Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It Should Have Been Called, No Child Left in Public Schools

No Child Left Behind chips slowly away at the public confidence in public schools, fails most of them and then offers up unaccountable private school vouchers or government scholarships. So what else is new? Well, the following article in Time Magazine has acknowledged what many of us have been screaming at the top of our voices. The simple truths mentioned here, strangely, were never utilized by the teachers and their unions. Thanks to Schoolsmatter for bringing attention to a story I missed completely.

Schoolsmatter: Well, it just took Time Magazine seven years to ask someone on the inside if what we have been saying for seven years is true, but later is better than never, you might say.

Time Magazine: There was always something slightly insane about No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the ambitious education law often described as the Bush Administration's signature domestic achievement. For one thing, in the view of many educators, the law's 2014 goal — which calls for all public school students in grades 4 through 8 to be achieving on grade level in reading and math — is something no educational system anywhere on earth has ever accomplished. Add to the mix the fact that much of the promised funding failed to materialize and many early critics insisted that No Child Left Behind was nothing more than a cynical plan to destroy American faith in public education and open the way to vouchers and school choice.

Now a former official in Bush's Education department is giving at least some support to that notion. Susan Neuman, a professor of education at the University Michigan who served as Assistant Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education during George W. Bush's first term, was and still is a fervent believer in the goals of NCLB. And she says the President and then Secretary of Education Rod Paige were too.

But there were others in the department,
according to Neuman, who saw NCLB as a Trojan horse for the choice agenda — a way to expose the failure of public education and "blow it up a bit," she says. "There were a number of people pushing hard for market forces and privatization."

Neuman also regrets the Administration's use of humiliation and shame as a lever for school reform. Failure to meet NCLB's inflexible goals meant schools would be publicly labeled as failures. Neuman now sees this as a mistake: "Vilifying teachers and saying we are going to shame them was not the right approach." The combination of inflexibility and public humiliation for those not meeting federal goals ignited so much frustration among educators that NCLB now appears to be an irreparably damaged brand.

Another example of the Republican agenda of disaster capitalism.

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