Thursday, January 29, 2004

Uniting Against Bush's Educational Policy

As we begin this new year, I was heartened to see tons of online attention to NCLB, most recently by the American Prospect, Kicking Ass, Donkey Rising (scroll to January 24, 2004), and Greg Palast among others. Forgive me if I miss a few.

States both red and blue are beginning to fight NCLB mandates. Very recently, the Republican controlled Virginia legislature united in response to NCLB, punting federal mandates. Even the American Spectator (!) can't help but to take notice that NCLB is creating havoc in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Utah. And these aren't the only states in the news.

But consider also the Hart-Rudman Commission on National Security recommendations on education. One is this:
    "The President should direct the Department of Education to work with the states to devise a comprehensive plan to avert a looming shortage of quality teachers. This plan should emphasize raising teacher compensation, improving infrastructure support, reforming the certification process, and expanding existing programs targeted at districts with especially acute problems."

    "It is clear," the report says, "that if the general national teacher shortage problem is not addressed, efforts to address deficiencies in the science and mathematics arena will not be met either. One cannot significantly improve the quality of science and math education without improving education in general." The report also advocates raising teacher salaries "to or near commercial levels," improving the working environment and restoring professional status for teachers, and creating more flexible certification processes.

As summarized in this post by Kevin Hayden:
    They reported a demand for more Americans skilled in science, math and engineering, saying we needed four times the computer scientists we're currently producing, 240,000 new and competent science and math teachers in our K-12 classrooms in the next decade, and that 34% of our kids - 17 million of 'em - are currently in economically depressed districts lacking sufficient teachers to meet their needs. It further notes that 2.2 million teachers were needed in all topics in the same period and without meeting this, meeting the security demand would prove impossible.

Consider also Ruy Texeira's list of the public's needs and desires regarding education (scroll to January 24, 2004). These needs, along with the security-related teacher shortage and the bipartisan nature of the NCLB backlash, indicate areas where Bush's policies are susceptible to criticism. Bush's touted educational program is currently far from adequate, in fact, falling way short of our educational needs. I'm glad that the word is finally getting out.

crossposted at the american street