The goat walked down the path and looked carefully from side to side. It was only a goat, and the world was ever so big. Every tree seemed to spring forward with alarming force. The leaves were angry fists, shaking in the wind. Even the wind whispered warning, and the sun was a spotlight on the goat’s naked inadequacy. So it was with grateful relief that the goat accepted the proposition of protection.
“I can protect you, keep you safe”, came the sibilant seduction of the animal that sidled up to the goat. The goat was ever so worried and ever so small, and the potential savior was ever so big and ever so strong. “Ok, kind sir, I accept your generous offer.”
The goat was smiling as the boa constrictor made its first fatal circle around its prey. “Please, keep going,” responded the goat, mesmerized by the moving mass of momentous might. After the second coil, the boa constrictor was not waiting for entreaties. The shocked silence of the goat was broken only by the sound of shattered bones and the queasy feeling of failed organs. But this bizarre scenario was just beginning.
The vampire bats arrived en masse, jockeying for position before they even got close to the goat. The assembled fliers chastised the boa constrictor for nearly killing the goat in its zealousness. They began to feed with terrifying measured intensity. These were not wild beasts; these were stone cold, calculating killers. They would prolong the meal for as long as possible. I can only imagine that anyone watching the scene would display a refurbished version of the term disbelief.
But that is you: you are watching, or at least you are in range to watch. I am participating. I am one of the bones of the goat’s foot if I am thinking about myself in especially esteemed terms.
The goat is the public school system, and the boa constrictor is the most obvious villain: standardized testing. Perhaps, it is even a particular company, depending on your perspective. Completely unrelated to this allegory, Pearson made 6.3 billion dollars last year and is now selling off the majority of its company and putting the money and personnel into testing. Fun fact.
How did we get here? First, an elephant stomped the school system into a cowering position. Then a donkey kicked whatever was left to the ground. Bush started the party with the No Child Left Behind Act and injected standardized testing into the DNA of public education through tying federal dollars to test scores. Another fun fact: The United States Constitution not only makes no provision for control of education, it makes no mention of education. The “Right to an Education” as a human right is akin to the “Right to Telepathy” as a human right. Both are pretty awesome, but an observance of our governing document would put the burden of both on the individual. Professor X will probably enroll you in a class, so you can embrace two “rights” with one trip to the mansion.
Oh, and Obama promised to deflate required standardized testing by mixing it up and starting the Race to the Top (you can see how much more forward thinking that is than Bush’s plan because the name is way cooler). Sounds awesome! How does it work? The best schools get more money. Yes, breeding competition, sparking innovation, that’s what I’m talking about, all day, every day, keep it coming, bust a move … Wait, how do we decide which schools are best? We look at the test scores. F&<^ me.
Money, money, money. Dollar dollar bill, yo. What do you think happens when you inject Harvard MBAs into a sluggish, socialist system? Ask the goat.
More to come. Explanation, explication, reiteration, and another occasion. And don’t you think for a second that I forgot about the vampire bats.
Oh, and if you didn’t get it, I am a teacher.