Now the popular media has begun realizing what many educators have known for years: What does not get tested does not get taught. Sam Dillon's NY Times story today makes that point very clear, and it points to the need for more people like O'Connor and Romer to speak out in support of a school curriculum that addresses the economic, social, cultural, and political needs of a democratic republic.
What we have, though, is a stifling of political consiousness, particularly in the poorest communities during these early years of NCLB. Unless NCLB is altered or jettisoned altogether, the demise, however, of social studies, the arts, science, and extracurricular activities will spread as the impossible goal of 100% proficiency begins to catch up with even the wealthier suburban schools.
And as I've said, too, before, the poor are the canaries in this dark mine of NCLB, and they are being poisoned by the millions as childhood learning, itself, is being converted in a joyless and unending grind that is intended to politically and intellectually lobotomize large segments of the population that have remained out of reach of conservative political sloganeering.
Here is a clip from Dillon's piece:
SACRAMENTO — Thousands of schools across the nation are responding to the reading and math testing requirements laid out in No Child Left Behind, President Bush's signature education law, by reducing class time spent on other subjects and, for some low-proficiency students, eliminating it.
Schools from Vermont to California are increasing — in some cases tripling — the class time that low-proficiency students spend on reading and math, mainly because the federal law, signed in 2002, requires annual exams only in those subjects and punishes schools that fall short of rising benchmarks. The changes appear to
principally affect schools and students who test below grade level.
The intense focus on the two basic skills is a sea change in American instructional practice, with many schools that once offered rich curriculums now systematically trimming courses like social studies, science and art. A nationwide survey by a nonpartisan group that is to be made public on March 28 indicates that the practice, known as narrowing the curriculum, has become standard procedure in many communities. . . .