Posted by: minnow | August 8, 2008

Education RANT

A wild goose chase?  I do not know if the following experience really qualifies (Check out Coffee With Chris).  I do know I am frustrated by a system that seems to have us run around in circle only to end up where we started.  I am tired of beating myself up and watching my children beat themselves up  and hearing about other families who are beating themselves up simply by trying to measure up to a standard that does not take who we really are into account. 

Today I tried to help my son register to take the GED.  He has been accepted into “higher education” without it but the job he recently applied for requires a high school diploma or a GED so we figured it would not hurt just to take the tests and have that little piece of paper in hand. 

HA!  Yes, HA!  That is my response to the thought that it would not hurt.  Today we dealt with the most frustrating, demeaning individual.  A process that should have taken, perhaps twenty minutes, was drug out for two hours.  The person in charge talked down to the would be applicants as if nobody in the room had a lick of common sense, did not know how to read or follow instructions, and could not keep more than one step of the process in their heads at a time.  The longer I stayed in that room the more irritated I got.  And yes, least anyone misunderstand, I know that one person does not define an entire system.  However, this is not an isolated experience and upon our leaving my son commented that those two hours were just like his multiple resource class experiences.

Toward the end of today’s session, just before the person was to call the individual applicants up, IN the order they had signed in SO that it would be fair and those who had signed in first would get the first available slots, I asked if, since my son was NOT signing up to take any of the tests, we could simply leave his forms on the corner of her desk for her to file away at the end of the session rather than wait until she had gone through the entire room of applicants.  I was then lectured on not taking cuts and re-lectured on the fairness of the system.  Trying again I explained that we were not signing up for any testing slots, that I still needed to bring in a notarized statement of home education (which she had stated earlier in the session was needed before we could sign up for test slots) and that we were meeting with her later in the day to apply for extended time, so we just wanted to leave his forms on her desk.  She re-lectured me on the need to have all his paperwork in place before my son could plug into a test slot and that she could not let me pay if he was not signing up for any tests.  “So,” I asked, “we need to sit here while you go through the whole room of applicants since we are the last ones on the list just in order to put his papers on your desk?”  “Yes,” she said and then went to the front of the room where she re-lectured everyone on the fairness of the system and the fact that there were not slots for everyone to take the tests the next day but that it was on a first come first serve basis in order to be fair for everyone.  She then launched in to how the people we saw at the beginning of the session were left-overs from prior registrations who for one reason or another did not have all their paper work ready.  Then she came back to us to say my son should just fill in the rest of the form (all optional questions) while she called on people IN the order that they signed up.  I could not help myself; I asked if the remaining questions on the form were all optional. (We had gone through the questions that were not optional one at a time as a group, setting our pencils down after finishing each question so that she would know when everyone was done which is why we should not work ahead because if our pencil was still raised while working ahead we would be holding everyone else up).  “Oh yes,” she said.  “He needs to just work on answering the rest of the questions while I call on the other people to sign up for test slots.”  “But he does not have to answer them,” I said.  “Well no,” she said.  “So we can just leave this on your desk and go?” I asked.  “Well, if he’s not signing up for…” “Thank you,” I said.  Then I turned to my son and said, “Let’s go” and we did.  ARGH!  For our second meeting the woman was actually quite helpful and not nearly so condescending.  Still, I hate hoops, especially when it feels like hoops just for the sake of hoops.

I am sure the above situation was not helped by the fact that I do not want to be going through this process in the first place.  I am frustrated with a system I believe is in desperate need of repair, perhaps even a whole make-over.  I am angered by the attitude that one’s intelligence, potential for success, worth, can be determined by tests that in truth only measure a tiny sliver of abilities and completely ignore elements I personally believe are much greater factors in determining a person’s future (and how he or she experiences life), such as his or her character.   I am weary of the prejudice that anyone who goes through the education process by a different route then K-12 public (or Christian) school is somehow less qualified, less talented, less intelligent, or less worthy than the masses who suffer through this deeply flawed system.  Can we really not find a way to affirm in people their strengths and giftedness, allow them to explore their potential, and permit them to develop their talents without magnifying another person’s weakness or lack? 



  1. Yikes! I am glad I was not in that situation, I surely would have not represented myself or Christ very well! Thanks for sharing, a real part of your life!

  2. totally frustrating

  3. […] (If you’re interested I’ve written about their stories in the past: here, here, here, here, and here).  Suffice it to say, fighting the system to educate my children, to see them as […]

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