22 August 2005

No Child Left Behind?

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?


Lucky Bob said...

<*sarcasm> But we can't give the talented and driven students more opportunities (challenges) because that’s discrimination (that’s not fair)(that’s life), especially if it doesn’t represent a perfect population cross-section <*/sarcasm>.
My schools did a good job. We had GT classes with special trips and harder or advanced studies. My class was the first to take algebra a year before everyone else. Two years later they moved it another year earlier for GT classes to make more room for AP classes in High School. Most of that’s gone now.

Man I wish the strikethrough tag worked on this thing.

scanime said...

Tiffany hates the NCLB act. Hates it, hates it, hates it. It's one of the quickest ways to get her on top of a soap box.

It does not take in to consideration English as a second language. Yes, I know, you come to America, you should learn English. But there's children in class from Egypt & Thailand (to name a few) that have been here less than a year. You can't expect them to do as well on a standardized test in English as other students of equal skill level.

I also remember reading that NCLB only allows for a certain number of resource students. (Resource seems to be the new way to describe students that have difficulty learning.) If your school district claims a certain percentage that the national government finds too high, then apparently the school is making up numbers.

And the biggest thing that boogles my mind... if a school does poorly (as reflected only by standardized test scores) then the national government decides to reduce their funding? The logic astounds me. I think we should apply it to other fields, as well. If a hospital doesn't have a high enough approval rating, let's take away their funding. If an area has a high crime rate, let's reduce the number of police in the area. Our problems are solved!

*looks around*

Hey, where did this soap box come from and why am I standing on it?