2 Months of Mandated Tests Destroys Love of Learning?

I don’t feel particularly virtuous, nor do I want to be outraged, morally or otherwise, and it certainly does seem that public education is such an easy target, which it is, but when someone pens a complaint at the schools or the system, it had better be a good one and offer some real solutions to redress that complaint.  Well, Samuel Postell gets half credit for that score.  His essay does an excellent job of drawing a condemning light on the amount of time devoted to mandatory tests, the taking of them, and the preparation of them.  By no means unique, he still brings to bear a serioius problem: mandated tests as substitutes for valuable information.  Writing for Scott Horton’s The Libertarian Institute, Postell nails it:

In the marketplace, companies that don’t satisfy customer needs don’t survive. Unfortunately, this principle does not apply to the school system. As the workforce is becoming more efficient, the classroom is becoming less efficient. A 2016 survey by the Center for Education Policy shows that 81 percent of teachers believe that their students spend too much time taking tests. The same study shows that throughout the school year, students spend 10 days taking district-mandated tests and nine days taking state-mandated tests on average. In addition to the nineteen days spent taking standardized tests, 36 percent of teachers report spending at least a month on test prep for state-mandated exams. Given the short duration of the school year, this leaves teachers little time to tailor the school experience to the wants and needs of the individual students. What is lost is what is most important: cultivating a love of learning.

Whoa!  19 days of taking tests.

30 days of preparing for tests.  That’s 2 months, folks, dedicated to mandated tests.

Postell wonders if this structure of 2 months’ worth of time devoted to mandated tests isn’t one of those things that’s leeching on the kids’ souls and effectively putting kids in a kind of emotional and psychological holding tank that only serves to extend adolescence.”However, I can’t help but wonder if teachers like myself are contributing to the rearing of Peter Pans.”

One definitive effect of this mandated testing is that it for sure destroys a love of learning . . .

What is lost is what is most important: cultivating a love of learning.

That is plausibly true.  But it’s not just a love of learning that is jeopardized: it’s love of life.  There are lots of other things outside of the classroom that is available to kids that can be equally destructive.  Certainly, mandated tests can have a disastrous effect on one’s dreams if one puts his dreams and ambitions in the tax-funded school system.

Before I offer a solution, here is one more criticism:

The headlines speak for themselves.  Student-teacher sex scandals, student-student sex, immodesty, foul language, drugs, alcohol, radical homosexual agendas, teachers taking students for abortions, “sexting” leading to suicide, sexually transmitted diseases, brutal beatings, and school shootings.  These are just some of the headlines that have become the norm.  And that does not include things like cheating, disrespect for authority, impropriety towards the opposite sex, and other moral behaviors children learn regularly and repeatedly in school.

Van Til said it better than I ever could: “Non-Christian education puts the child in a vacuum…. The result is that child dies. Christian education alone really nurtures personality because it alone gives the child air and food…. Modern educational philosophy gruesomely insults our God and our Christ. How, then, do you expect to build anything positively Christian or theistic upon a foundation which is the negation of Christianity and theism?…. No teaching of any sort is possible except in Christian schools.”

Moreover, the system itself is funded by virtual theft.  Homeowners are forced under threat of the loss of their property to pay for the education of other people’s children.  How is that appropriate?  The government tells everyone that they have to send their children to school, then tells homeowners that they are going to be the ones to foot the bill whether they like it or not.  Not only is this a form of welfare, it is also a form of theft.

So, what are your options?  Maybe there’s only one: opt out.  Why not try homeschooling?  Why not preserve a child’s dreams for happiness and success?  If they want to go to college, they still can.  In fact, there are lots of ways to get to college while you’re completing your high-school curriculum.  Spend the time to watch this:

Then read this.

Postel then adds that school destroys individual dignity.  No truer words were ever spoken.  So why put your child in a tax-funded school?  To be sure it’s not just the students who suffer.  From the State and its ADA tax-funding system to the school board to the superintendent to the school’s administration, teachers and students like endure a loss of dignity.  For teachers with decades’ long careers, it may be even worse.

Students are not treated with the dignity of individuals. The result: the consumers––the students––are the ones who suffer the consequences. They’re unhappy as the school day lacks either true substantive challenge or the one-on-one attention students need to flourish. Some students are bored with school while others are frustrated. To the child, this either manifests into a looming feeling that time is being wasted, or in a feeling of helplessness and loneliness. Due to arbitrary districting laws as well as regulations making the establishment of independent schools difficult, school choice is severely limited and parents are forced to settle for mediocrity.

Regrettably, Postel’s call to action will fall on deaf ears.

We must recognize that the end of school is education, not vice versa. It is time that we begin to put the needs of our kids at the forefront of education. We can begin by thinking of innovative solutions to our education problem that are not one-size-fits-all. We can then understand the urgency of educational reform and turn the several solutions to education into a national conversation. We must loosen state regulations that prohibit educational solutions from playing out. If we do so, we will empower teachers and free them to teach so that they can excite students into exploring the goodness, the truth, and the beauty that is to be found in the world and within themselves.

His first mistake is the use of his pronoun “we.”  By “we,” he’s including the state. He’s fine with a cooperative partnership with the state.  He is not advocating homeschooling.  On the contrary, he wants to revise the national conversation on education.  And that is his second mistake.  The nation, state, and counties are too big.  National norms or standards do not have to be in place to have a cohesive national identity.  We don’t all have to read Jane Eyre to be part of the national discussion.  Think local.  Act local.  Funding should also be local.  Don’t take the state’s money.  Take Satan’s money, and you do Satan’s bidding.

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