Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Children Left Behind

I guess this isn't really surprising, though maybe you would've expected school administrators to figure out creative CYA techniques to make their system look good. From today's New York Times:
Most states failed to meet federal requirements that all teachers be “highly qualified” in core teaching fields and that state programs for testing students be up to standards by the end of the past school year, according to the federal government.

The deadline was set by the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush’s effort to make all American students proficient in reading and math by 2014. But the Education Department found that no state had met the deadline for qualified teachers, and it gave only 10 states full approval of their testing systems.

Faced with such findings, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who took office promising flexible enforcement of the law, has toughened her stance, leaving several states in danger of losing parts of their federal aid.


Mr. Bush signed the act into law in January 2002. Under his first education secretary, Rod Paige, legislators, educators and teachers unions criticized the law’s many rules and what they said was its overemphasis on standardized testing.

After Ms. Spellings took office in January 2005, she allowed some states to renegotiate the ways they enforced the law, and on major issues she offered ways to comply that prevented thousands of schools from being designated as failing.

Her efforts softened the outcry from states. But they brought criticism from corporate executives who hoped the law would shake up schools to protect American competitiveness. Criticism also came from civil rights groups that wanted the law to eliminate educational disparities between whites and minorities, and from groups angry that although the law required districts to help students in failing schools transfer out, only 1 percent of eligible students had done so. Most States Fail Demands in Education Law

It seems evident that, one, America has developed a culture that is antithetical to education, and two, the idea of layering tests upon tests in order to "measure progress" is ineffective pedagogy. A Post article a year and a half ago reported that the US students ranked 24th out of 29 of the world's most developed countries in math skills, and that the gap was widening. That article noted that Finland's schools ranked in first place in math after forty years of reform:
"Every child goes to the same school, and there is no school choice," [former Finnish education ministry official Pasi] Sahlberg said. "Teachers focus 100 percent on educating and teaching children rather than preparing them for tests." In a Global Test of Math Skills, U.S. Students Behind the Curve

Finland's successful approach is exactly the opposite of the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind approach, which emphasizes testing and switching schools.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well that explains why Finland is such an economic powerhouse.

July 25, 2006 5:40 PM  
Blogger digger said...

The clear purpose of NCLB is fostering school choice. If a school fails to make Annual Yearly Progress (AYP), which becomes increasingly difficult, until it is unachievable, in 24 separte categories, for 3 years, any child in the school can transger. In other words, if my special ed students fail to make AYP, the Calculus kids can transger to McLean. All the stats so far on schools that don't make AYP is that the highest achieving and wealthiest students are those who transfer, not students in the categories that caused the school to fail the standards. The effect is to concentrate the highest achieving and wealthiest students in certain schools, leaving the poorest and neediest in the lowest achieving schools. Segregation on the basis of ability and class, rather than race.

The other clear purpose of NCLB is to label public schools as failures, to help the political movement towards vouchers.

Perhaps a third purpose is to limit federal aid to states in education.

An insidious law. States and counties throughout the country will soon rebel. Some states are now refusing federal aid.

My opinion, of course, but founded I think on a careful examination of the effects (rather than the rhetoric) of the law.


July 25, 2006 6:44 PM  
Blogger digger said...

Something I saw in last Friday's Blade:

Ill. university ordered to recognize
anti-gay student Christian group
CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University was ordered July 10 to officially recognize a Christian student group that excludes membership to those who practice or support homosexuality, the Chicago Tribune reported. A three-judge panel of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago granted a preliminary injunction that forces the public university to recognize the campus chapter of the Christian Legal Society. The group argues that it does not restrict membership based on sexual orientation but on religious beliefs. Officials at SIU revoked the organization’s official status in March 2005, arguing the exclusion of gays violated the university’s nondiscrimination policy, the Tribune reported.

I believe this is how the hypothetical Gay-to-Straight Clubs will get around non-dsicrimination policies, where they exist: by claiming that they are allowed to discriminate on the basis of viewpoint, and that they do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. This may be legal, but I suspect the Gay-to-Straight idea is still-born, anyway.


July 25, 2006 6:48 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

... why Finland is such an economic powerhouse ...

Finland ranks thirteenth on the UN's Human Development Index. The US ranks tenth, and is dropping.


July 25, 2006 7:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

$12,490,000,000,000 usa
$161,500,000,000 finland

July 25, 2006 8:04 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

USA: 299,311,005 people
Finland: 5,223,442 people

July 25, 2006 8:28 PM  
Blogger Theresa said...


Since you don't believe religous groups should be allowed on campus, but Gay Straight Alliances should - can that be extended that you also believe that sodomy is socially acceptable but religon is not ?

That after all, is where that goes...

If Gay clubs are acceptable on campus, than religous clubs are too.

Otherwise, it MOST certainly is viewpoint discrimination.

Most mainstream religons do believe homosexuality is a sin.

They have a right to believe that.

July 26, 2006 7:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

NCLB might eventually lead to school choice among lower income groups but there is little in the way of school choice for most American students at present. To say that school choice, or testing, is causing failure is laughable.

Math, by the way, is a lot easier to teach then humanities. It is easily quantifiable. It's the bloated bureacracies that have caused the problem. If more money went into teacher personnel and less into administration, progress would be made.


July 26, 2006 10:01 AM  
Blogger digger said...

Theresa said:

"Since you don't believe religous groups should be allowed on campus, but Gay Straight Alliances should - can that be extended that you also believe that sodomy is socially acceptable but religon is not ?"

I'm not sure where you got the idea that I don't think religious groups should be allowed on campus. Fellowship of Christian Athletes promotes the notion that being gay is sinful, but I suport their existence in schools.

My question is whether a group whose explicit purpose is to discriminate against gay people should exist on campus.


July 27, 2006 11:58 AM  
Blogger digger said...

H.A. said

"Math, by the way, is a lot easier to teach then humanities."

You wouldn't believe the difficulties my students have with math.


July 27, 2006 12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"My question is whether a group whose explicit purpose is to discriminate against gay people should exist on campus."

And the answer is yes. Gaeity is an inclination. While you may think it's not a negative inclination, it's ceratinly someone's right to disagree. You certainly have the right to discriminate against people who have inclinations you feel are negative, don't you? And you do, don't you?

Unlike race or color, inclinations can be resisted and overcome. It is insulting to people of minority races to lump their racial identity into the category of inclination.

July 27, 2006 1:52 PM  

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