Jewish World Review Sept. 3, 2002 / 26 Elul, 5762
You're not in preschool anymore!
"'Good morning, students. I am your teacher, Miss Pilchard. As you know, or should know if you've been reading the papers -- oh, sorry, I forgot you don't know how to read yet -- all Florida kindergarten students are being tested to find out how well you've been prepared for this challenging first step in the education process.
"Before we begin … Yes, Timmy, you have a question? Certainly. Right down the hall. Third door on your left.
"As I was saying … Yes, Timmy, you have another question? Yes, the left. That would be the hand you do not have in your pocket at the moment.
"Anyway, I don't want anybody to get nervous about this test because … Yes, Timmy, the third door. That would be number three. You can count to three, can't you? It's one, two … oh, my. Jennifer, would you find the custodian and tell him to bring a mop? Thank you, dear.
"Like I said, there's no reason to be nervous about this test. You will not be held back a year if you get a poor grade and it's highly unlikely that your test results will determine what, if any, college you get into 13 years down the road. This test is for evaluation purposes only and is a way for the governor to get even with the teacher's union for not supporting him in this year's election.
"Hey, Jeb, here's an idea for you. Instead of giving us more paperwork, maybe you ought to concentrate on getting the graduation rate up. Do you people have any idea what our high school graduation rate was last year? I'll tell you what it was. It was 51.4 percent! That's the worst rate in the country! And look at this school! It's falling apart! Where's the money going? Certainly not to my paycheck!
"I hope none of you kids were thinking of growing up and becoming teachers because let me tell you … Not now, Brian, I'm talking … Because let me tell you it's a thankless job. The classrooms are overcrowded, the hours are lousy and the cafeteria food … Whew! Well, you'll find out about that soon enough. And another thing …
"Brian, please, this is the second time you've interrupted me. Now if you can't sit still for a moment and … Oh, my. Jennifer, I'm afraid we need the custodian again.
"Where was I? Oh, yes, the test. Like I said, it's nothing to be anxious about. Heck, you might as well get used to it because your entire school life is basically one standardized test after another after another after another and yet the politicians wonder why teachers burn out and why half our students don't make it through high school.
"I'm telling you, children. You have no idea how horrible the next 13 years of your life are going to be.
"I hope you enjoyed those first five years of your life because it's all downhill from here. I don't know what your parents told you kindergarten was going to be like.
"Probably some nonsense about coloring books and story time and naps and who knows what else. Well, I'm afraid the reality is a little bit different from that, children. Today's kindergarten is all about tests.
"OK. Is everybody relaxed and ready to begin? Excuse me! You in the back! No sobbing! You'll get your test paper all wet and it won't go through the scanner properly. Come on, people! It's time to buckle down!
"Remember: You're not in preschool
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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.
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