Black people bear the brunt of this epidemic. We are 13% of the population, but about half of the estimated 1.2 million Americans living with HIV/AIDS, nearly half of new HIV cases, and half of annual AIDS-related deaths in this country are Black.
Given what we know about the structure of our society, the demands of the knowledge economy, and the need to pass tests in order to advance in many of the nation's best careers, how can we entertain the idea that testing should be drastically scaled back?
Let's base 100 percent of teacher pay on the results of standardized tests. But if we are to have true educational reform, a concept that seems to be lost when used by those who claim that mantle, I want the following conditions:
For many public school students and perhaps for teachers as well, April is the cruelest month of the school calendar. April days that are not devoted to 'test prep' are spent on testing itself. And some of what is going on in this crazy month defies the imagination.
"My son can't sleep at night." Why? "Because his teacher told him that he had to do well on the tests this week or she would be fired.." Scaring the sleep out of a child is surely an example of distortion and corruption. So too is firing people based on the snapshot of one day's bubble test score.
Let's get back to the core purpose of public education -- ensuring students have access to a great education that prepares them for lifelong learning and success -- and leave the pressure cooker for pot roasts.
Today is SAT day -- our daughter's first. It's 6:10. "I don't know where her admission ticket is. Or the pencil sharpener I bought yesterday, or all those Number Two pencils. And her passport. I put all of that stuff together on my desk. Did someone move it?"
When California Governor Jerry Brown recently called for fewer standardized tests and less time on test preparation, he probably expected to be praised. Instead, his proposal has been greeted with cries of outrage from teachers, administrators, and students.
Imagine it's early morning, 20 minutes after the school bus was expected. You are waiting with your children when an old yellow clunker, its rear emergency door hanging open, weaves toward you. The driver has a pint of whiskey in one hand.