If 100 Percent of Students Pass, 100 Percent Also Fail

Your kid is dumb. Sorry.

Well, maybe he’s not dumb. Maybe he learns differently or perhaps thinks differently. No, not learning disabled, though that’s a possibility, too: just maybe a writer or a musician, not a mathematician. Hey! Maybe they like fixing cars or working in machine shops.

But fuck all that: Kirstin Gillibrand needs to make you think she cares about education, and so like all politicians, she’s going to push the “Math, Science and Engineering” canard as our route to a better tomorrow. This according to an article by @innovationtrail :

Gillibrand: Math and science are key to the future of the workforce | Innovation Trail.

Remember when our economy was doing so much better? Yeah, that’s when we made stuff. We don’t make stuff anymore and the insistence that our future lies in lab coats and masters degrees has been part of the problem for lo this past forty years. But because there is a natural instinct for parents to want to see their kids do better than themselves, there is a natural tendency to vote for the person who makes you think that might happen. And every politician – from Gillibrand to Obama to Paul Ryan – plays that instinct for all its worth. In fact, its not even an instinct as much as it is a reflex.

And the NCLB insistence that *all* children pass math and science at a certain level is also part of this problem. Gillibrand is trying to repackage that turd as something more constructive, but we’re right back where we started. If your kid doesn’t pass the class by 2014, well, we’ll either have to kick him out of school or else lower the standards to match his dumb ass.

The truth is that education is not machining: you don’t get to set some tools, run a few test pieces, and then let the machine turn out perfectly-similar parts all day long. Education is an intensely personal and highly individualized pursuit that requires the kid to find their own path and the teacher to help them. No kid is ever the same, nor would we be anything less than horrified if our children were returned to us as automatons. Yet this is what is required.

Education is, in fact, a horrible political chess piece in that it is just barely quantifiable in the first place. What, exactly, qualifies as a success story? A better quality of life, perhaps? And what does that mean? No, better that we stick to proven-ineffective standardized testing that yields the statistics that look so good on a campaign flier.