While the NY Times' story on a Harlem charter school's kindergarten visit to the Queens County Farm Museum might just seem like a human interest story, there's actually a serious reason behind it: The state's English and math tests seem biased towards kids with knowledge of farms. There are "several questions each year about livestock, crops and the other staples of the rural experience that some educators say flummox city children, whose knowledge of nature might begin and end at Central Park. On the state English test this year, for instance, third graders were asked questions relating to chickens and eggs. In math, they had to count sheep and horses." Oh no!!!
Harlem Success Academy founder Eva Moskowitz spoke about the agriculture-heavy emphasis on the state tests, "There were passages, literally, about milking, plowing — things that were pretty foreign to Harlem kids. It’s a little bit annoying that there are no passages about the subway, or how crowded the streets are.” And while officials say they haven't received complaints about the test, the head of the committee that advises the state on testing conceded that some NYC kids might get confused about a math question that involved finding the total number of corn stalks when there are 46 rows with 32 stalks each: "Most kids in New York City would know corn, but they wouldn’t know stalk. You have to know the unit you are working in to do the mathematical manipulation."
Students don't go into testing frenzy until the third grade, but one five-year-old showed she learned something at the city's only working farm, "Chickens make eggs. I didn’t know that before."