...So anyway, I was sitting in this classroom watching a teacher implement the Open Court curriculum for the mandated 90 minutes a day. Since teachers and students don't have much choice in the matter, I could hear the same sentences coming out of both adult and student mouths from other classrooms up and down the school hallway. The teacher I was watching was running a few minutes behind, so I'd hear stuff coming from other classrooms, and sure enough, several minutes later nearly the same words would be replayed in the room where I was sitting.
I thought I might be mishearing things when the kids down the hall started chanting, "It was a comfortable prison! It was a comfortable prison!" But no... Moments later the kids in my room were directed to chant the same sentence. Nobody blinked an eye -- these beautiful, vibrant children who had not moved or been asked, pushed, prompted, or inspired to think an original thought for the entire hour that I'd been sitting there, were chanting "It was a comfortable prison." Direct from the teacher's manual. These are high expectations, NCLB-style.
I've been thinking about the many levels at which this little classroom vignette illustrates injustice and inequity in education and society, but for tonight I'll just ask you to think about it the next time you hear rhetoric of high expectations.
By the way, the last time I heard Open Court classroom chanting, the sentences were:
"The boycott destroyed the toy company."
"The loyal employee enjoyed her bonus."
Add in "It was a comfortable prison." and then consider whose agenda is being satisfied with this so-called education.
On those on the right will always tell you that cries of "class warfare" are ridiculous. How can we continue to believe this? It is time to wake up America.