The 5-Minute Break

Jose Vilson Jose

Last week, New York State Education Commission decided to give students a mandated 5-minute break in the first book of the English-Language Arts test. When I read about it, I laughed for reasons I rather expand on after the math test. However, I did receive a tape with some recorded dialogue from the closed room where some of these decisions were made. Here’s an excerpt from the dialogue:

Official A: What do you mean you’re going to give kids a five-minute break?
Official B: Well, we can’t give kids less time on test, less questions, less passages, less days of testing, or less testing period. If we’re going to race to the top, we might as well give them a shot of Gatorade during the race.
OA: You’re making no sense whatsoever. You’ll only do this on the first day, too. For what?
OB: Listen, we just put in a story about a pineapple with no sleeves, and that was the moral OK? Does anything we do actually make sense?
OA: Not really, but did you ask teachers?
OB: Umm … we had teacher voice in the process, and they had their pieces to say, and incorporated it into the tests …
OA: Bet they protested.
OB: Hell yeah they did, but you think I’m going to take their word over all the money we’re getting? Holy crap. If I don’t do this, you’re out of the job, I’m out of the job, [points fingers all over the place] she’s out, he’s out. This whole freakin’ department is out of a job, and what do you think we’re going to do next?
OA: Go to a different state and do the same thing there?
OB: Nope.
OA: Become trust fund managers for up and coming Teach for America participants?
OB: Nope.
OA: Go back to the classroom?
OB: Exactly! You know how hard that is? You know all the crap I had to deal with? The tons of papers I graded, the people who tried to screw me over because I wasn’t following the freakin’ pacing calendar, the stupid mandates, the tons of testing we had to do from people who don’t get that my kids aren’t there yet?
OA: You mean like we’re doing to other teachers now?
OB: Shut up!

When I first heard this, I laughed, but then something interesting happened:

OA: We just got this letter from another freakin’ teacher blogger called Gangsta A$$ Teacher.
OB: Let me see that!
OA: hands over the letter …
OB: mumbles to himself … absurd amounts of testing … various forms of assessing without letting Pearson dictate our policy … why stress kids out so much … are you gonna wait 10 years to figure out that you’re wrong just like with NCLB … I have some solutions that probably work better for all involved … research, research, research … Signed, The Rational Ones
OA: So?
OB: SO!? Why did you give me this crap?
OA: Did you read where it said …
OB: I read it, fool! We’re still going to do this, and that’s that!
OA: But … but …
OB: Do you want to go back to the classroom, Mr. Bright Ideas?
OA: Umm ..
OB: I thought so.
OA: What do you want me to do with GAT?
OB: I want you to have his district block his website from all computers.
OA: They already did.
OB: How about the state?
OA: Yep.
OB: OK, how about the country?
OA: Getting there.
OB: OK, I got it. Why not just make the math test the week after and give his kids only three days to really concentrate on this test and put his awful teacher data report in the Post?
OA: Only if we get to apologize later.
OB: Done.

Jose, who is screwed. Optimistic, but … oh boy.