Ethan is dying. He has been in hospice care for the past month. We are in the last days of his life. His loving and dedicated teacher, Jennifer Rose has been visiting him every day, bringing some love, peace, and light into these last days. How do we know that he knows that she is there? Because he opens his eyes and gives her a little smile. He is content and comforted after she leaves.Seriously. This is a thing. And Andrea Rediske isn't fighting to keep Ethan from having to take a test he can't take, she's fighting to keep his teacher from being penalized for him not taking it. This is not just an isolated case, either. Florida also made a boy born without a full brain, just a brain stem, take a standardized test. New York sent someone to a hospital to administer a test to a boy in for screening for brain surgery. Valerie Strauss explains that:
Jennifer is the greatest example of what a dedicated teacher should be. About a week ago, Jennifer hesitantly told me that the district required a medical update for continuation of the med waiver for the adapted FCAT. Apparently, my communication through her that he was in hospice wasn’t enough: they required a letter from the hospice company to say that he was dying. Every day that she comes to visit, she is required to do paperwork to document his “progress.” Seriously? Why is Ethan Rediske not meeting his 6th-grade hospital homebound curriculum requirements? BECAUSE HE IS IN A MORPHINE COMA. We expect him to go any day. He is tenaciously clinging to life.
Why does Florida — and other states, as well as the U.S. Department of Education — force kids with impaired cognitive ability to take standardized tests? Because, they say, nearly every child can learn something and be assessed in some fashion.And they're determined to explore the outer bounds of what "nearly every child" means, apparently. Set aside the question of whether standardized testing is in fact educationally appropriate for children with severe brain damage or without a full brain—though there's clearly something incredibly screwed up about the idea that every single child should be shoved into a multiple-choice box and their teachers judged on it regardless of the children's circumstances. Setting that aside, what about basic humanity?
Last year, this idea that standardized testing is not just appropriate but essential for all kids led Ethan Rediske to be asked a test question about eating a peach when he is on a feeding tube and, his mother says, "He doesn't know what a peach tastes like ... He will never know what a peach tastes like. Or an apple. Or bananas. It's completely irrelevant to his life." This isn't some misapplication of the policy. This is the policy, from the very top down. And everyone involved should be ashamed.