Saturday, December 29, 2007

No Vacation For You

The NY Daily News reported this week that PS 15 in Springfield Gardens brought students back to school the day after Christmas for standardized test preparation.

While the test prep was optional, 175 students took part in the sessions. The Winter Holiday Test Prep ran from Wednesday, the day after to Christmas, through the weekend. The test prep sessions were 5 hours for most students, though some students stayed as long as 9 and 1/2 hours for additional test preparation.

As motivation, Principal Antonio K'Tori offered prizes for students who get the highest grades on the state's English standardized test. One of the top prizes was an Xbox 360.

The Daily News article says K'Tori believes holding Winter Holiday Test Prep "keeps pupils fresh" during their "long winter break":

"We want to make sure they stay in the fold," K'Tori said. "Having this many days off is just bad."

It sure is.

As we know from education reform groups like Whitney Tilson's "Democrats For The Return Of Feudalism," or the KIPP charter school program, inner city kids with low standardized test scores are not eligible for vacations or time away from the standardized test prep practice mills. They must be socialized to expect a future where 9 and 1/2 hour work days, little-to-no vacation time, and weekend work days are the norm. In addition, they must be socialized to expect that much of their compensation will come in the form of "performance bonuses" - thus the education reformers dangle a few prizes like the Xbox360 to help motivate students and keep them toiling long hours to raise those standardized test scores.

Never mind that human beings are more than the sum of their test scores. Never mind that spending so much time on test prep for English and math while ignoring other subjects like art, dance, music, history, science and geography harms children and creates nothing but narrowly educated students who know how to fill in bubbles and little else. Never mind that for the longest time progress in America meant Americans could make more while working less while now the billionaire businessmen/multi-national corporation CEO's/hedge fund managers/education reformers want kids socialized to believe they have to lower themselves to Third World working standards in order to compete in an era of global free trade.

We ought to be educating children to be able to think for themselves, to be smart enough, savvy enough and knowledgeable enough to know when they're being fed a bunch of jive by the people who run this country (i.e., the billionaire businessmen/multi-national corporation CEO's/hedge fund managers) and do something to fight for their own interests rather than work to make the top 5% even wealthier.

But the billionaire businessmen/multi-national corporation CEO's/hedge fund managers don't want truly educated people in America. They want people educated just enough to be able to run the offices and the services but stupid enough to continue to prop up the status quo by borrowing themselves into massive debt in order to purchase the inflated garbage the billionaire businessmen/multi-national corporation CEO's/hedge fund managers want to sell them.

In other words, they want people to be stupid enough to believe Little Tommy Friedman's "The World is Flat" theory of economics - that Americans can no longer control their own destinies and must instead lower their standards of living to those of India, China, and Sri Lanka in order to compete in this magnificent era of global free trade.

Meanwhile the billionaire businessmen/multi-national corporation CEO's/hedge fund managers get wealthier (so wealthy, in fact, that they can still collect a salary after they're dead) while the rest of us, the majority 95%, have to work longer and harder to make less than the generation before us did.

So stop wasting time reading this blog and get back to work! Don't you realize there are workers in Sri Lanka being productive while you're sitting on your butt surfing the Internets!

And as for the students, they ought to put away those lead-encrusted toys imported from China they received for the holidays and get back to standardized test prep.

The NY Sun reports that students in the Bloomberg LP Public School System here in New York are taking a standardized test as often as once every three weeks this year.

That means there's no time to waste! Get bubbling!
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