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

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Growth Models as Window Dressing

If anyone doubted neocon resolve for the corporate-sponsored War on Public Education, listen closely to the bottom line rhetoric of Ed Chieftess, Ms. Spelling. You will hear that nothing has changed and nothing is planned to change in regards to the future guaranteed failure rate of schools, which is the weapon of choice in undercutting support of public education, as more and more schools inevitably fail to meet impossible demands:
In the 2004-05 school year, the share of high-poverty schools that failed to make enough yearly progress under the law jumped by 50 percent, to 9,000 from 6,000 the year before. There are 50,000 high-poverty schools in the United States, for whom failing to make enough progress sets off a cascade of extra attention, as well as eventual punishments, including the possible closure of the school.

In inviting the proposals, however, Ms. Spellings said the department would not compromise on certain "core principles" of the law, including the requirements that all students reach proficiency in reading and math by 2014, and that schools break down student performance by race, ethnicity, income, disability and gender.

Despite the disingenous and misleading talk of flexiblity that proceeds from an empty hope attached to growth models, the implacable and impossible demand for 100% proficiency by 2014 has and will not change without a public uprising sometime between now and the planned reauthorization of NCLB next year.

The real strategy at ED is to use the ropeadope growth model talk to stem the growing outcry against NCLB long enough for the manufactured failure rate to turn parents and teachers against their own public schools. In the meantime, the desperate enthusiasm for growth models represents the kind of empty wishing and easy appeasement that allows the NCLB juggernaut to continue unabated. Just as states should be joining forces to reject outright the impossible and racist demands that sacrifice increasing numbers of schools, children, and teachers, instead they are clamoring for a ticket in a big contest where nobody wins--except the ed industry, the voucher fanatics, and the corporate political economists who wish to extend an iron-fisted social control based on a blinding fear of failure.

The Big Lie that most Americans still cannot contemplate centers on the espousal of help to the poor and the brown as the primary motivator behind NCLB. No doubt it was at some point for some people, but what we are seeing today is the emergance of a genocidal education policy of epic proportions that could set back the educational struggle for growth, equity, and social justice by a hundred years. The fact is that the poor and the brown are being sacrificed in the crucible of a corporate socialist power machine that hopes to "change everything, forever" as Gene Hickok has enthused on more than one occasion.

What happens in America's schools will determine which way America goes at this tipping point of history. It is past time to restore the civic, intellectual, and moral purpose of schools, and to throw the closet fascists into the Potomac.

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