Testing Abuse

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Monday, July 30, 2007

The Broken Heart

A heart is a terrible thing to waste...

The world to me is always an amazing place. I am frequently intrigued by the emotional reactions that the public has to the realities of horror. The latest insanity has been the Michael Vick case where it has been alleged that his property was used for dog fighting. Vick and his cohorts have been accused of, “knowingly sponsoring and exhibiting an animal fighting venture.” (AP) When these animals are not prepared or aggressive enough to fight, they are often disposed of. The report states that dogs were “killed by hanging, drowning and/or slamming at least one dog’s body to the ground.” Can you imagine the reality of actually seeing that happen? To watch a dog suffer in pain and to physically see its life ended in such a grisly manner? And thus what has happened almost immediately: PETA and the ASPCA held demonstrations demanding for the immediate firing of Michael Vick from the Atlanta Falcons for his involvement. They organized to show their outrage.

Another situation that I have seen the public grow in strong levels of discontent over the last few years is the Iraq war. So far, the United States has lost 3636 soldiers and has acquired 26,558 casualties since the invasion. Outside of the extreme sadness of death, the injuries sustained by some of the soldiers include lost limbs, eyesight, and brain damage from severe head injuries. Whether its been Fox, CNN, MSNBC, or CBS, the pictures of destruction and mayhem have been graphic and disturbing. Many times, these images make imprints on the brain that last forever. Although some may disagree with her plight, Cindy Sheehan began a crusade to end the war because of the death of her son in Iraq and her belief that the war was started under false pretenses. She has felt the pain and seen the results of the carnage as a parent. Her anguish has been mirrored by countless others who have experienced the same. Thus, she and many others have marched around the country, demanding justice from the government and congress. The ultimate results of her efforts will not be known for some time, but the dialogue has at least initiated in congress to pull out of Iraq.

One might ask, then, what do these situations have to do with each other? The answer defines much of who we are as humans. It is our nature that when we physically see or hear of extremely painful situations, our gut instinct is to protect that which is valuable to us from it. Whether it be our children at war or our precious animals who are often defenseless, the notion that they could be “next” is real because the pictures, sounds, and graphics have proven the danger to us in the media. The question is posed then: WHY HAVE WE NOT, AS A SOCIETY, RALLIED TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN FROM AN UNJUST EDUCATION LAW? I propose that the main reason is that not enough parents have SEEN the pain, HEARD the cries of their children, and FELT the hopelessness that many teachers have felt since the inception of the No Child Left Behind education law. If they saw their child sobbing the day of the “big” exam, or crushed because they were labeled as “basic” on some bar graph hanging for all to see, or knew their school could be closed, the masses of folks would be out in droves.

Human thinking and emotion is often silent during times of distress. It is kept in the dark because of embarrassment, shame, worry, and fear. Students worry about being “smart” enough or not being a good addition to the classroom because they haven’t performed well on a standardized test. A study out of Chicago shows that NCLB has literally failed to work for students in the lowest performing ranges. They have actually done much worse. Many of these kids come from the poorest areas where parents have been incarcerated or on drugs, maybe even have died as a result of violence. This AFFECTS children negatively. At any given time, up to 5% of all kids 9-17 struggle with depression (National Institute of Health). These children often have failure in school, and the pressure to be “proficient” scoring on a bubble test over, and over, and over, and over can only add to the problem. In the teen years, these types of students are more prone to truancy, substance abuse, and suicide.

So, WHERE ARE THE PARENTS MARCHING? How do we MAKE VISIBLE the anguish of our children and teachers? How do we get the message out that NCLB is KILLING our kids’ minds? Must we wait until they have suffered an entire 12 years of poorly researched assessment and forced curriculum such that they turn out unable to think with reason and have a desire for life long learning? Talent and joy have been purged from many classrooms and will continue to be unless the pain is VISIBLE. Teachers need to share their agony and report their students’ feelings to school sites and congressmen. They need to reach out to parents and let go of their fear. Parents will protect what is valuable if they know the danger. Which is worse: To eliminate NCLB and start over, or to bury the future of the child that died of a broken heart?


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