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Some of us like tests

November 29, 2021

Eliminating standardized tests won't help everyone. Also, anti-vaxxers deserve their own school system.

Milt Policzer

By Milt Policzer

Courthouse News columnist; racehorse owner and breeder; one of those guys who always got picked last.

I’m not often stunned by a news story — there are so many awful things going on these days, after all. But I was stunned — shocked even — by the recent announcement that the University of California will no longer consider standardized tests when deciding which students to admit.

OK, I realize this doesn’t seem shocking to most of you. Standardized tests, supposedly, can be discriminatory. Some perfectly capable people are just not good under timed pressure. And getting good grades in high school probably is a good indication that someone can get good grades in college.

But what about the new form of discrimination that will be caused by ending the big tests?

I, for one, would never have gotten into a brand-name school and become the huge success that I am if not for standardized test taking. The class (in both the plaintiff and educational sense) of lazy students needs protection.

I did very little work in school. Heck, I could barely get out of bed in the morning. But I was a whiz at test-taking. I can still vividly remember the look of shock on my AP English teacher’s face when I got a high score on the AP exam.

Why should someone like me suffer in favor of all those drudges who insist on doing their homework?

If the point of choosing who gets into to school is prediction of success, why wouldn’t you want people who can solve problems quickly under pressure? And how about us creative types who need our sleep?

I should note here that the UC move probably won’t end discrimination. Grading, after all, can be pretty arbitrary and a lot of it is based on testing. To be consistent, high schools should be barred from testing, too.

Don’t expect to see a class action or any sort of political pressure on behalf of ace test-takers. We’re way too tired to bother.

But don’t expect controversies over admissions to end either. Grading can be pretty darn subjective.

Equality. It’s time to bring back Plessy v. Ferguson. No, not the racial separation part, but there’s another kind of equal separation that makes sense these days.

Before I go any further, I know it’s extremely unlikely that you’re reading this if you don’t know what Plessy v. Ferguson is. But if you’ve wandered into this on the internet and are mystified, Plessy v. Ferguson is the 1896 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said “separate but equal” facilities for different races was perfectly fine. It’s not fine now.

But what about separate but equal schools for anti-vaxxers? Think of the problems this would solve.

No more screaming at school board meetings. In fact, you could have an independent anti-vax (AV) school board district for the AV kids.

There are more than enough AV teachers to staff the schools and they wouldn’t be a strain on local budgets because of all the money saved by not having to hire science teachers for AV schools.

Regular school districts can then be free to create all the critical (and trivial) race theory curriculum they want.

Cold Topic. Another state bar needs our help. On Oct. 27, the Washington State Bar tweeted this: “If you could teach a CLE on any topic, what topic would you pick and why?”

When I checked last week, there were four responses. One of them was from a court reporter suggesting a class on using court reporters. The other three weren’t much more helpful.

So please help the Washington CLE people with topics that you, and presumably someone like you in Washington, could teach. Like “Messing With Associates” or “How to Look Busy.”

Be creative.

Categories / Op-Ed

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