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If the federal government, in this case represented by the NCLB, wants to improve the school system, it should work on taking kids out of poverty, instead of trashing the schools for failing to bring up all test scores.

Now that probably sounds like the words of some disgruntled teacher, right?  Actually, the words are from a signed newspaper editorial.  So it is going to be from the heart of an area dominated by liberal, right?  Wrong again.  The editorial was written by Ken Neal, Senior Editor of the Tulsa World and was entitled simply Blaming schools  and I thank George Wood of the Forum for Education and Democracy for blogging about it recently and ask you to keep reading.

Neal puts in bluntly:  

The avowed purpose of NCLB is to test, test, test students ostensibly to identify and correct their learning problems. But critics suspect that the real aim is to label the entire public school system a failure.

   He is even able to catch Amy Wilkins of Education Trust speaking candidly, rightly calling her a spokesman for NCLB,  Speakng on NPR she said:

"Our most affluent kids are getting their lunches eaten by kids in other countries. The system we have has not served our children well. There is no point pouring more federal money into very broken bottles."

Here I need to disclose that I have had my own encounters both with The Education Trust, which claims in its mission statement

The Education Trust works for the high academic achievement of all students at all levels, pre-kindergarten through college, and forever closing the achievement gaps that separate low-income students and students of color from other youth. Our basic tenet is this — All children will learn at high levels when they are taught to high levels.

and with MS Wilkins.   In the case of EdTrust, its head Kati Haycock improperly characterized a monograph of which I was co-author in a piece she wrote, although she did apologize to me when I complained.  I encountered Wilkins, who is a VP of Ed Trust and apparently was one of those responsible for drafting the original proposal for NCLB, at a hearing on education sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus.  In response to a comment I made to the panel on which she appeared, she strongly objected to the use of multiple measures and seemed almost as hostile to the idea of using growth measures, claiming that it was a means of lowering standards for minority children, when in fact my concerns about growth models was that the most likely way of applying them would treat poor children, largely minority, unfairly.

Having given the foregoing disclosure, let me return to the editorial.  Neal turns to Gerald Bracey to get an appropriate response to the remarks by Wilkins.  Bracey

produced statistics showing that schools with less than 10 percent of their students in poverty, outscored students in all the industrialized nations in reading and science and were third in math.

In schools with 25 percent of their students in poverty the U.S. led the other nations in reading and science.

So it appears that "our most affluent kids" are not getting "their lunches eaten" but instead are eating a few foreign lunches.

Neal, quoting from an important international study, points out that

he U.S. has 12 million children living in poverty. That’s one in five children living in poverty in the richest nation in the world.

.  Reread that last sentence, and remember that we have both the world's highest per capita income and the highest rate of childhood poverty.  Then you are ready for the bluntness that Neal ofers next:  

When poverty is factored out of U.S. public school performance, U.S. schools rank No. 1 in the world. Since the U.S. has the highest childhood poverty among the competing nations, what does that say about the schools? About the nation?

It says that poverty is the biggest problem of the schools and that poverty, not schools, is the biggest problem in the U.S.

In other words, were we to address the issues of poverty, most of the problems of school performance would disappear.  This of course is not new to those who have paid attention to education over the past 4 decades.  The original intent of Title I programs was to attempt to ameliorate the effects of poverty on school children.  But that is after the fact treatment, and as we well know in medical matters, it is usually far more effective to prevent the disease in the first place, something seen in our insistance upon inoculations as a condition for attending public schools.    Of course, our approach to medicine is in general is not much different that what we do with education:  didn't our president recently say that no one was being denied medical care because they could always go to the emergency room?  

Since I began this posting with words from Neal, let me end in a similar fashion, using the words with which he ends:

NCLB is but the latest of endless schemes to improve the public schools in the mistaken belief that if only teachers, principals and administrators would do a better job the product, our children, would improve.

The figures on test scores and poverty should give us clear direction on how to "improve the schools." It’s simple. Take the kids out of poverty.

Easier said than done, of course. But until we deal with high poverty rates and hungry children, most of the other solutions for schools will continue to fail.


Originally posted to teacherken on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 03:00 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hope this serves a useful purpose (133+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JekyllnHyde, vicki, cassandra m, mini mum, RonV, Powered Grace, Reino, tryptamine, freelunch, Norwegian Chef, exNYinTX, kissfan, opinionated, howd, MD patriot, whenwego, peace voter, phild1976, roses, Ignacio Magaloni, thingamabob, Jesterfox, bustacap, Staying Left, BmoreMD, texasmom, papercut, Eddie Haskell, lcrp, strengthof10kmen, SDorn, Chun Yang, bobnbob, jcrit, Black Max, kd texan, vacantlook, Josiah Bartlett, rapala, historys mysteries, radarlady, Nadnerb in NC, franziskaner, JanetT in MD, Silence Do Good, Heiuan, Chinton, PsychoSavannah, Philoguy, JohnB47, Brooke In Seattle, cfk, Sharon in MD, EdlinUser, GreyHawk, blue jersey mom, Aint Supposed to Die a Natural Death, wiscmass, dazed in pa, sbdenmon, JanL, liberalsouth, lcork, Philpm, Coherent Viewpoint, Bright, PeaceBot, Liberal Protestant, BachFan, danmac, 417els, BlueInARedState, emeraldmaiden, 4thepeople, seefleur, arlene, fiddler crabby, mystery2me, sailmaker, Marcus Tullius, StrayCat, A Siegel, Skeptical Spectacle, nilocjin, condoleaser, real world chick, Dauphin, CTLiberal, bleeding heart, Preston S, ER Doc, WI Dem, means are the ends, katasstrophy, CharlieHipHop, kidneystones, Temmoku, ammasdarling, marykk, ibonewits, bvljac, Loudoun County Dem, Trim Your Bush, FWIW, possum, moodyinsavannah, ColoTim, jetskreemr, dallasdave, DWG, davefromqueens, netguyct, echohotel330, scardanelli, MichiganGirl, Bikemom, willb48, MKinTN, MyBrainWorks, lamzdotes, Judge Moonbox, blindyone, thetadelta, peaceloveandkucinich, MsWings, auroraborealis, Victory Coffee, Cobbler, luckylizard, xysea, SteveUFT, fromma, revelwoodie

    I am now about to run off for school, where I will be giving and grading tests all day long.  I will keep an eye on this.  I would be delighted if it provoked and active discussion.  I will be satisfied if a few more people realize how widespread opposition to NCLB really is at the grassroots level.


    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

    by teacherken on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 02:55:59 AM PDT

    •  Did you see Jonathon Kozol's column on NCLB? (38+ / 0-)

      He posted it on Sept. 10 on Huffington Post and you can find it here.  

      He is eloquent about how horrible NCLB is.  Regarding the politics of renewal, especially about the testing regime, he says:

      The only member of the Democratic leadership I have been unable to get through to is the influential chairman of the education panel, Senator Ted Kennedy, who, one of his colleagues told me flatly, will ultimately "call the shots" on this decision. I've asked the senator three times if he'll talk with me. Each time, I have run into a cold stone wall. This has disappointed me, and startled me, because the senator has been a friend to me in years gone by and has asked for my ideas on education on a number of occasions in the decades since I was a youthful teacher and he was a youthful politician.

      It seems to me that the forces working to change NCLB should focus on Kennedy.  But perhaps you all are aware of this.

      It is late here in CA and I am going back to bed so I will not be available for a further reply.

      •  I saw the Kozol piece (22+ / 0-)

        it was posted on most educational lists and linked to on quite a few educational blogs

        Kennedy has somewhat less control in the Senate than Miller does in the House because of the difference of rules.  In the House, once it clears committee it is unlikely there will be much in the way of amendments allowed from the floor.  And remembering that Miller is a very close ally of Pelosi, he is likely to have the backing of the leadership on what he wants to do.   He is also trying very hard to have bipartisan support for the final committee bill, which gives Buck McKeon way too much influence in my opinion.

        In the Senate, there are some people on the committee who are willing to push further than Kennedy, and there is a core group of 10 not on the committee who want to go much further, led by Russ Feingold.  Obama was associated with that group in the past.

        The scary part -  if there is no reauthorization, we probably wind up with a continuing resolution funded at the current insufficient levels with the clock on punitive sanctions continuing to run.   That actually be worse than what we currently have.


        Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

        by teacherken on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 04:05:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank You for your reply (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          teacherken, dazed in pa
          •  O'Malley - Gov. of MD on NCLB (6+ / 0-)

            Check this out, Martin O'Malley, our democratic governor, has seen through the NCLB spin:

            transcript from WYPR, 88.1, The Marc Steiner Show    March 19th, 2007

            Maryland Governor Martin O’ Malley
            Marc Steiner, the show’s host

            Marc Steiner:  Governor, to follow up on that, there has been no love lost in your history as mayor with the present head of the education system in the state of Maryland, Nancy Grasmick.  You two have been at odds politically for a long time.

            Martin O’Malley:  Actually, only since Ehrlich got in.  Before that we got along great.  She used to come and cheer for our kids the first time our first graders scored above the national average in reading and math.  She came the second year when our second graders joined them.  When we were making progress as a school system, which we’d been doing through both of the last two governors, Nancy Grasmick would cheer when there was a democratic govenor, and Nancy Grasmick would boo, even in the face of progress, and look for ways to undermine us when she served under a republican governor.

            Marc Steiner:   So, have you spoken to Nancy Grasmick since you have become governor?  . . . and what are you going to do about your desire to replace her if that is your desire?

            O’Malley: I have spoken to her in passing a couple of times at cabinet meetings and we need to sit down and have an honest conversation.  I have been spending a fair amount of time interviewing new appointees to the school board, and there will be three or four (openings) coming up very shortly.  And I think it is really important that we have, to borrow a Bruce Gordon term, that we have alignment on this most important issue, an issue where  the state legislature has been voting time and time again to invest dollars of the people of Maryland into making our public school system the best in the nation.  And we’ve made a lot of progress in that and unfortunately I don’t think the public has gotten a fair view of the progress made.  In the city of Baltimore six years ago not one grade scored majority proficient in reading and math.  Today our first, second, third, fourth, and fifth graders have all scored majority proficient. In a few years time, I think it will be hard for anyone to deny that we’ve made tremendous amount of progress in a very challenged urban school system, which is why the No Child Left Behind ideologues, like Secretary Spelling and Dr. Grasmick attack progress, because it undermines their ideological love of the No Child Left Behind Act, one of the greatest frauds ever perpetrated upon the American public whose primary mission is to undermine, privatize, and do away with public school systems, beginning in urban areas.

            Marc Steiner:  Governor, could you tell us how you really feel about the issue?

            (they both laugh)

            NCLB is fraud, and it was foisted on us by the bushies with help from Kennedy and others- now is the time to end this fraud.

        •  I live in Miller's district... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          cfk, dazed in pa, lamzdotes, xysea

          and I am willing to send him a letter or email.  Since he is so gung-ho on reauthorization, how would you suggest I frame my communication?

          •  I wish you luck (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cfk, dazed in pa, 417els, lamzdotes, xysea

            I'm not sure  to what Miller will listen.  I know people who have talked with him about this, I know people who have talked with his key staffer (I passed on the opportunity).  At times he seems to be sensible, as was indicated at least partially in the summary he circulated to House Dem freshmen a few months back.  But there are major problems with the draft that was circulated.  And the period for commenting on the draft closed on Friday, allowing a very short time for public analysis and response.

            I would suggest you take at a look at the materials at The Forum on Educational Accountability and see what they have to offer.   There may be something there that resonates with you, to which you can make reference.


            Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

            by teacherken on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 04:51:25 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Institutionalized racism (14+ / 0-)

          The scary part -  if there is no reauthorization, we probably wind up with a continuing resolution funded at the current insufficient levels with the clock on punitive sanctions continuing to run.   That actually be worse than what we currently have.

          Over half of the 5-years-running "failed" schools in Arizona are on Indian reservations.  Now that they are targets of takeover by the State, the spectre of cultural invasion looms once again.

          But that's what they have wanted in the first place in this English-only state that has a huge number of Hispanic and Native people.

          An amendment: Do not allow a single US corporation to do oil business in Iraq until a complete withdrawal of American forces takes place.

          by jcrit on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 04:38:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  There's going to be a CR (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Judge Moonbox, xysea

          my spouse is a fed and he's convinced there will be yet another CR this year.  If you think one year is bad, two is dreadful.

          Liberal: "I still think it's a respectable word. Its root is "liber," the Latin word for "free," and isn't that what we are all about?"--Mary McGrory

          by mini mum on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 05:35:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I had a brief diary yesterday.... (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        teacherken, mini mum, jcrit, cfk, Judge Moonbox

        and some folks posted some comments on the Kozol piece here

        whoo, I bought a house in Texas!

        by TexMex on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 05:15:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I grew up in a suburban school. (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      catfish, tryptamine, bustacap, TexMex, ER Doc

      When poverty is factored out of U.S. public school performance, U.S. schools rank No. 1 in the world. Since the U.S. has the highest childhood poverty among the competing nations, what does that say about the schools? About the nation?

      I have often wondered how much of the education I received was due to the middle class status of the student body where I grew up (I think most were children of IBM employees; but there didn't seem to be much of a high-tech vibe there.), and how much because after Kent State, the education establishment backed away from much of the progressivism that was out there. This gives me a big part of the answer.

      I've always had the suspicion that the left listens to Bush a lot more than his own administration ever did.-Babylonandon, Huffington Post.

      by Judge Moonbox on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 06:40:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I wrote about this 6 months ago... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, PsychoSavannah, cfk, ER Doc

      Not to pimp an old diary, but I wrote about this back in March. It's nice to see some corroboration, especially from the red states. Maybe some eyes are finally beginning to open.

  •  Amen (34+ / 0-)

    This is exactly the case. NCLB was designed as a way to program for failure, so Bush's brother and a whole list of GOP shitheads could get his charter schools business running.

    Poverty, and its cousins (cultural deprivation, lack of resources, etc.), is precisely why many children fail. And for decades we have ignored that, at our peril. I live in a place with a "blue star" high school. Yep. It's a place where the wealthy and the endowed perform beautifully, where minorities leave because the racism is so thick you can cut it with a knife, and where the kids on the lower end of the scale are ignored.

    Thanks for the diary. Nothing pisses me off more, though, than any mention of NCLB. What a crock.

    "There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order." Ed Howdershelt

    by JuliaAnn on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 03:06:19 AM PDT

    •  glad you found it useful n/t (6+ / 0-)

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

      by teacherken on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 03:13:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "No Child Left Behind" (29+ / 0-)

      is a grossly misnamed program... That's their specialty though, isn't it?

      Kind of like "Clear Skies Initiative" or "Operation Iraqi Freedom" and "Compassionate Conservatism?"

      They're all so full of shit and the people know they're full of shit.

      Did they think parents wouldn't notice that their children's educations are seriously lacking? Did they think parent's would just miss the fact that their children aren't learning the basic skills that their parents already had; by the time they were the same age that their children are now?

      Well, every parent I know has noticed. They've noticed and they're pissed off that their children aren't receiving at LEAST as good of an education as they were given.

      Hell in most cases it's been 30 years since the parents were their children's ages... That SHOULD mean that public education has advanced and their children are receiving better educations than their received.

      Thanks to "No Child Left Behind", that's not the case at all. Children today can't read the same books we were able to read at their age. They can't do the same math problems. They're way behind in Science, History, literature, and grammar... Music, dance, and Art don't even exist in most schools anymore. Electives are pretty much a thing of the past.

      The whole purpose of an education is to prepare kids for life. To give them the tools they'll need to learn how to survive when they go out into the world on their own. To teach them how to think, how to adapt, how to problem solve... How to learn.

      The kids of today aren't being taught how to learn, they're being told what to learn... and unfortunately for them.... life's problems don't offer multiple choice questions or standardized testing.

      I pity any kid that gets a "No Child Left Behind" education... Adulthood is going to be a much harder proposition for them, than it was for most of us.

      "It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion." Oscar Wilde, 1891

      by MichiganGirl on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 03:55:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  They always ask teaching candidates about the (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, JuliaAnn, ER Doc

      "achievement gap" and how to narrow it.

      It's such a loaded question because it goes far beyond the reaches of the classroom into the very fiber of our society.

      It's rough out here on the campaign trail: kissing hands, shaking babies. ... Pat Paulsen

      by Trim Your Bush on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 10:21:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  now officially in transit (4+ / 0-)

    will be offline for around 40 minutes


    Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

    by teacherken on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 03:19:58 AM PDT

  •  Another Link (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, JanL

    Here's Bracey's column. In case anybody is interested, we are third behind Singapore and Hong Kong, two nations that won't destroy our economy even if these measures are meaningful.

    The Iraq War: End It, Don't Mend It

    by Reino on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 03:26:18 AM PDT

    •  and there are real problems w/intl comp (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine, ER Doc, Judge Moonbox

      as both Bracey and Iris Rotberg have pointed out (disclosure - I was a student in two courses wth Rotberg, and the monograph to which I refer in the diary was done in conjunction with Iris and another student in one of the courses).

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

      by teacherken on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 04:07:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're Right (4+ / 0-)

        Several years ago, my school was part of an effort to compare affluent US schools to schools in other countries. All sorts of problems arise when different countries have different drop-out rates, different ways of sorting students, different conceptions of what a college preparatory curriculum is, different ages at which large numbers of students take calculus or physics for the first time, etc.

        The Iraq War: End It, Don't Mend It

        by Reino on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 04:25:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  yeah, take India for instance (0+ / 0-)

        India has tons and tons of young brilliant minds - and also tons and tons of starving children.

        In Bangalore, you can send your child to an elementary school taught in your local language for free - or you can pay for your kid to go to the English language school. This in the land of milk and honey for outsourcing, where learning English is necessary to find a good-paying job.

        In a democracy, everyone is a politician. ~ Ehren Watada

        by Lefty Mama on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 09:27:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I won't have time to keep up, today (16+ / 0-)

    but while we can all laud the idea of taking kids out of poverty (who could be against such a scheme?) it is, as you say, easier said than done.  Poverty has been around a long time, and likely will remain.  We may lessen its effects, and, indeed, repealing a lot of what Bush and the Republicans have done to us over the years will help.  But we aren't going to eliminate poverty any time soon.

    We should look at what does work for kids who are in poverty.  And at what does not work for kids born to wealth or, at least, the middle class.  A lot of work has been done on these questions over the years.  Unfortunately, little if any of it is reflected in NCLB.

    A properly done program of tests (see other diaries or comments by me for my ideas), combined with an education plan that takes account of what we already know, could go a long ways toward fixing the problem.  It is not insoluble.  Some kids born into dire poverty do very well indeed.  Why?

    How would a program of testing assist in this?  Well, standardized tests do not serve all purposes well.  But one purpose which they serve admirably is that of comparing educational methods on a broad basis - school district to school district.  Note, again, that I mean a properly created set of tests.  Creating such tests is difficult - it's a large part of what I got my PhD in.  Then the tests have to be well-administered.  Thus, testing should be frequent, broad, short, and low-stress.  Something like 1 test a week, lasting 30 minutes, with the subject rotating among 4 or 5 subjects.  Then we could compare how different districts are doing, not with the purpose of punishing those that do poorly, but with the goal of making all do well.

    NCLB is a disaster.  But something similar need not be.

    •  History was not the bush mafia's (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jcrit, plf515, Temmoku, Judge Moonbox

      best subjects. If it were, they wouldn't be doing the same things over, and over again; expecting different results.

      I couldn't agree more with your post. Testing is important, but it isn't the ONLY thing... and test scores don't matter at all, when the tests themselves aren't the right tests.

      "It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion." Oscar Wilde, 1891

      by MichiganGirl on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 04:06:38 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  In theory, I agree (8+ / 0-)

      A properly done program of tests (see other diaries or comments by me for my ideas), combined with an education plan that takes account of what we already know, could go a long ways toward fixing the problem.

      There is nothing inherently wrong with testing.  However, there is something horribly wrong with the NCLB approach.   The tests have been farmed out to politically connected contractors (making enormous sums on the contracts), instead of rigourously created and carefully designed performance samples.  Testing protocols focus on fact regurgitation in multiple choice format instead of on analytic reasoning and writing.  The curiculum has been distorted to teach to test.   Poor performance is used to justify vouchers and shifting toward private schools.

      Poverty has been around a long time, and likely will remain.  We may lessen its effects, and, indeed, repealing a lot of what Bush and the Republicans have done to us over the years will help.  But we aren't going to eliminate poverty any time soon.

      Repealing all of the tax policies of Bush and the Republicans is essential.  It increases income disparities.   Addressing the fact that living wage jobs are not being created in our economy is also important.  Access to higher education is declining as college costs outstrip inflation.  These barriers will increase poverty, not reduce it.  It is no small wonder the Bushies are trying to eliminate the Census survey on income and poverty.  As the Iraq war proves, it is easier to sell lies when you can game the numbers.

      Poverty will not be eliminated any time soon, but nothing is being done in Bush America about it.  That must change and change quickly.  There is no excuse for the concentration of obscene wealth in a small percentage of the population while many are suffering terribly and many, many more are barely making ends meet.  Great strides were made in the 1960s to reduce poverty rates from over 20% to 10%.  Now, the numbers living in poverty, particularly in children and young adults (age 24 and under) is creeping up again.  

      A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. - Aristotle

      by DWG on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 04:25:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  NCLB should be replaced (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lefty Mama, 417els, plf515, DWG

        Companies around the world use Quality Control and continuos improvement. NCLB should be eliminated and replaced by proven strategies and techniques that truly help to improve performance over the long term. The folks running quality programs inthe business world could provide some effective solutions. Lastly, its pathetic that the distructive NCLB was created by our "MBA President" who should have know better about the correct way to measure and improve performance.

        •  Our Harvard MBA (6+ / 0-)

          also has a BA in history from Yale.  Apparently, he learned nothing to get his Ivy League creds.  Maybe he paid someone to take his tests.

          We should not be too hard on the war criminal king.  The goal of NCLB was to destroy public education.  Ending government support of education and health care are two of the major agenda items of conservatives.  The Bushies have been successful in hurting public education and they have greatly undermined Medicare while the number of uninsured Americans has risen from 40 to 47 million.  

          A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. - Aristotle

          by DWG on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 04:59:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I agree with your post (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I am not sure why you say "in theory" - it sounds like we are in complete agreement.

        No one approach to the problem of education is going to 'fix' it.  But NCLB makes it worse.

      •  As the former employee (3+ / 0-)

        of a major testing company, I object to your characterization of my work.

        The tests I wrote and edited were indeed "rigourously [sic] created" and based on "carefully designed performance samples," and no item was used without careful screening and the involvement of psychometricians, experts on testing data, as I believe plf515 is.

        Also, the company I worked for was not "connected" to the Bush administration in any way. The employees took great pains to track down those rumors and found them to be untrue at my company.

        There are problems with NCLB, but not all test creation companies deserve to be painted with your broad brush. Often the states' own Education Department representatives were the ones who either dumbed-down the content or refused to challenge the students. I can't speak to their motives for such actions. In recent years, we added more challenging types of items and tried to get away from simply multiple-choice items with no analytical thought or practical application involved.

        Give us decent guidelines to write to and take the politics out of testing. Then stand back and see what we can do. But please, don't color everyone the same way.

        •  I would offer a caveat to your post (0+ / 0-)

          testing companies rarely if ever insist that their output not be misused.  There are standards for appropriate use of tests, and if the testing company were to find that a state is not abiding those, does not it have a professional responsibility to make that fact known?

          Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

          by teacherken on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 09:55:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I appreciate your comments (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, plf515

      as well as your expertise.

      As a retired educator, with close to forty years in education, thirty of which were in the classroom and ten as the media specialist/librarian, here are my observations.

      The bulk of my classroom years were in the fifth and sixth grades (only four of which were middle school as sixth was in elementary for many years).
      Developmentally, young kids are so different.  There is a difference when kids birthdays are a year apart; a difference between the sexes and a difference between kids in the same family (often I had siblings over the years).  

      I have had sixth grade students whose work was at best average, along with somewhat average scores on standardized tests.  Yet some of those mediocre kids BLOSSOMED in high school and college.  On the other hand I had high achievers who barely graduated.

      A good teacher can see a lot that cannot be measured.  Predictors that can give one a head's up often show up by observation of a good teacher but not on paper.  

      Despite being retired I went back for two semesters to Title I schools.  One semester at an alternative middle/high school.  Because of NCLB, the school was dumping some of the non-traditional ways it kept kids in school.  Sometimes these kids are gifted artists and the school used to be able to allow kids double classes in art.  But because of NCLB and the constant threat of loss of funding, kids are not encouraged to stay in school.  Kids who quit do not count against the school district.  Many of the teachers who had devoted years to the alternative school left, because they feel the point had been lost.  These are teachers that would do anything to keep kids in school and now the system is designed to not encourage kids to stay.

      One semester was in a great small elementary school that is always on the chopping block and under threat.  Testing time is tense.  Schools like this have cut recess and have to have volunteers to do art with kids.  

      Creative learners who might be developmentally behind because the concrete sequential rote teaching of canned programs do not work for them get bored in school.

      The programs from the Bush family friends like McGraw Hill are easy to use but, in my opinion, boring as hell.  

      We need many ways to test kids but not everything can be substantiated with pencil and paper in a small window of time.
      And comparing children against other children is just inane.  
      We do not expect every adult to read at the same speed or same comprehension; we do not expect we will all be the same height or run at the same speed; we cannot all paint the same kind of picture; or solve the same puzzle at the same speed.  And yet we are punishing schools if the kids in one neighborhood do not do as well as another.

      When they publish the scores here in our city, it is so obvious.  Scores are by zip code.

      Does that mean that rich children are smarter than poor?  I don't think so.  However, if children are at a higher socioeconomic level, they will have experiential advantages.

      So what does NCLB do?  To meet the pressures of the test, the poor schools tend to take away money from things like field trips and the arts.  So the kids who are already being taken to place like museums, outdoor camps, art classes, sports teams can still get them at schools where their PTA raises lots of money.
      And the schools where you barely had a PTA have to put what little money we do make into supplies. Bottom line is this: schools where kids are already advantaged in thing like the arts, travel to museums, theater, etc at home, also get those things at school.  Kids who live in homes where there is no extra money for music lessons, for theater, for camping trips are in schools that are not doing those things either because the money is needed for practice tests, tutors, and whatever else helps raise scores.

      We will always need accountability.  But NCLB uses tests like clubs...ready to pound on teachers and schools who do not score well.
      I get frustrated even talking about his topic.
      It's insanity.

      •  Thanks for the comment (0+ / 0-)

        I agree with much of it.

        But there is one thing missing, that I tried to bring out in my comment.

        You say "comparing children against other children is just inane" - but this is what grades in school do, at least, the way the vast majority of teachers use them.  And, even if you don't intend them that way, the kids will use them that way.  In fact, earlier, you compare kids against each other yourself, saying e.g. 'siblings are different'.

        But where standardized tests properly come in, most critically, is when we want to compare programs.  If there are several methods, and we wish to see which method works best, or, more sensibly, which method works best for which children, then some sort of standardized test is going to give us a type of evidence that is available no other way.  

        •  Yes, I know what you are saying (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          But some levels of competition are going to exist no matter what.  Kids race.  Kids play games.  

          For the majority, if the atmosphere of the classroom is healthy, the competition is not so "high stakes."  
          My belief is that as humans, whether because of nature or thousands of years of socializing or because of the limits of resources, we compete.

          However, we know there can be healthy forms of competition and unhealthy forms.

          As a teacher, I did not have to limit the amount of good scores I gave or how I reached a score.  
          If a child was not a good speller, and could not score A's on tests, they could increase their grades by consistency in doing homework.  As well, I could offer bonus assignments to those who chose to do so to increase grades.
          Some, of course, will rail on that I wasn't being honest or a good teacher because if the child was not a proficient speller, it should be recorded that way for posterity.
          Of course my response was that I would certainly let parents (and the child) know that the student was not a great speller but a hard worker. And recommend the child use the tools available on a regular basis when writing (dictionary, and of course now, spell checker).   I would not recommend that child's future career be something dependent on his/her ability to spell words.

          Even now with math, in sixth grade, making sure kids have access to calculators is easy.  

          These days it should be easier than ever to take the emphasis off "testing".  We should be making sure kids have ACCESS to information rather than testing to make sure they are carrying information in their heads.

  •  I am speechless (16+ / 0-)

    The very idea that this editorial appears in a Tulsa paper and simultaneous slaps NCLB and children in poverty is delicious.  I hope this means a gradual awakening is taking place through all corners of our country that Bush Republicans are nothing but callous pirates determined to hurt most Americans and help only the rich.  

    For this quote alone about how to fix the education system, I applaud as loudly as I can.

    It’s simple. Take the kids out of poverty.

    My concern is that even when something like this appears in a redstate daily, the impact may be muted by the Fox noise and lie machine.  The true cynicism of the Bushites never seems to be fully unmasked.  If public education is preserved or destroyed, affluent kids will be untouched.  If public education is destroyed, Norquist and the rest of the pigs will celebrate in the street because it means they no longer have to contribute to the common good.  Waking America to inherent hostility of the neocons towards less fortunate Americans and anyone who gets in the way of multinational corporate interests will take many, many more editorials like this one.  I hope this is the start of a backlash tide.

    A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. - Aristotle

    by DWG on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 03:56:33 AM PDT

    •  You should read the comments (6+ / 0-)

      attached to that Op-Ed.  90% of them are all "it's the welfare queens' fault!" and "don't give them another dime, let them starve" sort of knee-jerk, Pavlovian, Republican response.

      Classical conditioning in operation.  John Watson would be proud.

      The apocalypse will require substantial revision of all zoning ordinances. - Zashvill -6.25 -5.69

      by Heiuan on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 05:35:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The thing they don't seem to understand (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      catfish, mmacdDE

      is that if the rest of the populace besides themselves is uneducated, their lovely corporations aren't going to be making any money, and by extension, neither will they.  I guess that is for their kids to worry about, not them.

      Not knowing what the hell you're doing does not absolve you of responsibility for doing it.

      by Philpm on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 07:21:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Their lovely corporations (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brooke In Seattle, Philpm

        will outsource to where education is better.  And their kids will do fine with inherited money.  Ours will be cannon fodder.

        Democrats give you the Bill of Rights; Republicans sell you a bill of goods!

        by barbwires on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 07:36:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But if it works so well (0+ / 0-)

          everyone will want to do it.  

          Not knowing what the hell you're doing does not absolve you of responsibility for doing it.

          by Philpm on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 07:50:04 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Not really (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          because those cannons take a decent amount of skill to operate. Have to read the instructions, at the least. And battlefields also require you be able to think on your feet, and work through problems.

          Those are the skills least likely to be taught under NCLB.

          On top of that, those corporations with their outsourced jobs depend on this country's consumers buying their crap. As they're starting to find out - no jobs = no money = no consumers = crappy profits.

        •  asshole libertarians believe (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ER Doc

          I actually had a libertarian tell me with a straight face that if public education didn't exist "Corporations would set up schools to enable them to have employees well trained".  In a long term view?  Maybe.  But the thing is NO CORPORATION CAN HAVE A LONG TERM VIEW (the stock market, and the fact that the average CEO tenure is around 3 years, won't allow it).

          If Libertarianism didn't exist this country would be far better off.

          "An army of principles can penetrate where an army of soldiers cannot." - Thomas Paine

          by Mister Gloom on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 09:27:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Editorial (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, Ignacio Magaloni

    Thanks much for passing this along. Simple. Direct. Clear.


  •  The depth of Republican cynicism is bottomless (19+ / 0-)

    And as the basis for an executive policy, it shows up as incompetence, lying, duplicity, and war crimes.

    Picture:  Rural middle school, late May.  Summer school is right around the corner.  Nobody with the "official" highly qualified designation steps up to teach math (that could have been me, but i spent the summer on wilderness treks with kids).  A teacher from the primary school, who taugh middle school math and science for 17 years (and is VERY competent, I might add), applies to teach summer school math at the middle school.  This teacher is turned down, because she does not have the required math endorsement on her certificate.  Not only is this teacher turned down to teach summer school math in the middle school where she taught for 17 years, but summer school is cancelled for lack of a highly qualified teacher available to teach it.

    That's the law.  That's NCLB helping kids learn.  

    It might not be a war crime, but  that same level of cynicism behind the administration of NCLB makes me just as upset.

    An amendment: Do not allow a single US corporation to do oil business in Iraq until a complete withdrawal of American forces takes place.

    by jcrit on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 04:17:25 AM PDT

  •  Excellent piece, Ken. (4+ / 0-)

    Thank you for the direct and blunt assessment.

    Never, never brave me, nor my fury tempt:
      Downy wings, but wroth they beat;
    Tempest even in reason's seat.

    by GreyHawk on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 04:21:39 AM PDT

  •  FYI on Neal: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Googling "Ken Neal" and liberal produces a fair amount of hits, so it may be a bit of a stretch to conclude that even red-state conservatives are turning on NCLB.

  •  Along those lines (13+ / 0-)

    I've taught college English in both Idaho and, now, in Texas. I taught in Idaho before NCLB; I began teaching in Texas after the state (under GWB) began instituting its own version of NCLB with endless testing.

    Regarding Freshman comp classes, what I've noticed is this: Although my Texas students have a better grasp on grammar, my Idaho students were much better in terms of analysis and generating thought-provoking ideas. While there are some students who "get it" the majority of my Texas students seem to have no grasp of critical thinking. In the course of teaching short stories I will often ask my students questions like "what do you think the horses represent in this story?" and more times than I can count students will respond "aren't you supposed to be telling us what the horses represent?"


    When the trout are lost, smash the state.

    by frankzappatista on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 04:36:37 AM PDT

    •  I've encountered this (12+ / 0-)

      among my Texas college students as well.  I teach philosophy and find that my intro philosophy students are unable to recognize an argument (i.e., a claim that purports to be true based on reasons x, y, and z) and that they are constitutively incapable of interpreting metaphors and analogies.  In Plato's Apology, for instance, Socrates compares himself to a horsefly, and Athens to a well-bred yet sluggish horse.  On essay quizzes I like to ask what he's trying to get across.  One student wrote, "Plato is trying to say that Socrates buzzes around all over the place."

      When it comes to recognizing and evaluating arguments, things are even worse.  Apparently, for my students, there's no such thing as arguments (claims supported by reasons), but rather everything is an opinion and one opinion is as good as another.  Given that this phenomenon has become steadily worse in the years I've been teaching, I suspect that it is the result of emphasizing regurgitation in the high schools and a mediatized culture based on soundbites rather than careful analysis.  To make matters worse, a number of college administrators-- who have no experience in the classroom, of course, and who have "education degrees" for their PhD's rather than degrees in fields that do research --are now proposing the extension of programs like NCLB to the college level.  I now hear all sorts of words from these administrators like "replicability" and "value-added" from these administrators.  

    •  they had to take this disaster national (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tryptamine, frankzappatista

      If it had continued to be the failed educational experiment of the southern states, then it wouldn't have taken too long before it would have become clear that it wasn't working.  People wouldn't want to hire these students.  So it had to be done nationally.

  •  Excellent piece... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, Cathy Willey, jcrit, ER Doc

    Thanks for this, it is a clear view on a very large problem. Yes, it is hard to fight poverty, but rewarding the richest 1% isn't going to help. This administration has never been serious about fixing our public education, they would rather have us privatize every damn service that exists.

    Thanks again Ken, great diary! :D

    "If I can dream of a better land, where all my brothers walk hand in hand, tell me why can't my dream come true". - Elvis Presley

    by WI Dem on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 04:52:40 AM PDT

  •  Thanks Ken (9+ / 0-)

    As you likely know, I've taught in an urban district for the past 15 years.  The ONLY thing wrong with our students (and I mean ONLY) is the high-poverty environment in which they grow.  I have 27 students this year that were fortunate enough to have 2 teachers last year due to Ohio's practice of having student teachers all year.  I cannot tell you how smart they are, just due to the fact that last year they were not packed into a first grade room with 28 kids and one teacher (like this year).  
    NCLB is a disaster.  I hope Sen. Kennedy and others get the idea that it should be scrapped.

    Think what you are doing today. -Fred Rogers

    by JanL on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 04:55:52 AM PDT

  •  Closer to home (15+ / 0-)

    at least for you and me,'s the Staunton NewsLeader from today:

    If one issue from the presidency of George W. Bush could be used to illustrate the fatal flaw that has plagued this administration it would not be the war in Iraq, but what was intended to be the president's signature piece of legislation: the No Child Left Behind Act, meant to reform U.S. public education. The reasons behind the failure of No Child Left Behind lie at the core of every failure that the Bush regime has foisted on the United States and the world: good intentions poleaxed by stubbornness, rigidity and flawed reasoning...

    If any substantive change does occur in NCLB, it will be over the dead body of U.S. Education Margaret Spellings...The law is fine as is, to hear Spellings tell it...

    It is this kind of rigidity that dooms NCLB - and afflicts every other measure undertaken by the Bush administration. For a government to be effective, it must be responsive to its people, capable of admitting when it is wrong and instituting course changes when necessary.

    •  my memory is that their edit page is not liberal (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mini mum, Heiuan, kestrel9000

      is that the sign of early Alzheimer's on my part or is my memory semi-accurate?

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

      by teacherken on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 05:15:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  They still don't get it (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, catfish, kestrel9000

      It is this kind of rigidity that dooms NCLB

      It is this kind of meta-thought, though quite well-reasoned and agreeable to me, that keeps the media from getting to the heart of the matter.  Think concern troll.

      When the dialogue gets to the students' level, when they are- once again- invited to the discussion, perhaps then the real sense of doom that-albeit usually unconsciously- pervades so many students' mindsets can be relized.

      The trickle-down spring dried up years ago.

      An amendment: Do not allow a single US corporation to do oil business in Iraq until a complete withdrawal of American forces takes place.

      by jcrit on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 07:45:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  because looking at Spelling's (8+ / 0-)

      education and career, she was always about controling the schools from a different point of view than educators.  This is why I can't stand her.  NCLB was her baby, that Paige guy was just a front for her.   She has a degree in political science then

      From Wiki backed and the page,

      Born in Michigan, Spellings moved with her family at a young age to Houston, Texas, where she attended public schools. She graduated from the University of Houston with a bachelor's degree in political science.

      Prior to her tenure as Education Secretary, Spellings served as Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, where she helped create the No Child Left Behind Act and crafted policies on education, immigration, health care, labor, transportation, justice, housing, and other elements of the President's domestic agenda. Previously, Spellings worked for six years as Senior Advisor to Governor George W. Bush with responsibility for developing and implementing the Governor's education reforms and policies.

      Look who she is married to......

      Who she started working for when she was young, just out of University!  She  went from university almost immediatly in to the job associate director!  She had to have been appointed soon after graduating because if you add for years to her high school graduation then look at when Clements was gov. for the first term you see she had to go straight into the job without ANY time in  the classroom.

      worked in an education reform commission under Texas Governor William P. Clements and as associate executive director for the Texas Association of School Boards.

      Exectutive Director of School Boards? And she is from Houston? As was Paige.

      Clements was the first Republican to be govenor of Texas since Reconstruction.
      (Clements......Clements was born in Dallas and worked as an oil driller for many years. He founded SEDCO, the world's largest offshore drilling company. He entered politics as the United States Deputy Secretary of Defense under Presidents Nixon and Ford, in the latter administration under Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (1975-77; 2001-2006).)

      She is married to Robert Spellings, who practices law in Austin and has lobbied for the adoption of school vouchers in Texas.

      And what exactly has been going on in Texas around the time she was "working on educational reform"? Why this of course!

      The battle for equal education under the law in Texas was working it's way through the courts!
      And wealthy school districts were fiercely fighting the move.

      From the handbook of Texas Online:

      RODRÍGUEZ V. SAN ANTONIO ISD. Rodríguez et al. v. San Antonio ISD, a class-action suit, was a 1971 landmark case in which a federal district court declared the Texas school-finance system unconstitutional.
      The three-judge court ruled on Rodríguez in December 23, 1971. The panel held the Texas school-finance system unconstitutional under the "equal protection" clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The state appealed, and the case went to the United States Supreme Court as San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodríguez. The attorneys general of twenty-five states filed amicus briefs on Rodríguez's side.

      On March 21, 1973, the Supreme Court ruled five to four against Rodríguez, stating that the system of school finance did not violate the federal constitution and that the issue should be resolved by the state of Texas.

      Edgewood ISD v. Kirby in 1984.

      The plaintiffs appealed the decision, however, taking it to the Texas Supreme Court on July 5, 1989. On October 2 the court delivered a unanimous 9-0 decision that sided with the Edgewood plaintiffs and ordered the state legislature to implement an equitable system by the 1990-91 school year.

      So how is Texas now? Texas schools like elsewhere in America have been suffering from the onsaught against them from vouchers, charter schools and NCLB.
      The Republican values of East Texas have been pummeling America's children all across the country.  Private, Christian but publically funded schools for my Christian children and whatever you can afford for Black, brown, or poor yours.

      She is a perfect example of   "Monica Goodling" and "Brownie" phenomenon of  the Republicans finding eager young people who buy into the Republican values for career advancement.  She just drank the kool aid alot sooner than Monica and frankly, once you look at it Bush is another one of that ilk, too.
      No real care for the good people of America and their children but rather the "what is in it for me", "I have to be Republican in Texas or I won't get anywhere" type of person.

      That is why I think she is the real devil behind NCLB just like Gooding is an important figure in the attorney general scandal.

      Gooding.......AG scandal
      Chertoff..........Homeland Security
      George Deutsch........NASA

      whoo, I bought a house in Texas!

      by TexMex on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 09:05:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  then to add insult to injury (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        catfish, MD patriot, kestrel9000, ER Doc

        They cheat!!!!!!!!!!
        Paige was appointed the Sec. of Ed. because of the Houston miracle!
        Paige declared dropout rates went down in Houston but they really just changed the word dropout to moved to another school!

        and now look who cheats on the tests the most. Charter schools!!!!!!

        Wide spread cheating in Dallas   June 2007

        •  Cheating is concentrated in the state's two largest districts – Dallas and Houston – and in charter schools.

        Even after accounting for their larger size, cheating is more than three times as common in Dallas and Houston as it is in the state's other large urban school districts. In Dallas, one out of every six high school juniors was flagged for cheating in 2006.

        And in the state's lightly regulated charter schools – which are funded with tax dollars but run by private companies or groups – cheating was detected at almost four times the rate of traditional public schools.

        whoo, I bought a house in Texas!

        by TexMex on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 09:20:38 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  note too (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kestrel9000, ER Doc

          all this happened no long after LBJ lost the Dixiecrats to the Republican party after the Civil Rights act and that part of Texas really considers itself part of the old south.

          NCLB is the opposite action of the Civil Rights act.

          whoo, I bought a house in Texas!

          by TexMex on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 09:26:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  If there is a correlation between.... (9+ / 0-)
    ....income disparity and educational effectiveness, then it this is clearly the fault of the teachers.

    The teachers of the poor students are obviously not teaching as well as the teachers of the wealthier students.

    That explanation certainly makes more sense, than the absurd notion that poverty somehow affects a child's ability to learn.  

    Just because poor children are more likely to be hungry or ill.....

    Just because their over-worked, minimum wage earning parents are less likely to be able to help their children study.....

    Doesn't mean that some kind of wealth re-distribution is the answer to this problem.

    While poverty may be causing the problem, reducing poverty cannot be the solution, because that would require a sacrifice by the wealthy.

    In Bush's America: other people make the sacrifices, not the wealthy and the well connected.  That's the whole point of being wealthy and well connected in Bush's America.

    The motto of Bush's base:

    "Others suffer, so that we may thrive"

    -5.75 -4.72 3.14159 2.71828

    by xynz on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 05:46:30 AM PDT

  •  NCLB punishes special education (8+ / 0-)

    And, as I have been saying since the legislation was first proposed, requiring special education students to perform at the same proficiency level as mainstream students was the Republicans way to back-handedly implement vouchers.

    •  but special ed community badly split (4+ / 0-)

      with some afraid that is sped students not included in normal testing protocols it will represent an abandonment of the idea of least restrictive environment that has been key in getting sped kids into situations other than shoving them off to the side.  Some of these people will point at large numbers of sped kids who have mild problems who are able to pass tests.  On the other hand, teachers and parents of severely developmentally disabled children (a) know their kids cannot pass such tests and (b) worry those kids can bear the brunt of a school not making AYP.   And supporters of NCLB will point at the former and ignore the latter.

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

      by teacherken on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 05:55:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  driving a wedge (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tryptamine, jcrit, mad cow, ER Doc

        it seems to me that NCLB was perfectly designed to drive a wedge between parents of "normal" children and parents of those with special needs.  If the special needs group is keeping the school from making adequate yearly progress, that's a huge incentive to "outsource" special needs kids to different schools.  

        •  I've got kid in spec. ed and one in gen ed (6+ / 0-)

          it's really mind blowing to switch gears between the two schools/kids, on one hand the gen ed kid's school is teaching to the test and very demanding of the kids (i beginning to really hate them), and i can't imagine putting my spec. ed. kid in that school, so he's stuck in a special ed school for another year, and i'm thinkin' he will have problems transferring in for 3rd grade, since that's the grade they test, and the gen ed school won't put up with his behavior and won't be pleased that he's not exactly on grade level. i'm ready to pull the gen. ed kid out of school and into private, but i really can't afford it. this whole system sucks.  

          •  agree the system sucks (5+ / 0-)

            We gotta get rid of NCLB.  It's great to want kids in special populations to do better, but they didn't provide any funding.  Heck, they haven't even fully funded IDEA.  

            My kiddo is in Sp. Ed too, and I noticed a huge change in their willingness to help him with various issues when NCLB was enacted.  

            btw, have you seen the diary seeries A Little Bit Special" ?  It's a series about various special needs and dealing with those in our world, from the perspective of the sp. needs person, parents, siblings, etc.  We also formed a Yahoo! group to keep each other informed.  Would you be interested in that?  

            •  asdf (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              tryptamine, ER Doc, auroraborealis

              yes i been reading a little bit special, even meet up with peter at a nyc meet up, (Hi peter). this is my gen. ed kids first year in regular school and after one week it's clear that her school doesn't give a crap about her or her classmates, they are concerned that they keep their numbers up (in addition to nclb, in nyc the schools need to keep the grades up to be avoid having to follow the board's mandated curriculum). i'm really upset because that's the school my austistic kid is zoned for and i really wanted him to mainstream, but i can tell there's no way he's gonna fit in that school. i really looks like i'm going to have to move b/4 next school year, which will be be a really economically difficult thing to do.  as for the special ed school, so far they have been bending over backwards to help my son, (i think their "numbers" look good if they can mainstream a kid or two).

        •  driving wedges is what Republicans do (8+ / 0-)
          And I don't mean the golfing kind.

          If you are a political party that primarily serves the interest of the few, it pays to keep the "majority" divided amongst themselves, rather than letting them coalesce and vote you out of office.

          White against black/foreigners/others (a key, but silent tenent of Repub Southern Strategy)

          Christian (the "real" ones) against everyone else.

          Patriots versus traitors.

          White collar/non-union versus union.

          Working class versus "welfare queens."

          The list goes on and on. The real threat to the Republicans is an enraged populace that desires economic corrections.  Growing up in the 60s and 70s there were still Republicans who just hated - I mean hated - FDR and all his "socialist" programs.  BTW, during FDR's tenure, the top 1% dropped from making 17% of all income to just 8%. That ratio is currently at 24%. Second only to 1928.

          There are many symptoms of what's wrong with schools, but the greatest underlying cause is poverty.  That's what the Rs don't want anyone to look at.

      •  IEPs (0+ / 0-)

        That's why the first Bush Administration developed IEPs so that special education children (from MR/DD to Gifted/Talented) had an individual education plan. For students were believed to act outside of normal education, a different standard was set and the plan was custom-designed. It was an effective program which was totally scrapped by NCLB.

  •  Part of the problem of poverty is also (6+ / 0-)

    physical: lead poisoning and other environmental illnesses are morre likely to occur in poor families; also, substance abuse is more prevalent in poor families (or, in some cases, is a cause of why families fall into poverty).

    My own town has a high rate of poverty, an it is amazing how many of our daughter's classmates are being reared by their grandparents (some of whom are my age - 45) because their parents are not capable of doing so.

    "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they have exhausted all other possibilities." -- Winston Churchill

    by Spud1 on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 05:51:40 AM PDT

    •  There is regular reader of this site (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      who writes regularly about the impact of lead -  I'm not sure I can use his name unless he tells me, or provide links to what he has written.  I presume he is registered and might use your comment as an occasion to comment.

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

      by teacherken on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 05:56:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Also, a poor diet in children under 4 tends (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, mmacdDE, Spud1, jcrit

      to result in many health problems later in life, not to mention the fact that many learning problems begin in those early years.

      All I want from Congress is...IMPEACHMENT!

      by Temmoku on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 07:05:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is a great point. The irony is that in many (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        teacherken, TracieLynn, ER Doc, Temmoku

        cases junk food is less expensive than healthy foods, and is certianly more convenient. Also, in rural areas it is often very difficult to even buy healthy foods, especially if transportation is hard to coem by.

        And of course, if parents are not educated and encuoraged to feed their children well, then it isn't likely to happen (occasionally a neighbor kid would have lunch with us, and while our kids were happily munching on carrot sticks and grapes, he wanted nothing to do with them).

        This articlefrom my local paper is surprisingly good - and the comments are worth the time to read.

        "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they have exhausted all other possibilities." -- Winston Churchill

        by Spud1 on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 07:23:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  we finally got great food for lunch (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          catfish, TracieLynn, Spud1, ER Doc

          The cost?  Slower lunch lines and shorter lunch times.  The kids in the back, always the same ones who are furthest from the cafeteria, regularly get less than ten minutes to eat because they have to waste twenty minutes of their 30 minute lunch standing in line.  Yet I am a voice in the wilderness when the topic comes up.  WTF!?!?!?!?!?!?

          But the meals are great.

          An amendment: Do not allow a single US corporation to do oil business in Iraq until a complete withdrawal of American forces takes place.

          by jcrit on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 07:53:15 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I've worked on schools where the (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Lefty Mama, jcrit

            cafeteria weren't very large, and could not hold all the kids at once. So, at lunch time, the classes were staggered as to when they went to lunch, being release at 5 minute increments.

            An alternative is to serve lunch in two shifts.

            And of course, another alternative is to bring a healthy lunhc from home, which is what we do most of the time. Our district has a nutritionist on staff, so that hot lunches are a lot better than they used to be. Of course, that doesn't mean that the kids eat it all.

            I was surprised to learn that our dughter's school does not allow the kids to "trade" food.

            "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they have exhausted all other possibilities." -- Winston Churchill

            by Spud1 on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 07:58:42 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  A lot of schools don't (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              catfish, Spud1, jcrit

              partly because kids have so many food allergies today.

              Funny - when my kids were in school, I could count on one hand the number of kids with allergies. Now, it seems like every kid is allergic to some food.

              •  This may relate in part to what tken (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                catfish, jcrit

                says above - that kids aren't exposed to a lot of different foods early on, and so maybe they don't build up tolerances to them.

                Similar to the speculation that as kids play "in the dirt" as much anymore, it has also led to more allergies.

                And I suspect that allergies are being over-diagnosed (yes, a controversial view I know), as it is easier to do that and prescribe meds than it is to eliminate bad materials from our buildings, or further limit pollutants from the atmosphere, etc.

                "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they have exhausted all other possibilities." -- Winston Churchill

                by Spud1 on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 08:38:08 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Oh, I buy that allergies are being overdiagnosed (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  catfish, Spud1

                  I think ADHD is as well. I also think a lot of kids are being over medicated, not only for ADHD but for colds that really don't need antibiotics.

                  We're all extremely healthy. My kids were always very healthy, hardly ever getting sick. I attribute part of that to luck, part to diet, and part to not taking them to the doctor for every sniffle.

                  They also played outside, and we moved pretty often when they were little, so they got exposed to lots of germs.

                  I also did all the no-no's when they were little - I gave them solid food very early, I didn't breast feed, I gave them cow's milk early, I fed them table food as soon as possible, and I gave them lots and lots of different things.

                  They never had any food allergies that I knew about, they ate most things, they didn't have many ear infections, and they very rarely got sick at all.

          •  we run 5 45 minute lunches (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Spud1, jcrit, ER Doc

            about 1/5 of our kids do not eat stuff from school, for a variety of reasons.  Far too many eat mainly junk food, from the machines out in the lobby, or what is actually available to purchase.   And I can see the levels of obesity (and I do not mean just somewhat overweight) and worry about things like blood pressure and cholesterol

            Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

            by teacherken on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 08:29:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Surprised your school hasn't banned (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              vending machines (they are a way for schools to make money, of course - see how starve the beast works?).

              Maine has made an effort to ban vending machines - except from the teachers' lounges, of course!

              "Americans can always be counted on to do the right thing...after they have exhausted all other possibilities." -- Winston Churchill

              by Spud1 on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 08:34:53 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  free lunch (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            catfish, Spud1

            Subsidized lunch is a real boon to many poor families, especially when food prices are skyrocketing at the store.  There used to be the Commodities program, which people came to depend on as well.  But that's apparently history, too.  The last thing poor people need is to be told by those who are exploiting them how important self-reliance is!  

            An amendment: Do not allow a single US corporation to do oil business in Iraq until a complete withdrawal of American forces takes place.

            by jcrit on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 11:21:12 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  That's a large part of it (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          catfish, Spud1

          Kids tend to eat what they're comfortable with, and in many cases that's junk food. Mostly because that's what they get most often. A lot of kids don't even touch fresh fruit.

          It's mostly because of convenience, and partly because of cost and lack of cooking expertise.

          If you want kids to eat healthy, you have to feed them healthy from the very beginning. Give them crap when they start eating table food, and they'll only want to eat crap.

          I think diet is a HUGE part of the problem, not only part of the cause of behavior and health problems, but contributing to the incidence of lead poisoning (bad diets allow for easier absorption of the lead).

  •  But if we deal with poverty (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, boofdah, ER Doc

    Rich people can only go to the Caymans 50 weekends  a year not all 52.

    That's unacceptable. :)

    What this war needs is more cowbell.

    by cskendrick on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 06:08:09 AM PDT

  •  Great diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, Temmoku

    and right on the money.  

    dress for dinner and be discreet.

    by moodyinsavannah on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 06:13:02 AM PDT

  •  Where do I start? (5+ / 0-)

    With NCLB it seems like they took a look at what compulsory education in America set out to do--Give all kids certain skills so we would have class mobility and a sense of cohesiveness, at the very least, and they set out specifically to destroy it.  

    Someone on this site (sorry I can't remember his/her name) pointed out that if the service is primarily for the poor, the service will be poor in quality.  Besides making money for his cronies who are publishing the tests and the other cronies who run private schools, it looks like Bush/Cheney's whole point was that with vouchers anyone with even a little money would be going to a private or charter-type school.  Therefore, only those in deep poverty would be left in (so called) "public school," making it easier to decrease funding than if it affected us all.  

    It's the same mentality behind dismantling Soc. Security.  Anything that is for the common good in our society is being attacked by these ppl.

  •  Speaking of eating lunches, last I checked, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Buckeye BattleCry, tryptamine

    the "affluent" kids weren't eating subsidized lunches (and in some schools breakfasts) to keep their bodies fueled for school and life.

    As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.

    by ticket punch on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 06:23:39 AM PDT

  •  relevant quote (7+ / 0-)

    "If conservatives were compassionate, they wouldn't have to put the adjective in front of it."

    • Wesley Clark

    The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

    by NCrefugee on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 06:33:16 AM PDT

  •  I usually lurk in your diaries (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, Temmoku, Leo in NJ

    but I wanted to offer my kudos for this one!  Well done!!

  •  I have always said (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, tryptamine, Lefty Mama, ER Doc

    In order to improve schools, the economics have to be fixed for all families.  

    I'm working in a school that did not make AYP last year. I'm returning to teaching after 10 years away.  I am in a job position which requires me to discuss test scores all day long.  It's a very disheartening set of meetings we have over and over and over.  


    Your Mom buys your bling

    by otto on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 06:36:02 AM PDT

  •  but... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catfish, bustacap, ER Doc, auroraborealis

    Here's the problem: Everyone says the way to fight poverty isn't investing in social services or creating jobs or taxing corporations fairly or making sure other countries have decent workers' rights and environmental laws so that US-based companies can compete, or any of those other ideas that negatively impact the corporate bottom line...

    The way to fight poverty is education! We need people to re-train, then they can get good jobs! Right? But now you're telling me the the solution to education is fighting poverty?

    [head explodes]

  •  Reflections from afar: drop-outs (5+ / 0-)

    In connection with some work on education policy issues in Thailand, I contacted a couple of education information agencies in the US a couple of years back, and asked what was happening to the numbers of children and youth who permanently leave the system, e.g. drop-outs and those who are dismissed for failure to perform up to the NCLB "standard."  I should have saved the e-mails, but they were very carefully worded, boiling down to "nobody tracks that."

    Thanks, Teacherken, for tracking all that's related to America's education system and putting it in context.

    Had enough? Register. Vote

    by redstaterabroad on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 06:58:37 AM PDT

    •  nobody tracks it all - I do what I can (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and a lot of what I share I get because others do track and share -  the wonders of the electronic universe.   That is why I try to credit, as in this case I did George Wood.

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

      by teacherken on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 07:14:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My former school was in the 80% (8+ / 0-)

    free and reduced lunch range....which reflected the poverty level. But, I guess that was OK to NCLB and Bush since they were "probably all Illegal Immigrants" anyway.  Oh wait, aren't they getting all that Federal money, Social Security, and other funds for Free while "real Americans" suffer? Or is that a new "Reaganism"?
    So why was I buying winter coats and gloves for kids who had none? I had one boy (age 15) start to was his first new coat ever! I am retired now and I worry about the kids there now....there used to be a special fund for cases like that but the person who started it has also retired.

    All I want from Congress is...IMPEACHMENT!

    by Temmoku on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 07:13:26 AM PDT

  •  This brought tears to my eyes this morning - (10+ / 0-)

    As a single, working-class parent of a child in public school.

    That someone, finally (!), from across the aisle hears what I've been repeating ad nauseum since my daughter first started attending public school (aged 3, in Headstart).  My daughter has only ever attended public school and she's in 4th grade this year.

    My daughter is a public school success story. We her educators and her parent) work as a team.  That's how the educational model is supposed to work: Everyone doing their part to instill good habits, to participate and to apply discipline.

    As a result of our working together, my daughter is working above-average compared to her peers and has been selected for gifted (ESE) programs in math, science and reading.  In additiona, I supplement her curriculum at home based on conferences with her teacher.  

    We're all very happy with the quality of her public school education. Public schools are working, maybe not as well as they could be - but they do work.  We're living proof of that.

    NCLB is exactly what the editorial above says it is: An attempt, by conservatives, to invalidate the public school system.  Most likely, in an attempt to privatize schools and make them for-profit (like healthcare!) and that, in my opinion, would be disastrous for us all.

    "Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments - Shakespeare, Sonnet 116"

    by xysea on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 07:15:52 AM PDT

  •  i don't know if this bit of info (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    floundericiousMI, ER Doc

    add to the discussion here... The Corporation for Enterprise Development did some study -- and found

    Vermont provides its residents with one of the best environments to build and preserve assets in the nation. Overall, it earned an A grade in the 2007-2008 Assets and Opportunity Scorecard. The state's households enjoy relatively high net worth (ranked 13th among the states) and relatively low likelihood of asset poverty (8th). Small business ownership rates are high both across the board (4th), as well as for African Americans (2nd), Hispanics (2nd), and women (2nd). Vermonters are also more likely than most Americans to own their home (8th), obtain a college degree (8th), and, crucial for broad asset preservation, have access to state-sponsored health insurance (1st in uninsured low-income children; 3rd in uninsured low-income parents). However, the asset picture for women ...

    and spent the most per pupil on education: $10,805

    •  spending a result of Dean's governorship (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      floundericiousMI, 417els, ER Doc

      where he fought for and got taxes to equalize funding - some communities consisting mainly of ski condos were upset that they had to pay taxes to support other communities -  it is a long story, and Howard had his share of battles with the Vermont teachers, but this is one example of meaningful and successful leadership

      Those who can, do. Those who can do more, TEACH! If impeachment is off the table, so is democracy

      by teacherken on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 08:31:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Affluence doesn't even seem to help... (4+ / 0-)

    From what I understand, NCLB is about measuring "progress," meaning like in capitalism it's not good enough unless it's constantly growing. Therefore the schools that were exceptional prior to NCLB are now inadequate as they aren't getting significantly better.

    I graduated high school just prior to NCLB, and went to one of the wealthiest school districts in my state, and arguably the country. My high school contributed to the  Humane Genome Project, has excellent ACT scores, high graduation averages, good funding, some amazing extra curriculars, and was generally considered to be a stellar school. It's sister school was the most expensive school ever built in the history of my state, and was so rich that Jesse Jackson protested it. Moreover, it's in one of the most notoriously affluent areas of one of the most affluent suburbs of Chicago. This place is land of the McMansions (actually, many McDonald's executives), SUVs, soccer moms, and even has it's own mega-church.  

    Neither of these schools is making "adequate yearly progress" and both are on whatever academic watch list NCLB has set up.

  •  At least Neil Bush is not left behind (7+ / 0-)

    Neil Bush and NCLB

    12 Sep 2007 // Washington, DC – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) requested that the Department of Education’s Inspector General (IG) investigate why federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) funds are being spent on educational products sold by Ignite! Learning, a company founded and headed by Neil Bush, President Bush’s younger brother.

    Neil Bush, who has no education background, is best known for his role in the failure of Silverado Savings and Loan, which cost taxpayers $1.6 billion. CREW is asking the IG to discover why federal money is being funneled to a company with no proven track record of effectiveness, but so happens to be run by the president’s brother.

    Well? Shall we go? Yes, let's go.

    by whenwego on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 08:14:34 AM PDT

  •  NCLB a scam (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ER Doc, Dartagnan

    It is an Orwellian term designed so all schools eventually fail. After that, it's taxpayer financed religious indoctrination (RE)education.

  •  And ... well ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    generally, it won't be poorer communities and poorer children who will see the educational benefits by improving learning through greening the schools.  And, the absence of the (perceived) resources for an upfront investment in better facilities creates the vicious cycle of schools/buildings more expensive to run and maintain, which fosters deterioration, which means the infrastructure hurts, rather than enhances, learning potential.

  •  God (0+ / 0-)

    did someone get hit with the frying pan of obvious truth???

    You cannot stand in front of progress for your country because of your fears, you must stand behind Her in spite of them.

    by coigue on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 09:22:56 AM PDT

  •  Homerun !!! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    freelunch, ER Doc

    I've been thinking about doing an extended diary on this very topic, but this does it so much better than I ever could, that I'll forget it.

    The point in this diary -- and in the Tulsa Tribune -- is the ONLY point liberals should keep making when the GOP and it's enablers like Haycock and Wilkins trot out their dishonest arguments and cherry picked statistics.  

    Don't waste time arguing about which tests to use.  That's their ground. Don't waste your breath on "growth models" versus "benchmarks." They rehash that all the time. Forget debating accountability.  You wind up trapped in swamp of statistics.  I wouldn't even go near the 10th Amendment to the Constitution (which seems to reserve education to the states).  The  public doesn't even know the 10th Amendment exists.

    Just argue poverty; because the public discussion has simply ignored its existence.  And add in what's as plain as the nose on your face:  a White House cutting poor kids off Medicaid doesn't give a rat's ass about their schools.

  •  Duh! (0+ / 0-)

    The avowed purpose of NCLB is to test, test, test students ostensibly to identify and correct their learning problems. But critics suspect that the real aim is to label the entire public school system a failure.

    Every teacher/educator (myself included) felt this way about NCLB for many years already.  Given what this administration has done to many other departments, etc. it's not far fetched.

    I agree with Neal wholeheartedly

  •  Oklahoma (0+ / 0-)

    Could the author (or tag police) please consider adding "Oklahoma" tag?

    Thank you.

    Pelosi is wrong. -- Bill Moyers Journal, 7/13/07

    by gypsy on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 11:19:27 AM PDT

  •  Schools do perform differently (0+ / 0-)

    There are bad schools that need to be fixed. NCLB may or many not find them, but it won't fix them.

    There are schools that have different mixes of students. One city high school might have a fairly high proportion of low income students who perform below target, but still manage to have the highest number of National Merit semifinalists in the state, year after year. Another might be a surburban school that does not have as many students from low income households, so it never is in danger of NCLB complaints, but it never has an adequate core of top students to create the peer pressure for success that schools that routinely have a couple of dozen National Merit semifinalists have.

    Which school is doing better? Does the question even make sense?

  •  Thanks for calling my attention (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    to the editorial.  I will be sending the URL to everyone I know.  They put up with my incessant whining and rants, and it will be nice to show them that I'm not just a liberal teacher with an ax to grind.  

    "We told the truth. We obeyed the law. We kept the peace." - Walter Mondale

    by luckylizard on Mon Sep 17, 2007 at 06:42:23 PM PDT

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