Justine Henning

April 21, 2012

Post #2815 – 20120421

Many friends seem to be up in arms over the NY test questions that made a pineapple of your eggplant (if only that were the basis of their objections). I see from your blog that many kids … have a sense of humor and found the Rabbit and the Eggplant (or what would have been those, were they not a hare and a pineapple) diverting, in a welcome sort of way.

Go, kids!

Go, wonderful DP!


Hoping to find the Snarkout boys on the ballot, or perhaps my next census form, or … ?

(of readingpenpals.com, to which you were kind enough to submit a brief statement long ago)

Daniel replies:

I'm getting bored with this topic. A test, in a learning situation, should be a means of finding out if the students have learned the material in order for the teachers to make up deficiencies...by teaching. It's not outside the realm of possiblity that a test might be devised which could be used to evaluate how a teacher, or school, or school system is functioning--but really that would be a pretty tall order. The idea of buying such tests ready-made for a whole lot of public money from specialist companies which are known to have produced all kinds of ""educational materials"" that many good teachers consider useless or next to useless ought to raise some pretty big red flags. I, and a lot of other writers, have routinely agreed to let excerpts from their work be used in anthologies, readers, ""programmed reading materials,"" and tests. This has been going on for 40 years that I'm aware of. It's routine. Very often whoever is asking for permission to use the excerpts first tries to get them for nothing, and once an author gets wise and demands payment, they pay. Personally, I never gave any thought to a change in the implications which makes some tests, in the opinion of many informed people, pernicious. I'd venture a guess that many of my fellow authors never considered it either. It looks to me like one publisher of tests made a mistake that was bound to happen, and included a passage and questions so completely inappropriate and ridiculous that it couldn't be ignored, and happened to speak to the suspicions of many that the whole business is a shabby scam. And it was funny--so it went all around the internet and the media, as funny things do, so a lot of people are thinking about it, and maybe rethinking. I have to say, I'm not unhappy that the passage, (of which, as edited, not a single word was written by me, by the way), was printed under my name. I didn't actually do anything, other than, asking no questions, accept money from a corporation to do something or other with a few paragraphs from a book of mine, but I'm glad to have been included in the conversation. Now, I think I am done responding to posts about this. Anybody wishing to copy this and pass it around, please feel free.