Last September, when the leaders of educational policy in Georgia realized that a large percentage of Georgia schools would not meet the No Child Left Behind performance criterion for 2012, they compiled a 300-page request to Washington that any federal involvement be waived for one year. An alternative rubric for assessing Georgia schools was attached as an appendix to this document and given the title “School Improvement Process.” Under the sub-section “Determine Potential Root Causes” (of student performance) the question was put: “What adult practices might be the cause of the data?”
Putting the CRCT ordeal (and consequent tongue-in-cheek answer) aside for the moment, I think it would benefit our student-age population if all of us adults considered seriously our response to this question. Putting PC (Pedagogical Correctness) also aside, I would suggest we use the name “student” instead of the term “data.” That might help focalize the thought experiment on precisely how our societal problems create a morally lax, laid-back school “environment,” where sports and popular technology indulge hormones and take the focus off intellectual matters and teachers, whom the students are now properly conditioned to view as entertainers.
The graduating senior of 2013 in Georgia will be the result of three statewide curriculum revampings. The latest, this upcoming year, is largely motivated to accommodate our increasingly mobile economy. The ideal situation being where the same math problem is taught on the same day in every school across the nation. This sends the message that education plays flunkey to whims of commerce and proximity to vacation hotspots. Add to this a superintendent who gives fist pounds at commencement ceremonies (we’re on stage, baby!) and an American ethos which celebrates mediocrity (the majority of Youtube hits are people making fools of themselves), and is it surprising that our trained-to-be-unserious, hazily rational students kick out a lot of poor data?
I am proud to say that as a result of this last year’s CRCT ordeal, Dougherty High, where I teach, has been led by an interim principal who is a serious educator. I believe that her voice will be heard over those community leaders whose swash about “oppressor’s curriculum” and whose equating “hope” with cut-corners seems adventitiously fortunate to some adults in front of (and hopefully not inside of) Albany’s government center.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Justin Willson teaches English at Dougherty Comprehensive High School.