Contradictions of School Reform: Educational Costs of Standardized Testing

By Linda M. McNeil | Go to book overview

Chapter 4

The School for Science, Engineering, and Technology: A Different Kind of Bargain

The thin, meager light that managed to filter through the grimy windows exposed the gouges and scratches on the faded old blackboard. The room was entirely bare, with no hint of the name of the class, the work of the students or the personality of the teacher. Broken desks sat empty under the windows, still aligned in straight rows. Twenty students sat in the four rows closer to the door, slightly to the right of the teacher’s lectern. They looked to be typical teenagers: boys slouched down, with long legs extended into the aisles, girls sitting slightly straighter. A mixture of races and sizes—alert but not animated, they waited for their teacher. On their desks were a few pages of notebook paper, but no books. Visually, the scene could be a third-world school, a photo from a Peace Corps brochure, a request for donations for school supplies and equipment. Sam Beshara, huge and huffing, burst into the classroom, a heavy engineering text tucked under his left arm, chalk in his right hand, and a stack of papers clutched between the two. “Moment!” The students registered surprise and amusement: what next? “We have to be able to work with ‘moment.’ What is it? You can’t build, you can’t understand materials, you can’t make anything work until you understand ‘moment.’” He set down the book and the papers, picked up the chalk, and jabbed the blackboard with numbers. The numbers grew into equations. The teacher boomed, “Of course, we have no books, so you

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