This diary is not about that. Meredith Broussard has written a first-person piece about her experiences with and analysis of the logistical nightmare of the inner-city public school system. It's not a new concept to many of us that inner-city schools, the majority of public school children, have absolutely NO WAY to compete in the opaque world of testing. What is made transparent in Broussard's article is the incomplete math equation between expectations and the means of reaching those expectations.
When a problem exists in Philadelphia schools, it generally exists in other large urban schools across the nation. One of those problems—shared by districts in New York, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, and other major cities—is that many schools don’t have enough money to buy books. The School District of Philadelphia recently tweeted a photo of Mayor Michael Nutter handing out 200,000 donated books to K-3 students. Unfortunately, introducing children to classic works of literature won’t raise their abysmal test scores.While that is philosophically problematic for myriad reasons it isn't even the most heinous.
This is because standardized tests are not based on general knowledge. As I learned in the course of my investigation, they are based on specific knowledge contained in specific sets of books: the textbooks created by the test makers.
One problem is that no one is keeping track of what these students need and what they actually have. Another problem is that there’s simply too little money in the education budget. The Elements of Literature textbook costs $114.75. However, in 2012–2013, Tilden (like every other middle school in Philadelphia) was only allocated $30.30 per student to buy books—and that amount, which was barely a quarter the price of one textbook, was supposed to cover every subject, not just one. My own calculations show that the average Philadelphia school had only 27 percent of the books required to teach its curriculum in 2012-2013, and it would have cost $68 million to pay for all the books schools need. Because the school district doesn’t collect comprehensive data on its textbook use, this calculation could be an overestimate—but more likely, it’s a significant underestimate.The proponents of these types of standardized testing models of education and teaching don't even have the integrity to give teachers and students what they need to perform. It begs the question: Are you interested in education for the children of America or are you interested in something else?
There's some more below.
The proponents of the testing industry are the same people who have given up on the public school system and want to privatize the whole industry. They use terms like accountability and streamlining. They villainize teachers unions and talk about merit pay.
Unlike college professors, who simply assign books and leave it to the students to buy them, K–12 teachers have to provide students with books. But it’s not a simple matter of ordering one book per student per subject. Based on the schools I visited and the teachers I interviewed, each student needs at least one textbook and one workbook per class, plus a bunch of worksheets and projects the teacher pulls from assorted websites (not to mention binder clips and construction paper and scissors and other project-based materials). Books can be reused year to year, but only if the state standards haven’t changed—which they have every year for at least the past decade.The people that truly believe big business has the answers to making things work efficiently and effectively are the same people for whom big business makes wealth. Sadly, as with trickle down economics, trickle down education works terribly for the majority of us. For all of the platitudes thrown about to discuss what needs to be done about education in our country the real issue is money.