I've been reading Wendell Berry again. He's a teacher, a farmer, a writer, and a prophet. He gets me thinking, and thinking gets me trouble.
I teach high school science. I also prepare students for the New Jersey End of Course Biology Test. While these are not mutually exclusive activities, there's no sense pretending that preparing for the test does not diminish real science in my classroom.
I may be misguided anyway.
The state is pushing for children to take Algebra II, and our commissioner announced in April, 2007, that our children will be taking a joint Algebra II test shared with 8 other states, part of the "American Diploma Project Secondary Math Partnership."
“This new exam will help to ensure that our children are learning the math skills that are becoming more and more essential in an increasingly competitive job and secondary education marketplace."
Commissioner of Education Lucille E. Davy
"NJ Joins Nine-State Partnership to Administer New Algebra II Exam"
The "American Diploma Project" is a joint effort of Achieve (a partnership between government and business executives), the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation (whose mission is promoting school choice), and The Education Trust, which believes "all children will learn at high levels when they are taught to high levels."
I suspect the first group's primary aim is to create workers for the corporate world, the second's to dismantle traditional public education funding, and the third, well, I'll put them in the Lake Wobegon School of Ridiculous Optimism, where all children are above average.
And naive me, I thought public education was about creating a functional citizenry.
Again, our stated goals are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Still, take a few moments to look at the boards of these organizations. Look at their goals. Analyze what they mean.
And tell me I'm not being paranoid.