Craig Cunningham posted at The Wall a nice piece that addresses the tragic and ongoing stupidification of urban poor children who are purportedly being helped by an unceasing regimen of test prep in chain gang schools where teachers learn their scripted lines and students mouth them back (see Kozol's "Confections of Apartheid" in the December Kappan. That is the greatest human tragedy now unfolding before our eyes, an intellectual and emotional genocide of epic proportions in the making.
The other tragedy is, perhaps, more abstract, but goes to the heart of the civic purpose of schools to help sustain the Republic. It is the agenda to privatize American schools, and to use NCLB with its impossible demands to manufacture a widespread failure that a Massachusetts study has shown, for instance, will label as failures over three-quarters of their schools by 2014--unless NCLB is ditched or modified next year when re-authorization comes up.
The requirement that all school children be at grade level in reading and math by 2014 is simply ridiculous. Those who point this out are, nonetheless, accused daily of "the soft bigotry of low expectations." It seems to me that to craft a national policy on the manufactured failure of most American public schools demonstrates clearly the implacable racism bound up in impossible demands of a hidebound ideology. If I had to choose, and I don't (there are more options), I know where I would stand.
If NCLB is not rolled back next year and the probable scenario develops (psychometricians say certain), and a large majority of American schools are clear failures or on the “Federal watch-list” by 2014, then the road to school privatization will be clear sailing. By then, American parents will be shell-shocked and willing to try anything to avoid another one of those Federally-mandated letters telling them that their children are failing because their schools are failing. And state legislatures, broken financially and in spirit by then from the under-funded burdens of NCLB implementation, will be desperate enough to turn the whole effort over to the voucher advocates and the EMOs of an education industry that will be ramped up, ready, and waiting to pounce.
Here is a piece just out in the Monthly Review by Michael Perelman that puts many of the issues in perspective. It is called "Privatizing Education." Read it and ACT.