Monday, November 03, 2003

NCLB: Betraying Our Children

I wasn’t happy to see this in the local paper, the Santa Monica Daily Press, October 29th, 2003 (unfortunately, Adobe Acrobat is required to download October 29th, 2003) which begins:
    A Santa Monica elementary school has failed a new federal program for lack of participation.

And what caught my eye was this:
    While Edison met or surpassed proficiency criteria in both math and English in all categories, the school failed to meet the participation requirement—by one student.

    Edison’s missing student fell under the English-language learner group, giving that subgroup a participation rate of 94.9%.

    And the government didn’t round up.

For want of one student, the school failed to meet AYP, adequate yearly progress. And because of one child, the whole school gets left behind.

I feel like howling.

Under Lakoff’s paradigm, NCLB reads like a classic “Strict Father” law. It’s extremely rigid and punitive. Superficially it’s about a school’s ability to have ‘discipline’ and be strong because each year, the bar on passing AYP rises higher until in the year 2014, 100% of students must test at grade level or 'at proficiency'. And the punishment for not meeting AYP becomes nastier until there is absolutely no support at all for the 'recalcitrant' school, at which point the school can be completely restructured. Jay Bullock has the details of this nightmare.

Nothing about this in the LA Times, of course.