Sunday, March 14, 2010

NCLB--OUT, More of the Same--IN

Obama Calls for Sweeping Changes in Education Law

I never liked the No Child Left Behind law because of its focus on high stakes standardized testing, the focus on what counts on a narrow band of disciplines to the exclusion of the arts and physical education, and on unrealistic goals like the 2014 goal of having every student at grade level--or else.

Unfortunately, the new and yet to be named education program that was unveiled by President Obama on Saturday has many of the same flaws of the NCLB law.
  1. A focus on high stakes standardized tests
  2. A focus on federal direction leading to ever more regulation and red tape
  3. A focus on winners and losers
In each of these areas the "new" educational direction we are taking is more worrisome than the old NCLB for the following reasons:
  • More and ever higher, higher stakes tests. A cautionary tale is the mass firing of the Central Falls teaching staff that was applauded by the Obama administration. Read: R.I. Grad: 'It's not the teachers' fault'
  • More federal interference and the obsession with accountability measures are destroying public education. Read: Diane Ravitch's latest article--The Big Idea--It's bad education policy. This article hits the issue on the bullseye and is especially convincing since Ravitch used to be an advocate for accountability in education.
  • Obama's Race to the Top program identifies winners and losers. Unfortunately, it's the students who are ultimately the losers when so much of our focus is on jumping through the hoops that the federal government has placed in our way. Read: Obama's contradictions on education and Obama and NCLB: The good--and very bad--news.
Hopefully, this too will pass. Unfortunately, it will probably be when another President is elected and declares that the Race to the Top was a failure and institutes a new federal program to rescue the millions of students from under-performing schools. Oh, and those schools will probably be the loser schools from the Race to the Bottom, er- Top.

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