When I am King: No Child Left Behind Left Behind

When I am King...

There will be testing testing.

The U.S. government decided recently that the “No Child Left Behind” policy of the former administration wasn’t working. Perhaps it should have been called “Many Children Left Behind” or “No Child Left Behind, but Many Run Over by the Bus,” because it clearly wasn’t making the grade.

Maybe it was the fact that it was a system designed by America’s favorite C-student president (“I pledgify my allegiance…”). Or perhaps the kids in the failing schools are just plain dumb, and no amount of attention focused on those schools can compensate for their willful thickheadedness. Or maybe it’s just time to try something new because that’s what governments do.

But I think the problem is rooted in testing.

In order to judge whether schools are failing, the children in those schools take standardized tests. Schools with enough children who pass the tests are considered okay, and the teachers can get back to work beating some sense into the children. Schools without enough passing children (a.k.a., “dummies”) are considered failing, and the spotlight of shame is focused on the school to inspire fear and educational prowess.

This system of ritual embarrassment is apparently not succeeding. Of course, anyone that was ever ridiculed in school for doing something unusual could have told you as much; taunting only benefits the ringleader and the laughing onlookers, not the victim.

But how can you successfully test all children on what they’ve learned in a systematic and consistent way across the whole country? What tests will you use? Who will create them? Will they need #2 pencils? Will they test the children’s ability to fill in the circles completely? Will they allow for bathroom breaks? Will there be more “C” answers than “A” because it always seems like cheating to have the first multiple-choice answer be the right one?

When I am King, there will be a focus on testing. In particular, we need to make sure that we have qualified testers to create and administer the tests. We need an entire system designed to test the people that write the tests, to make sure that their testing skills are tested. Testers that succeed can go on to give other tests to testers. Those that fail will be mercilessly teased, and can then apply for a job at the local Department of Motor Vehicles.

This system of writing tester tests, testing testers, and grading tests taken by testing testers test-takers, will result in a progressively more refined testing environment with the best testers we can produce. But in the meantime, teachers can get back to actually teaching and children can focus on learning. Or taunting the weak ones and taking their lunch money, which is what school is really all about.


Little Joke for Thursday

I wonder:

Are those people that aren't on some kind of reality TV show called the unwatched masses?


Video: Chet Does Nerdcore

I wrote this geeky music video piece for a recent tech conference about the product I work on. It's about people and product-related things you've probably never heard of, but I'm hoping it's funny anyway.


When I am King: Fashion Tips

When I am King...

Button-up shirts will be tucked into pants that fasten at the waist.

Somehow, while I wasn’t paying any attention, it has become a fashion trend to untuck those button-down dress shirts that men wear. I think it’s supposed to give the wearer a look that says, “I care enough about what I look like to spend money on a nice shirt, but not enough to bother tucking it in.” It also has that casual, slept-in-my-clothes look, combined with a feeling of having forgotten to tuck back in the last time you went to the bathroom. All that’s missing is some toilet paper stuck to the shirttails.

I’m having a hard time dealing with this development. For one thing, I can’t get at my pockets anymore because they’re covered by these shirt tails hanging around like last month’s cold. But even worse, there’s this loose feeling of my clothes not being completely on that I just can’t adjust to. The shirt is wafting around, open to the elements, and I’m not liking it.

Then I realized; the men’s shirt has become a blouse. Maybe if we wore bras, things would feel more secure and cozy in there.

Meanwhile, the pants have become looser and ride lower than the waist, showing a part of the body that is only attractive on about 2 people in the world.

The strangest thing about it is the disparate origin of these fashions. Untucked shirts come from the world of Large. Instead of tucking in shirts, men trying to hide their gut would untuck and let the shirt fall straight, like covering a nuclear arsenal with a camo tarp. Instead of seeing who could stand to miss a lunch based on the size of their middle, you’d just have to look for the untucked shirts. This worked like a charm until this new fashion trend where everyone seems to be untucked. Maybe it’s a conspiracy by the Large-ish Association of People (LAP); by forcing the trend on the rest of us, they can now hide in public.

The low-riding pants fashion, conversely, comes from the usual place: the world of Thin. This fashion mistake is brought to us by supermodels who haven’t fully digested a single meal in years. The pants look great on them because they add a third dimension to an otherwise 2D body. But you put them on a real person and everyone looks like a plumber in mid-repair.

Shirts that hang out, pants that don’t come up to the waist: It’s like a married couple going through a midlife crisis. They’re having a trial separation and playing with their lifestyles. Maybe the shirts are going to start seeing other articles of clothing, maybe even other shirts. And the pants are just sinking lower into depression. I just want to shake some sense into them, “You’re shirts and pants! Get ahold of yourselves! And each other!”

When I am King, shirts will tuck in again. And they’ll do so into pants that cover all of those parts of the body that should never have been seen in public in the first place.