Monday, January 28, 2013

Getting Schooled

Last night, I dreamt I was at my daughter’s high school, was in class but didn’t know the schedule and didn’t have the right books. The teacher gave me a zero.

A day later, I brought my son to take an entrance exam for high school. Another mom confided that she had dreamt the night before that she had looked at her watch and it was 15 minutes before the test was supposed to start – her son’s test – and they were nowhere near the testing site.

I know a surprising number of women who are full-time volunteers at their children’s schools.

I know moms who keep track of their children’s high-school assignments, have their own set of their child’s textbooks and do the readings and work themselves, so that they can tutor their children on that day’s lessons at night.

Others, of course – many others – hire tutors.

My son had to take yet another test, the OLSAT, for high school. (He had to take four different standardized tests, all told.) When we got the OLSAT results back, there was no explanation of what they meant, just a number, so I Googled “OLSAT” and discovered it is often used in the application process for gifted and talented programs at public schools. Therefore, a bustling industry of test-prep tutors has sprung up, for kids as young as 3.

Why has K-12 education become such a gauntlet? Why have schools become so much more about measuring, sorting and rejecting kids than about educating kids? Shouldn’t they be about teaching kids, who, by definition, are not completely formed people, who, by definition, have a lot to learn, who, by definition, are works in progress, works that – oh, I don’t know – the schools should be willing to work on? Shouldn’t the focus be on teaching all kids?

What a nightmare.


  1. Did you send this to the Texas Board of Education? I hope you did.

  2. I couldn't agree more. I excerpted your comment from the NYTimes at my blog:

    The Coalition for Kid-Friendly Schools