Wednesday, December 09, 2009

There Is No Future [God Save the Teen]

Detroit, this nation's urban crisis epicenter, just got it's NAEP test results back. Here's what Marisa Schultz of the Detroit news reports about the test results.

"These numbers are only slightly better than what one would expect by chance as if the kids had never gone to school and simply guessed at the answers," said Michael Casserly, executive director of the Washington-based Council of the Great City Schools, which represents large urban school districts. "These numbers ... are shocking and appalling and should not be allowed to stand."

The test results are so concerning to the welfare of Detroit that Casserly flew to the city to brief the media, along with DPS Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb, ahead of their release. Unless the community takes action to fix these urgent academic problems, "this city has no future," he said.

"Only a complete overhaul of this school system and how students are taught should be permitted at this point, because the results ... signal a complete failure of the grown-ups who have been in charge of the schools in the past," Casserly said during an interview with The Detroit News.

The test scores, Bobb said during a press conference Tuesday morning, further demonstrates the district faces an "an academic emergency" and needs an overhaul of its academic plan. And while Bobb indicated the scores were an indication of a systemwide failure, it was clear he placed much of the responsibility at the feet of the Detroit School Board.

These results are no surprise to me nor to anyone who teaches in Michigan. The kids whose answers are so wrong as to defy random guessing are no more ill equipped to handle math than the politicians and bureaucrats whose knowledge of educational reform is equally blissfully wrong. To be surprised is nothing more than an admission of ignorance or malicious indifference.

The test scores are a measure of poverty, despair, and urban decay - nothing education can magically remedy.

The adults will point fingers, spend money, huff and puff about higher standards and accountability and raising expectations - they'll provide all the easy rhetorical excrementation that the public loves to shower in. What they won't do is ask the right questions, examine the science, or actually solve any problems. This is all a well-known and familiar soap-opera that's played out in Connecticut for most of my life.

The so-called reform advocated for schools these days is largely a moronic exercise that raises drop-out rates, reduces teaching to a pet training rigor, and further entrenches public schools in losing and self-immolating education testing strategies.

The Obama administration's Race to the Top is a bigger fraud than Bush's No Child Left Behind disaster largely because it will involve flushing billions of dollars and what remains of the American taxpayer's goodwill toward education away for a pocketful of lint.

The urban crisis has obfuscated the educational needs of this nation thoroughly. We no longer care about learning or educational veracity. We are caught in a vortex of trying to solve the issues of poverty with the wallpaper of testing our children into intellectual submission. And the result is an educational cancer that is dragging the best schools into the gutter while the worst schools are abandoned faster than passengers fleeing the Titanic.

The public school system may never recover from the Obama administration and the country will regret the loss assuming its smart enough to notice.

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