Sunday, August 08, 2004

Educators in Minnesota: NCLB flawed

From Susan Ohanian's site: DOE visits Minnesota to promote their bill, NCLB. Apparently, they get an earful from local educators.

Check out the DOE argument by Boehner on why this is such a wonderful piece of legislation. Boehner is a major Republican supporter of this bill.
For his part, Congressman Boener says there has to be a way to close the achievement gap between children based on race and income. He says the federal law gives the government and local communities an opportunity to know which schools are doing well and which ones aren't.

"The community deserves to see what's happening there. As I said before, there's a conversation that's happening in every school district in America. It's good for those of us in education. It's good for parents. It's good for communities and in the end it will bring all of us much closer together," he said.

Boener says he hopes to work in Congress to improve some of the funding measures for the law when Congress returns from the August break.
Whoa, wait a moment.

1. I don't see how this bill helps the 'achievement gap'.

No money is specifically provided to help the schools 'achieve the gap'. Instead, if the kids, as a collective whole, don't test well (two years in a row), the school is punished by being forced to spend its limited funds on tutoring and on transportation for the kids.

Admission to other schools: is this a real solution? Some cities don't have any other schools to attend. Other districts have limited room. Does that mean you crowd the few schools where the kids test well? If you don't do anything else to improve the education, I bet the test scores at those schools will go down.

As for that tutoring, no extra money is provided by the feds for tutoring. Tutoring contracts go to private companies; their fees are high. So we have even more money siphoned off from the school. The whole purpose of tutoring is to get the kids to take this test better. But that whole premise is flawed: I don't think doing well on tests means the education is excellent. Not only that, testing poorly can be due to lots of other factors not associated with a poor education: not feeling well, not used to a testing culture, poor test questions. Through all this, I want people to ask: where is the evidence these tests determine whether kids are really truly getting an excellent education? How do you measure schools which promote intangibles such as creativity, critical thinking skills, and self-esteem?

2. According to Boehner, the law will help parents find out how a school's students perform. But this 'performance' is based on results from one test.

Excuse me, but I do believe one test does not ever define whether kids are getting a wonderful education or not. I'd like to see evidence that results from one test shows kids are getting a good education.

3. In addition, I don't agree with Boehner that what's happening is a good thing. 'It', whatever that is, won't bring all of us closer together.

The vision behind NCLB leads to a dramatically different world. It would demolish public education completely. Fine for those who have the money for private schools but I believe a good democracy requires a good education available to everyone.