School In The Time of Corona

School starts in less than a week here. It’s all going to be online and there are some tech issues that are already driving parents batty and – no joke – the Board of Ed literally voted on the bell schedule this afternoon. Teachers are going into their third day of in-service planning for the year and they didn’t know the bell schedules until a text alert hit all our phones 20 minutes ago.

To say this year is going to be weird as hell does a disservice to weird shit.

Since the spring, I have been calling for punk rock parenting where we all agree to just tear down all the expectations and assumptions we made before the very act of leaving the house was a high risk plan. These are the days to let the screen time flow like milk and honey and maybe not care so much if your kids take up swearing.

Now that school starting, it’s time to get into feminist punk rock parenting. What’s that, you ask? That’s where you dismantle the old systems and build them back with an intersectional intentionality. Or, to put it in simply, fuuuuuuuck grades. And benchmarking. And test scores. And all that stuff that the system has been trying to impose on young brains for generations.

Half of education is spent checking to see if kids learned stuff and then quantifying that data to present to someone else. That someone else – a school system, a government agency, what have you – does not know your child. In fact, they can’t identify your child inside the mass of data they are wallowing in. They like aggregates and those aggregates are NOT GOOD FOR INDIVIDUALS. And in this inequitable learning environment, they’re junk data anyway. Too many variables in the delivery of curriculum. You cant aggregate that which is disparate.

So buh-bye data. Hello parent-informed individual educational goals. Figure out what you want your kids to get out of this school year and concentrate on that part of it all.

Yes, there are basic things kids are supposed to learn at a particular time and you should probably pay attention to that. I really do want my daughter to exit third grade knowing how to do multiplication. But there are other things that will be just as important, such as her emotional maturation and well-being that no benchmarking test will ever measure. I, however, in my new role as full-time-volunteer paraeducator to her can measure it and that will be my focus for the year.

Do I care what her test scores will look like? Nah.

Will a college admissions officer ever look at her 3rd grade test scores? Also, nah.

Let’s use this moment in education to change how we look at measuring what children learn. Let’s stop trying to standardize everything for these unique and special little people. Let’s make school about learning and growing instead of grading. We have the opportunity so let’s seize it.

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