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

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The NCLB School of Education

Southern Methodist University brought us Laura Bush and Harriet Mier, and now it has spawned something even greater. Today's Times carries a story on SMU's new graduate school of education aimed at promoting a single education policy, No Child Left Behind--which is to say, its only aspiration is raising test scores in schools.

In creating a new school dedicated to the principles of scientific management that Taylor spelled out in 1911, SMU offers the first university-wide commitment to ending the achievement gap by chaining poor children to a life of school drudgery that is intended to mold them into compliant future citizens who will willingly participate in their own subjugation.

A hundred years ago the pioneers of social efficiency made no bones about their desire to use schools to sort people into their appopriate life and work slots and to insure social control of the poor. Their descendants, however, offer the cynical pretense of assuring equality for the poor and the brown, when, in fact, they are working diligently to increase the chasm between the classes, while assuring corporate interests a malleable work force for whatever jobs that may be offered.

Not everyone shares Maggie's enthusiasm for this new school:
"I question the degree of certainty of the research," said Kenneth M. Zeichner, associate dean for the school of education at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and co-author of a report for the American Educational Research Association on teacher education that concluded that all sorts of research are necessary to determine what works best in the classroom.

Mr. Zeichner described teaching to No Child Left Behind as "a focus on low-level" learners, devised only to improve test scores, adding: "Not that it's not important. But kids in urban schools deserve the same high-quality education that kids get in affluent areas."

Jim Horn

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