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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Role Model: Conde's Sanderson Skips No Child Left Behind Test

Autumn Sanderson of Conde is my hero of the week. This high school junior is doing what I wish every student in South Dakota would do: she is refusing to take the Dakota STEP, the standardized tests we make our kids bend over backwards each year to complete in obedience to the No Child Left Behind act. She's putting down the pencil and reading a book.

Sanderson is engaging in this fine act of civil disobedience to protest the state's forced closure of her beloved school. Conde's enrollment is less than 100, so that means the state says their school and community don't deserve our support. If the state is going to kill her school, Sanderson figures there's no reason she should do the state's bidding and waste her time filling their test bubbles and supporting their sit-up-and-bark data for the feds.

Sanderson cares a great deal about her school and its history: her sister, brother, father, and grandmother all graduated from Conde. She has done her civic duty, fighting to save her school by testifying before the State Legislature (that takes guts for anyone, especially for someone too young to vote). I also note that she and her teammates performed "This Is a Test," a satire of classroom assessment, at the 2008 State Oral Interp Festival. Clever kids.

When was teaching high school, I always wanted to encourage my students to blow off these silly tests and do something more productive, like read a novel or work on their essays for my class or write Student Congress bills. However, I always felt compelled to carry out the duties assigned by my administration, and I did so, to the letter.

But I always wondered: what would happen if every kid in the school, in the state, would just put down the pencils and say, "Sorry! Not interested"? Would Tom Oster and Wade Pogany give everyone detention?

Autumn, thank you for leading the way. You tell your friends; I'll tell mine. Maybe we can put these tests to bed once and for all.


  1. Cory, you speak as if your some educational Czar? Further, do you really have friends?

  2. Looks like Judge Lori Wilbur just decided it is not the states responsiblity to provide children a quality education. Looks like that makes perfect common sense if you follow Cory's logic, because Cory likes the power of Judges to be able to tell states what to do! It just happened in Iowa for gay marriage and Cory got all happy.

  3. Please keep in mind, that she's not protesting the actual TEST. She's protesting the fact that it is unrealistic her school is being forced to do testing to assess her school when there will be no school next year for those assessments to count for. She has said that if she has to take the test as a senior at her next school, that she would take it.

    That being said, thank you for your support. As her big sister, I'm quite proud of her as well. :)

  4. I don't agree with Cory on a lot of political philosophy-type things (he's liberal, I'm libertarian), but I think he's a pretty cool guy and I'm happy to call him a friend, 4:27.

    Do YOU have any friends or is all your spare time spent knocking people down while cowering behind anonymity?

  5. So what is the cowering Jackrabbits name? I would love to know.

  6. Thanks, Matt! And gee, I've never known you to cower. (P.S. to Anon: before you start slingin' hash, move your mouse over the blue underlined names and click. They're called hyperlinks. Look how much you can learn online!)

  7. Ya know Cory, I'm reminded of something Ben Franklin once said...

    "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."

  8. Hey Anon,

    I'm proud to call Cory a friend, even if he votes my kids down during a debate round.

    I guess I've read enough high school biology, Aristotle, and comic books to know that a friend is not someone who agrees with you on every issue as if both parties are mindless clones from some vast uni-mind. Ok so I may have gotten the mindless clone part from listening to Jim Rome on sports talk radio, but the point still stands.

    Instead of engaging in ad hominem attacks, which your high school speech book should have told you are attacks against the person not the argument that the person made, you probably should try finding a constructive argument to support NCLB.

    For example, NCLB helps the economy. In these times of woe and want, no one can afford to lose a job. NCLB makes sure that the makers of number 2 pencils will have work for the foreseeable future. See that wasn't so hard was it?

    By the way, if Cory were the education czar, I'd feel much better about the direction that education was going.

  9. Thanks for the info boys. Got it! Yes, you and Cory have been opening your mouths for a long time. I could not have said it better myself. If you do not want an anon option. Don't offer it. Is that so hard, da.

  10. You want to post anonymously, fine... you want to attack someone's character, then have the cajones to put your name behind it!

  11. Love the Facebook. I think my teenage niece has one. She tells me that she wishes she never would have did it. I guess there are a lot of "Creepers" out there. Why does a 33 y/o man need a Facebook?

  12. Anon 2:32: ???

    Leo: Thank you, friend! On pencils, I'm smiling as I hear your hearty laughter from 90 miles away. Teaching with mirth: you do your job well.

  13. Why does someone need to start slamming anonymously?

    Perhaps you can ask that same question to Cory, Todd Epp, Pat Powers, my high school classmates from Dell Rapids, my cousins, my college classmates from SDSU, who ALL are around my age (if not older) and all have Facebook pages.

    Removest thou foot from thy mouth before thou develops a case of Athlete's Tongue!

  14. A more appropriate question for moi, is "Why am I still here responding to trolls?"

    **Bad jackrabit1! If I told me once, I told me a thousand times, DONT... FEED... THE... TROLLS!**

  15. [Ah, I get it. Anon evidently misssed the New York Times article discussing Facebook as "the Web’s dominant social ecosystem and an essential personal and business networking tool in much of the wired world." Anon, stop by sometime, and I'll show you the campaigning, mentoring, and doctoral research Facebook has helped me do... with adults.]

  16. Hey guys, Sorry my eleven year son has been messing with your heads. I'm suprised you gave him the time of day. Again, sorry. I can see he kind of got to you.

  17. yeah.... sure.... and I have ocean-front property for sale in Kansas, dirt-cheap!

  18. You know, Anon, the original point was to show my respect for a young woman who is standing up for what is right and speaking truth to power. As I said, Autumn Sanderson is a role model, from whom you could learn much.

  19. I have a feeling your imaginary 11-year old has a bit more maturity than you... grow up.


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