Monthly Archives: February 2013

Testing is So…”20th Century”

No need to torture our students with so many standardized tests.

I know, testing is great for business.  Pearson, the UK giant testing corp, has a 5-year, $32 million contract with the NY State DOE to design tests for grades 4-8.  The privatization of education is, after all, our New Gold Rush.

But this is the Google age.  You need a fact?  Google it.  Easy.  Testing is so obsolete.

But what’s not obsolete is to inspire kids to love learning.  That means…

Creating stuff:  writing, collages, films, music, robots, CAD roller coasters…

And make sure they learn to think for themselves…

And think critically….

And challenge authority with reason, scholarship and respect…

So they can discern whether the facts they find on Google are:

1)from a reliable source or

2) from Fox News.

Remember, “Google” is an action verb…

And testing…? Totally old school.

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The State of the Union’s Arts Deficit

Oh Barry.  You know I think you’re a righteous dude.  You really smacked it down on gun control last night.   I’m proud of ya.

But you keep missing this education thing.  You set up a race.  Winners get a pot of gold.  Losers, nothing.
In your words, to win the race, a state must develop “smarter curricula and higher standards.” Let’s look at the reality of what your race has meant:

Smarter curricula = all the arts are out.  No violins, band, singing, painting, sculpture, dancing…

Higher standards = test the life (joy, creativity, love of learning) out of students of all ages.  The latest idea is to start testing in pre-K.  Wha?

Really.  Barry.  It’s true.  Check it out. Visit PS/MS 29 in SoBro.  They have all the instruments for a full orchestra AND for a full band…stored in the basement.  But they can’t allot any time to teach instrumental music during the school day because they have to keep testing the little tykes.  The tubas and violas stay closed in their cases.  They never see the light of day.

As for the “new challenge” you announced  last night:  to “redesign America’s high schools so they better equip grads for the demands of a high-tech economy… focus[ed] on science, technology, engineering and math…to fill jobs that are there right now”…

…Yeah!  Let’s get those tech jobs filled.  That’s a good thing.  But again, you’re missing something:  Guess what helps children learn how to use their brains to embrace science, technology, engineering and math…

Playing the violin:  Practicing an instrument teaches you how to learn.

Band:  Teaches you how to listen, collaborate, follow a conductor and count.

Chorus:  Same thing.  Lights up your brain.  Come on, B… let’s hear ya..1..2..3..4.. “I’m so in love with you….”   ooooh….that was sweeeet:)

Painting:  Proportion.  Color spectrum.  Light.  Chemistry.  It’s all in there, Barry.

Dancing:  I’ve seen you and Michelle on the floor together.  I don’t have to tell you how stim-u-la-ting this is to the brain (both of them, when considering the male anatomy)

BTW – none of these activities involves a race.  Unless, of course you consider how students race to get to these classes because they’re so much fun and so stimulating.

Oh yeah…you didn’t mention sports either.  How ’bout you stop playing b’ball with Arne for a spell?  See how that feels.  It could make y’all all antsy and edgy.  No place to let out that aggressive energy before you have to meet with Republicans.  Maybe it’s not such a big deal.  You can always go up to Camp D and shoot some skeet.  But what about the kids?  It’s kind of edgy in the ‘hood. Fa real.

Barry…as much as I love ya, you’re creating an Arts Deficit.  Especially for our most underserved kids.  Don’t worry about the well heeled.  They can pay for private lessons after school.  Or send their kids to Sidwell which has a rich arts program.  I’m sure your girls are enjoying their arts classes @ El Sid:)

Barry…you have the pulpit.  There’s still time for you to pour resources into our public schools’ arts programs. Think JFK inviting Pablo Casals to play his glorious cello at The White House Dinner.  Think Camelot.

I PROMISE YOU…this will help turn out more highly creative scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians…

…and significantly reduce our arts deficit.

Al Green