Sunday, December 15, 2013

Jesus, PARRC, and the Roman coin

I grew up Oirish Catholic, no surprise there, then sort of became Methodist, because my kids were, but if push comes to shove, I'd sit my fanny in waiting worship at the local Quaker meeting house and watch the shadows slowly across the wooden pew in front of me as I think, rethink, then settle into somewhere that matters.

By ahc, via Wikipedia

The reason science matters to many of us is because the world is interesting and has interesting patterns, and science helps us to see the natural world.

The reason science matters to many others, though, is because science bestows power upon those who use it to manipulate the natural world. A lot of power.

The thrust to teach science in public schools comes from the need of the powerful to become more powerful. Our Education Caesar Arne Duncan believes science has a "vital role...stimulating innovation and economic growth." I doubt  science would otherwise matter to him.

Jesus had a thing for truth. He also had a handle on how power works.

When asked about what to do about paying taxes to the Roman authorities--he took a Roman coin, pointed out the picture of Caesar on it, and simply said ""Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's."

Change Caesar to Arne, change God to "natural world," and you have the compromise many of us in the trenches are now living. Arne Duncan, Eli Broad, Bill Gates and all their monied sheep dictate we follow the the Core Curriculum. Our compliance will be measured by how our students do on tests developed by their monied sheep.

That our schools are funded mostly by local townsfolk seems not to matter to Arne, and truth be told, we need the few extra dollars we got when New Jersey's governor kissed the emperor's ring.

Still, power is a funny thing--much of its strength lies in imagined fears.

I know my kids; Arne does not. Neither does Governor Christie, nor his buddy Chris Cerf. So I will continue to teach science, as science, at whatever level my kids are at, because they deserve to know natural world that belongs as much to them as it does to emperors.

The kids will take PARRC, and I will use the results to help hone my craft. I will not internalize the numbers, because the numbers have little value beyond helping me grasp what my lambs know, and any decent teacher already knows that.

If and when the PARRC includes a check box that asks which of my students have been hungry, have been thirtsy, have been cold, have been fearful in the week preceding the test, I will take it more seriously.

If and when the PARRC icludes a check box that asks which of my students has been sick recently, or has a parent incarcerated, I will take it more seriously.

If and when the PARRC compares and controls for the average cortisol levels of kids (a marker for chronic stress), I will take it more seriously.

Until then, I will imagine the face of Arne on every government test booklet and answer sheet I hand out, and pray that my hypocritical attempt to rationalize a bad situation does not harm my kids.

I'm getting too old to keep lying to myself.

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