Friday, December 10, 2004

A response to the assault on public education

Dave Johnson pens an authoritative manifesto , a response to the assault on public education. Thank goodness he has a nonPDF version up on his site. Commonweal Institute, where he is a fellow, has a PDF version on their site.

Some things I'd like to see in addition to his current work:

*take it to the next level.

We need to come up with a new language and a new frame to replace the current testing paradigm. Opposing NCLB has the familiar flavor in that it makes you look bad: 'what, you dare to oppose accountability and standards? Horrors; how dare you, you irresponsible person you'.

The reality is, NCLB will eventually impose unreasonable levels (by increasing number of kids meeting 'profiency') via escalating and everchanging AYP measurements. It's a stealth problem which will be apparent in a few years. Once a school fails meeting AYP brings a school into a punishment mode which not only gets worse each year but doesn't provide any real assistance to help improve the school. Not only that, it's really really easy to miss AYP. All you need is not enough kids in one specific niche taking the test, then, boom, the entire school has missed AYP (which is the case with our school).

*discuss NCLB as part of a bipartisan story, with the careful note that the Dems, especially those associated with the DLC, were very involved in getting NCLB legislated and passed. This is not surprising if you know that the DLC thinktank, the Progressive Policy Institute, PPI, developed quite a bit of the education policy for NCLB. NCLB is their little baby that they are very proud of.

*along those lines, I'd like to see a lot more discussion of the DLC role in creating and supporting NCLB, especially their close connections with the right-wing conservative thinktanks such as the Fordham Institute (especially Chester Finn) and the Manhattan Institute (especially research and work by Jay Greene and Diane Ravitch). The PPI relies quite a bit on their conservative friends for policy and research in order to back up their work. The PPI/DLC funding sources overlap quite a bit with the conservative think tanks so it's not surprising that they all support each other.

As I've said numerous times, I think most people offline have no idea who or what the DLC is or what their agenda is all about.

I'd like to again echo BC's call for a massive policy education program for the public though I'd like to see it expanded to the larger public, especially on the DLC's role in public education policy. I can't emphasize more the need to have people see the connections with the DLC/PPI, their corporate agenda, and, most importantly, their role in creating public education policy.

This may help explain to people why the hell NCLB has such an amazing rotten corporate stench to it.