Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Satirical Look at School Reform and Standardized Testing

Law of Nature Overturned as Infinite Monkey Theory Proved False
from our Science Correspondent

One of the keystones of statistical science lies in ruins this morning. Officious Boffins have always said that in an infinite universe, all events, however improbable, must happen. The theory predicts that 
Pearson, UK Based Testing Company 
if you gave an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters they would eventually work out what the Pearson EOG tests administered in England and the US are actually testing. For many lay educationalists,  DeVos, Duncan, Bill Gates and Michael Grov have more chance of being signed to play point guard's on the WNBA Chicago Sky for next season than delivering an education system fit for the 21st century!

Professor Belle Curve at the Experimental Teaching Laboratory conducted an experiment to test the theory—with alarming results.

“We were totally gob-smacked when the results came through. Not one single primate from the apes, chimps, bonobos and gibbons, to the Semi-Tufted Puerto Rican Canopy Hoppers could make head nor tail of the far right or far left ideological, neo-liberal, neo-con Smorgasbord of nutty half-truths that comprises Pearson's, DeVos,
 Bill Gates' and Michael Grov's vision for education. Of course, we used a supercomputer to simulate the outcome. We did try reinitiaalnks using a intelegent desing grant from Devos, but there was poop everywhere and the cleaner quit.’

“It was a buttock-clenching moment,” said the professor. Blue flames arced out the back of our hard drives from the get go. But when we fed in the half-baked ideological justifications for Gates' education policies, the monkeys went totally bananas. We had to shut the system down and crank up the cooling fans. I remember thinking, it's 'goodnight Vienna' for modern education.”

Perhaps. But what does all this monkey business mean to your average parent? Government spokesmen from the White House and Whyte Hall said, “The government doesn't care what parents think. Parents act out of a desire to get the most for their children and this skews their judgement in our opinions.”

“It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were, and that’s pretty scary,” Duncan 

Duncan announced that 37 states, which had no time to prepare for the new standards and Pearson's “uber” test won federal waivers from the most egregious testing mandates of the No Child Left Behind Act, states are given an extra year to implement high stakes teacher evaluations (political blame game amplified) linked to new “uber” assessments. The CCSS super standard are supposed to be aligned to the new untested, unverified, zero efficacy, half-baked ideological driven Common Core State Standards.  

“Asking educational professionals what and how we should teach our children is another dead end. The current cohort of teachers (or Marxist, Maoist, Communist, know-it-all subversives as they are known to ALEC, FreedomWorks, Tea Partiers
 and Special Branch) disagree with Gates’ fantastic "Microsoft" educational vision. But their insistence that treating children as unique individuals and trusting in their teachers’ ability to bring out their multi-faceted potential is nothing less than flower-power, peace-on-earth, age of aquarius bollocks.”

“Let’s face it, many of today's teachers, on their best day, exercise poor teaching choices, to spend more time at the back of the computer lab,  grading papers, eating, texting, sleeping and or complaining about poor pay rather than teaching computer science or math. And that’s why they baulk at the use of testing now to hold them accountable. We believe it is better to leave education to the people who know sod all about it—, Billionaires, basketball buddies, Senators or MPs—rather than in the hands of those who do—the teachers.” Arne Duncan and Michael Grov.   

Professor Curve, a graduate of the Geneva School of extended metaphors said,“The question remains, who is more likely to guarantee a bright future for our children: the newly re-elected crop of sociopathic, narcissistic, expense-fiddling, mendacious, house-flipping, duck-house buying, moleskin-trouser-wearing toffs now clambering aboard the Washington
 or Westminster gravy train's first class dining carriage for a brand new four year trip all the way to the political terminus on the electorate's dime?—or professional educationalists on the front line of teaching?

So, where does the failure of the Infinite Monkey Theory leave education?

Professor Curve said, “Two of the three legs on the milking stool of our educational understanding have simply buckled under the sheer weight of GOP/Tory or neo-liberal dogma and the milkmaid has gone arse over ninepence into the butter churns”.

“It is quite possible,” the professor continued, 'that the neo-con or neo-lineral educational policies, like an Enya album, Bobby Charlton's comb-over or the inexplicable 70s success of Mike and Bernie Winters, will always lie beyond human understanding. Science is in its infancy remember; for example, we still have no idea where the hole in a Cheerio goes once the outside’s been eaten. Or where your oxters disappear to when you hold your arms above your head.’

The professor cautions parents, “Just thinking about Pearson's, Duncan's, Gates' and Grov's policies can make some people feel as if their brains have been whizzed round the Large Hadron Collider at near light speed and smashed into a quark. To these people I say, Stick to Sudoku, it's less taxing.”

The White House and Whyte Hall has the last word. “As Taylor Swift almost sang: “The scoffers gonna scoff, scoff, scoff, scoff, scoff…” But it is vitally important that 97.65 % of five year olds should, when blindfolded, be able to tell a full stop from a decimal point while chanting phonics and counting backwards from one hundred in sevens. This has got to be more productive than learning to play the viola or watching birds build a nest. After all, how will a knowledge of pentatonic scales help our children hold down a zero hours contract in a flour mill when they start their working lives?”

“Its all very well getting excited when little Rupert solves Fermat’s last theorem using nothing but lego bricks, or get’s to E=mc squared using his own method. But such precociousness shouldn’t be indulged at the expense of mastering the phonic difference between ‘bough’, ‘rough’ and ‘thorough’. Nor should namby-pamby art classes use up valuable time better spent getting into the upper quartile for spelling ‘diarrhoea’.”

"The Victorians invented childhood. But they meant it to last just a couple of hours a day. And only for seven-year-olds shoving in time between coming out of their chimneys at the end of a morning shift and heading down the coal mine for the back shift."

"Since the Tory government destroyed the mining industry in the 80's and the advent of central heating put an end to chimneys, there's realły no need for childhood any more. Which is why we intend to abolish it. This will leave lots of time to invent ever more nonsensical tests, for which our billionaire friends in the private sector can handsomely charge."

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