Today was the last full day of classes, and the year is, thankfully, fading away like a ghost. Never has a summer needed to arrive sooner.
I hope that when I look back at my career, that this year will end up being just a momentary blip and not a turning point. I've never quite felt so disappointed with how things are going with the school, the system, and even the overall front of urban public education. This last bechmark - the one we received yesterday, which contains just a bunch of recycled questions from the MD website that the BCPSS paid millions to the Princeton Review for them to recycle - ate up most of my last day of classes today, and the kids are so frustrated by it.
"Why are we taking this benchmark after we've already taken the HSA?"
"Why are we taking a test right before our final instead of reviewing more?"
"Why are they making us do this?"
I have no idea what to tell them. I tell them I'm writing a letter and that they should, too. To whom, I don't know. I tell them that it's about showing that our school system has made Adequate Yearly Progress, which is tied to federal funds, as a way of explaining it, but I'm just guessing there, based on my knowledge of NCLB. It could be just for the amusement of the decision makers, for all I know.
I could barely look them in the face.
My colleagues are cutting their finals in half in order to fit on these questions, something I think is even worse; still, I can't blame them, because it's not as if we've been given much choice. I hate that we're put in a position - by the system that is supposed to be looking after these kids - to inflict these sort of bad educational practices onto our kids.
The mayor needs to know that the next time the school system cries poverty, that they're paying the Princeton Review over a million dollars to recycle HSA questions that have already been released to the public, and then to put them on a poorly designed websites for teachers to access several weeks later. The press needs to know, too.
But I'm not the man to do that, I don't think. I just want to be in a classroom with kids and help them learn to read actively and communicate their ideas effectively. I do not want to test them over and over again for no discernable reason.
Yes, this is the year that I totally lost faith in the powers that be. I just hope it's not the year I start to become jaded, because that's just not me.
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