So, Connecticut has filed suit against the federal government over the No Child Left Behind Act. I'm surprised it took this long.
Listening to the report on this on NPR today on the way home, I found myself thinking once again what exactly made the party of smaller less centralized government decide to nationalize and socialise education.
Then I started writing something about it, and it turned into something really long and time-consuming and I was only halfway done with it. Not sure whether to continue, I decided that, at any rate, it's more a piece for the other blog, if I decide to finish it (I have more pressing things, believe it or not). So instead I leave just this little tantalizing post to get you to think about it and discuss the matter. Its okay to leave comments.
1. Whence came the myth that socialism brings everyone up to the same level? In most cases we've seen where socialism was applied on a grand scale, it brought everyone down to the same level. NCLB does essentially the same; Connecticut is suing because, the state claims, their own testing was more rigourous and produced better results than the mandated (and unfunded, which is the other reason they're suing) testing associated with NCLB. This has been my concern from the start: when you teach to the test, if the test is not set to a very high standard, you inevitably fail the exceptionally bright student. Where is the benefit here?
2. Whence came the myth that the states have done a great job with education already and NCLB is just mucking things up? Who seriously believes the majority of states were getting the job done before? A few were, sure, but not most. Not a bloody one south of the Mason-Dixon, either.
3. Given that, is there a better way? Does NCLB do a good job of bringing the underachievers up? Is mandatory standardized testing the only or best way of doing so? And is there a way to better serve those students who could pass most standardized tests hungover and half asleep (yours truly included)? Is the country well served by treating all students exactly the same, or should we instead work on two tracks: bring all students up to at least a minimum level a la NCLB, and present a second educational path for students who are genuinely exceptional. Is it okay in modern society to admit that some students are smarter than others?