Thursday, May 14, 2015

An Open Letter to the SOL

It's State Testing Week in our school this week. In Virginia, it is called the SOL. How appropriate. In my high school, there's an anxious buzz in the air.  So, to entertain the kids in English class, my team teacher assigned an "Open Letter" assignment. I wanted to write one as well while the kids were working. I had the perfect topic.

Dear SOL,

Look at you.  I mean, I wish I could believe in myself like you. Go on with your bad self.  Thinking you are just so generous with your detailed directions and assorted choices. I especially enjoy the way you add a simple s to the end of a word in your directions to throw each and every kid into an eternal panic. "Which of these statement(s) are true?"  Cute. Real cute.  

How about we talk about the God complex you carry around in your thinly papered, dreadfully drab booklet? I mean, if you’re going to hold a student hostage for hours upon hours, don’t you think you could pep up the experience with an uplifting color palette. Or snacks?  Or water? Even prisoners get food and water during their stay. Perhaps with all the money you bring in, you could attach a care-package…a goodie bag, if you will, to the tissue-paper-thin booklets.

 I mean, what’s up with those things? You’re a multi-BILLION dollar industry and you can’t afford better paper that doesn’t rip at the slightest grasp. But thanks so much for allowing us to write in them. WOW! That is so "green" of you to repurpose the booklet as scratch paper, too. But maybe, just maybe, you could rethink the quality like I stated in the above sentence. Since your tests are so daunting and picky, I obviously have to take the time to work out calculations and such. Eventually there will be a moment that I will need to erase if I worked a problem incorrectly. Due to your water-soluble pages,  I end up making a crater-sized hole in it even before I start to get serious. NO worries. I didn’t need to see the ENTIRE calculation I just did. No, really. I like to start from square one when you’ve already thrown my stomach into a blender. I know, I know. I have ALL DAY. How thoughtful.

 On the topic of your thoughtfulness, thanks so much for telling me I’m worth earning my graduation status if I reach YOUR set score. Four-hundred points and you’ll allow me to move forward? How can I ever thank you? But what’s up with the grading? Those 399s are a maddening. I mean…really…ONE point short. You can’t just give me the one point? Even convenient stores will loan me the penny from their plastic “borrow a penny” container. Perhaps you should consider having a “bank” of contributed points. Kind of like the “sick bank” at work.  That way, if my friend knocks it out of the park with your coveted 600, she could lend me just ONE point. Who needs a perfect score anyway? It’s not like you send me a party in a bag if I score a 600. Please. You can’t even print the booklets on something that can maintain solid form for more than a testing period.  Or a snack. Or water for heaven’s sake.

Perhaps you need  to look up what the word "worth" means. In my book, my worth is measured by those that KNOW me. Those people that see me each and every day. Those people that cheer me on in all aspects of my life. Those people that guide me in school and make sure I don’t burn down the Chemistry Lab. Those people who take the time to read what I wrote. Those people that are in awe of my woodworking skills. Those people who come to my games,  ask how my weekend was or just listen about my bad day. Do you know that? 

NO. All you know is that your scores prove I’m not the best writer. Or a historian. Or a chemist. Congrats! But are you able to see how I’ve work tirelessly with teachers in order to achieve the ridiculous goal you’ve set? Do you know that I have a plethora (bet you LOVED that word) of qualities, that if added all up on a point scale, would blow your 600 out of the water?  Nope. You don’t. You think my worth is a number. A score. 

Your narcissism is overwhelming.  

All I ask is that you eventually  disappear into thin air. You don’t need to let us know where you’ve gone. Just go.  I can’t say I’d miss you.  At all. Like, EVER.

Thanks for the memories.

Every High School Student in Virginia

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