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 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  
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  
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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