Every school year teachers prepare children for the annual PSSA exam, a mandatory assessment test in Pennsylvania required by all public schools under the federal law No Child Left Behind. Let's take a peek into a fourth grade classroom to see how an experienced teacher drills her children to prepare them for this rigid test.
"Okay, class," Miss Aimes says, "we are going to do some review for the upcoming PSSA test so I want everyone to clear their desks, fold their hands on top of the desk, and listen very quietly. If you think you know the answer, please raise your hand. There will be no calling out. Okay? Everybody ready?"
"Yes, Amir, what is it?"
"Miss Aimes," Amir says, "I've got to go to the bathroom."
"No, no bathroom breaks during PSSA questioning. I want every child concentrating to their upmost ability, now are we ready?"
"But Miss Aimes, I got to go!"
"Florida," Jamil says, "cause they got two teams in first place and they ain't payin' them nothin' cause they got the lowest payrolls and in New York they got no teams in first and the Yankees got the highest payroll and they suck."
The class erupts in laughter..."ah, ha, ha, ha, ha...ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha..."
"Oh, Jamil, please, we don't speak that way here. You may say 'they are terrible', but not what you said. And besides, that's baseball and we are not focusing on that right now."
"Whatever Miss Aimes, but they still suck."
"Class, let's try a math question. What would be the square root of one million?"
"Jamil, it's you again, okay go ahead."
"It's one thousand," Miss Aimes, "cause Andruw Jones, he signed with the Dodgers for $36.2 million for two years and he's gettin' $8 million this year and $9 million next year, with a $12 million signing bonus and he's hittin' a buck sixty-five with just two dingers and he's fat and just went on the DL."
"Jamil, how does that figure into the square root equation?"
"Cause that figures out to be $1,000 a pitch and besides, my Grandma says that greed is the root of all evil."
"Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.....ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha...ah, ha, ha, ha"
"Okay, okay, that will be just enough of that. This PSSA test is the most important test of the year and we have to do well and if we don't I could lose my job and you don't want that to happen, yes Lawana?"
"Miss Aimes if you lose your job my father works at the Ford dealer and he says they is lookin' for a cashier."
"Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha....ah, ha, ha, ha, ha....ah, ha, ha, ha.....ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha..."
"Enough, enough, class, now settle down and take these questions seriously. Now this is a world history question that you will find on the fourth grade PSSA test. What country did the United States drop the atomic bomb on in order to end a war? Go ahead, Mei Xing?"
"Okay Jamil, but I want a good answer to this question. This is very important."
"Miss Aimes, there is a player on the Cubs who came from that country, but I can't say his name because it sounds like a bad word."
The students gasp collectively as all eyes turn to Jamil.
"Oh Jamil," Miss Aims says, "a person's name is his identity. You shouldn't worry about that, go ahead, what is this person's name and what country does he come from?"
"Ok, Miss Aimes. But don't say I didn't warn you. The country is Japan and his name is Kosuke Fuk-u-dome."
"Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha...ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, , ha, ha, ...ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha....."
"Class, class that's enough. Settle down. Jamil, do you want to go to the office? Is that really his name? Yes, Amir, what is it now?"
"Miss Aimes, I got to go..."
"We are almost done, class. This is a health question about eating properly. Why should a person try to eat fruits and vegatables instead of foods that contain sugar and fats? Okay, Jamil, your hand was up first, but no usage of words that have other meanings."
"Ah...ha, ha, ha, ha, ha...ah ha, ha, ha, ha, ah....ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha..."
"All right, unless you would like to continue this after school, we better stop fooling around right now. Jamil, plu---lease let another child answer the next question.
"Here it is: Does the Mississipi River flow north or south?"
Not one student raised a hand, and all eyes shift toward Jamil. The classroom fell silent.
Finally, Jamil shoots up his hand.
"Miss Aimes, I don't know nothin' 'bout no Mississippi River, but I do know that the river under Amir's chair?...is headin' south right toward Kierra's new shoes."
"Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha...ah, ha, ha, ha, ha,...ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha...ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, ...ah, ha..."
From that great movie, The Witness: Don't Know Much About History..........