The More Things Change, The More They Suck

Hi, All-

This was originally posted two years ago and it struck a nerve with Teachbad readers. I was reminded of it again reading Emma Brown’s article this week in the Washington Post, Pep rallies, music videos and cash aim to inspire students in D.C. tests. (I’m not sure “inspire” is the right word. “Motivate” is closer, though still generous. “Bribe” probably cuts to it more directly, but it’s such an ugly word.)

Written two years ago, this post was originally called:

Circus For Grown-Ups

It’s still called that. Here it is, from May 2011. The more things change, the more they suck.

 

Are y’all about done with testing?

I am.

We just had two weeks of AP tests right on the heels of the High-Stakes State Tests for AYP and everything.

We pulled out all the stops. Everything was up-ended. Learning was on holiday. But it smelled good. During the state tests we served bacon and eggs and waffles to everybody, every morning. There were prizes and pizza parties for coming in on time. Administrators dressed up in funny costumes and said silly things during announcements. Slogans and signage assaulted the senses. We had a pep rally for the state tests and another one for the AP tests. These were sad, sad events.

What this school has done to the pep rally is simply criminal. I’ve been to a number of pep rallies in my day. They all sort of suck. But this last one was just too much. It was to pump everybody up for the AP tests. (Background: My school gets a big award every year and a write-up in the paper because it forces hundreds of kids to take AP tests who have no chance of passing AP tests. NO CHANCE. HUNDREDS. I do not exaggerate. The key is that the award is based just on the number of kids who we force to take the tests, not the number who pass. So we can’t lose. We threaten kids for weeks that their poor immigrant parents will have to pay $87 if they don’t show up for the test. It’s fucking pathetic.)

But it doesn’t matter how sad or transparent it is. The kids won’t notice. And if they do…well, the bottom line is that we have to do every little suck-up thing we can think of to induce, cajole, convince, bribe, trick or otherwise push, needle or connive students into taking these AP and state tests seriously. Especially the state tests.

Seriously.

Fuck…OK…listen kids. We don’t know what you know and we don’t even care much. But please, PLEASE just try on these fucking tests. What? No…this won’t go on your transcript or be reported to the college you are not going to. Why? Shit…do you want some eggs? Bacon? How about a chance to win an Ipod? Yeah…there’s a good boy! So…you’re gonna give it all you got now, right?

C’mon…OK…what if we said that we know how you feel and it doesn’t make any sense to us either?

No. This is an opportunity for you to demonstrate what you have learned and all that you know. Don’t you want to show everybody how smart you are? I know you do. Let’s make our school shine!!! You are SO good!! Yeah!!!

What? No. I already said that. It’s not exactly going to go on your transcript. And it’s not for a class or anything….but that doesn’t mean it’s not important! What’s important is always doing your best! Right!? Plus, we know you’re poor. Nobody has $87 at your house, am I right?

You don’t get it, do you? Don’t you understand?!?!? This is how we prove we are good people!!

Sorry…was that creepy?

What if I put the funny wig back on? Huh? Would that help? I’ll do it. Just say the word, chief. And remember the process of elimination strategies from your test-prep class. Think about that. I’m going to get you some more juice. Then I’ll get the wig back on and do a funny dance for you.

Jesus Christ, kid…we all need this. Can you please just try to come on time this week and do your very bestest? Great!

And on and on. The point is the sadness I feel when I see an organization that is supposed to serve children go to unparalleled effort and expense making a collective ass out of itself for the two things that matter least to children and most to adults. In particular, one adult.

Mr. Teachbad

10 comments

  1. Brook
  2. Brook
    • olliolli
    • Soon to be EX music teacher
  3. chachir
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