Wednesday, October 31, 2007

FROM OUR OVERSTOCKED ARCHIVES: A STANDARDIZED TEST FOR YOUR SCHOO

[50 years ago last summer, your editor covered his first story in Washington. Throughout the year, the Review will exhume some of his writings]

[From Sam Smith's Great American Political Repair Manual, WW Norton, 1997]

Here are a few questions that may help you find out what's right and wrong with your community's schools. Add or subtract points for any statment that is true:

1. THE PRINCIPAL

is seen regularly in classes finding out what's going on . . . +10

is seen regularly in hallway in conversation with students . . . +5

is seldom seen in the hallways . . . -5

uses a bullhorn in hallways . . . -8


2. THE SCHOOL

has less than five hundred students . . . +5

has more than five hundred students . . . -5

is still trying to figure out this year's actual enrollment . . . -8


3. THE WORST TEACHER IN THE SCHOOL

just started this year. . . 0

has been in the system five years . . . -3

is working on 20 . . . -5

is now a principal or downtown administrator . . . -8


4. OLDER STUDENTS ARE TYPICALLY CONSIDERED

discipline problems . . . -10

members of a community . . . +5

potential teachers and tutors for younger students . . . +10


5. IN HISTORY AND SOCIAL STUDIES CLASSES

students don't use textbooks since the teacher prefers primary sources . . . +5

students don't use textbooks because the system ran out and the new order hasn't come in . . . -3

What history and social studies classes? They were replaced by the anti-drug program years ago . . . -8


6. PARENTS

are regularly used as volunteers in elementary school . . . +3

are regularly used as volunteers in middle and high school . . . +5

are required upon coming to the school to sign a log and explain the purpose of their visit . . . -5


7. TV IS USED

to teach critical thinking about the media and advertising . . . +10

to make curriculum more informative and interesting . . . +5

to view purple dinosaurs and show business kids from hell . . . -5


8. DEDUCT ONE POINT FOR EVERY TV COMMERCIAL SEEN DURING THE TYPICAL SCHOOL DAY. [ ]


9. AS STUDENTS GROW OLDER THEIR PERFORMANCE TENDS TO

get worse . . . -10

stay about the same 0

get better . . . +10


10. THE SCHOOL

is open to the community after regular classes . . . +5

offers classes for adults and families . . . +5

teaches its community's history and culture . . . +5

practices a wide variety of teaching styles and techniques . . . +5

has lots of field trips and out-of-school activities . . . +5

offers assistance to students affected by drugs/alcohol, pregnancy, parenthood, truancy, abuse, gangs, etc. . . . +5


11. THE SCHOOL

offers anti-drug program but not drama classes . . . -5

offers driving lessons but not civic lessons . . . -5

offers JROTC but not mediation or peer conflict resolution . . . -5


12. STUDENTS LEARN

how to ask searching questions . . . +5

how to get around locker searches . . . -5

how to argue persuasively with their parents . . . +5

how to argue persuasively with their parole officer . . . -5


13. FOR SECURITY AND DISCIPLINE THE SCHOOL USES

city police . . . -10

security guards . . . -5

school faculty and administrators . . . +5

school faculty, administrators and the students themselves . . . +10


13. UPON ENCOUNTERING A YOUNG PERSON IN THE HALL, A SCHOOL OFFICIAL WOULD TYPICALLY SAY SOMETHING LIKE

"I need to see your ID." . . . -5

"Good morning, Jannine" . . . +5


14. THE SCHOOL BELIEVES THAT STUDENTS LARGELY LEARN BY

listening . . . -10

doing . . . +10


15. IN PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER GRADUATION, THE SCHOOL

concentrates on the needs of college-bound students . . . -5

is as interested in student not going to college as those who are . . . +5


16. DEDUCT THREE POINTS FOR EVERY AUDIO-VISUAL AID OR COMPUTER IN THE SCHOOL THAT IS NOT WORKING [ ]


17. EXTRA-CURRICULAR PROGRAMS SUCH AS THE ARTS, SPORTS AND SKILL-ORIENTED CLUBS ARE CONSIDERED

nice but in today's competitive environment must give way to other things . . . -5

an important part of what makes the school great. . . . +5


18. BONUS: THE SCHOOL IS

a happy place that I would enjoy attending . . . +20


SCORING YOUR SCHOOL
Top of the class: 145 and up
Tries hard : 100 and up
Needs effort : 60 and up
Get a new school board : Below 60

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PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM

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Your editor has been a musician for many decades. He started the first band his Quaker school ever had and played drums with bands up until 1980 when he switched to stride piano. He had his own band until the mid-1990s and has played with the New Sunshine Jazz Band, Hill City Jazz Band, Not So Modern Jazz Band and the Phoenix Jazz Band.

NOTES ON THE MUSIC

Here are a few tracks:

SAM SMITH'S DECOLAND BAND

'SHINE' 

JELLY ROLL

PHOENIX JAZZ BAND

APEX BLUES   Sam playing with the Phoenix Jazz Band at the Central Ohio Jazz festival in 1990. Joining the band is George James on sax. James, then 84, had been a member of the Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller orchestras and hadappeared on some 60 records. More notes on James

WISER MAN  Sam piano & vocal

OH MAMA  Sam piano & vocal