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

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Irresponible Stupidity of the New York Times

As I have pointed out before, if any major editorial board writing about current events exhibited the twin levels of cupidity and stupidity that the New York Times consistently shows toward K-12 issues, that paper would be out of business. And if Brent Staples has been fired, the Times has found a replacement with an identical store of unrepentant ignorance and an unabashed disregard for the facts. Let me count the ways that intelligent readers are insulted and patronized by Thursday's pandering prompt to the Business Roundtable to proceed with its third-worlding of America and the stupidifying of America’s children:
“The bipartisan Commission on No Child Left Behind, financed by several private foundations to evaluate the law’s effect.”
Untrue. If the Commission had, indeed, bothered to evaluate the law’s effects (see examples here and here), rather than cherry-picking a couple of carefully-excised quotes and charts from reports to support its preconceived conclusions, it would have found that NCLB has done nothing to close the achievement gap (see urban students' 2005 'Report Card' in reading and Tracking Achievement Gaps and Assessing the Impact of NCLB on the Gaps: An In-depth Look into National and State Reading and Math Outcome; has had negative, rather than positive, effects on student learning (get CEPstudy here) by shrinking, rather than strengthening, the school curriculum under the crushing weight of high-stakes tests; has hastened the divisive resegregation of American schools, rather rescuing those left behind; has unleashed a corrupt, extortionate pedagogical orthodoxy based on cooked research findings, rather than improving teaching; and has systematically been used to manufacture failure and to privatize education, rather than improve the public schools.

And here is another paragraph from the Staples thought disorder:
In a suggestion that’s long overdue, the report recommends that colleges and universities, which rely on federal funds, be required to increase the number of graduates qualified to teach in underserved areas like math and science. At the same time, it suggests that school districts with high turnover rates be required to develop plans to train and retain their best teachers.
Now it does not take a graduate of even the public schools to know that colleges and universities have no power in choosing the course of study for college students, nor should they. What takes a few more active brain cells to understand is that another "requirement" placed on top of the existing impossible ones, i. e., 100% proficiency, for urban schools who are hemorraghing teachers will only to serve to reinforce the racist belief that these schools are responsible for the failure that has been mandated to them. Our NCLB system of non-stop testing chain-gangs, scripted Pavlovian teaching, teacher pay rewards for high test scores, and now teacher job security tied to test scores, make it certain that teachers who have any remaining choices in the matter will continue to flee the urban school-to-prison pipeline system, where only the incompetent and the sadistic teachers will remain when the schools are finally boarded up or transferred to Whittle to run.

The NCLB system that the New York Times embraces, and the tougher one they look forward to, promises to exacerbate the problems they, otherwise, would solve--and in the process, solidify the foundations for a new education-psychometric complex where corporate welfare mercenaries ply their dark trades based on a never-ending stream of human misery and failure. Here is part of the latest press release by Huntington Learning, which was offered up to prey on the anxiety of parents just in time to coincide with report cards going home in Virginia:
Huntington also provides the following tips for parents who may be concerned after reviewing their child's report card.
1) Your child's teacher or school counselor recommends it. This may happen at a parent-teacher conference. It may also occur when progress reports are issued, or at report card time.
2) Your child's grades start to fall independent of how hard he or she seems to be working, where before they were improving or holding steady.
3) No matter how long your child spends on homework, it's neither complete nor accurate. This may indicate a lack of basic skills or a weakness in a specific academic area.
4) Caught in a cycle of frustration and failure, your child shows an increasing lack of confidence and motivation.
5) Your child has lost interest in learning.
6) Your child experiences extreme anxiety before tests and exams.
7) Your child is reluctant to go to school, fearing failure and criticism from others.
8) Your child's teacher reports that he or she is acting out, becoming a behavior problem in class.
9) Your child says, "I'm too stupid. I'll never understand this stuff."
10) Your child says, "I give up." Or, worse, you hear yourself saying it.
The fact is, of course, that NCLB is responsible for, at least, Numbers 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10. And, of course, NCLB offers over a billion dollars a year to these mercenaries to solve the problem that NCLB created. Senator Judd Gregg, in 2001, called this child-abuse-for-profit system "getting a foot in the door" for privatization.

As for the New York Times and their complicity in all this, one must ask again when did the Gray Lady get turned into an Old Prostitute?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous11:17 AM

    all the symptoms listed reflect the problems connected to a student who strugles with reading and spelling.