Just read this blog post titled "Voices of Concerned Citizens: The Twilight Zone
and How Affluence Perpetuates the Achievement Gap". I think you should too.
Here's a teaser:

"So why am I writing this post?

In one of my many roles, I meet with parents and teachers to discuss student progress. The following is a typical conversation between a parent and I:

Parent: “My child needs extra time on standardized

Me: “Ok. Why do you think so?”
Parent: “She might have ADHD.”
Me: “Might?”
Parent: “My neighbor’s son has it. My daughter is hyper.”
This is not an exaggeration. This is typical. In the Twilight Zone, parents use Section 504 to give their children an unfair advantage over other students (within the same school and district) during
state/national standardized testing (including gifted, norm-referenced,
and SSAT testing)."

I was wondering how it is in other places, in the US and outside the US.
I sort of know how it works in Israel already...

But what I was really wondering about is this key phrase repeated in this blog "to give their children an unfair advantage over
other students" -
this "unfair advantage". It sort of puts us all in a the same crazy competitive boat. What is this "unfair advantage"?
Here are some wild thoughts I have about the accommodation my kids get: I don't think you have to prove you have ADD to get extra time in your tests. I would have preferred it if there was no time limit at all to anyone in tests: if the purpose is for the student to demonstrate knowledge - the let him or her do it without irrelevant pressure.

"She’ll also need to be in a small group setting and can have the directions paraphrased or repeated when necessary" - again - this is obviously what most kids need. Why not give it to all, and then delete the "unfair advantage" of this list.

Sure, I know this is naive, and budgets are limited, and this is why we are stuck with an education system that doesn't fit its target audience (in most cases, and does its best in some other cases). But the bottom line is - there will always be an "unfair advantage" because we are different and because you can't really equalize society: people with more resources will always be able to give their kids more - whether it is private tutors or ADD diagnosis or even cloths and food that other students might actually lack.

So perhaps the question is not about the unfair advantage, or exploiting various ADD accommodation and how it is done all over the world, the question is - what can the education system do change things? The school in the blog (have you read it?) is a public school: why not "twin" public schools from the same district for collaboration and mutual help and socializing - this can be an interesting gap narrowing activity and a very basic education. What do you suggest?

Tags: 504, ADD, ADHD, Section, accommodations, education, public

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It's a good challenge, because fairness can take many guises. Is it fair to provide equal resources for every child? Or is it fair to advance each child by the same amount? Or is it fair to ensure that each child gets to the same endpoint? Is it fair to provide identical resources for differentiated interests? Is it fair to provie customised learning assessed in standardised tests? Different people have different abilities - is that fair?

Fairness/unfair advantage is a wonderful term, which can be used or abused in amazing ways - without a clear notion of what we intend equity to mean, general use of the term 'fair' is meaningless.

Which doesn't help the conundrum, Or-Tal - it just puts the question even more sharply!
Right. Is it fair that some people are Nobel Prize winning scientists and some people are bus drivers? Yes we need these and those, and every occupation is respectable and contributes to a diversified society.
I think what the writer of the blog was pointing at is the risk of becoming a 2 levels society - rich and poor, successful and unsuccessful, gifted and not gifted, white collar and blue collar... The fear that those who do not poses today the means to join the upper class, will be doomed, them and their offsprings, to stay forever in the lower class. Crossing from one end to the other, by the sound of it, is increasingly harder.
Can the education system do anything to change this situation?
Hi Or-Tal... hope this finds you well and great discussion.

You have described the current hyper-competition of our system well!

We have and are creating an educational system that produces "winners" and
"losers".... and parents will do anything to help their children to get out of the loser pile.

The bar to become a "winner" in this crazy system is getting raised higher and higher...making it harder and harder to get into that pile.

Absolutely the education system could change this... the question is will we?

Who benefits by this system?

When I give a test, I plan it for ~10 minutes less than the allotted time, and generally let students go overtime if they need it. But standardized tests are built around fixed time limits, and this is what the post is talking about.
Every time the discussion of "fairness" and "unfair advantages" and "levelling the playing field" comes up, I am reminded of Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron.
Yea, I can see why.
This is exactly what's so scary in this competitiveness.
And are we not supposed, as parents, to want our kids first of all to be happy? Doesn't this come before success?


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