Thursday, May 31, 2007

Flunk NCLB Once And For All

What follows is an excerpt from education writer Alfie Kohn’s column in USA Today about No Child Left Behind, one of the grossest frauds in education ever perpetrated by Bushco, a regime that seems to manufacture them on a daily basis (though I will admit that they didn't act alone in this, but they own it).

…according to a recent 50-state survey by Teachers Network, a non-profit education organization, exactly 3% of teachers think NCLB helps them to teach more effectively. No wonder 129 education and civil rights organizations have endorsed a letter to Congress deploring the law's overemphasis on standardized testing and punitive sanctions. No wonder 30,000 people (so far) have signed a petition at calling the law "too destructive to salvage."

NCLB didn't invent the scourge of high-stakes testing, nor is it responsible for the egregious disparity between the education received by America's haves and have-nots. But by intensifying the former, it exacerbates the latter.

This law cannot be fixed by sanding its rough edges. It must be replaced with a policy that honors local autonomy, employs better assessments, addresses the root causes of inequity and supports a rich curriculum. The question isn't how to save NCLB; it's how to save our schools - and kids -from NCLB.
I would add that due to the emphasis on testing, what can happen when a child doesn’t measure up in the face of the relentless “teach to the test” onslaught is that the door opens for consultants in the “learning” business to come into the picture and tutor the child to in the hope of producing better test results. Some of these people are superbly talented professionals doing their best to help, and some are utter hacks whose only goal is to keep the parents paying them and thus justify their existence (even going so far as to encourage the family to climb onto the merry-go-round, so to speak, of endless counseling to address one type of perceived inadequacy or another, which subsequently generates even more money both for themselves and another education “consultant”).

This curse of an administration will be remembered most infamously for the Iraq war followed by Katrina and its aftermath, but the pox of NCLB will rank in its top five list of failures (and before anyone waxes apoplectic over Ted Kennedy's involvement in this, I should note that he has opposed the paltry funding of this law; I respectfully disagree with his call for renewing NCLB here).


KB Learns With You said...

I agree. I wish we could return the profession to pre-NCLB days before the damage is irreversible.

daveawayfromhome said...

I would add that another of the dangers of NCLB is that it promotes a lack of variety in what we learn. Once every school teaches the exact same thing (which is pretty much what will happen in a test-based system), then you run the danger of people not questioning that information because "everybody knows that". No standardized test equals no standardized learning. In that sense, even the wing-nut's "God"-based home-schooling is valuable.

doomsy said...

Kind of ties in nicely with the antagonism Bushco shows at every opportunity towards science and any kind of independent thought or expression whatsoever, doesn't it?

Thanks to both for checking in.