It is Day Two of the Smarter Balanced Interim Assessment Block. While the test is happening, there is very little for me to do, since I’m supposed to monitor the student’s progress and conduct. I’ve been fussing with the new digital grade book a bit, and grading some of the completely paperless assignments, but that is a task that can’t get full attention, because of the proctoring.
It’s raining this morning, as I write this. Rain has a fascinating effect on students in Los Angeles. Attendance plummets, and often the students that are there have strangely altered attitudes about things. In addition, the internet services for LAUSD tend to suffer whenever it rains, because of a poorly done contracting job decades in the past. Considering that today we are attempting to do an online, digital examination requiring a secure internet connection, I do not have high hopes.
Tomorrow, the new President will be sworn in. That’s a Big Deal, and the students have all sorts of concerns about it. In response, LAUSD decided last week to make tomorrow “Unity Day,” where students are encouraged to talk about “coming together as a community.” Inspirational quotes are now being read over the loudspeaker by various teachers, at the beginning of class periods, in an attempt to nudge students in a positive direction. There are official lessons in “Unity” from the district for the hastily conceived event.
That’s why today’s composition is what it is. There’s nothing for our hero, or the team to DO. The setting is gloomy, you can see headstones on the hill behind the team….one of them might be for Academic Integrity, or maybe for High Standards. See…that’s high level sarcasm right there, True Believers. They just have to stand around, as things that they don’t necessarily like or support happen, and look Official.
To be fair…I think that a Unity Day isn’t a bad idea. My primary beef is twofold. The first one is simple…every day of instruction is vital to students who are already not as competitive as they should be. Taking any day out of circulation, not directly handling new content, is always a tangible risk, and I’ve already lost many days to the Walkouts in November (which Unity Day is a CLEAR response to). The second part is that I have already lost most of the week to Standardized Testing, magnifying the educational impact of any lost days. In that context, it just feels like things could have been planned out more intelligently.
In a few minutes, I’ll need to drive to work in the rain, which is always pleasant.
Still, I want to get back to the art for just a moment. Cap and Spirit Pony still haven’t repainted the suit. It still has the whole, “Iron Patriot” style to it, which I’ve been giving some serious thought to. In the films, the whole “Iron Patriot” concept is an attempt to “re-brand” the War Machine suit as something more positive. Something more like Captain America. That’s important, because Captain America, in the eighties, tended to speak a lot about not representing the Administration or the Government, but about the American Dream.
I think maybe that’s why I haven’t come up with a new suit design, but she always looks kind of sad when wearing it now. The paint job represents a hope that ingenuity, creativity, and freedom of expression still exist, and are things worth armoring up for. That an Alien American, a person of diversity, might find those things to be worth standing up for.
I don’t think either of those things are served by Standardized Testing, or some hastily put together Unity activities. For people to come together, even students, they need to build upon genuine activities…interestingly, activities not unlike their own walkouts, which were an exercise in free speech. I hope that somehow being sworn in will be a sobering experience for our new Chief Executive, and in some way the people around me can stop being so radically divided.
My two cents, on this gloomy day.