"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Impossible Goals and Certain Failure

Here is a chart (click it to expand) from a Massachusetts study done by Ed Moscovitch of Cape Ann Economics (Full Report: Facing Reality). It shows what everyone knows who has examined the consequences of this reckless attempt to undermine and replace public schools in the U.S. As the numbers of failing schools rise as they are now in Illinois as well, as reported in Chicago Tribune today, public attitudes toward the public schools will plummet unless this thinly-veiled attempt at school privatization is exposed:
More than 200 schools--10 times as many as last year--face the most drastic federal sanctions for poor performance, and state education officials are bracing for the number to multiply. By next year, the figure is likely to double, state school Supt. Randy Dunn told Illinois State Board of Education members at a meeting in Chicago on Wednesday.
Or try this one from Minnesota:
Increasing Number of Schools Could Face Sanctions. Analysis showed that 80 to 100 percent of Minnesota elementary schools will likely fail by 2014 to make “adequate yearly progress,” as defined by the 2004 federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. Many of these schools could face restructuring or other sanctions prescribed by the law.
Will ED announce tomorrow a change in the strategy of assured failure for the public education system? Will America Wake Up to What is Going On?


  1. Dear Indiana School Superintendent:

    Why did the Democrats go for it?

    That's a very good question but my own personal opinion, for whatever it is worth, is that:
    1. Most of those voting for the legislation (those with a conscience) had no real understanding of what the law meant for education, teachers, schools, etc. and it "sounded good."
    2. Post 9/11 patriotic fervor that led to a bi-partisan love fest and the rush to do something.
    3. A general disrespect for teachers and those in the education community who were opposed to the legislation but were ignored.
    4. The Democrats made the proverbial deal with the devil only at that time they may not have realized exactly how evil some of these people were.
    4. The American people don't pay attention to what is going on in Washington because they don't think it effects them.

    So, now this huge shift of power to the federal government over education is going haunt this country for a long time to come.
    In fact, many of their current policies are going to haunt this country for a long time to come.

    Now, I have to get on with Democracy In Action -- a board game for high school students.

    Lesson #1: NCLB - a good example of how bad laws get passed, propaganda and what happens when people don't do their homework.

  2. One more thing, I forgot to mention, once they got vouchers off the table, the Dems thought they had won that battle and basically rolled over and played dead.

  3. Here's reality for one teacher working in one California public junior high school:

    Everytime we get close to making our API, someone sets the goal posts further back.

    No increase in funding for resources, no decrease in class size. Subinflationary (if any) pay raises for the foreseeable future.

    I'm deeply pessimistic about the long term viability of classroom teaching as a career path that I would encourage young people to aspire to.

  4. My due respects to MassTeacher, but I've personally studied the Massachusetts AYP spreadsheets, and it looks to me like more than 98% of schools would not have passed the grade if the 2014 standard was applied today. That is just eyeballing, but it allows the state's maximum 4.5% error band down from 100% proficient, and it doesn't even add the multiple jeopardy of all subgroups, both ELA and Math.

    THe MassTeacher study that predicts only 80% failure by 2014, I believe, predicts a fairly large increase of performance that just isn't likely to happen.

  5. A very interesting article! There has to be a way to educate our youth to meet realistic academic goals. I've been reading a book called "Lives of Passion, School of Hope" by author Rick Posner. It's about an alternative school in Colorado that has successfully educated kids for 38 year. It has been a community effort making an extended family of students, staff, and parents who have formed their own community of learners. It can be done!