Thursday, August 15, 2013

Seriously? Because of testing?

My wife and I are reality TV watchers. We don't watch them all (it's hard watching anything at all with 4 kids, a business, and teaching), but we do have our favorites. There is something about vegging out to the silly drama in the lives of others that helps us transition to sleep time.

One of our favorites right now is Master Chef. It's a cooking competition on FOX that is another in the TV empire of Chef Ramsey. I personally love the guy! Would love to meet him and talk soccer, cooking, and family. (So if you know him.. let me know!)

The focus of the show is to pit 20 "home cooks" against each other to win the title of Master Chef. They cooks compete in different individual and team challenges and in each episode one chef is asked to turn in his/her apron. It's awesome seeing the wonderful creations that these self-taught cooks can pull together in a timed challenge.

In the most recent episode that my wife and I watched, the show started with what is called a "Mystery Box Challenge." The aspiring chefs have to cook with whatever ingredients are in the box coming up
with their own unique creations. The best dish gets an advantage in the elimination challenge, so it's a big deal!

But for this challenge, there is one huge box at the front of the room. When the box is lifted family members of the cooks are revealed (to be used as inspiration to cook something new... not to be cooked!). However there was one contestant that didn't have a family member there at all. The hardest part, is that it was the contestant that is a single mother, and her love for her son has been her motivation through out the season. Naturally, everyone is thrilled to see their loved ones, and the camera pans to her crying in the back wishing her son was there.

I'm sure my wife and I weren't alone in immediately wondering where her son was, and if something had happened. So, when Ramsey walks an iPad back to show her a video message from her son, we were ready to figure out what was going on. You can only imagine my surprise when the reason he couldn't come be there for his mom was because of state testing! And when Ramsey leaned over and said, "That's important," I nearly lost it!

Seriously? As a teacher, and a parent I'd rather see my child after two months than not! Especially when the reason is that he has to take a state standardized test! Really? There isn't a plan in place to do a make up test? Or maybe in Philadelphia missing the "test" comes with heavy fines or something? But to me, it just seems ridiculous that a child miss any opportunity to see a parent after a long period of time when the reason is because of state testing. Where is the cut off here? What if it was a chance to see his mom who had been deployed in the military? Or if she had been in the ICU out of state and there was an opportunity to see her that happened to fall on a state testing day? Does the kid miss seeing a parent in all of those situations? I just don't get this line of thought.

I teach in a school that is more than 60% military. I've learned that I'll get the most out of my students if I show understanding and support when they miss something school related in order to spend time with a parent that hasn't been home for a long period of time (weeks, months, or years!). I get the most out of the parents as well.

I think the producers needed to push a little harder on this one, and not have so easily allowed state-testing to be a good reason to not bring the kid to Cali to see his mom. It's not. It's just a test. That's right, I said it! It's JUST a test! And I think this little example proves how stupid-crazy we've become over the concept of testing. It's just silly!

And the worst part is this kid is going to grow up and a part of his memory of this entire thing will be missing this opportunity because of testing!! It's just another example of something school related leaving a bad impression on a student! A test that matters not one bit to his possible future success in life prevented him from an awesome memory with his mom.

Life is about the memories you create with your loved ones, and this was a lost opportunity blamed on state-standarized tests. Not cool!.. ok.. my rant is over. Thanks! :)