I Would Hate School Today

This would have screwed me up as a kid (boldface mine):

Because the state’s exams are predictable, they’re deemed easy to game with test prep. But in contrast to their drill-and-kill competition, Moskowitz says her teachers prepped their third-graders a mere ten minutes per day … plus some added time over winter break, she confides upon reflection, when the children had but two days off: Christmas and New Year’s. But the holiday push wasn’t the only extra step that Success took to succeed last year. After some red-flag internal assessments, Paul Fucaloro kept “the bottom 25 percent” an hour past their normal 4:30 p.m. dismissal—four days a week, six weeks before each test. “The real slow ones,” he says, stayed an additional 30 minutes, till six o’clock: a ten-hour-plus day for 8- and 9-year-olds. Meanwhile, much of the class convened on Saturday mornings from September on. Fourth-grader Ashley Wilder thought this “terrible” at first: “I missed Flapjack on the Cartoon Network. But education is more important than sitting back and eating junk food all day.” By working the children off-hours, Moskowitz could boost her numbers without impinging on curricular “specials” like Ashley’s beloved art class….

We have a gap to close, so I want the kids on edge, constantly,” Fucaloro adds. “By the time test day came, they were like little test-taking machines.”

Because what fourth-graders need is to constantly be on edge. That’s healthy. And it seems this approach creates a new problem as it supposedly solves another one:

New students are initiated at “kindergarten boot camp,” where they get drilled for two weeks on how to behave in the “zero noise” corridors (straight lines, mouths shut, arms at one’s sides) and the art of active listening (legs crossed, hands folded, eyes tracking the speaker). Life at Harlem Success, the teacher says, is “very, very structured,” even the twenty-minute recess. Lunches are rushed and hushed, leaving little downtime to build social skills. Many children appear fried by two o’clock, particularly in weeks with heavy testing. “We test constantly, all grades,” the teacher says. During the TerraNova, a mini-SAT bubble test over four consecutive mornings, three students threw up. “I just don’t feel that kids have a chance to be kids,” she laments.

Noguera, too, has reservations about the “punitive” approach at Harlem Success and other high-performing charter networks. He thinks it grooms conformists, and that middle-class parents would find it anathema. “What concerns me are the race/class assumptions built into this,” he says. “If you’re serious about preparing kids to be leaders, you have to realize that leaders have to think for themselves.”

I know that if I had gone to a school like this I would have self-destructed spectacularly. We are screwing up an entire generation of kids, a subset anyway. No wealthy parents would ever subject their kids to this kind of treatment.

We will pay the price for this down the road.

This entry was posted in Basic Human Decency, Education. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to I Would Hate School Today

  1. Potnia Theron says:

    what ever happened to play?

  2. Bayesian Bouffant, FCD says:

    Moskowitz says her teachers prepped their third-graders a mere ten minutes per day …

    Stone soup.

  3. chris says:

    It’s criminal. Our child attends a private, gifted school. They do no comprehensive testing at all (at least to the 4th grade level). They are studying Civil Rights this unit, currently focusing on the Japanese internments during WWII. Yesterday they spent a couple hours at a local Buddhist temple and next week they are traveling several hours to an actual internment camp down in Southern Colorado.
    Earlier discussions of the Americans with Disabilities Act included a field trip to an art gallery for people with disabilities and a visit from a disabled acting troupe. Sections on African-American civil rights included trips to several museums and visits from folklorists and relatives of Tuskeegee Airmen.
    These accounts of high-stakes testing in public schools are terrifying to me. I hesitate to call it “learning.” The gap between what our child is learning and what these children are being taught is so broad that I don’t even begin to know how to start to bridge it.

  4. asianquarterback says:

    Welcome to how Asian kids have been living their school years for decades.

    It only gets worse as you hit high school as the only way (without breaking the bank) to get into a top college is by being >99 percentile in everything.

  5. becca says:

    Seems like pretty similar to the bits I hated when I went to elementary school. It’s worse than my school was, but it’s a matter of degree not a difference in what school is doing.

  6. delagar says:

    What Chris said. My kid went to a private (expensive) Montessori school through the sixth grade. They did very little prep for the state-mandated testing — basically, one afternoon each year where they showed the kids how to fill in the bubbles.

    Instead of teaching kids to take tests, the school spent its time on education. Lots of reading, lots of art and music, field trips and in-depth science projects. A garden the students worked themselves.

    Sadly, after my husband lost his job, we stopped being able to afford the steep tuition.

    tl;dr: The rich will continue to educate their children. Everyone else’s children? Yeah.

  7. sethkahn says:

    Mike sez: “No wealthy parents would ever subject their kids to this kind of treatment.”

    Seth sez: “Especially not the wealthy parents who are the chief propagandists for this horsepoop educational philosophy.”

    It’s well-documented. NOBODY who advocates this kind of ed deform sends their kids to the public schools they pretend to be saving. Why? Because they know perfectly well the truth behind their own claims.

Comments are closed.