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

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Dropping a Bomb on NCLB

While the world focuses its attention on the escalating tension and violence in the Mideast that could lead to World War III, a huge explosion rippled through the Department of Education Friday when a report revealed children in public schools generally perform as well or better in reading and mathematics as children in private schools.

As expected, officials at ED are playing down the significance of the report although the news did make it to the front page of the New York Times today today alongside coverage of the other bombs that are dropping. As the Bushies and their followers await the coming of The Rapture, it seems like the children who will be left behind are in Christian schools:

The report, which compared fourth- and eighth-grade reading and math scores in 2003 from nearly 7,000 public schools and more than 530 private schools, also found that conservative Christian schools lagged significantly behind public schools on eighth-grade math.

At the heart of the report is hard core scientific evidence that what really determines how well children perform has nothing to do with holding teachers accountable, increasing testing or mandating scripted curriculum. What determines how students perform, whether in public schools or private schools generally depends on their racial and socioeconomic background. The DoE research has blown a hole right through this administration's big fat lie accusing NCLB critics of practicing the "soft bigotry of low expectations."

The truth has been exposed. If we sincerely want to leave no child behind, the best way to do that is to first acknowledge the harsh reality that academic performance on standardized tests is directly linked to race and economic status.

The report then dug deeper to compare students of like racial, economic and social backgrounds. When it did that, the private school advantage disappeared in all areas except eighth-grade reading.

So far Spellings has been silent on the report, but look for retaliation and some smoke next week about using growth models and not focusing too much on one study. Anything to keep this war and this attack on public schools going.

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