Thursday, January 20, 2005

Day of mourning

This one feels worse than the first one. I'm going to hide out and finish reading my fast accumulating stack of articles on public education. One thing for sure, I don't have to see scary movies to get my adrenaline going.

Rick Perlstein pulls together a lot of pieces. Unlike many other writers, he even remembers to include public education.
That's just how the Bushies do things: They plan. Every action is calculated to set in motion a cascade of consequences, to change the world. Take "No Child Left Behind," the education "reform" so brilliantly named you can't be against it without betraying some perverse desire to, well, leave children behind. It is a stone hustle, meant to lay the groundwork to destroy the entire American public school system.

Look at it this way. You've heard of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, the one that produces those anguished news reports every four years about all the countries American schoolchildren lag behind in basic skills. But according to the TIMSS, if Minnesota were a country, it would have the second-best science scores and the seventh best in math. By No Child Left Behind's statutorily required benchmarks of "Adequate Yearly Progress," however, only 42 percent of Minnesota fourth-graders were proficient in math. And NCLB's test targets increase every year. So by one estimate, in 2014, some 80 percent of the schools in Minnesota's world-class education system will be rated "failures."

The benchmarks are insane, you see. If one group within a school out of the 37 categories NCLB measures "fails," the entire school does. Which means, according to the president of the American Educational Research Association, 12th graders should be proficient in math in exactly 166 years.

Which serves the administration's purpose admirably. Failure, glorious failure: In Chicago, the city must now offer 200,000 students the chance to move out of "failed" schools – but there are only 500 spaces in which to place them elsewhere. So now the public school system must be destroyed.
Once again, a reminder: it's not just BushCo but the corporate Dems behind this push as well.

Funding a flawed piece of legislation is the wrong approach as I pull out Stan Karp's important article again. The push should be for change in the legislation, not just for more funding.