John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD
We find in the media today that some are wringing their hands over the fact that hardly any students after all are held back in Georgia despite flunking the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT). Now South Carolina is thinking of replicating Florida’s retention program. Blah, blah, blah.
Like most things that the Georgia General Assembly does “for” education, it is really for show. There was never going to be an en masse flunking of Georgia students, no matter what they made on the CRCT. By the way, if I may lift an acronym from my friend, Dr. Glenn Dowell, let me say that CRCT really stands for “Creating Results Cheating on Tests.” Dr. Dowell came up with this aronym a few years ago while working for APS at Trinity Avenue. Maybe that is why he too was unjustifiably, in my opinion, walked out of the building by the goons of the Beverly Hall Administration. I have to give my friend credit for being one of the first to stand up to this bully administration. He was fired, but later sued. Now he drives a Bentley. Ha!
You guys know that I have been saying for years that all of the school “reform” stuff is just a bunch of hooey. Dr. John Goodlad, in his mammoth work on a study of the studies out at UCLA back in the early 1980s (A Place Called School), demonstrated from the overwhelming evidence that school reform cannot be effectuated beyond a local school which has a great leader and great teachers. You cannot mandate school reform system-wide, state-wide, and certainly not nationwide. Well, you can “mandate” it but it’s not going to happen. People will end up making a parody of any so-called “reform,” as we have witnessed in the huge cheating scandals in cities like Atlanta and Houston. I can assure that the same mess is taking place in Chicago, New York City, Newark, and many other large, urban cities where there is so much angst bearing down on the local school “leaders” about closing the achievement gap.
School reform? Like I said, it’s a bunch of hooey. Diane Ravitch wrote a very impressive tome on this subject over a decade ago. She too showed, with thorough research, that all of the so-called “school reform” movements in this country’s history ended up being flops. So now we have South Carolina, the State reportedly too small to be a nation but too large to be an insane asylum, wanting to copy Florida, a state whose kids have been mangled by the ever changing FCAT test. (By the way, many, many of my ancestors hail from Charleston and Georgetown. So, please don’t think that I dislike the Palmetto State. I don’t. I like it immensely…except when Spurrier keeps whipping my Dogs!) All of these state legislators are grasping at straws, trying to find a miracle cure for why Johnny can’t read or compute. “Well, if we reward him by threatening him, then he’ll learn to read and count!”
It’s all about the test scores, the scores that Bill Gates and the Pearson publishing companies and their chums in the Billionaires’ Club have mandated. They think: “If we can mandate that their kids make certain scores, then we can essentially mandate that they use our materials/apps to study for our tests which our systems will grade. Wow, we like these mandates! We like this school reform. We like it!” Another acronym? Try this one…R-E-F-O-R-M. Ruining Education For Our Resources & Money. Yes, the Pearson companies, Bill and Melinda Gates, Eli and Edyth Broad, the Walton Foundation, and a few other billionaires are ruining public education…masquerading as saints but acting as vandals and marauders of the innocence and joy of learning.
For what it’s worth: Phil Gramm spend three years in the Third Grade at Wynton Elementary School in Columbus, Georgia. His father suffered a stroke and was paralyzed when Gramm was very young and died when Gramm was 14. His mother worked double shifts as a nurse.
Gramm went on to graduate high school at Georgia Military Academy (now Woodward) in College Park. He earned a business degree and a doctorate from UGA. He ended up being a university professor of economics at Texas A & M before becoming a U. S. Congressman and U. S. Senator.
The moral of the story? Retention doesn’t have to be a death knell.
Retention is a sensitive area of education and should not be taken lightly. I remember when my sister was so stressed out about a boy in her First Grade class who was not grasping anything. He was a sweet kid. But, he could hardly do a thing academically speaking. My sister was so stressed about this young lad. She tried everything (and my sister was a good teacher; she is retired now). She finally drew the conclusion that he was so far developmentally behind the other children his age that it would be cruel for her to pass him on to the Second Grade. So, she was to have a conference with the child’s mother. My sister very patiently and lovingly laid out the reasons for the mother on why her son needed to be retained for another year in the First Grade. When she exhaled and finished this wrenching disclosure to the mother, she asked, “Now, Ms. Smith, do have any questions at all?” The mother replied: “Yes. When is the Halloween Carnival?” True story. © JRAT, April 5, 2013.