (GOT) supposes that in the year of 2021, school testing is used to measure everything but the level of water in the kitchen sink.
It is 2021 and the ‘compassion and grace’ of the previous year has been replaced by the driving need, which rhymes with greed, of the Testing-Reform Complex to measure learning loss, a dubious concept at best that actually means how much worse will kids score on the tests this year.
Yes, we are testing this year and doing our best to intimidate parents and children who opted to continue their learning in their bedrooms to come onto our campuses because the test must be taken.
“Da Plane! Da Plane! Boss, da Plane!” was the opening shout for the TV show Fantasy Island as the assistant Tattoo (played by Herve Villechaize) watched from a tower for the island’s guests to arrive.
That is May 2021. This is the refusal of Miguel Cardona to grant waivers for state testing. “Da Test! Da Test! Biden, da Test!” is the shout of the U.S. Department of Education that echoes through American schools.
America, we are testing your children.
It doesn’t have to be this way. GOT is approaching retirement age and he can assure you, parents, community members, and children, that school was not always about testing, test preparation, endless hours spent on computers doing test preparation programs like iReady, Achieve 3000, &c. &c., and everything turned out just fine nonetheless.
For the third Saturday in a row, GOT has worked (paid hours, thankfully, at the full rate for those who know how the school district often promises to pay for extra hours but at a discount) to test children who have spent the year learning at home, but must take the test at school. Their parents did not want them to report to campus during the week; to accommodate their concerns, we have had Saturday testing sessions.
“Da Test! Da Test!”
The Biden administration along with its new Secretary of Education assures us that the tests are needed to measure what they call learning loss. They promise the results will not be used for anything but to identify what schools they should direct federal resources to.
Talk about a Fantasy Island.
Federal resources do flow to states, but then they are in the control of state governments who will direct them where they wish regardless of what a president or secretary of education wants.
And in too many states like Florida, state authorities will redirect every dollar they can into trumped-up programs (not a pun, but very much intended) that shovel those resources into private, religious, and charter schools.
Meanwhile, those struggling schools? At least as identified by state test results and that’s a debate we’ll have to leave to a later post, they get bupkis because the states believe a take-over by a charter school or shutdown is preferable to actually letting the school have the resources it needs.
But all that is predicated on giving the tests so that the agendas of people who don’t give a damn about school children can achieve their policy goals.
“Da Test! Da Test! Biden, da Test!”
Sorry, GOT knows bloggers are supposed to dispassionately discuss the issues of education, cite studies and link sources to support their arguments, and take down the stances of people who don’t know bupkis about what goes on in a school … but he’s tired.
Testing does that to teachers.
But still, we must fight back. Because the reformers … they love a very different Churchill speech. With a few edits, this is what we stand against:
“We … shall test on the beaches, we shall test on the landing grounds, we shall test in the fields and in the streets, we shall test in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this state or a large part of it stopped testing … then our state education departments, armed and guarded by the neoliberals and neocons alike, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the Brave New World of Education Reform, with all its power and might (thank you, Gates, sorry about the divorce, and Waltons), steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of …”
Testing. So very, very tired of it all.