Your Family's Incredible Lifestyle Begins HERE – With Homeschooling
Monday May 20th 2024

Sign up for The Good Ship Mom & Pop, Parent at the Helm's irregular and possibly irreverent FREE newsletter!

Books By Linda Dobson ArtofEdCover Books By Linda Dobson learning-coach-approach

That Elusive Education Nirvana

If you're new here, you can subscribe to our RSS feed, receive e-mails and/or sign up to receive our FREE monthly newsletter, The Good Ship Mom&Pop . Welcome aboard - thanks for visiting!

That Elusive Education Nirvana

By Linda Dobson

Dept-of-Ed-Logo educationI guess it sounded like a good idea to somebody back in 2001 when the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) became law and demanded that, by 2014, all U.S. students would be proficient in reading and math. Now that 2014 is relatively right around the corner, those involved in the education system are scratching their heads saying, “What were they thinking?”

I don’t know about you, but when I look back at my own public school programming many years ago, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that some kids excelled at the school game, others got along okay, and others, blessed with intelligences unappreciated in the school setting, were falling farther and farther behind with each passing year.

Desperately Seeking Education Nirvana

Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan warns that if they stay on the same track, as many as 82% of schools will be called failures according to NCLB. If NCLB was viewed as the route to education nirvana, that nirvana is farther away than ever.

But not to worry, parents. Given the fact that Congress has been occupied in other directions and hasn’t reauthorized NCLB, good ol’ Arne has taken it upon himself to provide waivers, you know, much like the waivers from complying with the health care act provided to corporations that are either friendly with the current administration or for whom compliance spells destruction of the entire company. Don’t worry about pesky minor details like, “This rewriting of federal law by the administration, not Congress may well be illegal,” according to a guest blog post in the Washington Post by Monty Neill, executive director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, known as FairTest, a non-profit organization that works to end the flaws and misuse of standardized testing.

Problem: “If Duncan gets away with it, states will be tempted to replace one set of bad policies (sanctions on most schools) with another (sanctions on teachers),” writes Neill. Indeed education leaders from Diane Ravitch to Jonathan Kozol remind us the replacement policy that relies heavily on “grading” teachers with standardized test scores is yet another unproven policy destined to fail. (Have you read about the kids with teachers they don’t like already talking about purposefully flunking the test?) The waiver’s requirements also make states promise to adopt behaviors strikngly similar to those placed on states that received the big bucks in the Race to the Top lottery. (Love it! As I write got a tweet from Diane Ravitch: “Why doesn’t Congress set goals? 100% employment or we all resign.”)

See also “Politicians Blame Teachers, Teachers Blame Parents

Sam Dillon, reporting for New York Times in “Overriding a Key Education Law,” writes: “’I can’t overemphasize how loud the outcry is for us to do something right now,’ Mr. Duncan told reporters on Friday in a conference call that he said could not be reported until midnight Sunday.” (What’s up with that?)

“It sounds like they’re trying to do a backdoor Round 3 of Race to the Top, and that’s astonishing,” said Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute. He called Mr. Duncan’s plan “a dramatically broad reading of executive authority.”

The plan appears likely to gain broad support from state education officials, however. More than a dozen states have already asked the department for changes to their No Child school accountability plans, or are about to do so, said Gene Wilhoit, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers. “Many states feel that we need major changes in the law, because it’s identifying such an outlandish number of schools that it’s losing credibility,” he said.

The law allowed states to adopt local academic standards and determine their own passing scores on tests after it took effect in 2002. The requirement that 100 percent of students be proficient in math and reading by 2014 encouraged lower standards, which make it easier for more students to score as proficient. Since early 2010, however, more than 40 states have agreed to adopt higher standards, and the 2014 deadline is complicating their efforts, Mr. Duncan said.

And then we must apply new new new math to the old standards:

In Tennessee, for instance, 91 percent of students scored at or above the proficient level in math under the state’s old standards, but under new, tougher standards adopted recently, the proportion plummeted to 34 percent.

“The current law serves as a disincentive to higher standards, rather than as an incentive,” Mr. Duncan said.

Education Nirvana Cannot Bloom from Federal Control

The existing federal education law is one great big mess. Those in the know promise that the backdoor changes to that law are going to create an equally big mess and stand in the way of true education reform for yet another crop or three of children subjected to it all.

Bottom line? It’s a travesty of immense proportion. It would be laughable except hundreds of billions of that ever-expanding debt that can’t be paid get poured into this nonsense. This is why the federal government has no business in education. The department’s 2012 budget is on track to be $48.8 billion in non-Pell Grant discretionary appropriations. Can anybody say with a straight face we are getting our money’s worth?

Copy the code below to your web site.

Leave a Reply