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

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The Bush-Miller NCLB Brew: Tastes Worse, More Bloating

According to President Bush and his sidekicks on the Hill, Senator Kennedy and Congressman Miller, we are at the midterm of their treacherous education reform course that the world now jokingly refers to as No Child Left Behind. And even though everyone in Washington knows this cynical and cruel privatization plan is as rotted as a carp in the September sun, the big question remains as to whether the Congress will sacrifice America’s public school system and this generation of learners for the sake of preserving a hideous and utterly transparent veneer of legislative bipartisanship that is somehow supposed to conceal the putridness of Washington's current political reality.

If Congress had any guts and good sense, they would scrap this worst education policy in American history and start over with a new ESEA. Since there is neither enough guts nor good sense to make a difference, the only remaining choices are to say no to reauthorization, which would allow a new President and a new Congress to take up this issue in 2009, or to say yes to a hodgepodge of bandaids for the middle class schools that do not even pretend to block the hemorrhaging of the most vulnerable schools with the most vulnerable children in the most vulnerable communities.

What Bush, Kennedy, and Miller all would like to offer the poor are cheap charter schools that save 20 cents on the dollar in public expenditure and that are operated by non-profits that readily accept corporate donations that are good as gold for tax credits. The continuation of the unreachable goal of 100% proficiency in NCLB's working draft will guarantee a continuing stream of failures, or “high priority redesigns,” which will be accomplished as follows:
HIGHPRIORITYREDESIGN.—To redesign a school designated as High Priority, the local educational agency shall, consistent with State law—‘‘(A) close the school, which at the discretion of the local educational agency may be reopened, including reopened as a charter school, following a comprehensive redesign of the instructional program and the staffing of theschool, and which also may include alternative governance arrangements; or‘‘(B) replace all or some of the school’s leadership and staff, and significantly revise the instructional program in the subject areas for which the school was identified under paragraph (1). ‘‘(C) enter into a formal contract with anintermediary who will have the authority to administer the school; or ‘‘(D) require the school to enter into a contract with a nonprofit entity with demonstrated expertise and effectiveness in whole school reform (pp. 227-228 Miller-McKeon reauthorization draft)
But what happens then if the charter school does not perform any better than the public school it replaced, a possibility that is made more likely be a host of research showing charters no better or worse in raising test scores. Well, the draft version now being circulated has included what would seem as a gaping loophole that state legislatures may take advantage of to get the AYP monkey off their backs, once they convert urban public schools to charter schools:
‘‘(N) ACCOUNTABILITY FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS.—The accountability provisions under this Act shall be overseen for charter schools in accordance with State charter school law (p. 52).

Will we allow this crime to happen? Send your comments. Email Congressman Miller to say SCRAP IT AND START OVER!!!!!!!

1 comment:

  1. I've written and offered my services as an expert (15 years of teaching) and volunteered to come testify before his committee.

    What do you think the odds of THAT happening are? I bet Sandy Kress will get an invite though.