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S2 E12: Standardized Testing, Baltimore & Bud Light: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

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S2 E12: Standardized Testing, Baltimore & Bud Light: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

Protests in Baltimore and Media Coverage

  • John Oliver criticizes the media's coverage of the protests in Baltimore following Freddie Gray's death, particularly Heraldo Rivera's mistaken identification of a protestor as Russell Simmons.
  • Oliver highlights the disparities in bail amounts set for police officers charged in Gray's death compared to protestors, with one protestor facing a $500,000 bail for misdemeanor charges.

Mango Diplomacy in Venezuela

  • Oliver discusses the incident in Venezuela where President Nicolás Maduro was hit in the head with a mango by a woman who was subsequently promised an apartment by the government.
  • Oliver suggests using fruit to improve government efficiency and proposes sending mangoes to expedite passport renewals.

Bud Light's Controversial Slogan and Campaign

  • Oliver criticizes Bud Light's slogan "the perfect beer for removing 'no' from your vocabulary for the night," calling it problematic and insensitive.
  • Oliver points out that the slogan went through multiple layers of approval within Budweiser, suggesting a lack of critical thinking and sensitivity.
  • Oliver concludes by critiquing Bud Light's "Up for Whatever" campaign, arguing that the ads are misleading and the beer tastes unpleasant.

Concerns about Standardized Testing

  • Standardized tests are causing anxiety among students and teachers.
  • In the Lower Hudson Valley, over 25% of students opted out of taking the state test.
  • Students take an average of 113 standardized tests between kindergarten and graduation.
  • The No Child Left Behind program increased the number of federally mandated tests from six to 17.
  • The Common Core, which was adopted by many states, also increased the number of standardized tests.
  • Tying teacher pay to student test scores has led to some unfair evaluations of teachers.
  • Standardized tests are not always accurate measures of student ability.
  • Some students who do well in school have low test scores, which can have negative consequences for them.
  • It is unclear who benefits from standardized tests, as they can be bad for teachers and students.

Pearson's Influence on American Schools

  • Pearson, a major educational testing company, has a significant influence on American schools.
  • Pearson's tests are used throughout a student's education, from kindergarten to 8th grade, and even in the GED exam.
  • Pearson's tests have been criticized for technical glitches, slow grading, and confusing or erroneous content, such as a test question about a talking pineapple.
  • Pearson hires test graders through Craigslist, and some former graders have reported being given quotas for certain scores, rather than grading based on merit.

Reevaluation of the Testing System

  • Standardized tests have been in place for over a decade, but there is no evidence that they have narrowed the achievement gap or improved international test scores.
  • The current testing system enriches companies, pays and fires teachers based on a flawed formula, and lacks transparency.
  • The author calls for a reevaluation of the testing system and suggests that it may not be working as intended.

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