Time Out From Testing and other organizations and individuals from across the country are launching a May 29th postcard campaign asking First Lady Michelle Obama to encourage the President to put an end to the use of High Stakes Testing. On the campaign trail, Michelle Obama stated:
No Child Left Behind is strangling the life out of most schools…. If my future were determined by my performance on a standardized test I wouldn’t be here. I guarantee that.
Time Out From Testing is asking that everyone send a postcard on May 29th. You can write something like this:
Dear Michelle Obama:
We want the same education for our public school children that you provide for Malia and Sasha. Our child is not a test score.
Encourage the President to end the use of high stakes standardized tests!
Mail to: First Lady Michelle Obama
Finally, let Time Out From Testing know that you sent a postcard so that it can have an accurate count of the postcards sent.
Today, FedUp Mom answers the final question she posed five weeks ago in her guest post where she suggested that people read Such, Such Were the Joys by George Orwell. Read her answers to the other questions she posed here, here, here, and here. And, of course, don’t forget to chime in with your own answer.
(A big thanks to FedUp Mom for taking the time to write and for her thought-provoking posts. If you want to write your own guest post, please email me.)
Such, Such Thursdays
by FedUp Mom
QUESTION #5 (Extra Credit):
(from Such, Such Were the Joys)
‘There never was, I suppose, in the history of the world a time when the sheer vulgar fatness of wealth, without any kind of aristocratic elegance to redeem it, was so obtrusive as in those years before 1914… The extraordinary thing was the way in which everyone took it for granted that this oozing, bulging wealth of the English upper and upper-middle classes would last for ever, and was part of the order of things… How would St. Cyprian’s appear to me now, if I could go back, at my present age, and see it as it was in 1915 when Orwell left the school? … I should see them the Headmaster and his wife as a couple of silly, shallow, ineffectual people, eagerly clambering up a social ladder which any thinking person could see to be on the point of collapse.’
How does Orwell’s historical moment compare to our own? Is our social ladder on the point of collapse?
The moment Orwell describes, of smug wealth on the verge of catastrophe, is of course very similar to our situation about two years ago, and similar to the situation in the US on the verge of the Great Depression. Now that we have embarked on another economic collapse, what changes can we expect to see to our schools?
It is clear that the public schools will soon be hurting badly. They were kept afloat for a while by federal stimulus money, but that will run out over the next couple of years. We will see programs being cut. I’ve heard through the grapevine that our local public elementary school is already experiencing overcrowded classrooms. The job market for new teachers is terrible.
At the same time, NCLB remains in place, and everyone is fixated on test scores. So less money will mean fewer ‘frills’ like gifted ed, arts, and music . The grade-level tests, which were meant to function as a floor, have become the ceiling that nobody bothers to teach beyond.
As the recession continues to unravel our economy, the public schools will continue their descent. If we’re lucky, we’ll see some growth in alternative schooling, including homeschooling co-ops. Anyone who can manage it will send their kids to private schools.
What do you predict?
Last week’s New York Times had a piece, Plan B Skip College, suggesting that going to college is not the be all and end all for many students, noting that no more than half of those who began a four-year bachelor’s degree program in the fall of 2006 will get that degree within six years. Moreover, some economists and educators are arguing that there should be credible alternatives for students unlikely to be successful pursuing a higher degree, or who may not be ready to do so.
Read the piece here.
Posted in category General on May 19, 2010 at 7:00 am
Permanent Link | 11 Comments »
I wish the ‘Gap Year’ was more widely embraced in the U.S. Taking a year off before college to travel/work can provide invaluable information and confidence for a student.
Check out the benefits here: http://www.ecampustours.com/collegeplanning/gettingstarted/benefitsoftakingayearoff.htm
May 19th, 2010 at 8:27 am
There is much to think about here. I have to say that anything being pushed by Charles ‘Bell Curve’ Murray deserves more than a healthy dose of skepticism. And I do feel there’s a strong danger of ‘redlining,’ basically throwing in the towel and saying that there is no possibility of growth and advancement for a segment of our society. The statistics cited in the article about the higher pay and greater likelilhood of job retention are significant. We should also not undervalue the non-materialistic advantages of a college education; those 15% of postal clerks with degrees, I’d like to think, might have a more fulfilled life because of their college experience.
On the other hand, I think it’s increasingly evident that college students graduate into a limited job market with skills that may inherently make no difference, like the 8 of 10 jobs cited in the article that do not require college degrees. (Although, in reality, won’t those with college degrees have the advantage in getting the jobs and even the apprenticeships and internships?) I’m troubled by the current mania about ‘STEM’ education (Science, Tech, Math & Engineering), when the pool of jobs in those areas (except maybe medicine) is shrinking faster than we are willing to admit. It’s curious that the article talks about the need for ‘vocational’ alternatives, when what we think of as vocational is often tech jobs (car mechanics, electricians and the like) that don’t match with the types of jobs that are growing, i.e. service jobs in the health and hospitality industries; and then there is a curious statement about ‘vocational skills’ including ‘active listening’….??
What it comes down to, I think, is redefining the alternatives to college in ways that make sense in a service economy and that ALSO provide some of the benefits of a good liberal arts education. For example, to steal a trademark from a former employer, an Institute of Writing and Thinking.
Forgive me for an early-morning ramble.
P.S. Re: Gap years, an anecdotal observation I would make is that I think more and more students are doing that, or taking a year or two off after college before going on to work or grad school.
May 19th, 2010 at 9:17 am
I wouldn’t call your thoughts early morning ramblings. They’re well thought out and I hope others will chime in with their opinions. As for me, I think college can be an incredibly enriching experience for a student who really wants to be there and takes advantage of the opportunities for intellectual debate. But it is true that too many students are heading to college because that’s the only option they’ve ever been presented with. There are too many college dropouts who have incurred unnecessary debt and too many students who go to college because they think they’ll have a high-paying job when they graduate.
May 19th, 2010 at 10:19 am
My daughter did take a gap year and that year gave her the experience she needed to carefully choose her major when she went to college. She was one of those VERY first-born personalities and she did VERY well in college. She also came out of college with a boat-load of debt. But she is now gainfully (and happily) employed in a profession that will pay her well for many years to come.
My 16yo son is a whole different story. Unless I see some major personality changes in the next 2 years, I will do my best to talk him out of any ideas of attending a 4-year institution. He is very laid-back with no drive whatsoever. Sending to college would accomplish nothing but rack up debt. He will be strongly encouraged to enter the military and let THEM pay for college- 1 or 2 classes at a time.
Unfortunately, our society is making it harder and harder to get any but the lowest jobs without some kind of degree. I read recently that they are even trying to eliminate internships on the grounds that unpaid work is the equivalent of slave labor. Want to work your way up through the ranks of a technical position? Sorry, we don’t hire anyone without a training certificate. (Never mind the fact that what they spend 2 years learning in order to get that piece of paper, could easily be learned in 6mo of on-the-job-training.)
There are days when I wish our entire economic system WOULD collapse so we can start over.
May 19th, 2010 at 12:46 pm
This is just my hazy, afternoon ramblings as one of those highly educated professionals…I think there will be huge need for apprenticeship learning when the baby boomers really start leaving the work force….Just before they do, tons of young workers should be brought in for job shadowing, almost understudying, so that someone will be able to do our jobs. The amount of experience that will be walking out the door will be lost forever otherwise.
And nursing home support workers, nurses aides…these will be the growth areas in the labour market.
May 19th, 2010 at 1:50 pm
On the other hand, I think it’s increasingly evident that college students graduate into a limited job market with skills that may inherently make no difference, like the 8 of 10 jobs cited in the article that do not require college degrees. (Although, in reality, won’t those with college degrees have the advantage in getting the jobs and even the apprenticeships and internships?) I’m troubled by the current mania about ‘STEM’ education (Science, Tech, Math & Engineering), when the pool of jobs in those areas (except maybe medicine) is shrinking faster than we are willing to admit. It’s curious that the article talks about the need for ‘vocational’ alternatives, when what we think of as vocational is often tech jobs (car mechanics, electricians and the like) that don’t match with the types of jobs that are growing, i.e. service jobs in the health and hospitality industries; and then there is a curious statement about ‘vocational skills’ including ‘active listening’.…??
May 19th, 2010 at 6:03 pm
How sad is this? It’s a comment on a NY Times article about the dearth of employment opportunities for teachers:
This is the reality of the Millennial generation. Our childhoods were abbreviated to make room for all the extra-curricular activities, all the SAT study sessions, all the college-level AP exams that are now a requirement for college admissions.
Then, once in college, we faced new anti-grade-inflation policies that some of my former professors used to cite as reason for ‘not believing in As’ while our tuition, and the professors’ pay, went up without fail every single year. (Isn’t tenure sweet? Too bad it probably won’t exist by time my generation is eligible.)
Now when someone my age applies to a job, we face the same level of competition we did trying to get into college, only this time it’s the difference between being able to support yourself or having to move back in with your parents after dedicating four years of your life to an ultimately useless and overpriced piece of paper.
As if tens of thousands in student loan debt and the frustration of unemployment weren’t enough, moving back home is still considered a ‘cop out’ in our status-driven society.
My generation has been labeled a bunch of ‘slackers’ since before I can even remember. Unlike the Boomer generation, however, we played by the increasingly draconian rules placed upon us due to the misbehavior of both Boomers and Gen Xers and yet receive only stricter standards and increased competition as a result.
The Boomers didn’t trust anyone over 30 because of Vietnam. I don’t trust anyone over 30 because I’m not sure what double standard they’re going to impose on me next.
May 19th, 2010 at 9:27 pm
That is very intelligent….and sad..and true. And it emboldens me even more to try to change it for my child. To preserve her childhood for as long as possible is my mission…and to not relish conformity quite as much will be my goal for myself.
May 20th, 2010 at 7:13 am
Sure, skipping college is a viable option, if you aren’t working for corporate America. How about entreprenurialism? My 9 year old daughter spends summers selling ice cream and popsicles in our neighborhood. She makes her spending money and pays her little brother to help her.
Her life goal is to own her own business as a caterer and party planner.
Our kids don’t have to fit into someone else’s slots. We can create opportunities all around us.
PS I took 3 years of college in computer science and mathematics. I now own a virtual assistance company and am part-owner of a bookkeeping company, over operations. My business partner, who never went to college, has earned 6 figures a year since his 20s owning his own businesses.
May 20th, 2010 at 6:27 pm
I think the frustrating part of having a viable alternative to a 4-year college is making that alternative acceptable rather than having it become reserved for a separate ‘class’.
I know people that find work without a degree just fine, but they receive 1/4th the pay because they don’t have a diploma. They even have better performance reviews than their peers. Somehow, the person with a degree in an unrelated field just deserves more money.
How does that get justified?