Friday, June 13, 2008

Wake Up Maggie I Think I've Got Something to Say To You ...

"Perhaps more than any other adviser, Ms. Spellings helped shape the Bush education philosophy: a strict emphasis on standards and accountability, intended to close the “achievement gap” between black and white, rich and poor. While other Republicans talked of dismantling the federal Department of Education, Mr. Bush cast education as a civil rights issue, challenging “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”
- taken from a recent article written by Sheryl Gay Stolberg in the New York Times

Even though Margaret Spellings, NCLB czarina, is far from admitting it, No Child Left Behind legislation is a disaster in Ohio. All it did was create an illusion that academic standards and graduation goals were being met by hiding the failures in charter schools, grossly manipulated statistics, and "certificates of completion."

In Ohio, we learned that kids who cannot pass proficiency were warehoused in for-profit charter or contracted school environments operating as for profit.  There at the warehouse, the kids are not required to take the proficiency tests so they are entirely missing from the statistics suggesting Ohio students are doing better. Instead they learned how to organize their time, learn about manners, and learn how to play basketball. To make the "drop out" rate go down,  kids who are not eligible to receive a diploma are given a "certificates of completion" which qualifies them for one thing -- to serve in the armed forces.

In many school districts right now,  contracts that guarantee testing success are offered to schools that are designed to help students "prepare" for the tests. In every school in Ohio, teachers take a detour from their regular classroom responsibilities so kids can log onto computer programs for a few weeks that give similar "test questions" so the kids will know the answers beforehand.

There are still no real statistics that support No Child Left Behind is actually narrowing the disparity between "black and white" and the "rich and poor." The only thing it has done is create an illusion of statistics that were easily manipulated to hide the disparity.  We can't put an education template over a large population of children with varying learning styles and preferences.

If you look at the number of kids who are homeschooled or enrolled in public or private school vs. the number of kids who are school age, there's a whole bunch of kids missing in Ohio! Kind of ironic, isn't it?

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