Friday, October 22, 2004

'NCLB's flaws are not accidents'

Dudes, you made my day. I was jazzed by the quick responses to this dreary WaPo article by two very sharp ed-bloggers.

Tom at Ed-Tech Insider, writes "NCLB's Flaws Are Not Accidents". I couldn't agree with him more. However, I can't seem to excerpt parts of Tom's piece so you'll have to visit him in person.

I found Tom by way of Tim at Assorted Stuff, who offers an equally cogent comment in his post called An Illusion of Power and Joy.

What brought this on? It was this tiresome Jay Mathews piece, which was written as a critique of Marc Fisher's work, both WaPo writers.*

Fisher writes about a principal of a thriving magnet school who makes the decision to stand up to the NCLB straitjacket of constraints. He wrote a letter to the parents warning them the school may not pass the NCLB bar because he made the decision to focus on what's important in teaching kids. Which means he was not planning the 'drill and kill' type of curriculum demanded by NCLB.

*However, I think it's time once again to refresh the memory banks.

First of all, the Washington Post tends to be quite partisan in matters concerning NCLB. It might have something to do with the fact that the parent company of WaPo also owns the now very profitable Kaplan Educational Systems. Kaplan has got a whole new market to expand into, thanks to NCLB, and is doing quite well.

So, to see a WaPo column, the one written by Marc Fisher, actually criticizing NCLB was quite an unusual sight. It was not surprising to see Jay Mathews rise to the occasion to defend NCLB again (and criticizing Fisher). Mathews, the education guy at WaPo, seems to be neutral but his bias can't help but come out over and over again. And it came through loud and clear in his last piece.

To be fair, most times, he does come up with a fairly creative take on education matters. But, alas, this time it looks like that corporate whip was taken out of the closet, back into operation.

Finally, here's a meta analysis of the whole thing by the (non-perma linked) NBSA blog (go down to Oct. 19th, 2004.)
NCLB: Bring on the re-write, or make it work as is?

Tasty little debate going on at the Washington Post between metro columnist Marc Fisher and education columnist Jay Matthews. Fisher writes that one principal calls No Child Left Behind "an ax hanging over our heads." Matthews counters with additional reporting from the same schools that some who oppose NCLB do so because of an "ill-considered bias against giving kids standardized tests and making the results have some consequences for the school." In an editorial making the rounds of various listserves, the Berkshire Eagle claims the problem with NCLB is simply funding. ...snip...Anyway, for NSBA's take on important improvements needed for NCLB go here.