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NCLB Outrages

New York State ELA Exam Plugs Teach For America and Working as a Grocery Bagger

Ohanian Comment: If you have any doubts about the purpose of the current standardized testing mania, then read this account of material thrown at students trying to "earn" a diploma in New York. Schools have long been about molding tomorrow workers to be scared, compliant workers, but they are taking this to a new level in New York. Abandoning all pretense of subtlety, they deliver the "do what your told" material in tests taken by students in a last ditch effort to "earn" a high school diploma. Read Why Is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools to find out more about the corporate plan. It is important that teachers understand that the testing and curriculum delivery scheme underlying NCLB isn't just about McGraw-Hill making money. It goes far deeper than that.

by A Voice in the Wilderness

For the past few days, high schools in New York Sate have been administering the ELA component re-test. The component re-test is offered to students who have failed the ELA Regents twice and have scored a 48 or better on one of the most recent exams. It is administered in small pieces, over the course of five days.

Obviously, the students who take this exam are of a fairly low literacy level. This is not to say that they are not trying, but something is getting in the way. The test offers an option, and although the merits of it are often debatable, the students take it very seriously. They want to graduate.

Apparently, New York State realized this and saw it as an opportunity to plug some blatant propaganda-to a very captive audience.

Part of the exam requires students to listen to a speech and write an essay about it. They are given a ’situation’ and told to respond accordingly.

Yesterday’s situation told students that they were “working in a service organization” at school where they were selling snacks to other students. They were then instructed to listen to a speech by Barbara Glanz, and then write about ways to provide "personalized service to customers in the store."

The speech was entitled "Developing Your Personal Signature" and was taken from a longer piece from Glanz. In the speech, Glanz discusses an experience she had while talking to employees in a supermarket. She explains that with all of the "outsourcing" and other problems, people need to learn to feel good about themselves at work and learn how to provide great customer service. I kid you not.

She then talks about ways that employees are doing such. In particular, she talks about "Johnny the Bagger" a young man with Down’s Syndrome who bags groceries 'with flourish.'

This is wrong on so many levels that it is difficult to even discuss it.

First of all, she's telling people that just because their jobs are being outsourced, they should basically deal with it and move in. Secondly, what are you trying to tell these kids about their future prospects-that they too can be like Johnny the Bagger and be really happy? Is this Who Moved My Cheese all over again?

By the way, "Johhny the Bagger" has become an entire movement and is being used by corporations like McDonalds to 'inspire' their staff.

I was furious when I saw yesterday's speech as was every other teacher who read it. What an insult to our children. What blatant propaganda.

And then today, we saw the second speech.

Today's 'situation' told students that they were in a leadership team who has been debating 'whether leaders should have experience in their chosen fields.' They were instructed to write 'a position paper in which you argue that inexperienced people can provide leadership.'

They weren't even given a choice about which position to take.

They then had to listen to a speech by-you guessed it--Wendy Kopp, about why she started Teach For America. In the speech, Kopp talks about how her lack of experience served to her advantage when creating Teach For America. In the speech she explains that TFA teachers, "challenge the conventional wisdom" that schools are limited in what they can do to "overcome the challenges of poverty and the lack of student motivation and parental involvement that is perceived."

She then continues to plug some other TFA members--two of whom started a charter school because they realized that it was the only way to 'ensure their students had the opportunity they deserved.'

This is the New York State exam, blatantly plugging this!

First of all, they forced the children into the position of defending a 'lack of experience.' They didn’t say--agree or disagree. They instructed the students to agree with what they were going to hear.

Then, they told them to accept the concept of sending teachers with no experience into their schools. It's good for you.

How dare they?

This concept of 'take what we give you' and like it is extremely prevalent now. Corporations are making millions of dollars and laying off people left and right. Apparently, the solution is to take a job, any job and like it. No, I'm sorry --not just like it--do it like Johnny the Bagger-'with flourish.'

Is it a coincidence that this exam was given on the same day that The New York Times did a propaganda piece about TFA?

I know that the propaganda machine is out of control. Perhaps I am naive, but I never imagined that they would push this so blatantly on children.

Is nothing left?

— A Voice in the Wilderness
The Chancellor's New Clothes


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