What's got me all riled this morning is standardized testing. Just the mention of the TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) Test, the latest in a long line of similar examinations, is enough to get my eyes rolling and for me to huff in displeasure, repeatedly.
You haven't lived til you hear me huff. It'll send chills down your spine.
In any case, several times a year, the schools in Texas get in a tizzy about the childrens' performance on the TAKS test. It seems that they're less concerned about the individual child and what they learn throughout the year, than the school's score in the eyes of the state of Texas. Now, this may not be true. But as a former educator (Heh - I taught Theatre. TAKS that!), I was a part of the system. They had me give my students math review for the TAKS. Lord knows how those kids did that year - and I'm not kidding. Another, much more annoying aspect of the test is that they spend all year - literally ALL YEAR - teaching to this test. There is no going off the curriculum, no room for freedom in education; taking a side road down something that the children might find interesting, yet still counts as worthwhile knowledge simply isn't allowed.
Because the eyes of Texas are upon you. All the live long day, apparently.
Let me back up. No one is more state proud than I am. I love Texas. I love that I'm a Texan. Sometimes I think Texas should secede from the union and be its own independent country, but I just don't enjoy the state of Texas telling my kids that they don't have time to learn about something because it's not on the TAKS test.
I get the reason Big Brother does it, by the by. I know that they have to have some way to see if the schools are giving our kids the knowledge that they allegedly need to be productive members of society. But the TAKS, and next year's successor, the STAR test, have made this into something bigger than it needs to be. It's huge - an unrestrained animal prowling around the state, scaring our kids to death.
That's another thing. The kids are exhausted by these tests. It comes from above, I know - the state pounds the superintendent, who pounds the principals, who pound the teachers, who threaten and bribe the kids, who take the test in the house that Jack built. The students are weary of these tests, stressed out by them and cannot wait til they're over. What's more, the school sends home a letter telling us to FEED OUR CHILDREN BREAKFAST ON THE MORNING OF THE TEST.
Is that optional? I feed my children breakfast every morning, because - wait for it - I take my job as a mother seriously. It's my job. Yet the school stresses that the kids need to have a "good" breakfast, whatever that is, and my kids mention it six or seven times to me in the week preceding the tests. Like all of a sudden I'm going to put a lock on the kitchen door and say, "No. You have to forage for nuts and berries on your way to school - get out." I make them the same sort of breakfast I do every morning because "good" is relative. Good for me involves stuffed French toast and Eggs Benedict, which would put Ethan and AJ into a food coma an hour later.
But what's really annoying me (as if there weren't enough already) is that we have to send snacks off an approved list for the kids to eat on TAKS testing days. Apparently there are some parents who sent Twinkies and Ding Dongs as snacks, and now THAT'S regulated by big brother as well?
I know I have choices. I could send my kiddos to a private school. Though, we pay an assload (technical term) in taxes that pay for our kids education. If the state would forego that fee and let me spend it to have my kids go somewhere else, I'd do it in a heartbeat. The other option is homeschooling.
If I homeschooled my boys, they'd know how to write, emote, and perform one heck of a killer monologue, but would have no concept of either math of geography.
So I'm stuck with the TAKS. Curses. Foiled again.