Tuesday, March 3, 2009

High Standards

Most public school districts feature some kind of culminating, end-of-year exercise, to prove that their Young Charges learned something the previous year. At Our Humble High School, these exercises are collectively known as the Standards of Learning tests. We administer them in March & in May.

The Cherubs must pass the SOLs, or else. Or else the State will dumb these "gatekeepers" down, make the tests easier, so the Cherubs will pass. Or else.

No one's ever really experienced the "or else" part of this equation. The tests keep getting easier. Most of the Cherubs continue to pass. In fact, our neighbor's Springer Spaniel...not the brightest crayon in the box, even on a good day...could pass these state-mandated Dog & Pony Shows.

What, pray tell, do SOLs have to do with the snap above? Everything & Nothing, at once & into perpetuity. Your Humble Scribe will explain.

The Weather Dudes began squawking early Saturday morn about the possibility of a Frozen Precipitation Event. The White Stuff. As in mucho, bueno, pronto. Traffic-tying-up tons. School-closing snow.

We, who labor in the trenches, as it were, knew better. Old Man Winter would have to drop a significant amount of snow on our little burg to necessitate a school-closing. This is the District that would not close the schools last month on a particularly treacherous Teacher Work Day. We professorial types must justify our existence, after all! Must attend worthless meetings to show we're professional! Must show The Powers That Be that we're trying like hell to figure out how get them Cherubs edumacated!

We, who face a Crumbling Infrastructure, Inadequate Technology, Surly Students & a Pompous Principal Man daily (and this, in one of the allegedly "finest" school districts in the land!), knew that it would take a mighty big Act of either God or Mother Nature to close the schools on an SOL Day.

The SOLs are more important than anything else in our school year. The Talisman of Good Teaching; the David that Goliath must conquer every year. Yes, we switched the names on purpose.

Hush your mouth, Weather Dude. Superintendent Man will not close the schools. Faced with the choice of keeping its charges safe & warm or proceeding with the damned test, the DT will prevail every time.

Until 8:45 Sunday nite. SM did the unthinkable. The unpardonable. The unfathomable.

Canceled school for Monday. Postponed the SOLs.

As the snow continued to fall Monday morning, piling up 6, then 7, up to 9 inches, we witnessed the gift that kept on giving. Snow Days. Our precipitation-related vay-cays have been few & far between in recent years. Blame Global Warming, if you will. Most of us, though, blame the empty hubris of a school district that insists that Teaching to the Test will tell us something we don't already know; will ultimately prepare our Cherubs for "the real world."

Perhaps. But Monday morning, Mrs. Scribe went back to bed, instead.

Editor's Note: Mrs. Scribe has been prolific this week, possibly because of the unexpected Snow Day. This is her second March contribution to the Random Complexity Writing Challenge. 491 words. BTW, Mrs. Scribe will announce the winner of the $25 Target Gift Card in tomorrow's post!


Lynda said...

Congrats on the Snow Days, but the "teaching to the test" of the schools these days really gets my goat!

Veggie Mom said...

I strongly believe that standardized testing is squelching our children's creativity!

Susie said...

"Teaching to the test" is a hot button term among my teaching friends. There has to be a better way.

Happy Snow Day:-)

Tiffany said...

I hear you on teaching to the test. Ridiculous.

Tracy P. said...

Oh ya gotta love those tests! In my pre-parenting teacher days a congressman from our district came to visit our school, and then visited with the staff afterwards. He said, "You guys don't want more tests do you?"

I promise we all voted for him the next time around. Don't even get me started!! :-)

We got 8 inches last week, but it started at noon and ended at midnight--plenty of time to clean up before bus time! Glad you had your turn!

teachj said...

Hating you and all your wonderful snow. We had our AKS day (Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) Reading/Writing test today. Hours of boredom punctuated with terrifying moments of bureaucratic hell. Nothing like spending a day watching kids bubble answers.

Columbia Lily said...

You know what SOL stands for in teen speak, right? =)

Tom.... said...

At the risk of taking up too much space, I am posting a column I wrote about snow days for the Suburban Journal of St. Louis, Mo.
If you need to scratch it, I understand, but it is apropos to your experience. I have also written a novel that is coming out in the next month about the amazing adventures of a middle school teacher. See the first chapter at tomsboomertimes.blogspot.com

There’s a lot to be said for being a teacher. While one does not necessarily get rich in the field, it is nearly recession-proof, and you can make a decent living if you can tack few extra letters behind your name along the way. Financial planners tell you that the retirement system is one of the best around. And from the purely altruistic standpoint, you really can “make a difference” in a kids life. But putting aside all the financial and societal bonuses that being a teacher bring, there is one perk that is seldom mentioned.
I’m talking about “The Snow Day”.
As I write this, we had a snow day even without snow. A perfectly-timed quarter inch glazing of ice wreaked sufficient havoc on side streets and highways for local administrators to “cancel school”. After watching that news scroll across the bottom of the television screen, wife Jill trudged up the stairs to inform me of my “good fortune.” Alas, she and daughter still had to push their way into the real world, so my joy was tempered a bit in concern for their safety. But by the time they left, the streets were merely wet.
As they departed, I flipped on the boob tube (no tubes anymore, merely a mind-boggling flat screen full of laser lines and electronic goblins that give an eerily-realistic picture of life), and found out that I could learn a great deal from daytime TV. And I don’t mean the History Channel.
First off, Jessica Simpson was telling me my skin could be perfect. That was good to know, given the wrinkly old-man eyes I’m developing. Then there was Tony Horton with his patented “10-Minute Trainer” tapes. Ten minutes was all I needed to be fit and cut, he said. Well, yeah, Tony, ten for cardio, ten for muscle, ten for abs, and still ten more for some other part of the old bod. Using my incredible skills as a teacher, I quickly computed that to be 40 minutes. Nice try, Tony. I switched to the “Ripped in 90 Days” channel. As I watched this, I realized that if I tried it, I would be “R.I.P.’d in About 9 Minutes.” So a big fat “Not So Much” to that one. I continued to follow the “Paid Programming” sites, and here was Cindy Crawford touting a skin product as well. I think Cindy’s included a complimentary stick-on mole for your upper lip if you “called in the next 30 minutes.” Beat that one, Jessica.
There were shows for Hip Hop Abs, whatever they are, a work-out device that looked like something out of the Wham-O company of Slip-n-Slide fame’s playbook, and a simple tool called the Iron Gym. I watched this one only briefly since I already had one of them there contraptions under my bed. No, really. And I do use it, faithfully. Contrary to some of the other info-mercial junk, it actually works. Believe it or not, it’s made a difference in the upper regions of this 60 year-old specimen. The hope is that this will up the distance on my golf drives. Then again, what’ll probably happen is I’ll merely slice that old dimpled ball deeper into the woods.
Gotta go now. Jerry Springer’s on and it’s about some guy’s mother’s boyfriend’s uncle’s daughter.
Ah, the joy of a “Snow Day.”

MoziEsmé said...

Yeah for snow! Glad some things are deemed a little more important than the test...

Marrdy said...

Glad someone came to theirs senses and cancelled school. I hear things are pretty ugly back there. And we have SOL's here that my youngest gets to take next year.


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