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Are We Really Learning?

By , Monkton, MD
As a teenage girl in the 8th grade I often find myself wondering, if I follow my dreams when I am finished with school, how am I going to use this? After my school career is finished I would love to become an artist, it has been my lifelong dream, and I plan on accomplishing it! Yet I sit at my desk everyday learning how to solve problems like, y = 2x + (3^100/ 789) – 45, find x then calculate the sun’s mass (Okay the problems aren’t exactly like that, but let’s just go with it!). So I sit there staring at the problem, finally I am left with the question on everyone’s mind, do I really need this? Or does my school need this so they get funding?
My mother is 39 years old, and went to a culinary arts school. Since I’m home schooled I spend a lot of time with my mom and never once have I seen her having to find inequalities on a graph. Even cooking every day, what more is she going to use than the basics, addition, multiplication, division, and subtraction. And she doesn’t even need to use “mental math” or write the problems down, because with 3 kids in Cyber Academy, we always have calculators readily available. Even my father who works in an engineering department has never had to find trigonometric ratios.
This morning I learned that Obama has waived the No Child Left Behind Acts in ten states, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee. Throughout this year State Standardized Testing has really been stressing me out. What happened to children being excited to learn, and more importantly what happened to children going to school to learn skills that are going to help them in life? Because when these children graduate in how many years, what are they going to have learned? I know from experience that all year teachers stuff our heads full of test prep and how to write an acceptable “Brief Constructed Response” or BCR. April comes and when we walk into school we are treated like criminals. We have two minutes to quickly throw our book bags in our lockers, and then we are shuffled to our designated “Testing Sites”. The teachers read, word for word, from their scripts that they have been rehearsing all year. We have 15 minutes to complete section 1 and 32 minutes to complete section two. One week later the testing is finished and we spend the rest of the school year trying to declutter our brains by getting rid “Ways to Prepare for the State Standardized Testing”. Every teacher wants us to be the best school in the county so we get the most funding, I’ve went to top public schools that always scored in the advanced section. But, why were we using 20-year-old text books that were covered in crude words and phrases? Has anyone even asked where all of this funding goes? Because it’s definitely not going towards better textbooks and other materials.
So, my fellow students are we going to sit around all year counting down the days until the dreaded week when we take our State Standardized Tests? Or are we going to voice our opinions? There are many websites such as http://unitedoptout.com/ that can help us in our revolution against the No Child Left Behind Act. They might say these tests are helping us, but they don’t have to take the tests and live in fear that we aren’t going to live up to the students they want! Are we learning to prepare us for life and to become better people, or are we learning so our schools can receive government funding? You decide.





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