“Finish your dinner, or no dessert.”
“But I’m not hungry.”
“You’re not leaving the table until that plate is clean. Do you hear me?”
“But I don’t like succotash.”
“That’s what’s for dinner, young man, so stop complaining and eat your meal.”
Does dialogue like that ring a bell? Maybe it doesn’t happen today when family meals are infrequent, but it did in our house and in the homes of my friends when I was a kid. We tried pushing the unwanted food around the plate and dividing it into small pieces, in hopes that our parents wouldn’t notice. That never worked, of course.
But, lucky for us, our Mom was savvy enough to ask us what we liked and then to invite us to help with the cooking. Family meals became more interesting when we had an investment in them…and they were probably more nutritious as well.
Why can’t most educators make that leap? The data are staring them in the face: low attendance rates among students and teachers; higher percentages of students “opting out” of state-mandated standardized tests; more teachers leaving the profession; and more parents saying they’d like the option of sending their children to charter schools.
Instead, educators from Secretary John King on down seem to be doubling down, searching for ways to penalize students who choose not to take standardized tests, their schools, and their school districts.
The ‘meal’ that School Reformers have been serving up for the past nearly 12 years of the Bush and Obama Administrations is neither delicious nor nutritious.
In fact, the only cooking that I can discern has been ‘cooking the books‘ by artificially inflating graduation rates with ‘Credit Recovery’ schemes; countless hours of Test Prep to get more kids over the bar; and widespread cheating by adults.
With a new Administration approaching, some School Reformers are asking for one more chance to get things right because so many promising reforms are either “on the horizon” or are just now “beginning to show results.”
Are we dumb enough to fall for that?