Sunday, April 6, 2014

People are not restaurants or water, Michelle Rhee

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In her editorial, "Opt out of standardized tests?  That's the wrong answer," Michelle Rhee tries to explain that angry parents and educators should not merely opt out of standardized testing but work to make the tests better.  She writes, "Opt out of measuring how well our schools are serving students?  What's next:  Shut down the county health department because we don't care whether restaurants are clean?  Defund the water-quality office because we don't want to know if what's streaming out of our kitchen faucets is safe to drink?"  Seriously?  Those are the best comparisons she can make?  Of course restaurants and water should be subjected to quality control standards and measures.  They are THINGS.  Students and teachers are PEOPLE who cannot be measured or assessed as easily as the chemical components of tap water. 

Rhee takes one step further in the dehumanization of standardized testing.  She tells the folks who are concerned about the stress and anxiety that students feel because of the testing to simply get over it.  "You know what?" she writes, "Life can be stressful; it can be challenging.  The alternative is to hand out trophies just for participating, give out straight A's for fear of damaging a kid's ego--and continue to fall further and further behind as a country."  Enough, Michelle Rhee.  Children and adolescents are supposed to be falling in love with learning, to be exploring their passions, to be uncovering their greatest strengths.  School does not need to be a competition or a training ground for real life. 

Thankfully, the Washington Post had the good sense to balance Rhee's article with one from Alfie Kohn, "Sometimes it's better to quit than to prove your grit." 

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