Houston, we have a problem. Challenging NCLB on grounds that it is an unfunded federal mandate was a bad strategy from the get go and now it seems to have backfired on lead dragon slayer Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. The N.A.A.C.P. held a press conference last week announcing its allegiance to Maggie. They are petrified if Connecticut wins this lawsuit, their friends in the Bush administration who practice the “hard bigotry of impossible expectations,” will use the opportunity to further slash funding to protect civil rights and states will follow suit.
What the N.A.A.C.P. doesn’t get is that NCLB was never designed to help minorities or protect civil rights. If someone would be kind enough to send them a study published in the Negro Educational Review (July 2005) by Randy Lattimore of the University of North Carolina, perhaps they would understand the damage being inflicted on African American students because of this failed, draconian policy. Then the N.A.A.C.P. might just wake up and realize they are making a deal with the devil. In the study, Lattimore concludes:
“High-stakes testing continues to remain a prominent feature of public schooling and in the lives of African American children. Time has come for educators to think about the kinds of people we are trying to produce through the educational process. For example, many school districts use the slogan, ‘Every child can learn.’ That sounds like the right thing to say, and it sounds so beautiful and is inspirational reading. But, it is a passive cliché. It suggests that every child can learn if someone decides to teach her or him. The slogan ‘leave no child behind’, is another construct that suggest idealism and utopianism. Both constructs sound good, but are condescending and often not operational.
More attention needs to be given to the kinds of African American children we are trying to educate. We need to ask whether we are interested in educating our African American children to have a creative impact on this society or whether, instead, we intend for them to serve mainly as consumers and a reserve labor force.
The articulated perspectives of children instead of the muted voices of children need to have an important place on the policy and research agenda. Until it is placed on this agenda, African American children will continue to be victimized people with their perceptions and voices factored out of the current regime of high-stakes testing throughout the United States.”
Meanwhile, in a Hartford Courant article, Blumenthal basically admitted it really isn’t just about the money:
Blumenthal told the judge that state officials also believe simplifying the test as suggested by Spellings, would interfere with school curriculum. “There’s always the option of dumbing down our tests to the point where we believe they would be inadequate, and we’re not willing to do that,” Blumenthal said. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, for a nitwit like Spellings who runs around the country talking about measuring every child every year, that might be too difficult a concept to grasp. Her bosses and cronies, however, know exactly what they are doing.
What do the N.A.A.C.P. and the state of Connecticut have in common?
a) the need to change course
b) a formidable enemy that has succeeded by using the oldest trick in the book – divide and conquer
c) a no-win situation
d) all of the above
The correct answer is “d”.
Kennedy, in challenging Bush’s latest smoke and mirrors campaign for education, recently issued the following statement:
“When it comes to President Bush’s education initiatives, it isn’t just a day late and a dollar short – its five years late and 50 billion dollars short. He has shortchanged our competitiveness, shortchanged our opportunity and shortchanged our future. Sadly, there is a huge gap between the President’s words and deeds and it is harming our progress. I would give the President’s education proposals a B- on ideas, but an F on follow through, an F on funding and an F on building a foundation for our future.
Someone needs to let Kennedy know it’s too little too late, and besides, it’s not just about the money — it’s the pedagogy stupid.