Thursday, March 31, 2011

Stop Punishing Kids, Says Obama

Educator-in-Chief Barack Obama has announced that students and schools are being unfairly and unnecessarily punished. And what is this punishment that must be ended? Testing. After all, school isn't about the three R's, understanding of language, history, and reasoning, let alone analytical thinking. It's about in-groupness, self-esteem, going-along to get-along, and of course learning the words to "Obama--mmmm, mmmm, mmmm."

Hyper-educated Obama's opposition to standardized testing should come as no surprise. He mysteriously appeared at and graduated from Columbia Unversity (no public record of achievement). He was the editor of the Harvard Law Review (but never published a single peer-reviewed legal article of his own). And he taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago (where nobody remembers him and nobody can produce an Obama course outline). That's one of the main problems with tests. They have a habit of requiring actual knowledge and becoming permanent records. Not a good thing for future Democratic public figures.

No system is perfect, and testing is not the sole determinant of future success. But standardized tests are highly valuable and provide the one thing lacking in all other forms of evaluation--objective standards. But Obama is not satisfied with calling testing a punishment. He also believes it is boring (which is probably why there is no record of him ever taking a test). As we all know, keeping children entertained is a major goal of schooling. You'll notice I didn't use the word "education" as a major goal. That's so mid-20th Century.

Obama proposes re-writing education law, including No-Ignoramus-Left-Behind, to use tests every few years rather than every year, and to use only tests that "everybody agrees makes sense." By "everybody," I assume he means "educators" such as his good friend and neighbor, semi-retired terrorist and current University of Illinois professor William Ayers. Among those vital things that kids and schools should be judged on is attendance. I'm picturing students showing up every day for school and promptly snoozing at their desks all day, yet getting one-quarter of their evaluation based on attendance. In most urban schools, the best thing that could happen is for half the students never to show up so the other half could learn something instead of dodging bullets, trying to hear the teacher over the din of the daily riots, and fending-off drug dealers. To say nothing of hiding from the pedophile teachers protected by the union.

Obama addressed the issue before a largely Hispanic audience at a Town Hall hosted by Univision, the largest Spanish-language broadcaster north of the border. Needless to say, among the tests that Obama feels are to boring and to punitive are tests of English proficiency. Even though Ebonics has largely died a natural death, creative spelling and creative sentence structure have jumped into the void. Obama doesn't want students bored or scared by tests that might actually require the students to put coherent sentences and paragraphs together in plain English.

In another brilliant defense of his plan, Obama said "young people do well in stuff that they're interested in--they're not going to do as well if it's boring." That might explain why most of these dolts do well in sex-education, although they don't apply anything they learn into real life. Although Obama wouldn't directly endorse non-testing and non-education for illegal immigrants, he did say that he would continue to push vigorously for passage of the DREAM Act. That way it would be perfectly legal for former illegal aliens to feed at the public trough and avoid getting bored or frightened by tests. Very democratic.

Obama also threw his two daughters into the discussion. Sasha and Malia attend one of the most expensive private schools in the country, but Obama acts as if PS19 in the South Bronx provides the same sort of education. As he says: "They recently took a standardized test that didn't require advance preparation. Instead, it was just a tool to diagnose their strengths and weaknesses." Oh, brother. Sidwell Friends School (where the girls go to school) teaches a curriculum which would be familiar to any public school student who attended school during the late 1940s through the late 1950s.

We of the 50s (and early 60s) were tested three times from kindergarten through our senior year in high school simply because it was a valid assumption that basic education had been provided at each level. Constant testing was unnecessary. So of course Sasha and Malia don't need regular testing either. But in large numbers of public schools, taught by ignorant union teachers, attended by hostile and unwilling students, with grading systems based on no known objective criteria, standardized tests are essentially the only way of establishing at least one solid basis of evaluation of the students and the schools. It at least assists in determining if a high school graduate can read his own diploma.

I suppose I should expect this President to eschew standards, since he and his administration have bloody few of their own. It also makes me wonder if he asked the students in Beijing if the constant testing and discipline in their schools bored them. Perhaps such a question would help us to determine why American public schools are among the worst in the civilized world. A little boredom and fright might just be a good thing. 2 + 2 = 4 is boring, but it's always correct, and if a student answers "5" on a test, it's likely that the school or the student, or both, are deficient (or a member of the Obama administration). Only standardized tests can give us that answer.

Tomorrow I will discuss how testing in the adult world is being officially dismissed as a determinant of success by no less than the Holder Justice Department

24 comments:

T_Rav said...

LawHawk, don't downplay the advantages of the new "schooling." Sure, they might not be learning advanced algebra or the scientific method, but at least they won't be afraid of getting bullied. And really, isn't that what going to school is all about? Not having to be afraid of bullies?

LawHawkRFD said...

T_Rav: I guess bullying has become more than what it was a few decades back. But I also think the real bullies are the ones who belong with that group I mentioned that doesn't belong in school in the first place. To go along with No Ignoramus Left Behind, we need to add No Thug Left In School. Your sentiments are right. We teach kids to be weak and dependent on others, which only encourages the future gangsters. At the same time, the social engineers coddle the thugs who know there will be no real and serious consequences for their acts while a good kid who accidentally brings his Boy Scout knife to school will be suspended or expelled. Rather than protect those kids who simply can't protect themselves and get rid of the junior gangsters, the public schools have created an atmosphere where there are only predators and prey. And God forbid a good kid should defend himself from a bully.

The schools are sending multiple mixed messages, and damned few of them are good. If the schools simply sent real bullies off to the reformatory and truly protected the victims, fear would not be such a pervasive problem that needs to be "solved." Social engineers created the problem, and their solution of turning boys into either sharks or shark-food is worse than the disease.

Oh, and then there's that education thingy.

Tennessee Jed said...

In the case of Obama, it is all about politics, victimization, and control of the agenda. More time learning the three r's equates to less time for the teacher's union/Democratic National Convention delegates to brainwash rugrats into the evils of capitalism and the glories of socialism. It's all about Kinetic, I mean economic justice.

Seriously, I do understand that many teachers have found they have to teach to the tests, AND dumb down their lesson plans to make sure that the slowest learners aren't "left behind" and drag down the class average. However, as you point out, there has to be some happy medium and objectivity.

LawHawkRFD said...

Tennessee: And let's not forget the excitement of playing hooky to go to the state capital to demonstrate in favor of union teachers and public employees. Why take boring tests when you can get right into the excitement of mob behavior?

"Teaching to the test" is one of the big arguments the left uses to dismiss testing as a means of determining future success. But most of what is being taught for the purpose of passing the tests is exactly the basic knowledge the students will need in their adult lives. The tests are largely designed to determine basic skills, and are certainly no substitute for all the other things that kids will need as adults. Still, without the basic foundation that the tests are designed to build, the rest of the educational house will collapse.

BevfromNYC said...

Grrrrr. They wouldn't be so bored if they knew how to read and they could all write better if the knew how to understand more than just Tweetish...

Obama is seriously comparing the education his daughters are getting to a regular public school education? I wonder how often his daughters have to duck and cover? Or what kind of discipline problems there are at Sidwell & Friends? Do you think any of those kids have parents who are drug addicts, (well non-functioning drug addicts anyway).

BevfromNYC said...

I remember the IOWA Basic Skills tests we had to take when I was in school. I don't remember being afraid. I loved it. I remember thinking that "YEY, we get to sit in the lunch room and answer questions all day! Get me that #2 pencil!" Something different!

New York spends billions on education and tests frequently. The averages for grades 3 to 8 for 2010 - only 54% of the students make above passing in basic Math and 42.4% pass in "English Language Arts"

Now I don't want to appear ethnically insensitive, but when broken out by "Ethnicity" for 2010, Asians and Caucasion students average 64% and tested pretty evenly. However Hispanic and Black students average 33%.

BTW, NY State just "adjusted" the test scores for 2010 using more stringent criteria and the averages plummeted. The Board of Ed didn't want to release the final figures because (of course) it did not look good to have the percentages drop from 75% to 54% in one year...

Joel Farnham said...

My Bodyguard is the best movie to show what should happen to bullies. There used to be teachers who taught boxing, but since the schools have been chickified, that went away.

I am so tired of the government interfering and then complaining when things get worse and claiming that more intervention is needed, when it wasn't needed in the first place.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, I remember the Iowa tests and you're right, they weren't a big deal. No one I knew was afraid of them.

The real fear of standardized tests is that they reveal that kids from different ethnic groups do more poorly than others. And rather than use that data as a way to target the problem and try to help those kids, liberals would rather suppress the tests so everyone feels good... even if they don't learn anything.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: Obama has been so divorced from real life down here with us peasants that he actually made that comparison without any irony or hesitation. And it all makes me think of how the left and the MSM constantly talked about how Bush I was "out of touch with average Americans."

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: I don't even remember the names of the tests we took back in the Dark Ages. But two things were sure. We took them without fear. And everybody knew that by the time the tests were administered, it was too late to try to cram. In California at that time, overall proficiency scores were high. That was before dumbed-down curricula, bilingual education, feel-good educators, and ignorant unionized teachers who can't pass their own proficiency tests. The State Board of Education set general standards, and required a few specific textbooks for different grade levels. Beyond that, education was left to local school boards and local parent organizations.

LawHawkRFD said...

Joel: Great movie, and for most of us, our introduction to Adam Baldwin. The feminization of America and the "war on boys" is indeed another one of the problems. Big government interference always makes things worse--never better.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: Which proves that political-correctness is a cancer on society and George Bush was right about the "soft bigotry of low expectations." It doesn't just hurt black kids, either. Kids are kids, and when they see others getting away with coasting, cheating and defiance, they are wide open to doing the same thing. Kids of all colors are put at risk by those who want to make everybody feel good instead of educating them.

StanH said...

Now Lawhawk, I think you’re being a bit judgmental, as you know dude, everything is relative. The dumbing down of America continues apace, and Barry aka his Brilliance, is the band leader. His attitude towards education is indeed emblematic of the disease that is liberalism. You can be certain that Billy understands why Bobby has two mommies, or why Lequishia has two babies, and Jim-Bob has two teeth, but understanding “2 + 2 = 4,” is boring and judgmental. As we turn this country back to the right, it is a vital imperative that education be addressed, from kindergarten to college. Many, many firings will be required, and decades to fix the damage done by the nitwit academy’s. I love your articles Lawhawk, but they piss me off sometimes.

rlaWTX said...

the best thing about "CAT"s [CA Achievement Tests] was the percentiles - I loved (in 2nd-4th grade) being told I was in the 99 percentile and at a 11-12th grade level!!!!

of course, going into 3rd grade (1980), a public school in LA told my mom that I could probably pass the 9th grade equivalency test used to graduate HS in CA... my parents scrimped and I went to a private school again...

What really bugged me was I had to take the TEAMS test (since replaced thrice over by other acronyms) to get out of HS, and then take the TASP beginning of my freshman year of college to be sure I belonged!!! Total waste of a perfectly good Sat am!!!

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: I didn't realize you were so familiar with the California core curriculum, but you nailed it exactly. But you missed the reading lessons about how little Jimmy Green was bicycling away from his gas-guzzling family when he found a fairy farm that produces unlimited energy with absolutely no negative environmental effects or costs and is free for everyone. He found it right next to the unicorn ranch. The lesson books double as coloring-books for high school seniors. But they only come with one crayon--a green one.

Sorry about pissing you off. LOL

BevfromNYC said...

You know LawHawk - the Fairy Farm harnesses the energy of shaking lambs' tails, hummingbird wings, and butterflies. They use the chaos theory. The Fairies found if they place lambs, hummingbirds and butterfly in just the right places and configuration, they can create a vortex that can be used to create cheap and plentiful energy.

LawHawkRFD said...

rlaWTX: I wasn't kidding in the past when I said that a large percentage of today's college grads are where my fellow students were when we graduated from junior high school. The sciences aside, our universities and colleges are graduating diplomaed dolts. In a way, I sort of agree with Obama. Today's urban public school students can't even read the instructions on how to open the test booklet. Expecting them to pass the test itself is just pure torture. So why waste time with testing? Let's just give all babies high school diplomas at birth and save the taxpayers a whole bunch of money. That way they can go straight to being well-adjusted slackers, welfare recipients and college professors without ever suffering the boredom and fear of achievement tests.

LawHawkRFD said...

Bev: And other fancy stuff. Are we doing Puff again? LOL

StanH said...

Bev, I knew that.

Another exciting development in green energy. There is research taking place in several large cities, where they have built “sleeping domes” think pressure cooker for urban-outdoorsman, maggot- infested hippies, or any other scumbag of society. The theory works the same as drawing methane off a decaying dump. The sleaze balls all sleep, together and the stink permeates to the top where it is drawn up a funnel into storage facilities, where the noxious gasses are used to heat a city block. Barry’s brain-trust, feels this could be viable reusable, green energy…exciting.

We all know about fairies, unicorns, and pixie dust, but I think that is real progressive thinking by Barry and his team.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: That's one of the grossest things I've ever heard, and for the Obama administration, it sounds perfectly plausible.

StanH said...

Bev inspired me.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: I think you and Bev are tougher than I am. I've been queasy ever since I read your comment. It may have something to do with being reminded of the city stench in SF while I am busy enjoying my fresh mountain air. LOL

StanH said...

SF could be the Saudi Arabia of “stink energy,” truly utopia.

LawHawkRFD said...

Stan: And what do I do? I move, just when I could have made a killing on dirty clean energy. My timing losing-streak continues apace.

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