Today, the vampire bats of education flapped down our hallways and invaded our classrooms. Yep, it’s visitation day. We’ve been at Defcon 2 for a couple of weeks now. It apparently isn’t enough to give Florida schools a letter grade based on one set of test scores; now we have a “level” to go with. Our level means that we get bat teams a couple of times a year to make sure we’re teaching right or something. Honestly, it feels like we’re living through the education version of Dean Wormer’s “double secret probation.”

I am SO SICK of bureaucrats who think they have the magic answer to our education problems. There’s no telling how long it’s been since they’ve been in a classroom, if ever. But man, do they have some crazy ideas about how learning’s supposed to happen. Case in point: write the state benchmark, complete with its arcane numbering system, on the board in one particular place. Guess the magic key to reluctant teen readers is to slap an “LA.A.910.9.blah.yada” up front, and the clouds part, the angels sing, and hood rats suddenly develop a craving for John Irving. The kids in my room know what we’re doing. Benchmarks? They don’t need no stinkin’ benchmarks!

Given our abysmal state grades, I think the bat brigade was expecting a scene out of Lean on Me, complete with graffiti and freshman getting trapped in lockers. Surprise, surprise…we have a close community that’s working hard, kids who respond to their teachers, homework. You know, school. Here’s your clue, folks: generational poverty. When you find it, you find academic issues, pure and simple. Doesn’t mean our kids can’t learn or aren’t intelligent, it means they don’t have backup. These kids aren’t going to museums and computer camps in the summer. They don’t have laptops and Internet access and books on the shelves. If they’re lucky, they got Sesame Street when they were little instead of Jerry Springer and inattentive babysitters. Many of them aren’t. Hence, our issues.

*sigh* One more adventure in our high stakes environment. Are we ready to have a substantive talk about testing pressure, please??

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