The PARCC..yeah. The abbreviation we’ve all come to know and love ~ yes, that would be sarcasm. Yesterday was my daughter’s turn. You know, the one I wrote about in the post just prior to this one. 13 with the weight of the world on her shoulders, never one to make waves, she pulled a mind scramble on me and created her own little tsunami yesterday.
Yesterday morning, I woke her at the usual time. 5:30 am… I know…rather early isn’t it? Anyway, she had to catch the bus by 6:30 am. Upon glancing at her disheveled appearance, I naturally asked what the problem was. And true to her empathetic nature, she unleashed a whirlwind. She explained that the PARCC was to be given that morning. As a studious pupil…and she is (we’re talking tears over a B on a test, hours of pondering over one single algebra problem and multiple trips to library in any given week…She has never NOT been present at an honor roll ceremony and her principal informs me, she won’t be present for her senior year, because she will have graduated prior to) this child of mine, she had concerns for her teachers. She said she knew the PARCC wasn’t a test for her, but for them. And while she’s always scored well above average on state tests, this test was different. Now she had reached the age of understanding. She knew the meaning behind it. With the pressure she puts on herself (I swear…it’s not me. I BEG her to put down the homework and go to sleep!), she was feeling even more pressure to do PERFECT...no errors… for if she did, she felt her teachers whom she adores, would lose pay or even their jobs.
I was floored. Here’s a girl who at the ripe old age of 13, knows work ethic, has dreams of an ivy league college, has thrown the word ‘memorization’ to the wind and actually bothers to LEARN her subjects…she never goes against the grain and as middle children everywhere do….her race to perfection…to stand out, has always prevented her from voicing an opposing opinion to an authority in any way, shape or form.
While I knew that as some point, her heart would finally collide with her brain, I didn’t expect it to be at age 13. Although, truly, I was hoping it would happen sooner, rather than later. An education is pointless, if you don’t have the courage to use it.
We discussed the test for a bit, as she rushed around trying to get herself together. Finally, after the tears started to flow out of fears of not doing well enough, I said “Lil Miss, there are times in life when you need to make a judgement call. I see your struggle and in this moment I’m so very proud of you. I see you. I see who you are and I’ve caught a glimpse of who you will become. You aren’t an unruly kid looking for a way out of a test. For a mini-vacation or just anti-authority. And it’s children like you, who will grow to change the world for the better. The choice is yours. I trust you to make the best possible decision for you. Ask yourself…what do you want YOUR world to be like, when you have children?”
She asked what would happen if she just refused to take it. The question sort of stunned me. I hadn’t filled out an opt-out form. I hadn’t filled one out, because doing so would imply that I needed to get the states permission to exempt her from a test, that I hadn’t given permission for her to take in the first place. The state uses HER hard work on the PARCC to do what is supposed to be THEIR jobs…which in turn = free child labor…hey…isn’t that illegal? oh…my bad. Hypocrisy is perfectly legal now. And I don’t recall voting in yet another way to add pressure to an already overflowing pile of bureaucratic bullshit , to begin with. Why? Because we only vote in the people (after listening to their endless charade of fairy tales, and promises of goodness and light), not the load of horse-dung they produce after the fact. I mean sure…there are lots of bills and nonsense put before the heads, however, a vast majority never see the light of day.
I told her she basically had several options. Don’t lift pencil to paper, fail it…on purpose or just take the test. Whatever her choice, I’d back her up. I even gave her my work number and told her, if there was any sort of trouble, give the paper to the teacher.
Now here’s where it get’s…interesting. Actually, I didn’t even believe her! When she said she was going to refuse it, honestly… I laughed. I said “You?!? You who never makes even a ripple? You’re going to refuse it???”....I just KNEW I would never get a phone call, because I KNEW she wouldn’t do it.…
And WOW, was I wrong….
So yesterday, I get home from work and my husband (who was completely in the dark as to our earlier conversation) says to me “Ummmm…so, you know what I never expected?” Me: “No…what?!” He replies “A phone call from the principal about C~~~~~~ ……. WTF did I MISS????”
Here’s the point where I dropped everything and my jaw hit the floor. And honestly, I just started laughing. I was absolutely floored! LIL MIss??? Are you kidding me? She actually did something ‘wrong’???
Naturally that flipped over real quick to “Oh no! What did you say? Did you back her up???”
To which he said “I’m so confused. I have no idea what’s going on here! ( Wise decision) The principal called and said C~~~~ had filled in EVERY SINGLE CIRCLE on the PARCC, and while the school was not angry, they had concerns, because it was so unlike her and that she had been sweating and shaking so badly in class…..they had to send her to the restroom!”
Again….my jaw….yeah…at this point, it had made it’s way to the basement. Followed quickly by…”I better call the school”…
After a wonderful chat with the school principal, who again, was not angry in anyway….was very cordial and made it clear that he knew C~~~~~ had never been any sort of trouble maker… was a fabulous student and he’d only wanted to verify what C~~~ had said. And what C~~~ had said was that I had told her she had my permission.
About 10 minutes later, Lil Miss walked in the door. She had never even been confronted by any school staff, so she didn’t even know about the phone call. So I asked her…”how did it go?”. She said she filled in all the dots…I asked why she filled in ALL the dots and didn’t just mark random answers. She said “By filling in all the dots, I don’t throw my teachers into the frying pan. They’ll know I did it on purpose. They won’t think I simply didn’t know the answers, thereby…my teachers don’t look like bad educators.”
ummm….ok….I really can’t argue that. Then she said, she did however do the essay portion. But instead of the writing what was expected, she wrote the reason for her behavior. She wrote, she wouldn’t participate in the PARCC, because it wasn’t the states job to judge her teachers, based on the scores of the masses. It was her job and her parents…and she and her parents, thought her teachers were great. ( I removed awesome here, because I can’t recall if she’d written the word awesome or said it. It could have been ‘great’…she’s at school now, so I can’t ask)
I suppose…I really can’t argue that. Funny thing is, she still took a test…just not the PARCC. This was a test that I hadn’t expected. I can’t even decide if it was hers or mine? I suppose for her, it was a test to see if she had the courage to stand up for herself and those around her (although again…no child should be put in a position, where they have the pressure of knowing, that THEIR own abilities, may or may not cost an adult…a raise, a dip or their jobs altogether. An adult that they respect and care about. That’s not a child’s job! SHAME ON YOU BIG BROTHER!)
And I guess for me…the test was one of conviction….was I raising sheep or human beings? Amazing, articulate, logical and yet curious to the point of breaking through boundaries, empathetic, compassionate and with a wealth of knowledge and zero indoctrination…knowing that a beautiful mind can only thrive in an open one. Learning all sides prior to making an informed decision, regardless of the subject matter. From religion, to politics, to education, to expression….from the emotional need to override our brains, to shutting off the hysteria and letting a cooler head prevail. Sure…reaching perfection is a goal, just like any other….but knowing when to let it go, when to screw up, when to color outside the lines…that’s simply flawless.
PS: How did she find out what the PARCC was for? We hear the words ‘critical thinking’ on a daily basis. We say we want them to use it. We preach about it’s importance and slam anything that goes against it. However, critical thinking requires not only the written resources, but the ability to research, understand and put to use all that we have learned. Taking the knowledge you have gained and using it to create an informed opinion, is at it’s very core. Her teachers have never mentioned the purpose of this test, only asking that they eat a good breakfast and focus. And if it’s believed in anyway, that this child was swayed, know this….critical thinking is not the goal, if the idea is to raise a follower….critical thinking, in it’s true form, raises leaders. We shouldn’t tell our children they need to be brilliant and score high…and then tell them to shut-up when they tell us all they’ve learned. My child’s teacher’s, don’t require the PARCC to prove that they’ve succeeded. They’ve already proven that in spades. So how did she find out about the true meaning behind the test? Her teachers did their jobs….they taught her to read…