Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Thank You Judge, for Throwing Me Under the Bus

I believe I blogged a couple months ago about a little speech I gave to my 7th graders in which I laid out for them how important the California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE) is. I told them that what they learn now in school will come back to haunt them on the exam, seeing as how they are tested at the 8th grade level in math and about the 10th grade level in English.

Then I hear about some disgrace of a judge in Alameda County who has indicated that he is going to block the implementation of the CAHSEE and allow the 44,000 students who haven't passed it (in their 3 years and 10 attempts at trying) to walk in their graduation ceremonies. As an aside, I plead legal ignorance here: How exactly can a superior court judge in Alameda Country put a stop to the Exit Exam that was passed by the state legislature and applies to the entire state. Wouldn't his decision only affect students in Alameda County? I know there is obviously some kind of legal mumbo jumbo that makes the decision apply statewide, but whatever the case, I'll tell you what - that judge's decision is going to really make my 7th graders take my speech to heart and step up their efforts in ensuring that they pass the CAHSEE... Not.

In an article in the Sacramento Bee (registration may be required), a teacher who was interviewed put it in understandable terms,

"Personally, it's frustrating," said Shana Just, the exam's coordinator at Hiram Johnson. "Just when we get the kids to take this test seriously, somebody undermines us. We've told the kids: You cannot rely on a court to do this for you."

Typical of our society isn't it? No one is held accountable. Someone always comes to your rescue to relieve you of any pain you may feel, even if that pain might be a well-deserved and much needed kick in the ass that will benefit you in the long run.

And you know what? I don't care if you are poor, or a minority, or if you no speak English real good, or (this will really piss some people off), if you are a special education student, you should also be held to the same standard on the CAHSEE. If you cannot meet that standard, you do not deserve a high school diploma, even if you were in special ed. The high school diploma used to mean something. If you can or cannot meet a set standard, then there needs to be an indication that you have or have not met that standard. By giving away high school diplomas to people who just showed up, future employers and colleges are not being told the full story. If you were in special ed and had your tests read to you, and you got extra time to take those tests, and you got modifications for your assignments that others did not, and you were guaranteed at least a C, because to fail you would be illegal, shouldn't a potential employer or college official know about this when he takes a look at your diploma that looks exactly the same as the one that was given to a 4.0 honor student? If you cannot pass this ridiculously easy exam, then you do not deserve a diploma. Please understand, I have taught some special ed students who were mainstreamed into my classroom who were hardworking, polite, and did everything I asked of them. Those are attributes that will gain them employment someday. However, it does not change the fact that if they fail to meet a simple academic standard, then they haven't met that standard. Bottom line about special ed: Newsflash! Once you are out of high school, no one cares that you need more assistance to finish a project or an assignment. The cold cruel world won't give you a pass because (poor you), you were in special ed. The whole special ed concept as currently practiced, does nothing but build a protective bubble around these kids, and once that bubble is inevitably removed and reality comes crashing down around them, they crash also when they find out that no one (especially employers and colleges) cares, and they shouldn't have to.

I truly wish that the CAHSEE had existed when I graduated from high school back in the olden days of 1990. Not only would I have possibly taken school a little bit more seriously, I also would have been that much more proud of myself when I walked across that stage.

Good Day to You, Sir


J said...

I agree completely. I have been betrayed! What student will believe me now about having to do anything regarding graduation. I have a student in one class whose IEP requires that he have every test in advance so he will know what to study. Does he deserve a diploma? What will he do next year in college? What about the student whose IEP states that he doesn't have to learn to read? Shouldn't his future employer know about this? It is crazy!

Anonymous said...

I think you are being a little too tough. I mean, isn't it your job to guide these children thru the educational process while holding their hands, wiping their noses and kissing their little asses?? Why try to prepare them for the harsh realities of the real world before they are ready? I's just not faaaair.

Also, when did "special ed" become the classes for the lazy, slow and not so smart? When I was in school, also graduated early '90s, "special ed" meant mentally retarded or handicapped kids. In my eyes, these are the ones who need special attention or help along the way.

I could never be a teacher. I commend those of you that are. Try to keep up the good work.


Darren said...

Read this quote from a student who hasn't passed the test yet.