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

Friday, March 31, 2006

CEP Highlights and Low Beams

California parent and activist, Lisa Schiff, has this excellent summary of the tiptoeing-on-eggshells CEP Report (Center on Education Policy) on No Child Left Behind. Though rich on data, the report, unfortunately, does not shine its light beneath the surface for implications or recommendations. If we waited for CEP to get the message out, Chris Whittle would have become the Bill Gates of the school business:
The CEP report is full of interesting analysis, including a case-study of neighboring Oakland Unified School District. The disappointing aspect of the report is in its recommendations, which are suggestions of ways to fix NCLB as opposed to a thorough critique of the policy, including the implicit educational premises woven through it. The data has been collected and the arguments are right there to make. While some of the recommendations are fine, such as the call to give states and districts more financial support to help struggling schools, overall these recommendations end up merely covering up the fundamentally flawed nature of this legislation.

No matter how much this legislation is nipped and tucked, NCLB is still a simplistic effort to narrowly reduce the educational activities and related assessments that occur in schools, call that success and be done with it. This is not really about increasing standards or achievement. It's a weak attempt to take a short-cut to building strong schools that support the wide variety of needs, skills, and abilities children bring to the classroom. The simple fact that the impossible 2014 deadline for having 100% of all school-age children be proficient in math and reading is still in front of us is only one of the many ludicrous aspects of NCLB that reveal its destructive core.

One of the recommendations of the CEP that is heard so often is that we need to fully fund NCLB. This would be a horrible outcome, because it would make it that much harder to expose and question the basic philosophy of NCLB, that one size fits all and that the academic success of a state, a district, a school or a child can be summed up in a number.

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