Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds;

and the pessimist fears this is true. (James Branch Cabell)
I'm very upset today by something I read in the papers, and I think I'm going to rant a little bit. You're welcome to walk away now if you'd like, otherwise feel free to chime in with "I can't believe it -- how horrible!" at appropriate intervals.

We had an incident at a local Wendy's this week that got quite a bit of press coverage. A man, for unknown reasons, decided to shoot several people in the Wendy's (killing one) before killing himself. The killer has been described as a nicely dressed man, whose neighbors knew him as a good, quiet, friendly guy. We're only now hearing of some violent behavior in his past.

We've also been hearing a lot about his deceased victim, a father of five who worked as a firefighter. Naturally there is a lot of public support for his family.

One of the other, less publicized, victims in the incident is a 16 year old girl who attends my son's school. She had missed school to accompany her mother to a medical appointment. They picked the wrong place to stop for lunch. She and her mother were hiding under a table when the gunman found them. This young teenager was face to face with the killer. I can't even imagine what it must have been like for her, facing death so clearly. One of the bullets he fired hit her, shattering bones. I don't know what her recovery is going to take, both physically and mentally, but my heart goes out to her.

My son did not hear any official announcements at school about the injured student. However there was a small quote in the local newspaper by the principal: "Hopefully she can come back, and we can give her support she needs, and we can get her back on track for FCAT."

I'm not a big fan of the FCAT testing, and this quote typifies one of the many reasons why. The theory behind the FCAT is wonderful - hold schools accountable by measuring that students are learning the required curriculum. But
the annual administration of the test does not test knowledge gained, but rather the difference in knowledge level between one year of students and the next. A single standardized test cannot and should not be the basis for funding, teachers' pay, student grades, and school ratings. Since Florida does put that much emphasis on the FCATS, the result is a school system that cares more about the test than the students.

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