Radicalized

Bound to happen, I suppose. Child the younger has gone all radical political on me. The issue stoking her outrage: standardized testing.

It started last week. She came home all excited because her social studies class, facing some state-mandated exam, decided as a group that they would all write their essays on the topic of why state-mandated social studies tests are a waste of time. In addition to submitting the exams to the state, the teacher agreed to collect copies of their essays for future purposes. I talked to Little Bit about the process for submitting op-ed pieces to major publications.

She spent days researching the topic of standardized tests, coming up with a whole list of objections to them and tracking down facts and studies to support her viewpoint. She knowledgably talked about No Child Left Behind, the damage it has done, the immense profits being raked in by the testing industry, the better uses for those funds, the narrowing of the curriculum, and the illogic of punishing low-scoring schools by reducing their budgets. Not to mention the idiocy of evaluating teachers on the basis of their students’ standardized test scores.

Then shit got real.

In further discussions, the class moved onto the topic of the Big Comprehensive State Testing regimen, which will occupy hours and hours of their lives in the near future. They discussed the fact that parents can opt their kids out of the test, and a little resistance movement formed.

Little Bit came home and asked me to opt her out of the Big Comprehensive State Test as a matter of principle. She’s a conscientious objector.

Oh my. The school will not be happy if my kid and the other kids in the honors social studies class opt out. They depend on the scores from their high-achieving students to pull their averages up. Oh well…not my kid’s problem. Standardized testing does nothing but harm for those kids.

The problem, of course, is that opting out means spending those hours and hours of testing time in the library or the principal’s office or somewhere, doing…what? I don’t know. Maybe they will make her scrub the hallways with a toothbrush.

I told her if I write an opt-out letter, it will be in the form of “I am supporting my child in objecting to this test,” and that she would need to give me a bulleted list of objections. She wrote me a whole page.

So I think I have no choice, as this is my child taking a public, moral stance and refusing to collude with the corrupt authorities.

So freaking proud.

 

BE VERY AFRAID

 

A couple of months ago my husband informed me that there would be no 2008 Presidential election, because around October Bush would manufacture some immense national crisis that would force him to suspend the election and retain power. 

 

I laughed and said to myself, “Well, the old boy’s gone round the bend.  Runs in his family.”

 

A few weeks later it became clear that neither Bush nor any member of his staff could be held accountable to Congress.  “Just ignore that subpoena,” he told his cronies, “I’m the Decider around here.”

 

Technogeek repeated his assertion about impending martial law, and I laughed again, a nervous, whistling-in-the-dark kind of laugh.

 

Recently it has been disclosed that the NSA has been busily intercepting and “analyzing” the telephone and electronic communications of anybody they please.  “Warrant?  What’s a warrant?”

 

This time when Technogeek launched into his conspiracy theory I told him to shut up because I didn’t want to spend my time worrying about my country as I know it crumbling into dictatorship.  I’ve got kids to raise.  I’ve got grant apps to write.  Both endeavors require an optimistic outlook.

 

Well today I finally read George Will’s column in last week’s Newsweek magazine.  Will is a conservative so unflappable I’ll bet his hair doesn’t blow in the wind.  He didn’t go as far as my husband in his dire predictions for the future, but he derided the Bush/Darth administration for their lawlessness.

 

Truly, can the apocalypse be far behind?

 


UPDATE

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to start wearing a Groucho nose and glasses and carrying a big black umbrella.  Don’t want Big Brother to find me.