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

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

NCLB as Wrecking Ball

In 2003, Jamie McKenzie was writing this:
Looming behind the veneer and rhetoric of the Bush education plan is a set of destructive actions that are designed to destroy public education by enabling a huge exodus into risky experimental alternatives.

Misrepresented as a reform effort, NCLB is actually a cynical effort to shift public school funding to a host of private schools, religious schools and free-market diploma mills or corporate experiments in education.

The plan is simple.

  1. Place unrealistic demands on public schools.
  2. Provide too little capacity building support and too little time to meet new demands.
  3. Label schools as failures.
  4. Permit wholesale transfers to a broad range of alternatives.
  5. Mandate transfer of public funding to charters and alternatives.
  6. Fund education of many previously private school children with public monies.
  7. Privatize.
  8. Privatize.
  9. Privatize.
Only a handful of people took him seriously then, but now that number is growing as the NCLB watchlist edges further toward the suburbs each year. USA Today now has this piece on new pressures emerging in California to use public funds for private schools:
Advocacy groups that support taxpayer-financed vouchers are taking a new tack: using requirements of President Bush's No Child Left Behind school reform law to force the government to pay private school tuitions.

In a move that could preview future battles, a pair of advocacy groups plan to file complaints today in two urban Southern California school districts, arguing that vouchers are needed to force districts to meet requirements for quality education.

Should this new tactic expect to make headway? If one looks at the position of Sec. Spellings, one would expect that many of the roadblocks to privatization are being cleared by her own US Dept. of Education:

Spellings said last month that four years after Bush signed the law, vouchers are "an idea whose time has come." It was the first time she closely linked the law with vouchers. "There are still intractable educational situations where parents need options," she said Feb. 6, when she unveiled the Education Department's proposed 2007 budget. It includes $100 million for tutoring and "school choice" programs, including vouchers.
These are the people we employ and entrust with the oversight and improvement of our public schools. Disgusting.

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