Laura Waters

The Walking Dead' Gets a New Plot Line Thanks to PARCC

While my husband and I were waiting for “Portlandia” to cue up on the Roku last night, I happened to click on a link from my Twitter feed that fed to a new anti-PARCC video on the standardized tests that some New Jersey schoolchildren were supposed to take today. Suddenly my Droid was filled with head-shots of parents uttering apocalyptic fears for their children’s self-esteem (“He is deflated and defeated!”) and articulating the fear induced by the “ambush” of PARCC. “This is dangerous for all our children,” a sonorous father intoned, while a mother barked indignantly, “I am not a dollar sign!” Moment of confusion: was this a “Portlandia” take-off? Or had I inadvertently switched channels to Jon Stewart? Nope—turns out the video was for real, produced and funded by Save Our Schools NJ (SOS-NJ) and United Opt-Out, featuring parents from Montclair, one of New Jersey’s cushy suburbs. Hubby went to bed and I watched (okay, true confessions) my favorite show, “The Walking Dead.” After the required ritualized scene of Rick and his bedraggled comrades decapitating zombies, a commercial came on that is part of the New Jersey Education Association’s (NJEA) anti-PARCC campaign (funded by its SuperPAC). It featured more parents yearning for the days before standardized tests (that would be about forty years ago) or, more specifically, before PARCC (which their children haven’t actually taken yet): “School is a fiasco for my seven-year old,” said one parent, because this new test is “sucking all the soul out of learning.” That is so Walking Dead! But, true to the classic narrative arc of tragedy, deus ex machina descended today in the form of delayed openings for schools because of icy roads, at least in Central Jersey, and PARCC tests will be postponed till tomorrow morning. One more day to save your child’s self-esteem from the End of Days when they’ll sit for 45 minutes before that soul-sapping computer screen! One more day to fend off the apocalypse when your child will take a test that is aligned with standards that were implemented in schools five years ago! Of course, I'm sure these surreal ads have nothing to do with New Jersey’s new tenure reform law, endorsed by NJEA in our pre-Armageddon days but never by SOS-NJ, that ties as much as 10 percent of student growth on PARCC tests to teacher evaluations. Yet here we are, Terminus behind the gates, our wee ones pursued by esteem-sucking zombies while desperate parents plea for salvation and dystopia beckons. Rick! Save us!  
Laura Waters writes about New Jersey education politics and policy for WHYY’s Newsworks and NJ Spotlight. An earlier version of this post appeared on her own blog, NJ Left Behind. She is a mother of four and has been a school board member in Lawrence Township, New Jersey, for 10 years.
Laura Waters
Laura Waters is the founder and managing editor of New Jersey Education Report, formerly a senior writer/editor with brightbeam. Laura writes about New Jersey and New York education policy and politics. As the daughter of New York City educators and parent of a son with special needs, she writes frequently about the need to listen to families and ensure access to good public school options for ...

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