Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Headline In The Making

Diminutive One came home from school today looking unusually glum.

"Duuuuuuuude. "What's up? You look like you lost your best friend."

He sighed heavily and assured me that he hadn't.

"Then what's wrong?"

"CRCT testing is tomorrow." he replied.

There was a fatalism in his voice that I didn't care for. No almost ten year old should be that heavily burdened.

"Yeah. So? You're going to pass with flying colors. Just look at what awesome grades you've been getting!"

He was not reassured.

"But Mom, I just get all...stupid...when I take a test. It's like my brain shuts off or something. I'm going to have to go to summer school! And then I won't be able to play Allstars or go to the pool or do anything!" he wailed.

I felt the blood rushing to my face as I angrily contemplated my stressed out mess of a kid. Goddamned standardized testing.

I sat him down at the table and made him look me in the eye.

"I'm going to tell you a secret. But...you have to promise me that even though you know this secret, you'll still try to do your best on the test. Promise?

He nodded his head solemnly. "Promise."

"I? Do not give a fiddler's fart if you pass that test or not."

His eyes widened in amazement. This piece of intelligence directly contradicted everything I have ever told him in his short life. We've taken care to let our boys know that failure and success are not always the true measure of ability, nor are they the true arbiter of worth when it comes to learning. In other words, if they've truly done their best, we're happy. And sometimes, it's less about the grade that's earned, and more about the lesson learned.

But we've also always told them that they are not "average" students. Which they're not. I don't accept an "F" from a child whose I.Q. is higher than mine.

Perhaps knowing that, you can understand his astonishment.

"You don't??"

He could not hid his incredulity at my pronouncement.

"Nope."

"WHY?"

"Well, because I believe that the only thing the CRCT measures...is how good you are at taking a test. It has nothing to do with how smart you are. I don't need a test to know that you're smart, and either does your teacher. You prove it every single day."


He brightened for a moment, but then a shadow once again descended upon his freckled face, and doubt clouded his eyes.

"But Mom...it's the law. I have to pass this test to go to fifth grade. Plus, I'll have to go to summer school."

"No you won't." I said firmly.

"I'll tell them you are not going to summer school under any circumstances, because you have earned your summer vacation through hard work, good grades, and class participation. And I will also tell them that if they don't pass a kid who is obviously more than capable of doing fifth grade work, I'll sue the pants off of them."

"You can do that??"

"Sure I can. And if that doesn't work, I'll alert the press. We'll tell them there is a travesty of justice taking place right under our noses. It'll be the scandal of the century...a media circus!!"


I made a sweeping gesture in front of my face, indicating a newpaper headline.

"STUDENT TO ADMINISTRATORS: CRCT IS A SHAM! LET ME PASS!"

"And you know what else? Dr. A will help me. She knows all about this stuff and she won't let you be held back. In fact, I already talked to her about it."


He wanted to believe me, but from day one in the public school system, he has been indoctrinated into the belief that school administrators are the ultimate authority.

"But I thought that the school gets to decide everything."

"Hell no. You're my kid. I get to decide everything. They do what I say."

He was beginning to look a little more relaxed, to my relief. He didn't need to know that part of what I had told him was sheer bravado on my part. Oh, I'm quite prepared to butt heads with the powers that be if I need to. But my confidence at emerging the victor was entirely feigned. I sure as hell would give it everything I've got in me, though.

He sat quietly, digesting what I had said.

"So anyway.." I continued, "I want you to do your best, but I don't want you to worry about what's going to happen if you don't pass. Nothing will happen. Okay?"

"Okay. Thanks Mom. I feel better now."


He got up to leave, but hesitated for a moment.

"Could you put the stomache medicine (TUMS) in my backpack anyway...just in case?"

"Absolutely."


He left then, and went outside to do the things that kids do outside.

And I sat there at the kitchen table and thought about how much easier it was when all I had to do was spray for monsters under the bed.

21 Comments:

  • At 4:53 PM, Anonymous gurukarm said…

    ...un-effing-believable they make the kids pass this test to be sent on to FIFTH grade???

    In MA the kids have to pass the 10th grade tests to graduate (also a stupid travesty for kids who are amazing but don't, for whatever reason, perhaps like your son, test well), but I haven't heard of them having to specifically and only pass the tests (which ARE given in most of the other grades as well) in order to move on, grade-wise. Sigh. If the tenth-graders don't pass the first time around, at least they do get two more times to try.

    Best of luck to DO!

     
  • At 5:36 PM, Blogger Hairline Fracture said…

    I love how you are your son's fierce yet loving advocate. He needs to hear that you don't care if he passes that stupid test.

     
  • At 5:46 PM, Blogger Amy Y said…

    You are such an awesome Mama... and I hope you know it as much as we do. He is lucky to have such a woman in his corner.

    And oh, how I'm trying to hold on to the little problems with things like this staring me in the face, just a few years away.

     
  • At 6:17 PM, Blogger flutter said…

    That rocks, that kind of encouragement you are giving

     
  • At 6:57 PM, Blogger Lara said…

    yep, i've been there as a teacher, terrified about my students who were so bright, so capable, yet so bad at standardized tests. i was afraid of the fight i might have to take up on their behalf, if some stupid law said i was supposed to do something i knew wasn't right, like say this kid couldn't graduate high school because of one stupid test. but i would have fought it if i had to.

    parents like you, who really care about their kids and are willing to take up arms when necessary? i LOVED working with those parents.

     
  • At 7:24 PM, Blogger womaninawindow said…

    Man, do I feel like an inferior mother. You rock! And you spray for monsters? Man, I'm lacking!

     
  • At 8:02 PM, Blogger Mac and Cheese said…

    You give me a window of what I'm in for. Thanks for all the tips.

     
  • At 8:06 PM, Blogger Pgoodness said…

    monsters may have been easier, but you are rockin this hard stuff!!

     
  • At 8:11 PM, Blogger the only daughter said…

    Soooo totally awesome.

     
  • At 10:31 PM, Blogger West Coast Diva said…

    You my darling are utterly amazing! How I wish you had been my mother.

     
  • At 10:47 PM, Blogger SUEB0B said…

    I have seen teachers weep about these tests and how much time they take away from teaching and learning (not just on test day - they spend the whole semester preparing for them). Standardized tests like this aren't good for anyone.

     
  • At 10:48 PM, Blogger Rositta said…

    Good for you, great advice. My offspring has been a Math and Science teacher for many years and he hates those tests. Unfortunately though, there is nothing he can do about it except help prepare his students. The school boards here make decisions and teachers must follow the rules, crappy but that's life...ciao

     
  • At 12:12 AM, Blogger JaniceNW said…

    Stupid f'ing dumb no child left behind act!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I also told my boys that I don't care. I said to make an effort but don't lose any slkeep over it because, let's face it, in 10 years no one will care if you did well or not.

    My oldest got all 4's in 7th grade surprising all of us!

    They both passed with 3's and 4's in 10th. That's fine, the school won't bug them to take extra prep classes yadda yadda yadda.

    You have my complete and total empathy.

    OH! What really PISSES me off is that they teach to the test from first through 10th grades. There are so many subjects they skip just to do more math writing, and non fiction reading. What about Picasso? Sartre? Langston Hughes...?

     
  • At 1:37 AM, Anonymous mel from freak parade said…

    Oh,The Boy carries the Tums around on those stressful occasions too. Kind of makes me sad to hear the familiar rattle as he packs them, like some middle-aged accountant during tax season.
    Standardized tests have just become more and more ridiculous as time goes on. Pleh. Good for you, for letting him know you've got his back, no matter what.

     
  • At 7:14 AM, Blogger Tootsie said…

    You're son school didn't happen to have a "pep rally" yesterday for the CRCT, did he? Because my husband is doing his student observation at a school that did. AND THE HUBBY WENT OFF WHEN HE GOT HOME. He thought it was ridiculous and unfair to put the kids under that kind of pressure. My initial comment was that it was probably just used to judge the teachers (still stupid, but maybe less so), but he informed be about how it is used to hold students back. Wow.

    I'm all for education and probably over-educated myself, but really people, LET'S GET A LITTLE PERSPECTIVE HERE.

    Our society doesn't trust its individual members to use their own discretion, so we end up with overly broad assessments that are completely inaccurate on the individual level. Judgments that should rely on on the assessor's experience and personal knowledge of the special circumstances are instead made on one-size fits all testing. What crap.

     
  • At 7:39 AM, Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said…

    Have I told you lately how much you rock?

    I hate standardized tests. As a kid, I sucked at those tests. I still wear the scars today. So, yeah, you rock big time.

     
  • At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Doug said…

    We've faced that battle many times over. Our school was a pilot for many of the newer standardized tests and both of my kids had to endure it. The stress level is absolutely ridiculous. School comes easy for my oldest, but not the early rounds of standardized tests. My daughter struggles (but does well) in school and has similar troubles with the tests.

    The Dr. will (if youn eed to go that route) will be a big help.

    I see several comments about NCLB being a bad thing. I'm not convinced it's bad, but the system has some pretty big flaws. In other words, good in concept, bad in execution.

    Then again isn't that the case with most government run programs?

     
  • At 9:53 AM, Blogger sltbee69 said…

    Thank goodness he has you in his court fighting for him! Way to rock momma! I hate those standardized tests. While my 10-yr old is in private school, they are still required to take them however, the test results don't determine whether they pass or fail that grade. Thank god because my A-B student would fail miserably. She, like me when I was in school, does not do well on those tests. The no child left behind act is a bunch of bullshit!

     
  • At 10:35 AM, Blogger Wisconsin Mommy said…

    You rock! Seriously.

     
  • At 11:08 PM, Blogger Shelley said…

    Oh lordy, standardized testing. HATE. We have a test here called AIMS, or Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards. Catchy, right? It starts in second grade. By jr high, these kids are being threatened if they don't do well. Why? Because the school's funding depends on how well the school does.

    And that's the rub. I've always told my kids, "You know what? This tests is measuring how well the teachers are teaching you, and how well your school is doing compared to other schools. Just do your best, but for God's sake please don't stress about it. It has nothing to do with your grades."

    Well, except until they get to high school, where they have to pass it to graduate. But it makes me mad that they get kids all worked up about it in elementary school, just because of their damn funding. NCLB and its "brilliant" creator can bite me.

     
  • At 7:00 PM, Blogger Lee Laughlin said…

    Hi,

    I know you have bigger issues to fry at this immediate moment (no you are not over reacting).

    But I thought people might find this intereesting

    http://www.notonthetest.com/
    It is a song written by Tom Chapin about the real impact of standardized testing.

     

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