Third Party & Independents Archives

The Children Left Behind...

It sounded great..

The quality of our public schools directly affects us all as parents, as students, and as citizens. Yet too many children in America are segregated by low expectations, illiteracy, and self-doubt. In a constantly changing world that is demanding increasingly complex skills from its workforce, children are literally being left behind.

That quote of course was part of the Forward of the President's plan of "No Child Left Behind".

Yet in Ohio and many other states even more children are being left behind than before.

Two years ago in the National Review, Neal McCluskey stated:

No matter how you look at it, federal involvement in education has been a failure.

Further evidence of the lack of improvement in public education in the United States can be seen thru Thomas Fordham Foundations State of the State Standards:

Two-thirds of schoolchildren in America attend class in states with mediocre (or worse) expectations for what their students should learn. That's just one of the findings of Fordham's The State of State Standards 2006, which evaluates state academic standards. The average state grade is a "C-minus"--the same as six years earlier, even though most states revised their standards since 2000.

What's even more distressing is it is being hyped especially here in Ohio that student performance is improving when the reality is the standards keep changing yearly. Which means it is very difficult to compare progress from prior years and while on paper more schools may not be listed in Academic Emergency or Academic Watch the numbers of indicators now that claim to be "Continuous Improvement" are not much different from the bottom two categories. If 1 out of 6 indicators is Academic Watch, it's amazing how the very next year by adding more indicators that 2 out of 12 can be considered Continuous Improvement. While I understand there is "new math" these days that seems to be the same percentage to me.

Ohio's method of funding public education was declared unconstitutional back on March 24, 1997 in a 4-3 decision by the Ohio Supreme Court. The court gave the Legislature one year to remedy the situation. Depending on who you believe it is still considered unconstitutional. Education and funding is a large part of our Gubernatorial race. What most people do seem to agree on is that the increased costs related to meeting the requirements of No Child Left Behind has made it even more difficult for our local school systems.

Even looking outside of Ohio, it does not appear to look any more promising, the Massachusetts Teacher Association:

Three-quarters of all schools in Massachusetts will fail to meet federal educational performance standards by 2014, according to an analysis of student test score data by Ed Moscovitch of Cape Ann Economics. Many of these schools will face increasingly harsh sanctions under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as the No Child Left Behind Act.

Not everyone agrees that No Child Left Behind has been a failure, Gary Mathews Superintendent Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools:

For many, the No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law on Jan. 8, 2002, has failed on a number of accounts: a lack of adequate funding; seemingly different interpretations for different states; and an unrealistic expectation that, by 2013, 100 percent of various student subgroups will pass a particular state's test to meet federal standards.

But in my judgment, it has resoundingly succeeded on a more fundamental level, changing American K-12 education forever. Supported by political opposites, such as President George W. Bush and Sen. Ted Kennedy, the act has provided considerable power for the idea that American education is for all kids.

It is not just for white students, and it is not just for those of financial means. The power of No Child Left Behind is found in its belief system and public accountability that recognizes the education of minority, disadvantaged and disabled students. For so long, I'm afraid, many of them were forgotten.

While I agree with Mr. Mathews that NCLB has pointed out areas where our children are not receiving equal educational opportunities, I don't share his belief that these problems will be resolved thru this federal mandate. Identifying need is important but if there is no real action the end result is the same...children who are still left behind.

Posted by Lisa Renee Ward at September 19, 2006 9:19 PM
Comment #182631

My main beef with NCLB is the fact that it is an unfunded mandate. There was some funding that went along with it, to be spent to enhance funding of programs that supposedly was well-managed and meeting requirements but which needed more money; however, our state had to fund the testing programs out of state taxes.

It was widely hypothesized at the time of passage that NCLB was intended to force taxpayers to pay for students in failing schools to be able to leave the public school system and go to private (i.e. parochial) schools, but this seems not to have come to pass yet. On the other hand, since a school goes through stages of remediation before being declared a failure, perhaps no school has reached the terminal stage yet. Ironically, private schools and home schools in my state are exempt from NCLB testing and performance standards, which would of course mean that children could be taken out of NCLB-failing public schools and put in private schools but receive no better education.

I also happen to know that some states have simply re-jiggered the tests or performance standards to let practically every school pass, since NCLB only says the schools have to meet standards set by the states, not national standards.

NCLB is a well-meaning mess, a lot like Medicare part D.

Posted by: Torus Linvalds at September 19, 2006 7:37 PM
Comment #182727

The problem of Leave all Common Sense Behind Legislation is that it vastly over simplifies education.

On school in our district has over 60% turn over a year. Hold that school accountable!

I wouldn’t sweat too much. Education “reform” goes in cycles. We used to be concerned about the “whole student”. Of course now we are leaving (or have left) this concept for standards. Where do we get the seat time from? We get it from classes like vocational training, the fine arts, and PE.

The end result of this if take far enough is that our children will be able to compute better, but will have a hard time knowing how to vote.

And of course our kids will be fatter.

There is a whole nother stream of thought on the purpose of public education besides standards. When pubic education came about, it was because “MY GOD” we were allowing citizens to vote. One of the great purposes was to give at least a basic liberal arts education so that citizens would be able to vote with intelligence.

If you look at these two purposes as in balance (Standards of reading, writing and math) on one end so that students can get better paying jobs and feed their families, and a liberal arts education, so that our students can vote with intelligence and have a good life with some basic understanding of civil liberties (Dave are your reading this?), on the other hand, we are clearly moving the balance away from liberal arts. (to our peril).

I will predict that the next big wave of reform will be the other way. We will want our children to understand literature, and to understand health and fitness etc. Before we leave the planet we will hear reformers say “we are interested in the “whole” child” again!!!


Posted by: Craig Holmes at September 20, 2006 12:06 AM
Comment #182738

No criticisms of NCLB are valid until full funding of the proposed program is implemented and then results measured.

If, (I am NOT saying it was), but, if Bush wanted to insure a future in which the federal government would forever be banned from meddling with education in America, a better method could not be found than to produce a federal program claiming high expectations and standards, and then guarantee its failure by not funding it sufficiently to fully implement the program and assure its success.

It leads the people to draw the conclusion that both the program was ill conceived and the federal government is incompetent when it comes to social policy. A similar event is occuring with Social Security which can be saved if early minor adjustments are made. But, this administration and Republican’t Congress won’t make realistic proposals to save it which have a chance of passing and succeeding. On this issue there is a wealth of evidence that this is by design, as there is intense pressure from conservative segments of the party to let it die.

The potential of saving Medicare is less clear, but, the same strategy appears to be at play, since the Republican’ts have done nothing but permit and pass legislation to make Medicare costs increase, not hold at same levels or decrease.

Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you. Try to fool me a third time I will call you out for your tactics. Which is exactly what this comment does. Iraq war, deficits, debt, NCLB, Soc. Sec., Medicare, all getting vastly worse under the Repulican’ts control. Shame on all of us for having voted them back in, in 2004. Have we learned our lesson yet? We’ll find out in 49 days.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 20, 2006 12:53 AM
Comment #182741

Craig, yes, I heard that. And I tip my hat.

The same is happening in our colleges and universities where fast tracks are being set up to professional degrees bypassing history, political science, art and literature as elective requirements for graduation. This trend has been growing for the last 16 years at many universities.

It is a travesty of democracy as you so rightly point out. For indeed, the necessity of education in our society is mandated by our democracy. Without education, voters may not, indeed, cannot, determine from the smoke and mirrors and rhetoric of empty promises and condemnation of opponents, what is in their own best interest when it comes to voting on ballot initiatives, representatives, and leadership.

Would you trust a common variety consumer to purchase weapons for our military from a myriad of competing arms company’s sales personnel? Then why would you trust undereducated voters with something as important as electing the president, their Representatives or Senators? Exactly the same principle applies. They haven’t the education to discern truth from fiction, facts from PT Barnum hustles.

And by undereducated, I don’t mean high school drop outs. I mean also, Ph.D’s in physics, medicine, and engineering who have no educational background in history, philosophy, or political science. In fact, high school drop outs are less threatening to our democracy than the college graduates who either didn’t get this education or slept through it disinterestedly. Reason: high school dropouts tend not to vote. College graduates do. A geologist who slept through history, philosophy, and polisci, or didn’t take those courses, of course presumes because they are college educated they will cast one of the most informed votes of all.

Bullpuckie! I say! They will vote for their oil industry employer without a thought to the opportunity costs remaining dependent on oil and the international and economic consequences of that.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 20, 2006 1:09 AM
Comment #182752

As the father of a school age child, NCLB hits very close to home for me. I have always thought that standardized testing is a horrible way to grade a student, let alone an entire school or district. All it encourages is teaching-to-the-test for educators and rote memorization for the kids. What we have gotten away from is the fact that the purpose of early education is to teach kids to use their minds, not to spew back information force fed to them. What joy in learning can be instilled when all that is required is to parrot back minibites of information without context or purpose?

When I was in 8th grade, my history teacher won the Golden Apple award. He did not win it because he taught to the test, but because he broke down the barriers between learining and fun. He taught us about the Great Depression by having us create our own stock market. He taught us about the Supreme Court by running mock cases on environmental pollution with us as the lawyers and him as the judge. Most famously, he taught us about WWII by turning it into a giant game similar to Risk, where he, as Hitler, had to follow history, but us as the Allies, did not. I learned more about WWII in that class than I did in every other history class I ever took afterward combined. I have to wonder, if Mr Schwab were still teaching, how well his students would do. I must also wonder if the Mr Schwabs of this country will survive NCLB.

Posted by: leatherankh at September 20, 2006 1:41 AM
Comment #182754

leatherankh, you have a valid point about education being a propensity for which all children have an instinctual predisposition toward and it should be an enjoyable process.

That said, national standards do not necessarily mean teaching to the test. It does mean demonstrating a minimum standard of understanding of certain levels of language, concepts, and formulas.

Memorization is extremely valuable. How can a second language or math be taught without it? It can’t. Memorization is a fundamental baseline for education. This doesn’t mean memorization has to be rote, or boring to death. But, to get entertaining education, you are going to have to have higher standards and pay teachers to attract those who can be creative. For creative approaches are precisely what makes education entertaining. New methods, presentation formats, new games, new kinds of testing can all be part and parcel of making education fun.

But, there are psychological factors, too. Far too many children in this country are confused over whether their name is Johnny, Lorry, or Stupid! There are a host of children who have been taught from near birth on, that they are disappointments to their parents and aren’t able to meet expectations. This learning on their part carries itself into school and their relationships with their teachers. It takes a pretty special teacher to recognize this in a student and work with it, let alone overcome it.

No one program is going to be a cureall for many diverse variables that determine student progress and success. But, there are tons of evidence, that demonstrate that creative teachers and creative delivery of material to be learned, as well as multi-sensory input of that material all go along way to improve student performance.

Creativity doesn’t come cheap. There is a huge competitive market out there for creative people. And there are large barriers in many of our schools to retaining what creative and talented teachers there are. Security for teachers being amongst the biggest, especially in junior and senior high schools. One of America’s most important priorities for education should be forking over the money to insure that every school in America is safe and secure for both students and teachers. That of course means removing students are threats to others, and that means spending more money on problem students, NOT LESS!

Much of the violence in our schools begins on the buses to school. My daughter has been victim of bus violence against her, and 2 years of hazing by a couple of other students. Complaints by us, her parents were all met with, “Yes, we will address this.” But, the one measure that would have prevented it in the first place, an adult bus aide to monitor student behavior on the bus was never implemented. Too costly.” To this day, the driver in our Texas school district is the person responsible for controlling student behavior on buses. Amazes me there aren’t more bus accidents in Texas. But bus violence is epidemic.

Giving students practical uses for arithmetic and algebra which they can use on a regular basis in their personal lives is an extremely valuable educational approach. But, the book publishers are controlled by some very powerful groups who are very wary and skeptical of any material that deviates from old paradigm. Giving students an instrument to play in 1st or 2nd grade and music reading education in 3rd and 4th have proven to be very valuable in developing cognitive receptiveness to math education.

But in far too many schools, music and arts are a threat to school budgets and to many some parents who view arts as a homosexual path for the young.

There are many, many hurdles to quality education in America, poverty, lack of sleep and breakfast being amongst the most common. But, without a standard to measure which students are being failed and which are succeeding, those in need haven’t a chance of getting the intervention or creative approaches their particular needs require.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 20, 2006 2:08 AM
Comment #182760

There was an PSA ad campaign years ago, that said, “There ought to be a bell go off in your head, if it sounds to good to be true,” or something like that.

The truth is there are no short cuts in life. It’s the Donner party rule: Don’t take no short cuts.

I work in civil engineering and most of the companies locally are involved in an ISO 9001 type quality system, which is required to do city or county work. The problem is many of the companies simply spend their money doctoring the paper work to appear compliant, since that is what the agency verifying compliance reviews.

The good companies still do what they always have to increase quality, educate their staff and hire qualified people to monitor and implement it.

Throwing money at education or creating phoney quality checks will not improve it. It takes effort and involvement on the part of educators, students and parents. Bush has used this program to promote a special interest group. Private educators. They are there to make money, not improve education. There ought to be a bell.

Posted by: gergle at September 20, 2006 7:23 AM
Comment #182763

A big part of the problem is that education has become top-heavy with over-paid administrators. There are too many over-paid administrators and fewer teachers. Our education systems can not survive this trend.

Cost and funding for public education is important, but it is not the most serious issue. Currently, states provide most of the cost for public education. Only a portion comes from federal spending. The funding problem is that it isn’t equal everywhere. Poor neighborhoods suffer. If it is public education, shouldn’t all students receive equal public funding? And, giving public funds to private schools is a mistake.

The most serious issue is the quality. The current funds are not being used efficiently.

A new system is needed. A revolutionary change is needed. We are failing. Public education was not very good when I went to public schools (between 1964 to 1975). It was worse with my son’s public education. He was not really prepared for college and had to take some remedial math. He graduated from college with good grades, but the way colleges teach isn’t impressive either.

To improve quality:

  • Implement computerized, interactive training and teaching (with audio and video, and various input mechanisms such as microphones, touchscreens, and the usual keyboard and mouse).

  • Interactive, computerized education can let students learn at their own speed.

  • Lessons can be created by the best teachers. Each lesson would test and retest to ensure the subject matter was fully grasped.

  • Graphics and video can provide more memorable examples than text on a page.

  • It could be a wide-open industry for computer game programmers. In fact, some lessons could become a game, or contest. Learning could be made to be much, much more fun and memorable. But it would also be cost effective, because one computer program could teach tens of millions of students.

  • Eliminates the need for textbooks (saving money). Instead, more information can be provided online, and accessible from public libraries also.

  • The role of teachers would change; more one-on-one counseling than standing in front of a class reading out of the book, putting everyone to sleep.

  • Change the school year to all-year-long. Instead, provide a 7-to-10 day vacation period each quarter.

  • Biometrics (e.g. finger prints) could be used to discourage cheating.

  • Physical Fitness should still be a priority.

Some teachers won’t like this, making them part of the problem. Some teachers are computer-phobic, which is odd indeed for any teacher; someone who is supposed to embrace learning new things.
Students won’t like losing their long summer vacation.
Some parents might like it?

At any rate, any society or nation that leads in computerization of interactive education will lead in every other field also. For a good example of interactive software that is very effective, see Rosetta Stone. Visual and audio presentation can be far more effective, and less expensive in the long run, since the one program can free up teachers for more important tasks.

Posted by: d.a.n at September 20, 2006 7:56 AM
Comment #182764

leatherankh, my youngest of five is now in the 6th grade. While there have been changes in the things she has learned versus her older siblings that I do feel have been beneficial there has also been this increased teaching to the test and even less and less time for lunch, recess, art, and music. Gym is twice a week for her age, however recess is ten minutes. Art and music once a week, sometimes less depending on their schedule.

All of my children have been blessed with similar teachers to your Mr Schwab every so often, my youngest has a teacher now that still is able to be creative and encourages a love of science. However it seems that another bad aspect to NCLB is the increased administrative positions in larger school districts which means less teachers, less new textbooks. So much time, resources and pressure is on passing these tests. When my youngest was in the fourth grade she was given the impression that if she did not do well on this one test that her whole educational “career” would be over. To me it was obvious that she was not going to be a washout for the rest of her life based on the fourth grade but that’s how it’s become for some of the districts that have gained the higher rankings. A few have decided the way to keep their higher rankings is to “encourage” parents who have children that might not test well to go elsewhere.

The largest evidence of failure in Ohio is in the larger public school systems. You will have a few schools rated “excellent” or “effective” and the rest will be much lower. The equality of education even in the same public school system is changing more for the worse under NCLB. It’s popular to blame the Charter School system but in reality, some of the Charter schools have children from these failed schools, the parents who do pay attention gave up and many are trying the Charter School option out of frustration with the local public school system.

A successful school needs students who come to school able and willing to learn, it needs teachers who will inspire and an administration who will assist. It needs parents who make their children’s education a focus. It also needs money, so even when a struggling school is not getting the parental support that is needed or missing one of the other needed components, NCLB makes it even easier for these children to feel like failures, while still in elementary school.

Posted by: Lisa Renee at September 20, 2006 8:12 AM
Comment #182818

Having seen NCLB as an insider I have to wonder what the hell they were thinking? Just the paperwork involved with it takes away 20% of a teachers time on task…that task is educating your children.

Simply put, NCLB results in children being treated just like ships in a WWII convoy. All the ships were limited to the speed of the slowest. If your kid is the slowest, you’ve got a winner, if not he or she is getting screwed out of the education they deserve.

Posted by: Jerry Koszut at September 20, 2006 12:17 PM
Comment #182819

Open question to all who do not believe in standardized testing:

If standardized testing is ended, how do we know if the new methods are working? I do not mean this to be a rhetorical question. I am looking for what measure we use for success.

I think there does need to be something tangible by which to measure success or failure by state or by school district or by school so we know who needs help. It is not enough to simply say the low income areas are where all the help is needed. Some of the most successful people I know were educated in a low income, small budget school district but found a way to succeed.

Posted by: Chi Chi at September 20, 2006 12:20 PM
Comment #182848

The biggest problem with public education is that my parent’s generation surrendered control of the schools to the Federal Government. They wanted the money the Government offered to ‘improve our schools’. They didn’t realize that strings were attached. Once they excepted this money the Government started requiring schools to do as it wanted. And standards have been going down hill sense.
The No Child Left Behind Act is just one more example of the Federal Government experimenting with our children.
If y’all want to see education improve in this country the voters, and more importantly parents, need to take control of their schools back. Things won’t improve while the Feds are in charge.

Posted by: Ron Brown at September 20, 2006 1:34 PM
Comment #182849

There are alternatives out there to relying mainly on standardized testing.

I’d suggest one site that lists some alternatives to be

Posted by: Lisa Renee at September 20, 2006 1:36 PM
Comment #182851

Ron, Having sat thru school board meetings I would have to agree with you. Prior to that I was under the mistaken impression that the majority of the responsibility was at the local level. While they do hold some responsibility, especially when it comes to administrative costs, I was amazed at how little control we had at a local level at what type of education our children will receive. Most of what the State dictates to them is dictated to them by the Federal Government.

If people are going to support the Federal Government being so heavily involved in public education than these mandates should be funded completely by the Federal Government. I’d agree the preferred option would be to return control to the State and Local districts, however the chances of the Federal Government dismantling the monster they have created when it comes to public education is probably not going to happen in our lifetime…

Posted by: Lisa Renee at September 20, 2006 1:43 PM
Comment #182877


After reviewing the site you linked, it seems most of those methods include teachers making evaluations and commenting on individual students. I guess I don’t see the objectivity or uniformity in these methods. They seem far too open to individual teacher interpretation on implementation. I would much rather see something a bit more empirical in nature. The human element needs to be further removed so no possiblity of tampering, laziness, or subjectivity can creep in.

I am not married to the idea of standardized testing. But I have not yet seen an objective alternative.

Posted by: Chi Chi at September 20, 2006 2:55 PM
Comment #182886

All folks have to do to reject federal intervention is reject federal dollars. You get what you pay for. That is the root of the problem.

Parents aren’t paying enough to liberate their kids from federal dictates, but paying too much to the federal government for what they get in return. Back in the 1960’s, I truly believed America was on the verge of becoming tremendously smarter consumers. Boy, was I wrong! But, I was just a high school drop out back then.

I can see today why so many parents are opting for homeschooling. They may not be able to control the government’s increasing the cost of education, but, they can to a large degree control the quality of their children’s education with homeschooling. In our two parent wage earning family structure of today, however, home schooling is an option for only a very, very small fraction of homes in America.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 20, 2006 3:11 PM
Comment #182930

Chi Chi, any process no matter how it is created is open to “tampering, laziness, or subjectivity”.

Teaching to the test, giving students answers to the test, trying to encourage “problem” children to go elsewhere are happening under the present system.

If NCLB is going to continue, you’d think they could come up with a compromise.

David, that is a very valid point. So far no States have pulled out though a few have threatened. Realistically that is going to be what it takes. Homeschooling has grown in this area but you are right, it is very difficult for two income families to have that as an option.

Posted by: Lisa Renee at September 20, 2006 6:47 PM
Comment #182955

To prove to any doubters than I don’t just follow the president: I thought NCLF was about the dumbest thing I’d ever heard. Second only to the perpetual demand by the teacher’s unions to just give them a blank check.

As a former secondary school and university educator, I feel like I have a bit of insight on this.

The problem in this country with primary and secondary education, and to a lesser degree college, is not the goverment. It’s not the teachers or the curriculum. It’s not even the school administrators, though they certainly don’t help.

The problem, plain and simple, is a culture that doesn’t value education. It starts with parents and then trickles down to students. All of the best educational technology and good intentions in the world are worthless when parents don’t instill in their children the idea that it’s more important to study, to read books, to listen to good music and learn to play musical instruments, to learn foreign languages, than it is to watch sitcoms and play video games.

I’ve seen countless Asian kids, for example, whose parents don’t even speak good English but place an enormous value on education, get first rate educations from crappy schools and then go on to succeed.

And frankly, a huge percentage of our educators, esp. in the public schools, are no better than the society at large. They’re lazy and ill-informed about even the subjects they teach. There are plenty of good ones, yes, but they’re fighting an almost unwinnable uphill battle against the stupidity and apathy of their students and their parents.

Posted by: Pilsner at September 20, 2006 9:53 PM
Comment #182964


All folks have to do to reject federal intervention is reject federal dollars. You get what you pay for. That is the root of the problem.

The least effective dollars in education are federal. It simply passes through too many hands. Not matter how well intended the effort, the further a person is from the target the more likely they are to miss the target.

In education the stereotypes of federal spending are very true. Ask any special ed teacher.


Posted by: Craig Holmes at September 20, 2006 10:16 PM
Comment #182966


The whole basic purpose of Public Education has been lost. Public education is a corollary of the constitution. I can just imagine this “Oh crap” look on the framers face when they realized the consequences of giving the right to vote to the citizenry and many of them illiterate!! “Great, now what do we do?” The obvious answer is public education to make sure they can read and write, and have a base of knowledge of liberal arts to draw from in order to vote with intelligence.

I think they were absolutely 100% correct. And I think we are wrong in moving away from a solid liberal arts core to pass standards of computation. Imagine, the free world depends on our citizens, some of which just got off the boat, choosing well in a complex world.

This came home to me in crystal clear terms one night while I was visiting a high school on back to school night on september of 2001. They were discussing cutting back on Senior Civics. If you go back to our mind set at the end of september of 2001, we didn’t know if there might be a massive draft such as WWII. We didn’t know much of what the future was going to be like. As I walked past those empty desks, I thought to myself “Some of these young people in one year may be drafted into combat, and they need all the civics they can get!!” I went back to the school board and superintendent and said “I will not support even the slightest reduction in senior civics.”

Even though a draft didn’t happen, still many young people (God bless them) choose each year in their senior year to join the military. They must have a good solid liberal arts education to make that decision.


Posted by: Craig Holmes at September 20, 2006 10:27 PM
Comment #182967

Craig Holmes,
For once, I agree with that 100%.
Also, with what David said.
Reject Federal money (and the strings attached).

Posted by: d.a.n at September 20, 2006 10:29 PM
Comment #182972

Much of the educational apparatus in this country couldn’t survive a day without federal dollars. West Virgina for example.

If you’re going to reject federal dollars, then you might as well go whole hog and abolish the Department of Education.

There is a middle ground here, though. And that is education vouchers, which considerably loosen the ties between federal money and federal mandates.

My libertarian instincts love this idea, but in practice I know it will cause all sorts of problems because, frankly, too many American parents are ill-equipped to make good educational choices for their children.

The last thing we need is a bunch of federally funded schools which are actually teaching basketball, Sunday School seven days a week, ebonics, and for that matter muslim jihad. Don’t believe this wouldn’t happen.

Personally, I think the solution has to start and end with placing an actual value on learning in this country. This would make anything work and keep anything (almost) from failing, but it’s is a far more difficult and complicated enterprise than any of our pundits want to admit.

Posted by: Pilsner at September 20, 2006 10:58 PM
Comment #182975

There are so very many problems with NCLB. They tied the level of funding the schools can qualify for to the test scores — so they’re actually encouraging kids who are failing to drop-out in order for the schools scores to show improvement. Hence, they are leaving a great many children behind — on purpose.
On the other hand though, I can understand why they’d think nationalized tests might be a good idea.
When I was a sophmore in high school, my best friend moved from New Jersey to Florida halfway through the school year. She was surprised to find that her classes were a little more than a year behind where she’d been. She was so bored, she finally quit, got her GED, and went right into college. This is the way it always was before these tests began — wide variables between states, and even within states.
I suspect that NCLB needs reforming along with finding a way to fund it. Wouldn’t it make more sense and be more cost effective to just test for math and reading comprehension? Just so the federal goverment can know that America’s kids are getting the basic building blocks they need to succeed in life?
One thing I do know though (due to fact that I’ve got a sister, and a quite a few friends who are public school teachers) teaching to the NCLB tests the way they’ve been doing recently really does suck all the fun and enjoyment out of learning for the kids, and out of teaching for the teachers.

Posted by: Adrienne at September 20, 2006 11:20 PM
Comment #182984

I’ve sat in way to many school board meeting to believe that the Federal Government should be involved at all in education. It’s to far removed from the schools to know exactly whats needed in each school.
The Government thinks that all the schools are the same. And have the same needs, strong points, and weak points.
Every school is unique in itself. No two schools in the same district have the same problems, needs, strong points, or weak points. They all have their own set of needs and it’s only on the local level that these can be addressed.
We have two elementary schools here. Both have different ethnic make ups. Both have different economical make ups. One school has mostly kids that live in town. The other has mostly farm kids. One has more kids than the other.
How can one set of answers cure the problems of both schools?
There just aint any one size fits all as the Feds believe and would have us believe.

Posted by: Ron Brown at September 21, 2006 12:19 AM
Comment #183001

I think there does need to be some standard to which all schools should be held. Dismantling the Education system and returning control to the states may be some help, but is fraught with problems. I went to school in Ohio in the 60’s and 70’s and think the school did fine. They did pass some people through that couldn’t read. I’m not really sure how to address this.

Parents have the largest responsibility and we can barely get some families not to abuse their children. The Public schools are stuck with dealing with some people who encourage thuggery and abuse their children. Perhaps requiring some Families to attend a separate school system with their children, in order to keep their children, might have an impact. But that sounds expensive. And then there are the zealots, who believe no matter how stupid they are, they have exclusive right to victimize their children.

I know locally (Houston) in the 50’s and early 60’s Blacks attended separate schools that had nothing to teach with, few teachers and few books.
Keeping States under federal control has improved that.

The game of Private Schools is to extract the star students and leave the problem kids for someelse to deal with.

I don’t think there are easy answers and blaming teachers is just scapegoating.

Posted by: gergle at September 21, 2006 8:36 AM
Comment #183012

I live in New York and teach 4th grade inclusion.
NCLB has removed the educator/student working together, opening doors, learning is fun and amazing aspect of education and turned it into the robotic, you have 2 1/2 months to place information in childs short-term memory to be recalled for 2 days while testing.
In September the teacher has to get their 4th graders ready for ELA tests(Special ed and learning disabled not exempt). As soon as that is over the classroom shifts focus to get ready for Math exam and the end of the year is devoted to memorizing scientific terms without exploring their meanings and their value and place in the world around them.
It sucks.
It has changed teaching/learning from an exiting experience to a preperation race that has diminished our ability to give the children of the class room the full understanding of history,science and math and how they interact with the present,past and future and make them more meaningful to our students.

Posted by: Andre M. Hernandez at September 21, 2006 10:07 AM
Comment #183257

Andre M. Hernandez,

The methods I proposed above would increase one-on-one teacher/student counseling, and provide much more memorable methods of teaching (similar to Rosetta Stone). Costs could also be reduced significantly, and lessons could be more effective and consistent. Most teachers will resist this, but the nation that does it will lead in many ways.

Posted by: d.a.n at September 22, 2006 5:12 PM
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