Thursday, April 18, 2013

The AIMS Test Bombs at Longview Elementary? (UPDATED)

Is it a mad garbage can bomber or an angry AIMS resistor?

Today brings news of a bomb threat at Longview Elementary in Phoenix.  According to cops, a woman called in a warning about a bomb in a garbage can.  The cops dutifully evacuated and searched the school, finding nothing.  Who could do such a thing?  Naturally, thoughts immediately go to this week's Boston Marathon bombing, and helicopter parents were quick to arrive at school to check on their precious little ones.  But with AIMS testing in full swing, and the growing movement of standardized test resistors, the roll call of potential faux bombers is too long to list.

Governor Brewer may have signed the repeal of the AIMS test, but that hasn't stopped thousands of Arizona students from having to take it this week, nor has it removed the pressure on teachers and administrators who have been promised threatened that next year the results from the test's replacement will count heavily against their future funding, pay and employment prospects.

And if you believe the hype, everyone's swinging into full "yay standardized testing" gear.  A local McDonald's dished out free breakfasts to students, hoping to get them charged up on corporate crap and monotonous fill-in-the-bubble-style skills that fast food employees need these days!  And maybe there's a little side benefit: it builds customer loyalty!
"It does. It makes me feel like, oh my God, after so much money being spent here, I finally get something back," says mom Naomi Quintero, who eats at the restaurant every weekend with her family.

Quintero's sons will each get 18 grams of protein in their egg sandwich. That's pretty good fuel for a test, said Simin Levinson, a nutritionist at Arizona State University. "I would consider it to be a well-rounded meal," she says.

But it's not the only place to get one. The nearby Creighton School District says about 4,700 students eat a free breakfast every day. Their families are poor enough to qualify for subsidized meals. Levinson says these meals are nutritionally similar to the free McDonald's menu. But if she had a choice, she'd take the one that's free of corporate influence.

"This is where I can't help but be a little bit skeptical: Is this a ploy that McDonald's is using in creating a whole new generation of consumers that will be brand loyal specific to McDonald's?" she says.

Meanwhile, local schools do their best to get their students hyped on the dismal future that the test implies lies in wait for them.  Huachuca Mountain Elementary School dedicated an entire multi-media spectacular assembly towards their objective of getting kids amped up to sit quietly in their seats for several days straight.  Cheerleaders cheered and a school-created video pummeled kids with the critical importance of number 2 pencils and scan-tron sheets.  A second-grader who was in the video reported that the experience was "kind of weird".  Another student, had another strategy in mind: “Pray to God and think positive ideas."  Maybe God can do something about the income and funding disparities in Arizona schools, because the politicians can't seem to.

Fill in the blank: The AIMS test is a waste of ____________.

However, when it comes to attacking teachers, they have no shortage of ideas.  For instance, how about filling classrooms with shell-shocked soldiers?  Arizona is sixth in the nation for the number of veterans, so it seems like a no-brainer to convert our already prison-like schools into military bootcamps.  In a program that they hope to increasingly target towards controlling those unruly poor children, Troops to Teachers is ready for the challenge!
“They bring a set of skills that enables them to get young people – even disruptive young people – to really sort of sit up straight and pay attention and engage in learning,” Feistritzer said.

Contreras said he thinks his experiences and management skills honed in the military have helped him get through to kids in a classroom setting.

“Classroom management is important, especially for middle school kids,” he said. “You have that military discipline to get them focused, so I think it’s a little easier for me to redirect their attention.”

And, just like with McDonald's little "donation", there's a side benefit for the military as well:  “Just a few weeks ago, an old student came back and asked me about getting into the military and said, ‘Hey, you were one of the reasons I changed my life.’ It’s that satisfaction in knowing that I’m affecting the lives of children and their futures.”  Nice, we always need more cannon fodder.


 Another day of AIMS testing, another bomb threat.  This time at North High School.  Channel 3 confirms they are testing today.  Is this part of the resistance or just kids pranking?

Kids just milling about, but it's still better than AIMS testing.

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