There’s news out of Florida on the testing front. If you haven’t yet heard or read about it, I feel obligated to warn you: it’s grotesque.
It’ll probably turn your stomach a little. It has the potential to raise your blood pressure a few ticks. It might bring a scowl to your face.
But don’t worry. It’s okay to be disgusted.
There’s a boy named Michael. He’s nine, and in Florida, that means the special time in his life has finally come when he takes Florida’s standardized test. Sounds like another anti-testing sob story, and you’re not disgusted yet? Keep reading.
Michael is your typical kid in so many ways, except for the following: he’s blind and he’s mute.
Now, I’m not by any means saying someone who can’t see or speak is incapable of deep thought, comprehension, or success. Obviously we know that isn’t true. Nor am I saying Michael himself, in his unique situation, is totally helpless or hopeless.
But here’s the thing about Michael. In addition to being blind and mute, he has a very limited mental capacity. Michael’s brain is literally incomplete. He has a brain stem, and that’s it.
Let that soak in for a minute. He has a brain stem, and that’s it.
No vision, no speech, no complete brain. Yet still, bless his heart, a test taker.
Now’s the time to be disgusted.
I’m going to go out on a limb and assume Michael didn’t do too well on this test. Am I holding him to low expectations? Am I saying he can’t do certain things? Am I saying he won’t ever be college and career ready? Uh, yep, I am.
Michael has lived and will live his life on drastically different terms than most. I’m not a doctor (just a know-nothing teacher), but, barring incredible medical advancements, I imagine he’ll never bathe himself, dress himself, feed himself, write his name independently, or articulate an opinion. I’d also have to guess he could never comprehend the testing instructions or a reason for it. His life will probably never be comparable to his peers, except for the fact that he is held to the same academic standards as everyone his age.
It’s okay to be disgusted.
But it’s those who let this happen who should feel the most disgusted. For they are the most disgusting.