Childhood Corporate Reform Florida Testing

Marion Brady: Would a Child Attempt Suicide Because He Failed the Big Test?

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Marion Brady, retired educator, writes here about a mother who is certain that her son–then in third grade–attempted to kill himself after failing the Florida state tests by one point, twice. After he failed the second time, she knew he was morose. She called him for dinner, and he didn’t answer. She knocked on his door: no response
Nose. She pushed in and found him hanging by a belt, blue in the face. A third grader.

In a personal note, Marion told me that the article garnered many hostile comments when it was published at Readers simply refused to believe the story was true.

Brady writes:

“If failing to reach the pass-fail cut score by just one point wasn’t within every standardized test’s margin of error; if research hadn’t established that for the young, retention in grade is as traumatic as fear of going blind or of a parent dying; if standardized tests provided timely, useful feedback that helped teachers decide what to do next; if billions of dollars that America’s chronically underfunded public schools need weren’t being diverted to the standardized testing industry and charter promotion; if a generation of test-and-punish schooling had moved the performance needle even a little; if today’s sneaky, corporately driven education “reform” effort wasn’t driven by blind faith in market ideology and an attempt to privatize public schooling; if test manufacturers didn’t publish guidelines for dealing with vomiting, pants-wetting and other evidences of test-taker trauma; if the Finns hadn’t demonstrated conclusively that fear-free schools, cooperation rather than competition, free play, a recess every hour in elementary school, and that letting educators alone could produce world-class test-takers—if, if, if—then I might cut business leaders and politicians responsible for the America’s current education train wreck a little slack.

“But all of the above are demonstrably true. And yet we keep subjecting children to the same dangerous nonsense, year after year.”

A few years back, I spoke at the national convention of school psychologists. I listened as the president of the association spoke. He said that the three greatest fears of children are:

1) the death of a parent;

2) going blind;

3) failing a grade and being left behind.

Marion Brady is right. The testing regime is insane. It is child abuse.

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