When control becomes ordinary

praxis3

When I showed up for my first year of college as a lad of eighteen I remember hearing about someone cheating on a test here or there, but nothing particularly widespread. As our testing infrastructure has become a billion dollar industry in America there seems to be an indication that either young students are becoming more desperate to pass, or our institutions are much more Machiavellian.

Recently I dropped off my wife off for at test at our nearest university so she could qualify for teaching reading in local schools even though she already possessed a Masters and a Doctorate in the field. It was her and six others in a small room connected to an office. The group had to wait a half hour to check in before hand writing a pledge paragraph stating they were in fact who they were, had their ID checked, had a metal detector run over their entire person, had a digital close-up photo of their face taken to go on file, held an official check in of their coat, then were given bright yellow paper for notes that had to be checked back in along with another ID check as the test was passed out. My wife prefers writing with pen, so she asked if she could use the pen the monitor had handed her to write out her pledge paragraph. “No, only the predetermined pencils are allowed,” came the reply. She also had to give up her single cough drop because it was possible notes could be written on the interior.

While I think the integrity of testing is an important component to our system, my wife wasn’t seeking to be Secretary of the NSA, she was trying to be licensed to teach elementary kids how to read. With millennials showing little interest for entering the field of education do we really need to make everything as hard as possible for decent people to help a kid read? I understand background checks, and have done several myself, but we are reaching a point where freedom is setting sail in the public sphere. Are The Bachelor and Super Bowl commercials really worth this degree of paranoia?

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