I am rereading Tested, which always reminds me how very little rigorous testing has done for rigorous learning. (It also makes me really happy I don't teach Open Court or Saxon Math anymore, and that the Reading Wars have quieted a bit.)
Now that enrollment letters are being received, test scores are being used as a bludgeon against some schools. Having bad test scores does not mean that a school has bad teachers, bad kids, bad families, bad buildings, and bad administration. Loose badness is not floating about the halls, a horrible miasma of black failure, ready to attach itself parasitically to all comers.
I feel bad for the teachers, the kids, and the families at these schools. I hope they never see these threads (and I need to stop reading before my bad school comes up for its whacks). I feel bad for the Tyler Heights teachers Linda Perlstein followed, forced by testing and rigorous curriculum to narrow their teaching until it squeezes out high-testing automatons.
Low test scores suggest a poor school. Poverty is the strongest single correlation to test scores. The student population is probably quite mobile, and many students are learning English. I could go on and recount all the other sad realities of poverty that occur at most low-scoring schools.
I recognize that an assignment to such a school may not make for much happiness. But it is unfair and mean to announce that the school is bad, with its bad teachers, bad location, bad children, bad families, bad test scores, and free-range bad just badding its way around, lurking in corners stealing lunch money.
The teachers at these schools are real people. Their students are actual children. I can tell you - as one of those bad teachers at a bad school - that my Kster's creativity, intelligence, and all-round cuteness compares favorably to any other Kindergarten bunch. I work with some fabulous professionals, many of whom are in their first few years in the classroom (but a few old workhorses like me do haunt bad schools, too). My children come from loving families that want the best for them - just like we all do.
It is true that we are dealing with years of segregation, inequity, institutional racism, and lousy school funding. It is true that these realities have had a huge and negative impact on those bad, bad, bad schools (so has testing hysteria, but I digress). But when you call the school, its teachers, its children, and its families bad, you are blaming the victim.
Be kind. It is possible to be angry about the school to which your child is assigned with out maligning the very real people there.