Thursday, March 01, 2007

Tom Chapin - Not On The Test

“The School Board is faced with no child left behind
With rules but no funding, they're caught in a bind.
So music and art and the things you love best
Are not in your school 'cause they're not on the test.”

I love this new ode Tom has allegedly written to a third grader. Methinks he really meant for all of us to hear it. Yep, we’re facing the big test month in America. Schools everywhere this month will have several weeks set aside for the NCLB testing. Everyone hates it, however none but a very few school boards and states are standing up against it. We all know that taking time out to test means taking time out from instruction. Approximately 38% of the school year is set aside for testing now. Not that they instruct less, really. They just no longer do all the things they used to do to make school meaningful. End result? More drop-outs.

But here’s the real kicker. Have you ever wondered why, oh why does the government need to know the test score and social security number of every child in every school in the United States from Kindergarten to 12th grade? Ah, here’s the dirty little secret you’ll need to research yourself because you know the press and the government are not going to tell you. Buried way deep down inside the tome known as NCLB is permission for Military recruiters to have access to the SS#’s & test scores. True. And notice how deeply into the documents this little tidbit is hidden. Yep, only your friendly eartasting friends have the patience to do what no congresspeople have the time and/or will to do - read the entire documant. (NCLB, Section 9528(a)(1)--ARMED FORCES RECRUITER ACCESS TO STUDENTS requires each LEA receiving funding under NCLB to provide military recruiters access to secondary school students names, addresses, and telephone listings).

“Debate is a skill that is useful to know,
Unless you're in Congress or talk radio,
Where shouting and spouting and spewing are blessed
'Cause rational discourse was not on the test.”

Oh, and then there’s the open secret that a very few people in private industry are getting extremely rich selling tests that the government requires. And, of course, those those individuals who profit are selected by elected officials who even with a $60,000 a year income somehow manage to come out of congress with a bank account that measures in the millions. Should be laws against these things, but of course, there aren’t because look at who is responsible for writing the laws. Profit motive for the NCLB is possibly even more important than scientifically choosing the next generation of military personnel. Only the next war will tell us for sure.

“Thinking's important. It's good to know how.
And someday you'll learn to, but someday's not now.
Go on to sleep, now. You need your rest.
Don't think about thinking. It's not on the test.”

Ouch, got stuck on the political. Let’s face another truth. This song is simply written, which only makes it’s deeper message and irony all that more important. I love this song and hope every citizen listens to it closely and thinks about it before encouraging their local politicians to renew the NCLB. Oh, you haven’t heard? Congress could throw the whole thing into the garbage this year if they wanted. But, then, who would they turn to next time they needed to raise funds to run again? Ah, the vicious cycles they allow their corrupt selves to get into.

Thanks Tom, you did good! Your song manages to make me feel good and be angry at the same time - fantastic! Tom Chapin