By Larry Greer
The leading elite Racers to the Top of the nation’s school reform movement suffered a minor setback last semester when an unfortunate word problem slipped somehow through the quality control cracks at one of the country’s top for-profit high-stakes testing corporations.
According to 10th grader Zach Little, who has a self-reported photographic memory, the problem in question read,
If a society’s schools are reformed according to the same principles that led to a society where some kids go hungry to schools with a fraction of the resources found at schools where well fed kids go, what are the odds that the products of this society’s reformed schools will go on to fix the glaring inequities in this society?
Responding to high schoolers’ 100% correct answer rate on this word problem, Arne Duncan, US Secretary of Education, told reporters, “One obvious problem with this problem is that it inflates the performance ratings of these students’ teachers. What is the point of using high-stakes testing to achieve teacher accountability if give-me problems like this one are going to wind up on the tests?
“Another problem, of course, is that solving this word problem involves higher-order, imaginative-type global thinking. That’s really not what we’re high-stakes testing for.”
Said Michelle Rhee, former chancellor of Washington, D.C. public schools now in the third or fourth different lap of her personal Race to the Top of the school reform movement, “I’ve got a word problem for you: ‘How many teachers are now not going to be fired and how many schools are not going to be shuttered and how much stronger did the teachers’ unions just get because the wrong word problem showed up on a high-stakes test?’”
Added Sacramento’s first lady, “As a first step toward correcting this situation, we’re challenging the answer key for the tests with this problem on it. We’re not sure what the right answer is, but whatever answer 100% of the students in this nation’s failing schools came up with can’t be it.
“I also think the sentence is a run-on.”
Said Bill Gates, winner of the Race to the Top spot among those vying for the biggest share of society’s financial pie and now odds on favorite to win the Race to the Top of the school reform movement, “It’s called a Race to the Top. We owe it to these kids to run them through a battery of tests rigorous enough for the best of them to separate themselves from the rest.
“We also can’t afford to let an inflated test performance on their part raise their estimation of their teachers. If America is going to keep winning the Race to the Top of the world order, we can’t very well have large numbers of our young generation aspiring to nothing more than a career in public education at the teaching level.”
In related news, the Sacramento chapter of the Elementary School Teachers Union has reportedly called Michelle Rhee’s parents in to talk to them about their daughter.
According to sources, the teachers are very concerned about Ms. Rhee’s citizenship. It seems Ms. Rhee has stopped caring altogether about how her actions are hurting others who don’t deserve it. The teachers believe this might have something to do with the clique of bullies she now belongs to.
Ms. Rhee also apparently needs to work on her numbers and/or her honesty. She has had a chronic problem with giving an inaccurate accounting of her performance as a teacher and administrator and crusader. She’s also had a big problem with cheating.
Larry Greer has worked for years as a writing instructor at the University of California, Davis. While at Davis he has also served as a teacher and administrator in various US Department of Education and other government-sponsored programs designed to help low-income, first-generation students make it to college and then persist when they get there. On another front in his pushing for more social justice, Larry posts blogs Wednesdays and Fridays at shiningcitygazette.blogspot.com.