The Young and the Tested to Death:
The Los Angeles Times reports that "California mandates testing every eighth-grader in algebra -- ready or not".
WHY?? Under the current oppressive regime of high-stakes testing, we are already witnessing a great surge of demoralized, disengaged students dropping out of school altogether.
Rather than lifting children up, respecting their differences, and expanding their opportunities for success, we are severely limiting their options and opportunities, pushing many right out of school. Why in the name of kindness do we insist that all children be able to achieve the same things?
While I am no big fan of IQ testing, I wonder if those who are imposing such one-size-fits-all mandates don't need to be reminded that approximately 50% of our nation's population have IQs below 100, with approximately 23% of that population having IQs ranging from 70 to 89?
The ruling elite of the ed reform industry (and it is indeed an industry) insist on challenging standards for all. But if all could meet the same challenging standards, the standards wouldn't be challenging would they?
Children are individuals. Attempts to standardize them will crush the hopes and dreams of many. All people are of equal value but their abilities, interests, gifts, and talents vary enormously. IQ tests and standardized tests in general do not measure what matters most in life. Our nation is made stronger and better by respecting, embracing and developing the vast diversity of gifts and talents our children present to the world. I believe the maniacal "standards and accountability" movement is sending us headlong in the opposite direction.
It is wonderful that some students can excel in Algebra and higher math - thank God for them. Our world needs them and their contributions are great. No doubt some professions and fields require such skills - but only a very few. Most Americans do not use algebra or higher math in their work or day to day lives. Good basic arithmetic covers virtually all of the important day to day math skills needed by the vast majority of Americans. Am I wrong here?
Learning is good for its own sake. Learning algebra, good in and of itself, should be an option, not mandatory.
Apologies for getting on my soapbox with this "soap opera" entry. Just can't help myself and I am reminded of the following scriptures as an analogy. A footnote in my NIV Bible notes that these scriptures were apparently addressed to believers who felt that their gifts were inferior and unimportant while the more spectacular and showy gifts like speaking in tongues had been glorified in the Corinthian church. Regardless of one's particular faith or beliefs, I think this analogy works well for those of us who oppose standardization:
1 Corinthians 12: 14-26
Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!" On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.