Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tested and Found Lacking

Every school year, children in the United States are tested to see if they have reached the benchmarks set out by the powers that be who determine what children should and shouldn't know at different ages and grades.
Testing time in schools is stressful.  Schools are under tremendous pressure to make sure their students perform up to standards because money and politics are strong incentives for their students to do well.  Teachers feel the heat as they work all year to make sure their students are going to pass those benchmark standards. Parents worry and stress because they want the best for their sons and daughters and because poor testing may reflect poorly on them and their child.
Students carry the burden of taking the tests.  Often, to help students do well on the tests, they are given numerous practice opportunities. Over and over again throughout the year students are given opportunity to take practice tests in order to give them the best outcome.
During the big week of testing parents make sure their children get good sleep and good food. They practice with them, encourage them, challenge them. 
Testing is taken seriously in our country.  We want each and every student to do well because otherwise it reflects poorly on the parent, teacher, school, county and state.
They are tested at age four.
Every child across the ocean in Otto and Daisy and Amos and Lee and Violet's country.
A group of professionals called the Medical Pedagogical Consultancy descends upon every single baby house in the country to test the four year olds inside their walls.
There is no preparation for the test.
No one practices with the children.
No one prepares them.
Little four year old babes are one by one paraded before a group of adults with all kinds of degrees following their names, with their pads of papers in front of them and with the sole purpose of determining the long-term fate of those children.
Each child is given 10 minutes to perform.
10 minutes.
At the most.
Each four year old little boy and girl is run through arbitrary intelligence tests like building a pyramid out of blocks or dividing items by colors.
They are asked questions that most children at the age of 4 should be able to know.  What's your name? How old are you?  What does the train say?  Which can go on water, a boat or a car? What color is the sun?
They are shown pictures of things that most children their age should be able to identify.
Seemingly simple tests.
Simple tests that most typical four year old would pass with flying colors.
These aren't typical four year olds.
And the testing is not typical testing.
These are institutionalized children.  These are children who have never seen a train or boat. These are children who have never been taught their colors and have little access to blocks.  These are children who have spent the vast majority of their days sitting in contained areas with little stimulation and little educational opportunities. 
These are little children.
The only people they ever see are their caretakers and the other children in their groupa.  They rarely ever even mingle with the other children in the other groupas.
They rarely see men.
Yet they are expected in a 10 minute period of time to stand before a group of male and female adult strangers and answer questions and perform skills no one has ever taught them.
Talk about terrifying.
When I took my five year old son to preschool for the first time he was hanging on to me for dear life.  He was terrified that I would leave and never come back.  He spent his first few days so upset that at one point I had to go back to school and sit with him.
He would have been a mess to sit in front of a group of male and female adult strangers and perform for them.
They get 10 minutes.
And in that 10 minutes those professionals will decide the placement of that child for the rest of their lives.
In that 10 minutes those professionals will determine whether that child is fit to be out in society or should be locked away for life.
In that 10 minutes those professionals will stamp that child's file and will seal their fate.
10 minutes.
No pre-test. No practice runs.
In and out.
And the children who are immobile - the ones who can't walk.  They get less than a minute. Their files are stamped and their fates are sealed before they even make it into the room.
Those who "pass" the test - the ones who can answer the questions and satisfy the Consultancy group get a Level 1 rating. These Level 1 children usually have no known disability of any kind. They are the cream of the crop.
Those who answer most of the questions or have mild disabilities that are easily managed and not that noticeable get a Level 2 rating.
Level 1 and 2 children are placed under the wing of the Ministry of Education. These children are placed in one of 46 specialized boarding schools. These boarding schools do not equal the typical schools for children with families. Those children who fall behind in their boarding schools are moved to Level 3 and 4 facilities. Life in those boarding schools is for another time and other blogposts.
Level 3 and 4 children are deemed "uneducable" and are placed under the Ministry of Social Policy. These children are scattered throughout the 53 institutes that are located in isolated and remote places.
When the Level 3 and 4 children age out of those isolated and remote institutes they are then transferred to one of the 323 institutes for adults with disabilities that are also isolated and remote.  Depending upon location or availability of beds or level of disability, some Level 3 and 4 children are transferred directly to the institutes for adults with disabilities.  Little children are left to mingle with adults. 
Last night I watched Aaron swim in a swim meet.
He is the little engine that could. Despite not having any biceps, he swam the length of the pool.  Yes, he lost.  Yes, he is slow.  No, he will never get much faster.  But he inspires every person watching him.  When they realize that he is swimming the breaststroke without the use of his arms they watch in awe. That Little Engine That Could was in a Level 4 institute. 
He couldn't answer the questions.
I wasn't there but I know my Aaron and I know what he did when he stood before those professionals with their pads of paper in their lap.  He didn't say a word.  He had speech delay.  He wasn't the talkative, never shuts up Aaron we know today. He didn't know about trains and boats and colors and pyramids. He went in quiet and scared and looked at them in their chairs and he shut down.  Even the little bit of language he had was gone when he stood before those professionals.  But it wouldn't have mattered. 
His disability was too obvious. They watched him walk awkwardly on his toes with his little hips swinging and his arms dangling strangely in front of him and they threw in the towel on him.  He failed without opening his mouth.
Otto is in a Level 4.
Daisy. Level 4.
Amos. Level 4.
Violet. Level 4.
Lee. Level 4.
They aren't swimming in swim races.
They are wasting away in mental institutes.
I can't watch Aaron swim without crying.  I cried last night. I cry every single time. I am never going to ever in my life forget where he came from. It is burned into my soul. We visited him in that place 65 times and every single time a part of me broke. 
It changed me. 
I hate fundraising.
I do.
I hate where these children are living more than I hate fundraising.
They are worth the ransom.
They are worth your 5.00. They are worth your 10,000.00. 
They live in a world where they have all been tested and found lacking.
They are loved by a God who sees each of them with great love and mercy.
Four of them have been chosen by a family who loves them best of all.
One is desperately in need of a family to call him their own.

Who does this benefit?
The Bloom family adopting FOUR orphans.

Their grant account needs to read $27,500 to be fully funded.
If you want to know one reason why I am committed to helping the Blooms raise the ransom go HERE.  Here's another reason HERE. Stay tuned for more reasons in the coming days...
One wee Lost Boy.
If you want to know about Otto go HERE.
To see the full giveaway CLICK HERE..


  1. Joseph and Stephanie Johnson
    donated $25.00 to the Bloom Family.
    I so wish we could do more. Thank you for all of your tireless work.

  2. As I was reading your post I felt just like reading "The Boy from Baby House 10" all over again. Life is so unfair to all those babies. :(


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