MCAS: WHY IS THIS BEING DONE TO OUR KIDS?
A New Democracy Flyer
We are parents of students in the Boston Public Schools outraged by MCAS. Beginning in 2003, all 10th grade students will have to pass these "high stakes" tests to earn a high school diploma, no matter how well they have done in school. Thousands of children will be pushed out of school by MCAS; thousands more will be educationally or psychologically damaged.
TESTS DESIGNED TO FAIL
The MCAS tests are educationally very destructive:
*MCAS is designed to fail. MCAS uses intentionally confusing and difficult questions, many of them on material not covered in class, to produce a massive failure rate. More than 40% of 10th graders failed the MCAS in 1999; 53% failed in Boston. (In Virginia, 98% of school districts failed similar tests.) Drop-out rates in Florida and Texas, which began these tests several years ago, have increased dramatically.
*MCAS imposes a climate of fear on students, parents, and teachers. Students must take these unfair tests in the 4th, 8th, and 10th grade. Many children are becoming discouraged early on, convinced that they will never be able to pass them. For many others, the joy of learning is being replaced by a fearful obedience to authority. Teachers are forced to teach to a terrible test, and to watch in horror at the results.
*MCAS reduces education to memorizing disconnected facts—the very opposite of the thoughtful engagement in learning our children need, and at which they are most likely to succeed.
WHY IS THIS HAPPENING NOW?
MCAS is the brainchild of the Massachusetts Business Alliance. It is the centerpiece of corporate-led education reform designed to increase competition and inequality in education. Similar tests have sprung up in most states and countries.
Why would governments and corporations impose something so destructive?
To answer this question, we must look at developments in society. In the past 25 years, millions of jobs have been shipped overseas; many good jobs have been reduced to temp work without benefits and without a future. Millions more have been eliminated or de-skilled by the use of computers; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the greatest number of new jobs projected in the "high tech" economy are low-skill, low-pay jobs like retail sales, building interior cleaning, and food services. At the same time, society has become more and more unequal, with an incredibly rich class at the top while millions are forced to work two jobs to make ends meet.
High stakes tests are meant to legitimize the growing inequality of society. They are designed to drive millions of students out of school so that, if they end up with a low-paying job or no job at all, they will blame themselves instead of the corporate system.
Tests like MCAS are not about education but about social control. By constantly raising the standards students have to meet, they make everyone afraid that "you'll never be good enough" and subject our children to the same stress that employers use to control us on the job. The tests are meant to get students used to having no control over their lives, and to defining their own worth by how well they measure up to the needs of the corporations.
In the past decades a great many teachers and parents and other people have worked to raise young people's expectations, and to make our society more equal and democratic. High stakes tests are part of a broader corporate strategy to reverse these efforts and to undermine the belief of ordinary people in our power to shape society with our democratic values.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
High stakes tests result from corporate domination of our society; they would not exist in a real democracy. To oppose them effectively we must aim to defeat corporate power and create a truly democratic society.
Most people in our communities will oppose these tests when they understand what they are all about. We need to reach out with information about the tests and organize meetings to discuss them. Please call Doug Fuda (617-323-7213) or John Spritzler (617-566-9637) if you would like more information, or if you would like to help resist MCAS.
Please copy this flyer and pass it on.
New Democracy works for democratic revolution.
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