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

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Dodd, Kennedy, and a New Surge for the Testing Juggernaut

The cries from students, parents, teachers, school boards, and academics during the past five years of NCLB war on schools have proven that Democrats are as tone-deaf to education issues as any other group of nitwits. And why wouldn't they be--most of the Dem kids are going to the same private schools as children of their opponents across the aisle. No chili supper fundraisers or coupon books among this group.

Let's face it--Dodd, Kennedy, Miller, and most of the other "Democrats" don't give a rat's posterior section about public education, the abusive use of testing, the stupidifying of America's non-elite children, or the privatization of public schools. And now both Kennedy and Dodd have bills in the Senate to prove it.

While Dodd's bill goes so far as to use extensions for NCLB targets and sanctions to "incentivize" states to "voluntarily" adopt national testing, Kennedy's bill is proposing more chairs for business and the military at the "preparedness councils" that will determine what gets taught and tested in school. Talk about a cancerous growth of the military-industrial complex!! Now we can rename it the miltary-industrial-educational complex.

Here is a clip from the Olson piece in Ed Week:

Congress is considering two new bills that aim to increase the rigor of state standards and tests by linking them to those set at the national level.

The SPEAK Act (SB 224, HR 325), or Dodd-Ehlers bill, would:

Require the governing board for the National Assessment of Educational Progress to create voluntary U.S. education standards in mathematics and science for grades K-12 and ensure they are internationally competitive.
Provide competitive grants to states that adopt the standards. Those states would align their tests in math and science, as well as teacher licensure, preparation, and training requirements, with the new standards.
Permit the U.S. secretary of education to extend the 2014 deadline for states to get all students to the “proficient” level on state reading and math tests under the No Child Left Behind Act by up to four years.
Provide bonus grants for states that fulfill the grant requirements to develop data systems that can track individual student performance over time.
Require NAEP to test science, as well as reading and math, in grades 4, 8, and 12 every two years and require states getting NCLB school improvement funds to participate in such tests for students in grades 4 and 8.

The SUCCESS Act (SB 164), or Kennedy bill, would:

Require that NAEP revise its standards and tests to ensure that they are internationally competitive. At 12th grade, NAEP also would have to assess whether students are prepared for college, the military, and the workforce.
Require the U.S. secretary of education to identify states with the biggest gaps in student performance on state and NAEP tests. States could ask the NAEP governing board for help in analyzing those gaps.
Provide $200 million for state grants to set up P-16 preparedness councils, with members of the education, business, and military communities, to align state standards with the skills needed in college and the workplace.
Provide up to $75 million for state consortia to establish common standards and tests that are rigorous, internationally competitive, and aligned with postsecondary demands.

At least Kennedy and Miller can no longer hide behind the excuse of being in the minority. With control of both Houses, the question remains as to whether the Dems will sacrifice the future of American K-12 education for the short-term benefit of appearing bipartisan, at least, on something. To call these pieces of dreck compromises is to give "compromise" a really bad name. Calling it idiocy would be closer to the truth.

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