Friday 02 Dec 2016

Testing, Testing
Jennifer Flaten

"Mom, can you make me eggs for breakfast" my little third grader inquires as we are hustling out of the mall.

This very odd question nearly stops me in my tracks, I have reason to be perplexed, we have just left the food court and I personally watched my kid inhale a slice of pizza.

I assume she means for breakfast tomorrow, so I explain that I do not intend to make eggs tomorrow, but perhaps she can convince her dad to make them for Sunday breakfast.

In the middle of my long-winded explanation, she rather impatiently cuts me off and informs me that she want the eggs for breakfast on Monday.

This request comes as a total shock. I have never once offered the kids a breakfast involving more than pushing a button on the microwave or depressing the plunger on the toaster.

Hey, with three kids if I didn't limit breakfast choices I might as well don a 1950s diner style white paper hat and apron.

Naturally, I become suspicious of my child's sudden urge to eat like a farmer.

With further questioning, I learn that her beloved teacher advised everyone to eat "brain food" for breakfast on Monday.

Trust me, when I heard that I really had to bite my tongue, lest I snap out something that questions not only the teacher's IQ but her heritage as well.

Honestly, if the teacher wants the kids to eat "brain food" in the morning why doesn't she bring in a chafing dish of eggs?

My child is not taking "no huevos" for an answer; she continues to push for eggs.

I counter that her current weekday breakfast items are good enough, but the kid insists that the teacher wants them fueled up Monday morning.

So, what makes Monday so special that it merits "brain food"? Are they reconfiguring the Hubble telescope or going on a long science trek? Perhaps it is a district initiative to ensure no child falls behind, hungry. Wrong and wrong again.

Monday starts standardized test week. The test (imagine giant glowing letters and trumpets), otherwise known as the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Examination, that is a WKCE, as the numerous pieces of school correspondence fondly refer to it, has been the primary focus of school for the past 3 weeks.

The school is in an absolute tizzy over these tests, I believe the Pilgrims sailed to America with less preparation then what the school is doing for the WKCE.

Letters arrived home from the individual teachers, the principal and the District all of them instructing us on proper test preparation.

Mostly, the instructions focused on feeding the kids (duh) and ensuring they get a good night sleep (double duh)

Now you would think that this test meant the difference between life and death, close it determines the schools funding.

In some bizarre and archaic formula the better, you do on the test the more money you receive.

You would think the schools that do poorly on the test would be those in most desperate need of funding to make them perform better on the test. You would think wrong.

The purported purpose of the test is to demonstrate that the kids understand the fundamentals; to me all it demonstrates is that they crammed for the test.

They spent three weeks prepping for this test. This means they didn't learn any new concepts; they simply practiced taking the test.

Moreover, they will miss more actual learning as they spend an entire week filling little circles on the test strip.

For some reason, I find the emphasis on nutrition and rest the most offensive. What it says to me is that kids can come to school sleep deprived and starving on any other day and the school doesn't care but on standardized test day well that just won't do!

Pardon me if I don't arise at 6a to scramble up a bunch of eggs and a rasher of bacon. I think toaster waffles and microwave mini pancakes are just fine, thank you very much.

My kids are big breakfast eaters; between the three of them, they decimate an entire box of the toaster pastries or cereal each morning, but any mom knows that if your kid isn't a breakfast eater (and some aren't) you can't make them eat breakfast.

In addition, I am militant about sleep any day of the week not just test day. I don't understand parents that let their third graders stay up all hours of the night, that's what college is for not elementary school.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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