Learn from Othello: the folly in failing to question the validity of manufactured “proof”

“Be sure of it. Give me the ocular proof.”

–Othello in Othello, 3.3.360

Summary of Shakespeare’s Othello:

1. Iago hates Othello and wants to destroy him.

2. Iago creates fake “proof” that Othello’s wife, Desdemona, is cheating on Othello.

3.Othello fails to question the validity of the “proof” and accepts it to be true.

4. The “proof” facilitates Othello’s downfall and ultimate destruction.

Mission accomplished for Iago. How tragic.

The much-anticipated release of New York students’ assessment results was at once anti-climactic and utterly shocking.

Department of Education officials, both at the federal and state levels, warned for months that students would perform poorly on the new tests, which were redesigned to reflect Common Core Learning Standards and measure students’ “progress toward college and career readiness.”

(What “college”? What “career”?)

We all heard these warnings, so the revelation that two thirds of NYC’s students failed both the math and ELA sections of the exam should not come as a surprise. Yet sometimes even news that one knows is inevitable is shocking when it is finally announced.

And now, many people are finding themselves saying, “they actually did it.”

They purposely humiliated and demoralized the children who were unfortunate enough to be New York’s 3rd-8th grade sacrificial lambs last spring–and they did so unapologetically. They created developmentally-inappropriate assessments, implemented them haphazardly, told families that children would fail, and then had the nerve to insist that that would be okay. Mayor Michael Bloomberg even called the horrific test scores “very good news.”

They purposely set children and teachers up for failure, and the NYC assessment results are “proof” that the majority of NY’s 3rd-8th grade children are not on the path to becoming “college and career ready”–and that our public schools are failing.

And now this “proof” will be used as justification for more testing mandates in public schools, more test score-based teacher evaluations, more “rigor,” more cuts to art/music/extracurricular/athletic programs, more school closings, more union-busting, more taxpayer dollars for “school choice,” and more opportunities for people to profit from our children.

Not surprising–yet still, somehow, utterly shocking.

Setting children up for failure to advance a political agenda—while at the same time pretending to have children’s best interests in mind—is one of the most deceitful, perverse, and despicable forms of manipulation that exists. And unless people realize that even “ocular proof” can be manipulated to support an overall plan to destroy public education, public education in this country will be doomed.

How tragic.


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