Ac­cred­i­ta­tion test­ing threat­ens the chal­lenged

Richmond Times-Dispatch - - EDITORIAL PAGE -

EDITOR, TIMES-DIS­PATCH:

The en­tire Rich­mond metro re­gion has done an ex­cel­lent job of re­spond­ing to anx­i­ety around school shoot­ings. The school districts have im­ple­mented pre­ven­tive se­cu­rity mea­sures that en­sure stu­dents can at­tend school with­out the anx­i­ety of po­ten­tial threats.

How­ever, Rich­mond has ig­nored an­other area of psy­cho­log­i­cal vi­o­lence — test­ing and its push for ac­cred­i­ta­tion. What is the func­tion of ac­cred­i­ta­tion test­ing? On the sur­face, it im­plies that stu­dents are at least re­ceiv­ing a cer­tain level of ed­u­ca­tion, which sub­stan­ti­ates the school that is pro­vid­ing it. Un­for­tu­nately, Rich­mond Pub­lic Schools has done of a poor job of get­ting its schools ac­cred­ited and pro­vid­ing a worth­while ed­u­ca­tion.

The anx­i­ety sur­round­ing ac­cred­i­ta­tion tests is high­est for stu­dents who seem to have no use for them. Fail­ing tests and not get­ting ac­cred­ited make both teach­ers and stu­dents feel like fail­ures. This as­so­ci­a­tion with school and fail­ure creates stu­dent alien­ation that may look like lethargy and a lack of en­thu­si­asm about ed­u­ca­tion. It is ac­tu­ally fear.

The fear of fail­ure is threat­en­ing and can make stu­dents con­temp­tu­ous of school. Ac­cred­i­ta­tion may prove the schools’ qual­ity, but there has been no real con­cern with giv­ing stu­dents a pas­sion for ed­u­ca­tion or even con­nect­ing them to some­thing pur­pose­ful. There has been no ef­fort to make ed­u­ca­tion se­duc­tive or even prac­ti­cal, only nec­es­sary. And even the idea of ne­ces­sity re­quires a foun­da­tion of use­ful­ness and pur­pose, which is not shown at RPS.

These stu­dents’ contempt for ed­u­ca­tion is valid and should be ex­pected given their con­di­tions. The goal of ed­u­ca­tion is to learn and to ac­quire cul­ture and tol­er­ance through facts. This can­not oc­cur with the pithy bat­tery of tests stu­dents must en­dure. The ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem has failed when school be­comes only a place of vi­o­lence, men­tal an­guish, and degra­da­tion.

AN­THONY REID.

HEN­RICO.

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