Should I sell my soul for rock n’ roll?

Last year there was a knock at my door.  I was asked to play at the ultimate standardized testing pep rally.  Please take a minute and read about the experience before moving on…click here–> Yes right here

I was just asked to do it again.  I don’t know if I can…if I should.  I detest the tests, common core, and all the ed-reforms more that probably any teacher in Connecticut.  How can I be seen having fun at a once-a-year event imploring students to go to sleep early, eat well, and try your best on a test that will count for nothing?  i already do so many things against my beliefs in order to “be a teacher,”  is being a part of a test prep rally again crossing the line?

So I have a simple question for you.  

Should I do it?

Is it worth selling my soul to just play five minutes of rock n’ roll?

What kind of example does it set for the kids?

Is it going counter to my new image that I include at the top of my posts?

Please let me know in the comments, especially you, yea you, the reader who has never left a comment.  Just a simple yes or no would suffice.

The video from last year is below, the band starts playing about 23 seconds into it.


Faculty Band “Phil n’ the Bubbles” performance from Moran Middle School CMT Pep Rally from Moran Mustangs on Vimeo.

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  1. I hate to say this but I completely have no answer to this question. I can make a strong argument for each side. I am a life long wanna be guitar player and a 7th grade math teacher who hates it all, textbooks, standardized testing, and old school of any kind.

    On one hand showing kids you care and motivating them to do their best to help your school and maybe even everyone’s paycheck in your school is hard to say no to them. Also, getting that rare chance to just play and have people enjoy it, I understand.

    Then on the other hand you are completely promoting the “devil” which is testing for testing sake. So a school can show the community our grade and how good we are. It makes me want to puke. I want my kids to think and be curious and find their own answers to their own questions. Not because the state says we have to cover this, because this is where my kids took it.

    Not sure the right answer but I fight this struggle in my school and class daily, sometimes I win……I think.

    Thanks for the great thought provoking post.


  2. As much as it would be great fun to do this for the kids, take the high ground, and perform at a different kind of rally.

  3. My first thought was NO. I followed your link to the reflection from last year, and that almost made me reconsider. But I still think it’s time to say no. Yes, it’s neat for the kids to see the teachers this way, but it would be better to show them that for any other reason but the &$@&$!$ tests. Just my two cents. Thanks for keeping me thinking.

  4. I am very opinionated about some things, but I don’t feel like my vote matters on this.

    If you would have to say anything, I’d say don’t do it. But if you just get to play your guitar, I don’t know. I guess I wouldn’t want to, if it were me. I was always grossed out by pep rallies, even when they were just empty (for sports) and not quite so evil. Good luck with your decision. (Listen to your heart.)

  5. Up to you but I vote no. Pep rally for an SBAC fake test that has no value for students seems reasonable to question the purpose.

  6. The very act of playing rock and roll seems to play into the vein of what you stand for. So although promoting this test seems like a bad thing, i think the way you go about doing it is a good thing. It provides an immediate counter-example as to what a standardized test cannot provide, ie fun and mastery. The kids are going to be going through hell whether you play or not, so you might as well play and give them some sense of playfulness in a time of bullshit. Unless of course you want them to just have a couple weeks of complete hell on the chance that it may cause them to rebel, but I think the chance of them doing that is small.

    Just so I’m clear, my answer is that yes, you should play.

    1. So when the announcement comes that the world is about to end, you would suggest instead of crying, you might as well throw a party…I like it. Worse case is that if the world doesn’t end, at least you had a good time waiting for it to happen. If we are going to be forced to focus on the test, dancing at the party might be a better option than sulking in my seat…

  7. I say play! I’m as bothered by the reason behind the testing they are being revved up for as you are, but I think seeing you rock out could be stress relieving and probably a welcome distraction for all. Have fun!

  8. I agree with Alfonso, I think you should ask your students. I think it would be a great way to simply have dialogue with them about the issues around standardized testing.

  9. I agree with Brent. The kids know you and your true opinion, but the performance will at least be a fun part of the ordeal.

  10. It is still important for the students to Get Proper Rest, To take the process seriously and to realize the process in IMPERFECT. So if the music lyrics & the subliminal message T-Shirt gives this type of message I do not think you will be anything but Authentic. We often are faced with changing processes from within. Support what they have to do – take a test to the best of their abilities.

  11. Wouldn’t you be doing it for the kids and not for the test? Isn’t performing for the kids more important than “making a statement”? If we decided not to do things, as educators, simply because we disagreed with “policy” why would we continue teaching at all?

    This is not a difficult decision if you enjoy the children we work for. Perhaps I’m biased???

    1. I think that is the core of my dilemma…if we always just “do things for the kids” and never say no, what we might end up with is more standardized testing, common core, reward based ticket behavioral systems, and….that is what we have. Where is the line that when it gets crossed we just stop and say no? Enough is enough?

      And maybe it is because I enjoy the kids I work with so much that this is such a hard decision. If I didn’t like the kids it just wouldn’t matter 🙂

  12. As one of The Bubbles, I must implore you to play. Never shall you ever find bandmates so patently opposed to the purpose of this gig, and yet we all have found avenues to rationalize it.

    We are in the sense-making and memory-making business, and I for one will do my best to provide that, even if it means delving into senselessness to do so.

    If I wade into the darkness and shine a light, am I part of the darkness or part of the light?

    Choose “kind” over “right” this time. And if you still resist, I have other appropriate platitudes.

  13. Wow, all of these comments have me thinking. And that’s a great thing, right?
    -Rock n Roll used to be about sticking it to the establishment.
    -Teaching should be about what’s best for the students.
    -Would a concert de-stress them a little bit?
    -Is it selling out if we say, “We know Common Core sucks but stick it to the man
    by…[I can’t think of how to end this]…

    My wife and I are seriously considering not having our sons participate in the SBAC this year, not sure how that will be greeted. So if we are serious about knowing that this testing is wrong and useless and a waste of time and unneeded stress on our students (AND staff!) should we go through the proper channels and stage a protest, maybe more vociferously than our union is attempting to do? Is that our duty as teachers to protect the students? Would that be a more profound statement than NOT doing a concert? Would it be talking out of both sides of our mouths if we say we are against this but here is some entertainment for you guys because we feel for what you’re going through?
    Is that too many more questions? Was that just another one?

  14. As one of my kids pointed out…”if you don’t play, who would even have known that you were supposed to have played?” Made sense…not playing isn’t a protest if no one was expecting it in the first place. Now being introduced and then sitting silently for four minutes….

    1. If you are introduced then don’t play do you make it more about you and less about you protesting the test? Perhaps wearing a “No Common Core” tee shirt would send more of a message?

      This blog post could be my favorite of yours. Has me thinking about this dilemma and what would I do.

  15. Paul, I feel like this year, even proctoring the SBAC “test of the test” is selling my soul. Something feels very wrong and very different this year. Do you have any kids whose parents are opting them out/refusing to let them take the test? Would they be opted out of this rally too? Those parents and those kids are the ones who deserve the fist pumps! I sadly vote no

    1. No one I know is even aware of it, with the exception of one parent no one questions them…it just does not seem to matter…or it matters for the wrong reasons. Kind of like the back lash against evaluations is about time and paper work…wrong reasons. Backlash against ccss is testing…wrong reasons. the creators are probably so excited that they have been able to distract us long enough with petty things so the ccss can roll right in.

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