Skip to main content

Our No. 1 education program is incoherent, unworkable, and doomed. But the next president still can have a huge impact on improving American schooling.

   So says perhaps the most cogent writer on educational matters, Richard Rothstein, in a piece in he American Prospect whose title, like that of this diary, is Leaving "No Child Left Behind" Behind   Before The New York Times lost its senses, Rothstein wrote columns regularly on educational matters.   Those of us who try to help the general public and policy matters  understand the reality of educational policy have often drawn some of our bgest arguments from his work.

The article, which became available online yesterday, presents the key issues as well as they can be presented, and there is little I can add, although I will offer a few comments of my own.  The notable educational figure Deborah Meier has said that we should blog about this and distribute the article as widely as possible.    I urge you to consider doing what you can, including if warranted recommended this diary, to make the article as visible as possible.

Let me begin by offering verbatim Rothstein's first two paragraphs:

The next president has a unique opportunity to start from scratch in education policy, without the deadweight of a failed, inherited No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. The new president and Congress can recapture the "small d" democratic mantle by restoring local control of education, while initiating policies for which the federal government is uniquely suited -- providing better achievement data and equalizing the states' fiscal capacity to provide for all children.

This opportunity exists because NCLB is dead. It will not be reauthorized -- not this year, not ever. The coalition that promoted the 2001 bipartisan law has hopelessly splintered, although NCLB's advocates in the administration and the Congress continue to imagine (at least publicly) that tinkering can put it back together.

Let me make a slight discursus with my own comments. I'm not quite as confident as Rothstein is in that second paragraph.  It is true that most who follow educational policy believe that having failed to get reauthorization during the Congressional session about to end the administration will have to content itself with a continuing resolution.  I have written often of the horrors of that - the funding continues as the same insufficient level as the current law while the clock on punitive sanctions continues to run.  I think that is likely, but because of the fear of the damage that might do there may be the possibility that a new coalition could pass something different, and then the question would be if Bush would veto it, or accept it as a validation of his cheif domestic policy legacy.  I think in that case a veto would be possible, but not absolutely certain.

But let's focus on what Rothstein has to say. In the beginning of his piece he provides an analysis of how the law came to be, including Rove's ability to persuade some Republicans that the bill might be a way at making inroads into the African-American vote and Democrats equally as cynical in accepting impossibly high goals (100% proficiency) as a means of justifying huge increases in federal expenditures for education.  But as Rothstein notes

What few Democrats understood, however, was that test-based accountability might spur teachers but would also corrupt schooling in ways that overshadowed any possible score increases. Excessive testing is now so unpopular that Congress' newly elected Democrats campaigned in 2006 against NCLB and now won't support reauthorization. Senior Democrats are also hearing from parents, teachers, school boards, and state legislators.

.    And despite urgings form George Miller and Ted Kennedy, without whose support the original proposal would not have become law, that they can fix the legislation, Republicans are now inclined towards their normal traditional emphasis on local control of schools and many of the Democrats elected in 2006 campaigned against NCLB and are unwilling to support reauthorization.  

Rothstein provides a cogent analysis, understandable to the layman, of the basic flaws with a test-based accountability system.  He focuses on four key points.

GOAL DISTORTION On this Rothstein points to Edward Deming who warned

business to "eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals" because they encourage short-, not long-term vision.

 He offers additional support for a qualitative approach from Peter Drucker.  Given how often some people want to argue that schools should be run more like businesses (although on that point I would disagree and would remind people of businessman Jamie Vollmer's famous Blueberry Story which illustrates how schools are different) it is interesting that Rothstein can provide evidence from two of the most admired figures who have written about business management.  Of equal importance is his reference to two well-known early supporters of the law, both of whom worked in the Bush 41 Department of Education, Checker (that is what he likes to be called) Finn and Diane Ravitch, and he quotes them in two snippets, both of which I reproduce:

We should have seen this coming ... more emphasis on some things would inevitably mean less attention to others. ... We were wrong.

   

[If NCLB continues,] rich kids will study philosophy and art, music and history, while their poor peers fill in bubbles on test sheets. The lucky few will spawn the next generation of tycoons, political leaders, inventors, authors, artists and entrepreneurs. The less lucky masses will see narrower opportunities.

TEST RELIABILITY Rothstein provides a readily comprehendable explanation of the limits of our approach to testing.  He references the work of Kane and Staiger, who raised enough warnings that those working on the original proposal delayed enactment for six months while they tried unsuccessfully to address the problems.

THE PROFICIENCY MYTH  I note that researcher Gerald Bracey has long criticized the proficiency levels of NAEP (the National Assessment of Educational Progress) and that a study just put out by Brookings agrees with Bracey's criticisms.   On this let me simply offer the first paragraph Rothstein presents under this category, and urge you to read the rest of what he has to say on the topic:

Even with inordinate attention to math and reading, it is practically and conceptually ludicrous to expect all students to be proficient at challenging levels. Even if we eliminated all disparities based on socioeconomic status, human variability prevents a single standard from challenging all. The normal I.Q. range, 85 to 115, includes about two-thirds of the population. "Challenging" achievement for those at 115 would be impossibly hard for those at 85, and "challenging" achievement for those at 85 would be too easy for those at 115.

 Whether or not you accept the idea that IQ is all that meaningful, or even that it is fixed (and the latter point is currently under serious challenge) it is amazing to me that the obviousness of the point Rothstein is making has NOT been part of the discussion, Perhaps people were afraid of the attack of 'the soft bigotry of low expectations" but dishonesty and lack of reality do not serve the interests of anyone.

THE BUBBLE KIDS  This refers to the strategy being taken by schools, of ignoring those who will succeed on the mandated tests and those with little hope, and focusing the vast amount of efforts on those around the cut point, whose scores could slip below success or those just below possibly be raised.  Having all of these kids succeed results in the gross measure of Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) going up.  

Rothstein explores three more main topics.  In SCHOOLS AND SOCIAL POLICY he starts by emphasizing how NCLB betrays core Democratic principles by

denying the importance of all social policy but school reform. Inadequate schools are only one reason disadvantaged children perform poorly.

  Rothstein reminds us of all the factors that contribute to poor school performance, and this is subject on which he has written extensively in recent years.  At the end of this section he offers a stark warning:

The continuation of NCLB's rhetoric will also erode support for public education. Educators publicly vow they can eliminate achievement gaps, but they will inevitably fall short. The reasonable conclusion can only be that public education is hopelessly incompetent.

Rothstein next explores the possibility of "FIXING" NCLB.  Summarizing briefly, he tells liberals they are going to have to abandon the long-cherished idea that the Federal government is going to be able to solve our educational problems.   He puts this in the context of the history of federal aid to education, acknowledges that the underlying Elementary and Secondary Education Act will at some point be reuathorized, although probably increasingly ignored by states upon whom the burden o fixing our educational problems will likely fall.

Rothstein follows this with a section entitled WHAT THE NEXT PRESIDENT CAN DO.  He offers two key suggestions.  The first is to provide data on student performance not for accountability but to guide state policy makers.  He argues for an extension of NAEP for those purposes.  He also argues for the federal government providing more fiscal equalization.  He observes that new Jersey spend 65% more per student than does Mississippi, not because the latter state cares that much less, but because it lacks the economic base and resources to spend that much. He points out that current Federal spending policy exacerbates the underlying inequities.  But to achieve a policy which will take money from high income states like New Jersey and send it to lower income states like Mississippi will take, as Rothstein notes,

political courage not typically found in either Washington party. There's a role here for presidential leadership.

Rothstein offers his suggestions in the context that the Congress will continue in Democratic hands (he is writing for the American Prospect) and the White House will also switch parties.  it is in that context that he offers his final paragraph:

Abandoning federal micromanagement of education has a hidden benefit: helping to reinvigorate American democracy in an age of increasingly anomic and media-driven politics. Local school boards in the nation's nearly 15,000 school districts (but not in the biggest cities) can still provide an opportunity for meaningful citizen participation. Debating and deciding the goals of education for a community's children is a unique American privilege and responsibility. Restoring it is a mission worthy of a new administration.

I have often written online about educational policy.  I have pointed people at a variety of published pieces, to important studies.  I have written about my own experiences and observations, in the hope that people might begin to understand the reality of what our educational policies have been doing.   I do not think I have ever written about a more important published piece than I do in this posting.   Regardless of what you may think of my writing, I urge you to make the Rothstein piece as widely visible as possible.  If you have contacts with the presidential campaigns, insist that their policy people read this.  If you are connected with school boards and superintendents, at local or state level, pass this on to them as well.   It is that important a piece of writing.

And now I will get ready myself for another school day, attempting to enable my students to have a positive learning environment despite the depredations of NCLB upon meaningful learning.

Peace.

Originally posted to teacherken on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 03:26 AM PST.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  I think this subject is incredibly important (72+ / 0-)

    which is why I got up early this morning to create this diary, and why I am now running late for school -  that is how important I view it.

    Again, while I would greatly appreciate your support for the diary, it is of greater importance that the Rothstein piece be as widely distributed as possible.

    Thanks.

    And peace.

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

    by teacherken on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 03:26:33 AM PST

    •  Outstanding diary! (9+ / 0-)

      We need to define just what our school system should do in terms of educating our young.  It seems we need to teach how to learn, but as importantly, how to be good citizens.  That means of the town, city, country and world.

      If you only teach to the test, you'll create a series of good test takers.

      "People should not be afraid of their government; governments should be afraid of their people." --V

      by MikeTheLiberal on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 04:58:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  thanks 4 the kind words n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MikeTheLiberal

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

        by teacherken on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 05:15:00 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Rothstein does a good job (3+ / 0-)

          in this article of concisely addressing a very unwieldy and complex subject.

          At some point though, we need to address things one at a time and just nail the hell out of them.

          For example, if you look at the basis for NCLB, and now as well, the school report cards like in NYC, what you will find is standardized tests--lots of them.

          One of the crucial projects now is to tell the truth about their uses, limits and dangers.  I've done that here before, but I don't believe people are quite getting the picture.

          If NCLB is thrown out, but standardized testing remains as the basis for "measuring" learning in public education, then we will have made absolutely no progress in terms of getting children a quality education.  And the "growth model" as Rothstein points out, would simply mean using two unreliable measures instead of one.

          So, let's get to the foundation here:  standardized tests have low validity, scant reliability, no transparency and are often completely irrelevant both to the child's life experience and much of the content they have studied in school.

          Why would we even trust corporations to do what is best for our children when there are profits to be made feeding the crisis in public schools meme?

          Help new teachers to grow and love their work at www.newteachernetwork.net

          by Mi Corazon on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 08:16:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Hold on (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Mi Corazon, MikeTheLiberal

            I agree with most of your comment, but the point that standardized tests are irrelevant to "much of the content they have studied in school" is incorrect.

            Standardized test publishers get all their materials from the state education departments, including the curriculum standards for every grade level. These tests are not created like the SAT or ACT, which cover many things not explicity studied in every school.

            No question appears on a test (well, they didn't at the test publisher I worked for) that is not a part of the curriculum that is mandated by the state. It's not like publishers just pull those questions out of thin air. Hardly. There is a hugely convoluted process involved in creating and selecting test questions, and the state education departments have final say on what gets on the tests.

            Test publishers may control many aspects of NCLB that you don't like, but let's put the blame for content where it rightly goes -- on the state education departments that select both the publishers AND the content for those tests. Even so-called national tests are tweaked for individual states, so don't let them kid you and say they aren't doing that. (For example, you probably won't find an evolution question on any tests in Virginia or Georgia, but you might see them in Vermont or Massachusetts.)

            •  Sure, on paper (3+ / 0-)

              you can say that State Tests are adapted from state standards, and of course they have to come from somewhere.

              But, when you have hundreds of schools, thousands of classes, studying that material,  it really does become a guessing game as to what will be on the state test this year.

              You can't test everything, and you can't teach everything.  But they do test some things from a cache of many items.  So, even when it is done perfectly, many students end up being tested on material that has not been a central part of their curriculum.

              And, what's more, in some states that are not very up to speed, the tests are even worse--norm referenced exams.  Then, as a comparison, they will throw in the NAEP as an independent comparable benchmark (don't get me started on the cut scores of NAEP) and students in different states have definitely NOT been adequately prepared for the material on that one.

              So, my comment stands.  We think we have an airtight testing system, but what we have in the vast majority of situations are cheap, lousy tests that have low validity, very poor reliability, no transparency and little relevance either to the child or the child's course of study.

              Help new teachers to grow and love their work at www.newteachernetwork.net

              by Mi Corazon on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 09:29:09 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  May I add (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                MikeTheLiberal

                that testing companies are raking in bigtime profits, knowing full well that their tests are being misused. While they are doing quite well, children, teachers, and schools are suffering.

                Have never heard a peep out of the testing companies about this educational malpractice.

      •  and some very bright students (6+ / 0-)

        who can make wonderful contributions to our society have difficulty with traditional testing methods.

        NCLB has done so much to discourage these types of students. It has also discouraged many terrific educators. It labels students, teachers and schools in a negative manner. It is a perfect example of the republican "tough love" approach to the world - those who "work hard" and can be successful in measuring up to an arbitrary "standard" should flourish, while those who work hard but still struggle should be viewed as lazy, and therefore deserve to fail at life.

        NCLB fails our students, and therefore our society.

        I remember a time when the American President was the leader of the free world. ****** Repeat after me: "Neoconservatism has failed America."

        by land of the free on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 06:13:10 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  You nailed it (4+ / 0-)
        1. reasoning & critical thinking
        1.  good citizenship

        These are the essence of our educational system at its best.

        Although I understand and appreciate the role of the federal government in civil rights and other matters of national interest, I think we need to find a way to support local school districts in their efforts to meet the needs of their own unique communities and student populations.  Can people make suggestions along these lines?

      •  I think that's the most crucial part (5+ / 0-)

        kids need to learn HOW to learn, not just stuff their heads full of facts.

        I teach web/graphic design, and I always tell my students that they don't need to memorize all the commands - that's why there's a help feature and reference books. They DO need to learn what the software is capable of, and where the generally used tools are, and what they do. They DO need to learn general graphics principles.

        And then they need to learn how to look, how to critique, and how to create.

        Knowing how to critique something you read or see, and how to research, are critical skills. But of course, before you can do that, you have to know how to read, and read well. AND you have to learn logical thinking.

        Unfortunately, those are harder to teach then having the students memorize and spit back disconnected facts. They're also a LOT harder to measure.

    •  We need to drive a wooden stake through NCLB... (9+ / 0-)

      and machine gun it with silver bullets... then lay garlic wreaths on its grave for good measure.

      I will enjoy reading about what Neil Bush has to come up with for a living when he and Ignite go down in flames...; )

      Dudehisattva... <div style="color: #0000a0;">"Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom"&l

      by Dood Abides on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 06:08:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Presidential candidates (3+ / 0-)

      should all be asked their position on NCLB.

      •  actually, they have addressed it (4+ / 0-)

        all have some form of educational plan.   Richardson has flat out said to scrap out.   Others take somewhat different approaches, including using multiple measures, etc.   Other than Gravel, with whom I have not wasted my time, I am unaware of any of the presidential candidates who has not addressed it.  And four - Clinton, Dodd, Obama, and Kucinich - sit on the relevant Senate and House committees that have been involved in the reauthorization process that is now on hold.

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

        by teacherken on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 07:02:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  education is always important to our future (15+ / 0-)

    thanks, teacherken, for linking to this article. I will meet this morning with my son's principal and will share this diary with her. I see from volunteering at my son's school how little control teachers have over their work, and how they are daily committing little acts of rebellion in favor of the students. It only encourages me to stand for them, and for good education.

    I have linked my son's third grade class to a school in China, so they can exchange letters and learn about each other. One of my first personal acts is to include the Blueberry story in the package so the Chinese teachers and principal can learn something about current ideas as I have.

    Thanks, as always, for your dedication to our children.

    The pump don't work 'cause a vandal took the handle.

    by Chun Yang on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 03:38:10 AM PST

  •  now on way to school (6+ / 0-)

    dropping wife off on Hill and then to school

    catch you on the flip side

    peace

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

    by teacherken on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 03:47:55 AM PST

  •  Did you know... (10+ / 0-)

    that the name of the program NCLB was supposed to be modeled on was actually called "Leave No Child Behind".

    Big difference in the intent when you lose the passive voice.  A friend of mine who is a professor tells me that the person who originated the excellent first program (who name escapes me) is horrified by NCLB.

    Teacherken, have you thought about starting a group blog just on education issues from a national perspective?  I've been giving that a lot of thought lately, and I think there's a big gaping whole in the blogosphere that could be filled.

    Any interest in this?  Any interest in just poking around and seeing who might be interested in doing this?

    I really think it's needed and that a group of folks from here and around could do a blog that could make an important difference in the legislated future of education.

    Thoughts?

    Civil behavior isn't about restraining from using insults or obscenities, it's about behaving like a fucking decent human being.

    by Casey Morris on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 03:48:04 AM PST

    •  there are a number of educationa blogs already (8+ / 0-)

      and more starting all the time

      I really do not want the administrative responsibility for such an effort, and recently turned down an invitation to be a founding member of a new blog dedicated to progressive educators.  I write about education when I can, have access to a number of educational blogs already.  But I also want time to write on other subjects as well.

      Thanks for the thought.

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

      by teacherken on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 04:34:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I like you being here. (6+ / 0-)

        I like that other people besides educators get access to your writing and our comments.  Clearly NCLB is been pushed forth by people who had a different agenda than educators. The general public and concerned citizens were left out of the loop in terms of why NCLB is wrong. By having the discussion where it belongs on a political blog informs members of this community about the issues.  Teachers/educators talking only to themselves just seems to become "complaining and whining".  Developing educational policy is a political activity and has to involve all the community.

        whoo, I bought a house in Texas!

        by TexMex on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 06:19:25 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I like you being here, too... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Neon Vincent

        and Texmex, my thought was to expand the audience and create a broader coalition, not an echo chamber.  I was thinking about a blog that wouldn't be a horizontal model of an education blog, but a vertical model, wherein you could have contributions from not just teachers, but administrator, board members, parents, state commisioners, etc.  I think it would be interesting to be able to present commentary on a policy from each viewpoint in one location.

        Just a thought.

        So shoot me.

        Civil behavior isn't about restraining from using insults or obscenities, it's about behaving like a fucking decent human being.

        by Casey Morris on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 08:34:26 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Every Child Left Behind (10+ / 0-)

    is a better moniker for the current situation, at least here in Texas.

    Let the Teachers Teach, and let the Children Learn.

    God and ego are not equivalent expressions of reality.

    by Othniel on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 03:49:00 AM PST

  •  Thanks Ken (6+ / 0-)

    There is reason to be hopeful. All of the NCLB testing expenditures were through Title One. If we could keep that funding level for Title One but lose the testing expenditures, that money could provide a lot of help to schools who teach students in poverty.

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

    by Reino on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 03:52:07 AM PST

    •  One thorny issue (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      coral, lemming22, LynneK, Neon Vincent
      will require a wholesale change in American thinking to avoid breeding an even higher level of resentment and division than we have seen -- and it will need to come from those who have sown the division. That is the issue of taking from states like New Jersey that pay very very high taxes on all levels (property taxes are crushing, one reason the schools are so well-funded) and giving to states like Mississippi which in some cases have made the conscious choice to keep taxes low and to hell with social responsibility. In the current climate, I don't think it can be done. As has been shown many times, "blue" states tend to pay more taxes than they get back; with "red" states -- "anti-tax" states -- it's the reverse. These are states where many people, despite a self-professed "Christianity," seem to have come to feel that one bears no responsibility for others in society, only themselves. They seem to have a surfeit of the "If I earn it, I should keep it" people. Their attitudes will have to change in order for such a revenue transfer to be politically feasible and with Republicans STILL chanting their kneejerk anti-tax mantra in every campaign, I don't see where this is possible.

      We're retiring Steve LaTourette (R-Family Values for You But Not for Me) and sending Judge Bill O'Neill to Congress from Ohio-14: http://www.oneill08.com/

      by anastasia p on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 06:08:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Somewhat (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        coral, mmacdDE, LynneK, Neon Vincent

        I'm willing to increase federal funding for schools a lot and force states and school districts to make appropriate effort themselves to get that funding. There are still many school districts that have a relatively poor public school participation rate by the white middle class. It's tricky to get the taxes high enough when the natural constituency for good schools has bailed.

        Of course there are also small, poor, rural school districts throughout the country that are many hundreds of square miles in size just to get enough kids in them to put together a high school. Those places often don't have an economy that is adequate to pay for any special programs for their kids.

      •  That's Why Now Is The Time (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        teacherken, freelunch, Neon Vincent

        Now is the one chance we have to take billions of dollars in wasted money and put it to good use. Because of the forces you describe, it is almost impossible to find money for schools that wasn't there before, but I am talking about taking money being wasted on testing schools and putting it towards supporting schools.

        What makes it easier is that the money is already in Title One, which is a great place for it. The money is already there, and it already comes primarily from the national income tax.

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

        by Reino on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 07:22:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm seeing the results in Community College (18+ / 0-)

    In the last two years I'm seeing kids who were in grade school when this policy went into effect. Results: our numbers are up in remedial math, remedial reading, and especially, remedial writing.

    These kids can't ask questions of the text because they cannot understand what they read, not to mention how very much they HATE to read. They struggle with the idea of argumentation, and reasoning is almost beyond them. They struggle with vocabulary. Teaching them the reasoning behind documentation is so frustrating because they have trouble understanding who is a reliable expert, or why some sources are more valuable than others.

    "I done that already."
    "He done his work at my house last night."
    "I'm thru with that."
    Grammar and spelling are not only not taught or corrected, but in the wake of texting, the grammarians job is a hair pulling nightmare.

    They can't even see it. Regionalism is a factor, I know. But...

    No wonder teachers are quitting.  

    •  It's not just your students now (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mmacdDE, Neon Vincent

      I taught several years ago and noticed the problem starting even then.

      It has already manifested itself, and you can see it every single day in all walks of life -- even here on Daily Kos: Most people have no respect for the conventions of grammar and spelling, and if you correct them, they blow up in your face and tell you it's not important.

      Yes, it is. It's important for many reasons that anyone reading this diary should already know. I've been an editor for 30 years, but I can't get a job because no one gives a damn about correctness of the language any more.

      I've said it before: I love blogging, but it has been the death of me. No one thinks editors are necessary any longer, and I have no skills to do anything else. I've become obsolete in my own time.

    •  I know exactly what you mean (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      teacherken, Neon Vincent

      I see it too. I only teach part time, and web/graphic design classes, I see it there too.

      Depends on the class though. The last semester I had a fantastic bunch. The web design classes are the hardest, because it's such a stretch for them. The level of understanding is MUCH greater for web stuff - you have to understand HOW it works much more than you do with print pieces. It's getting them to understand things like directory structure, site organization, etc. that are tough. Especially with younger students - it doesn't seem like they have any clue how to think logically.

      Makes almost everything very, very hard for them.

  •  Interesting piece by Rothstein (7+ / 0-)

    It is nice to see some thoughtful, if not somewhat depressing, analysis of the challenges we face as a country in educating our children.  It is hard not to see NCLB as a national embarassment that served only to deepen the problems in less well-funded public school systems.  The cynic in me finds it impossible to believe that was not deliberate by the Rovians.

    Thanks for your thoughtful analysis.  I wish I could believe that the political will exists to address what is a very complex set of issues.  When we cannot summon the political will to stop government subsidies to the oil and gas industries despite their record profits, record federal debt, and looming climate crisis that requires moving moving away from fossil fuels, then I am less than optimistic that the steps required to improve public education will be taken.  I hope I am wrong in my pessimism.

    I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute. - John F. Kennedy

    by DWG on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 04:13:28 AM PST

  •  Yes (7+ / 0-)

    Rothstein "tells liberals they are going to have to abandon the long-cherished idea that the Federal government is going to be able to solve our educational problems."

    What I've been saying for a long time. I don't see much 'bang for the buck' from the last DoE budget of $67.2 billion. A casual survey around the blogosphere reveals basic flaws in knowledge of standard English.

    Not saying these people are stupid, no, I rather categorise much of the problem as "Phonetic Spelling". 'It sounds like" is what is written.

    Example: 40-something lawyer, well-focused exposition -- marred by consistent misuse of 'effect' for 'affect'.

    Hundreds, nay, thousands more examples. And same in the MSM.

    And when it comes to economics, monetary policy, liberals typically admit little understanding - or interest - as is evident in sparsely read diaries here.

    I graduated from high school in 1953, long before the Department of Education reared its ugly head. I was 16 and that was 12th grade. ALthough I don't think Florida was high on the hawg, I'm not sure throwing Federal money at it would have made a difference.

    And that is always the problem with central control, whether it impacts on education or law enforcement or disaster relief, the bottom line always is, "Play ball with us or we'll ram the bat up your ass!"

    P.S. What ever happened to the comma? :-)

    What is past, is prologue

    by US2oz on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 04:15:27 AM PST

    •  Well, NCLB wasn't (9+ / 0-)
      a "cherished idea" of liberals. I think they went along hoping that something good might have come of it. But it was really a cynical ploy of Republicans who, despite their talk of states' rights when it's convenient, have stampeded wholesale in the direction of more central control of everything.

      Affect, effect, yeah. My pet peeves are misuse of  "comprised" (never never never followed by "of"), misspelling the word "definitely" (which 90% do) and now the phrase "most importantly," which should not contain "ly." I am an editor at a newspaper and I get this stuff even from relatively skilled writers, although relatively skilled writers are not a common breed these days.

      We're retiring Steve LaTourette (R-Family Values for You But Not for Me) and sending Judge Bill O'Neill to Congress from Ohio-14: http://www.oneill08.com/

      by anastasia p on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 06:13:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Proposition 13 on a national level? No way! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Temmoku, LynneK

    When a higher level government snatches control of local funding, school funding becomes less predictable and subject to raids to prop up the general fund, and politically savvy rather than the truly needy districts inevitably benefit.  Everybody's funding drops because of the inefficiency of the distribution system.  Programs are cut - parents are forced to dip into their pocketbooks to make up the difference or they seek outside alternatives.  Meanwhile, we've watched as those "poor" urban districts have been enriched with the tax dollars from other districts and still produced mediocre results.  Why?  Incompetent, corrupt administration and parents who think it's all the school's fault.

    Sorry, I have very little sympathy for the federal Department of Education other than to manage education-related civil rights issues.

    Do not ever say that the desire to "do good" by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives. - Ayn Rand

    by CA Libertarian on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 04:39:04 AM PST

    •  And then there's "for profit" charter schools (6+ / 0-)
      an obscenity that should be banned. If you have a limited pool of money for something that benefits all society, ALL of it should do there and NONE of it should go to private profit. Here in Ohio, hundreds of millions of education dollars have gone into these schools (many of them run by big Republican donor David Brennan and his White Hat Schools) which are virtually all in academic watch or academic emergency. It astounds and angers me that there are onerous consequences for public schools that don't succeed, but for-profit charter schools that don't succeed walk away with our tax money when they should be forced to return every penny of profit they made off the dying futures of our kids.

      We're retiring Steve LaTourette (R-Family Values for You But Not for Me) and sending Judge Bill O'Neill to Congress from Ohio-14: http://www.oneill08.com/

      by anastasia p on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 06:17:20 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't care if there are for profit schools (0+ / 0-)

        I just don't want my tax money going to them.

        You want to open a school and charge tuition? Fine. You want a public school that's a magnet arts/science/sports/etc. school? Fine. But a school that's funded by MY tax dollars making money for some company? No way.

  •  Title I was a first step in this direction (8+ / 0-)

    back under LBJ -  a recognition that schools with high numbers of students in poverty probably did not have the financial means to provide the resources necessary for an equitable education.  We now have more than 4 decades of this in principle, so it would only be a question of degree, more broadly applied, rather than being an entirely new idea.

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

    by teacherken on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 04:47:38 AM PST

  •  Remember, The Kongress' intent in regards to (0+ / 0-)

    education is not really to raise American education so that it is equal to or better than that in other industrialized countries.

    It is, in fact, to continue graduating a work force that will be too dumb to want higher wages or a better life for their own children.

    In their view America needs a constant stream of people entering the work force who are willing to work for Wal-Mart all their lives and who will willingly gobble up insane propaganda regarding the need for peremptive wars and who will fight unhesitatingly to keep Communist ideas like National Health Care from being introduced in this greatest of all possible countries.

    If you want true educational reform in this country, you must start by throwing out both parties and the lobbyists, which control them and start all over with people who will really do what the people really want.

    Of course achieving that end, means we would have to actually give power to the people through an Article V Constitutional Convention

    http://www.foavc.org/

    And DKOS'rs for some reason are strongly opposed to such a solution.

    And since it is the only solution, I fear we will just keep graduating more and more right wingers and the educational system will just continue to decay.

    Sig heil!

    •  That's a wacky theory (5+ / 0-)
      especially when there already aren't enough Wal Mart jobs to go around and too many people who are desperate to have them. A recent Wal Mart opening here attracted 6,00 applicants for a few hundred jobs. That leaves society having to deal with the care of the remaining untrained people and the crime and other social ills uneducated, unemployed people create. I certainly do not think this is "Kongress's" goal. Love the quaint 60s revolutionary spelling, though. Death to Amerikkkka! Whatever.

      We're retiring Steve LaTourette (R-Family Values for You But Not for Me) and sending Judge Bill O'Neill to Congress from Ohio-14: http://www.oneill08.com/

      by anastasia p on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 06:24:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  The K is for K Street which is Kongress' true (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pletzs, Cassiodorus

        Boss.

        It is not a whacky theory.

        Look at immigration

        Both parties tried to ram this through over the outcries of both their bases.

        K Street wants dirt cheap American Labor and they will  home grow it by turning out illiterate graduates or they will import it or both.
        They want more applicants then there are jobs.

        That is what drives down wages.

      •  Spelling May Be Goofy (0+ / 0-)

        But the underlying theme is not. The driving premise of education in the U.S. is not about expanding intellectual horizons or training a population well-versed in democracy, but is by-and-large at the beck and call of corporate interests.

        Rampant consumerism and workplace passivity are the largely realized goals of many forces who have the most control of education in the United States.

        Or as my wife (a former teacher) likes to put it, people complain that the schools aren't working, when in fact they are doing exactly what they've been designed to do.

        •  The problem is (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Brooke In Seattle

          corporations now require MORE educated people, not LESS educated ones. And there aren't enough of them.

          They THINK they'll get cheap educated labor somewhere else - but those people aren't stupid. If they know they're in demand, they'll ask for more money. Pretty soon (and it's coming rapidly) it won't be cheaper to outsource to India, or China, or Bulgaria.

          And there won't be enough educated workers HERE to pick up the slack. Not only that, there won't be enough people with even enough BASIC skills to be trained to do the work.

          You can't take somebody who's barely literate and doesn't know how to reason their way out of a paper bag, and teach them programming, engineering, nursing, science, or electronics overnight. It takes YEARS, if you can do it AT ALL, because you have to start completely from scratch.

  •  Remember (12+ / 0-)

    many of the theocracy crowd would rather kill public education than anything.

    Public Education is and has been the backbone of our society.

    Fund it.  Fix it.

    Do not let them voucher it and teast it to death.

    God and ego are not equivalent expressions of reality.

    by Othniel on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 04:55:30 AM PST

  •  Thanks! (5+ / 0-)

    I'll be uploading a podcast to my Accountability Frankenstein site a little later, with an important concept tied to the New York City school grading debacle.

  •  The NCLB ia more a dead man walking than Bush n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Temmoku, LynneK

    "We will now proceed to construct the socialist order."

    by 7November on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 05:25:46 AM PST

  •  Thankyou..I've been saying that NCLB is punitive (7+ / 0-)

    to poorer and schools with a high limited English base. Also, that I felt it did more to keep poor people poor and the rich wealthy through Education than anything else this President instituted.

    All I want for Christmas is...IMPEACHMENT!

    by Temmoku on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 05:40:57 AM PST

    •  NCLB is punitive to good schools too (10+ / 0-)

      By forcing them to waste their time with more testing and federal compliance.

      Do not ever say that the desire to "do good" by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives. - Ayn Rand

      by CA Libertarian on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 05:42:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not as much as to poor schools. There is (7+ / 0-)

        no way a disadvantaged population can achieve the scores that NCLB demands and forcing poor schools to spend their money on Special "Fix-it" programs instead of on better materials or teachers or inservices designed for poverty areas is ludicrous! "Schools that Work" came into our District and recommended a syllabus for all courses. The teachers spent a year writing and revising their syllabus to meet a criteria more suitable for college than for disadvantaged students who needed so much more and for teachers who needed so much more. Where was the training on dealing with students of poverty or dealing with gangs or literacy training for teachers????? No, they got called in for a syllabus that followed the Math Text and curriculum guide but was not "attractive" enough to stimulate interest. Now what was that? The students were going to lose the thing within a week.

        All I want for Christmas is...IMPEACHMENT!

        by Temmoku on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 05:54:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sigh. Teachers this and teachers that. (6+ / 0-)

          I don't think there's that much difference between teachers at "good schools" and teachers at "bad schools".  In fact, I know this from personal experience, as my wife has taught in both environments.

          The big difference is parents who spend time with their kids and with their classrooms versus parents who don't spend time and who think everything is the school's responsibility.  And all this talk about fixing things at the federal level just makes that sense of blame and entitlement that much worse.  I think it's all a step in the wrong direction.

          What we need is far more local control, far more local accountability, and far more finger pointing where finger pointing is due - at parents.

          One qualified exception I will grant in that case is for English learners.  Here, schools need all the flexibility they can get in making English learners successful.  California banning bilingual ed by initiative was a step in the wrong direction.  Educators should be making these decisions, not uninformed, xenophobic voters.

          Do not ever say that the desire to "do good" by force is a good motive. Neither power-lust nor stupidity are good motives. - Ayn Rand

          by CA Libertarian on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 06:43:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  When it comes to education (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pletzs, Brooke In Seattle, LynneK

            If you hear someone claiming to be an education expert and they start telling you what "the right way" is to do something, you can safely ignore everything they have to say. They don't know what they are talking about.

            Students learn in different ways. Any experienced teacher knows that and does her best to make certain that all of the students in the room have a chance to learn in a way that works well for them. If the student doesn't learn very well in one of the most common general ways, then special tutoring can be extremely helpful, if you have a tutor who pays attention to how the child learns and adapts to the child.

        •  More bs curriculum stuff (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassiodorus, Neon Vincent

          Anyone who thinks that rigid syllabi and year-long lesson plans are more important than actual teaching is crazy.

          Unfortunately, I've run into the same things myself, and they are the main reason that several of my former education classmates and I don't have teaching certificates to this day. Talk about authoritarians! The entrenched cliques in education departments, schools, and school districts with which I have had experiences could give lessons in control to the extreme right-wing Republicans.

          This does not help children learn.

  •  I am not sure (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    justjoe, Cassiodorus, LynneK

    that I have ever even run into someone who thinks that NCLB is successful. Anyone out there? I sure as shit hope it does not get renewed.

  •  Thanks for the article... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    land of the free, LynneK

    and keeping this issue at the forefront. I'm at school so can't read it until much later. I will happily pass it along to my many concerned colleagues and and taxpayer friends.

  •  As someone planning to teach ... (7+ / 0-)

    I was shocked at first how the education community reacted to NCLB.  As read the criticisms and finished up my class (the final is today, what am I doing posting here!?!?!) in "Social Foundations of Schooling" I could see why.

    Schooling and education are amazingly complicated.  For starters there is little agreement on what it is for.  Jefferson essentially saw it as the foundation of citizenship (for his narrow view of citizens).  Unfortunately those that followed turned it into a system that prepared people for their economic roles, the flaws of which were easy to see but tough to fight as industrialization and unions gave "decent" jobs to the working class.  One flaw in school in that fashion was that it trained the working class out of a kind of critical literacy to organize and act on their own behalf, it pulled the rug out of any "radical" (as in 'from the root') problem solving-- training us to trust experts rather than become citizen/experts more akin to Nadar's vision of our citizenship.

    NCLB is part of an equally bad trend towards Charter schools with no set standards or accountability. and vouchers meant to fund churches in spite of the seperation of church and state.

    The ruling class have always seen real pubic education as a threat to their system oligarchy that exists above our democracy.  Just look to the history channel and watch how highly praised Sparta's system of government is-- for its stability.  

    Thanks for the diary entry!

  •  An excellent diary (5+ / 0-)

    When VA got stuck with "Standards of Learning" or test-driven education, I read a column that said this was camo for vouchers. I thought,"how paranoid is that!'. How wrong. Leaving aside the motives for SOLs or NCLB, education completely shaped by tests is NOT working.

    •  Employers asked for SOL (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassiodorus, Neon Vincent

      The Virginia SOL testing program was begged for by employers in VA long before NCLB was started.

      Disclaimer: I used to work on VA education products.

      The stories I heard from people at the state Education department were that VA was graduating so many people who could not read or write or do math that it was having an impact on their supply of potential employees. Virginia has had testing for several years, and when NCLB mandated testing, they were one of a few states that already had processes in place.

      Not that it's worked any better -- just that VA saw a need for testing long before the US government mandated it.

  •  Promises, promises (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    coral, Irish Patti, LynneK, Neon Vincent

    The ideals behind NCLB aren't bad, but the compromises, implementation (test, test, test) and (lack of adequate) funding turn all of our federal K-12 education policy into a farce.

    There are a few things the feds can do:

    1. Pay for all special and remedial education costs. While mainstreaming can help many students who do require extra contact by teachers, it works only if there is adequate staff for everyone who needs it. Poor school districts often are forced to decide between better education for all or following federal mandates. We also don't want to force people to move to school districts that take special education seriously (sometimes at the urging of a smaller district).
    1. Pay for TAG. Sure, schools love to be able to offer TAG enrichment because their bright kids make them look good, but TAG is easy to cut when mandates get in the way.
    1. Set realistic standards. Take responsibility for them. The US Dept of Education does not take responsibility for its part in these tests or the failures. They need to. Funding matters a lot, but an actual understanding of the problems is important, too. Still, until they show that they know what they are doing, they should just throw money at the problem, because throwing red tape at it certainly hasn't worked.
    1. Fully fund all other mandates. Money is a real problem for many school districts, particularly those that have been partially abandoned by the white middle-class. Extra funding for those schools will help.
    •  your points are good (4+ / 0-)

      But

      The ideals behind NCLB aren't bad

      Yes. In a word yes the ideals behaind NCLB are BAD!  The idea that students can take a standardized test to indicate progress of a student, a school, and a school district is wrong.  You don't go into a shop and pick up the hammer and use it to do everything you need to do. Sometimes a plier is better or even a screw driver.
      Using a standardized test to determine everything is backward way to say, "Let's go back to the fifties and do it like we used to. It worked for us." Kinda like gimme that old time religion thing, it was good enough for them and it's good enough for me." Hey we passed them, Why not go back to the simple old ways no New Fangled way of testing for us!) Either you pass or you don't, either you are here illegally or not, It is about a simple two answer question only one answer is right. No shade of grey, no nuance, no what if but then type of questions that require thinking.
      Real teaching is real learning and it is a process involving the MIND. It is about a human adult spending time and guiding some experiences with human juveniles.  Some of those experiences are social because we are social creatures. Learning happens while living life. So life must happen in the class room.  Reducing experience in the classroom to sitting in a desk and bubbling in "practice" tests is sad and downright out of the 19th century.

      whoo, I bought a house in Texas!

      by TexMex on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 06:50:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  What if education was emotionally rewarding? (7+ / 0-)

    Schools that foster in their students a sense of empowerment, respect, purpose, wonder, belonging, and a celebration of success  are meeting basic emotional needs.  

    Just having a reading score meet a standard does not mean that a child is learning to love reading.

    It cats could blog, they wouldn't.

    by crystal eyes on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 06:24:34 AM PST

    •  At my younger daughter's school, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      crystal eyes, Neon Vincent

      The recite The Learner's Creed every morning. After they recite it, the teacher asks them to explain what it means to them.

      The Learners Creed

      I believe in myself and my ability to do my best at all times.
      Just for today:

      I will listen
      I will see
      I will speak
      I will feel
      I will think
      I will reason
      I will write
                             
      I will do all these things with one purpose in mind:
      to do my very best and not waste this day, for this day will not come again.  

      Since the principal introduced this creed, the students in this school have begun to enjoy school more, and their scores have gone up. Has every student developed a love of learning? Maybe not, but they are made to feel that they are responsible for their academic success and that they are being empowered. I've seen many children with low self-esteem who have really blossomed since the creed was instituted.

      "Truth never damages a cause that is just."~~~Mohandas K. Gandhi

      by LynneK on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 07:27:19 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Clearly too young to be cynical (3+ / 0-)

        Yes, it is helpful to make it clear to kids that they can take responsibility for learning and that teachers are there to help them learn, but it only works if that is really what the school wants.

        Schools with students who are speaking and reasoning tend to be more chaotic and some school administrators are afraid of such things.

        •  Democracies seem chaotic (4+ / 0-)

          to those who don't understand freedom.

          When thinking and speaking become  disorderly behaviors in schools we are not free.

          It cats could blog, they wouldn't.

          by crystal eyes on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 07:42:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  This was the principal's idea (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          freelunch, mmacdDE, Neon Vincent

          and it is hardily endorsed by the faculty, because they can see the results for themselves. From what I have observed, this hasn't made the school any more chaotic than other intermediate schools I've seen. The big difference is that, at this school, the students know that they can voice their complaints and concerns, and know that what they have to say will be considered.

          Recently, the school had a fundraiser at the local Chik-Fil-A. The restaurant said that they would match all the funds raised during that one evening. The total raised (including the matching donations) equalled $5000. The principal had the faculty submit a list of things that the school needed, then the students voted on which of those items they felt were needed most. The students voted for bleachers for the gym (even over building a playground) with over 75% of the vote.

          Our principal and faculty have as their #1 priority not only having students who excel academically, but students who can think for themselves and aren't afraid to express their views.

          "Truth never damages a cause that is just."~~~Mohandas K. Gandhi

          by LynneK on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 07:48:36 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I worked in such a classroom (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        freelunch, LynneK, Neon Vincent

        and saying these words every day can also inspire the teachers.

        It cats could blog, they wouldn't.

        by crystal eyes on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 07:36:40 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Teaching to the test (6+ / 0-)

    does not allow for critical thinking skills to be developed. It makes dumbing down the populace a lkot easier. It allows for the Bread and Circus to become news.

    (-9.00,-7.59) Non Illegitimi Carborundum

    by Irish Patti on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 06:25:08 AM PST

  •  NCLB was designed to kill Public Education (7+ / 0-)

    Rothstein says it right there...

    The continuation of NCLB's rhetoric will also erode support for public education. Educators publicly vow they can eliminate achievement gaps, but they will inevitably fall short. The reasonable conclusion can only be that public education is hopelessly incompetent.

    I'm fairly confident that was the goal of NCLB right from the start, to totally undermine the confidence of public education.

    Personally, I have never understood the debate.  Why do people keep claiming the school system has failed?

    It seems to me from everything I have seen over the years, that the great failing has been with parents.  Parents who have been neglecting their side of the education equation and pushing that responsibility to the schools.

    And then they complain when the schools fail to be good parents.

    •  great book (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cassiodorus, The Other Steve

      by David Berliner
      the Manufactured Crisis.

      whoo, I bought a house in Texas!

      by TexMex on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 06:52:40 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree NCLB was designed to kill (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Other Steve

      public education, but I heartily disagree that it is the fault of parents.

      I've been on both sides: teacher and parent. Most of the teachers my children had in school were barely competent to teach them. Now, teachers can get all offended at that, but it's the truth. Of course, this was in Texas, which is not known for academic excellence anyway.

      Additionally, I worked for a test publisher, and they hired almost exclusively former teachers to create and edit their tests.

      Guess what? Most of the people creating the tests weren't qualified for that. In other words, these former teachers weren't very good either. They couldn't spell, could barely write, had limited math skills, were not widely read in literature, and had little concept of civics. When corrected, they would fly off the handle with screeches of "how dare you correct them -- they were TEACHERS!" Please.

      I think education needs to be revamped starting in the education classrooms. Teachers need to be paid more and valued more, true, but education needs reworking literally from top to bottom.

      •  I'm not from Texas (0+ / 0-)

        The public schools in Iowa and Minnesota have always been quite good, from my experience.

        Yes, occasionally you'd get some nonsense, like a teacher talking about penguins at the north pole.  But by and large the average was good.

    •  I'd like to claim the school systems have failed (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Other Steve, Neon Vincent

      but that would imply that the school systems of America have a goal which they failed to achieve.

      They don't.  They have no overall meaningful social goal.  Schooling in America is, in the final analysis, "what you make of it."

      Part of this has to do with the fact that American school systems are, by legislative fiat, coercive; they must employ psychological trickery to "force children to learn."  The children are required by truancy laws to be there; yet the sort of learning that we would ideally want the schools to promote is beyond the reach of a system that, fundamentally, imprisons children.  School systems, therefore, spend too much energy (esp. past 3rd grade) coercing children into giving their consent to the daily processes of school without giving them any real, compelling reason why they should go along.  Eventually the problem is solved (in the latter grades of high school, mind you) either through the coercive appeal of "if you don't have a high school diploma you will be nothing," or by the necessities of College Prep.

      In this vein I would like to recommend Horse Philosopher's incredible diary of a year ago, which nails NCLB in its historical context.  The central point appears to be this -- when in discussing the purpose of the public schools, we land upon the notion of "school is what you make of it," (in light of the battle of purposes which Horse Philosopher describes so well; also see Ira Shor's history titled Culture Wars) then we leave the school system open to whatever opportunistic trend can be cooked up by capital as it leans upon the Federal government today.  The Federal government, btw, is ideologically united.  Hopefully by now the readers of this post have already heard of the "Washington Consensus," that is to say, neoliberalism.   Government officialdom today is expected to bend over backwards to cater to the enormous surplus of capital which dominates the global economy.  This, of course, is what drives NCLB, the profit margins of Reed Elsevier, McGraw Hill, and so on.  Remember, enormous bipartisan majorities passed NCLB.

      As an antidote to this, I would recommend that we focus upon the sort of future that we wish to see, and upon the goal of making education a preparation for that future.  In regards to process, Specifically, I would like to recommend the goal of a global, ecologically sustainable, society, because without this, we are adrift.

      "Imagine all the people/ Sharing all the world" -- John Lennon

      by Cassiodorus on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 10:48:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Wire - Season 4 (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken, LynneK, Neon Vincent

    I just watched The Wire, season 4, out on DVD and Netflix, which focuses on the role of the school system in the sometimes desperate lives of disadvantaged kids. Written by some of the best crime writers of the day - Pelecanos, Lehane, among others - this is must-see TV for anyone who wants to understand the social context.

    My husband is a teacher, and even in a rural district in Western MA, he said he was seeing some of the same problems that besets these inner city Baltimore schools.

    Written as an entertaining, gritty, and emotionally searing crime drama about inner city mean streets, this particular season shows how empty No Child Left Behind is ... and how demoralizing and damaging, especially to those teachers who are really trying to make a difference.

    Read the report and then watch the show. Or, just watch the show. Should be must-viewing for politicians.

    "Control of the initiative is control of the battle. In the alley, at the poker table or in politics. One must raise." David Mamet

    by coral on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 06:35:15 AM PST

  •  Thanks, tken! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LynneK, Neon Vincent

    Help tear down this noxious program and its propaganda!

    These little things are built at all of the entrances to the Department of Education. Wonder how much they cost?

    Seul l'incrédule a droit au miracle. - Elias Canetti Road2DC

    by srkp23 on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 06:51:14 AM PST

    •  yeah, I know - remember I live in DC area (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      srkp23, LithiumCola, LynneK, Neon Vincent

      and have occasion to drive by those atrocities far too often.

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

      by teacherken on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 07:06:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  As I recall (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      srkp23, Neon Vincent

      They're pretty stupid, but they didn't hurt the aesthetics of the building, one that isn't even interesting enough to be hideous.

    •  OGM! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      srkp23, Neon Vincent

      I was born in DC and grew up in the area, and I had no idea these had been built.

      I don't recall ever seeing any pictures of these or stories about them in the news.

      That might be diary-worthy, if you can get more info on cost of materials, man hours, etc. I'd also like to know whose great idea that was. Once upon a time, the little red one-room schoolhouse gave a great education because of the individual attention given by teachers. Also, as my own mother (who went to a one-room school) has told me, the older kids helped the younger ones while the teacher was busy with other classes, thereby providing additional skill practice for the older child and extra time spent on a concept for the younger one.

      These faux fronts are an insult to the very concept, but ironically show how very hollow the idea of education is to these people.

      •  I'd never seen that before, either. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        srkp23

        And I think it's as much an attempt to inspire the Dept. of Education employees as it is to manipulate the public.  It's still propaganda and of a piece with the concern for aesthetics showmanship and symbolism that this administration prefers over substance.

        "Iraq: the bravest 1% fighting for the richest 1%." ~ An Unknown Kossack.

        by Neon Vincent on Tue Dec 18, 2007 at 12:10:48 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  thanks, another great diary n/t (0+ / 0-)

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site