Occupying The Principal’s Office With Principled Dissent

Somehow yesterday, this posting from The Washington Post made it to me. I believe it came from an RPCV/grad school buddy and was posted to Facebook.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/when-an-adult-took-standardized-tests-forced-on-kids/2011/12/05/gIQApTDuUO_blog.html

What garnered my attention was the fact that some one genuinely human and apparently not too wonky took a standardized test to be transparent about why they do/do not support certain boondoggling in education.   This person was willing to share their scores – something which means they have great self-confidence and/or believe in being genuine and authentic in how they posit their beliefs. I am guessing, as it is not indicated in the piece noted above, that the person was not initially looking to see how well the test correlated to the ‘real world’ and this was an after effect. This person did a great deal of reflection – and this made me realize that perhaps this was the latent awakening of the American conscience.

“If I’d been required to take those two tests when I was a 10th grader, my life would almost certainly have been very different. I’d have been told I wasn’t ‘college material,’ would probably have believed it, and looked for work appropriate for the level of ability that the test said I had.

“It makes no sense to me that a test with the potential for shaping a student’s entire future has so little apparent relevance to adult, real-world functioning. Who decided the kind of questions and their level of difficulty? Using what criteria? To whom did they have to defend their decisions? As subject-matter specialists, how qualified were they to make general judgments about the needs of this state’s children in a future they can’t possibly predict? Who set the pass-fail “cut score”? How?”

“I can’t escape the conclusion that decisions about the [state test] in particular and standardized tests in general are being made by individuals who lack perspective and aren’t really accountable.”

I had thought this was pretty much the end of the article and ‘point taken’. I was not expecting what came next in the way that one does not see a great mystery book or movie unfold and is dumbfounded.

Winerip writes: “As of last night, 658 principals around the state (New York) had signed a letter — 488 of them from Long Island, where the insurrection began — protesting the use of students’ test scores to evaluate teachers’ and principals’ performance.”

As otherworldly as it would seem possible, administrators (principals) did something which demonstrated they would no longer follow the common thought pattern of ideologues. Principals would use their own brain to think and reason the data.  Principals would use principled, reasonable thinking – something beyond the comprehension of anyone who has ever been a teacher.   Maybe there is hope as Marion Brady states near the end of this piece. There may actually be a glimmer of  something wonderful beyond compare – a sensibility which does not come from businessmen (most charter school organizations which are not-for-profit CORPORATIONS) or supposed poser educators who think it is so easy.

It is difficult for me not to be cynical and I really would like to see the shroud of darkness removed from the intractableness of NCLB…..could it be as simple as Occupy the Principal’s Office – something teachers have been doing but the rest of the country has been against?