Monday, July 19, 2004

Inside Mrs. B's Classroom

Leslie Baldacci, Inside Mrs. B's Classroom
Give up a cushy job to teach in Chicago's South Side? You'd have to be crazy. Or, you'd have to be Leslie Baldacci. It's not a self-congratulatory memoir; it is, rather, a frank, brutal record of what's wrong with urban (translation: inner-city) education, what's misguided about political reform, and what's wrong with standardized testing. Hint: it's not the kids.
I touched on the insensitivity of assumptions when I faced the bean-counters who defend standardized test scores like they are the holy grail. They, same as most policy-makers, like things to fit in neat little boxes. Wrapping themselves in comfortable assumptions makes it easier to defend their hard and fast policies.

I told them the story of one kid, a fair student, who had tanked the Iowa test the year before. On test day, he took the garbage out before school and found a dead body in the alley. His mother sent him to school after he finished talking to the police.... Try as we might to consider the conditions that children come from before they pass through our doors, we cannot anticipate everything and therefore should not assume anything.
Oh, and if you figured eventually Baldacci would go back to her old job, refreshed and reinvigorated from her field trip into the South Side, you're wrong. She's still teaching.

[originally posted July 15, 2004]


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