Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Feds Get Tough on "No Child Left Behind"

The first two paragraphs from the N.Y. Times article read like this, "Most states failed to meet federal requirements that all teachers be “highly qualified” in core teaching fields and that state programs for testing students be up to standards by the end of the past school year, according to the federal government.

The deadline was set by the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush’s effort to make all American students proficient in reading and math by 2014. But the Education Department found that no state had met the deadline for qualified teachers, and it gave only 10 states full approval of their testing systems."

The article goes on to say that many states are in danger of losing all or part of their federal education funding.

(I am about to go on a wild rant. If you would like to read it, click "TUESDAY" below and scroll down, or if you were sent straight here, just scroll down. If you would like to be spared my wild rant, either don't click "Tuesday" or after clicking close your eyes until power is lost to your home.)


Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Now just because I am going to "act out" and go on a wild rant- actual spittle may fly from my mouth as a scream at the computer- does not mean that what I have to say won't make more sense than what the Bush-Kennedy Department of Education is saying. It would be difficult to make LESS sense than the Bush-Kennedy education department on the so-called "No Child Left Behind". Well, it would be difficult to make less sense than Ted Kennedy period, even when he is sober, if that ever happens.

First of all, the Constitution of the United States of America, which President George Bush swore to uphold with his hand on a large Bible in front of the whole country, does not provide any role for the federal government in primary or secondary education. None whatsoever. Instead, it falls under the category of other rights that the ninth and tenth amendments say are left "to the states, or to the people".

There is your first problem right there. Just like when our President said he thought the McCain-Feingold "Campaign Finance Reform" bill was unconstitutional, then signed it anyway! Our politicians don't take their oaths seriously, and I don't want to leave our local schools to people who don't take their oaths seriously.

The "No Child Left Behind" plan is Ted Kennedy's plan, which Bush approved. That is because this is one of those issues where the people are only given the illusion of choice.

Both parties want to take away the last vestige of local control of schools. Both parties want to centralize power. Both parties act as if they are controlled by power-hungry imbeciles who don't know or care 1) what the Cosntitution says, or 2) what the limits of government power really are.

I feel like our local school boards are being driven by Ted Kennedy to a hunt with Dick Cheney.

The second problem with NCLB is that the provisions of the act cannot be met. Do you understand me? They can't do it, even if they turned the entire nation into an absolute dictatorship police-state whose sole purpose was meeting the provisions of the "No Child Left Behind" act. Even if they did that, they could not fufill the goals of the act. What they are asking for is not attainable by government means.

The feds offered the states money if they would agree to do something that is impossible by 2014. Since it seemed so far away, they took the cash. Now the time is drawing near, and it is obvious that they are not getting it done. Nor can they. The goal is impossible.

It takes a vast view of government power, almost a communist idea that man can be shaped by his environment, to believe that anything Washington can do will ensure that each and every child will be proficient in reading and math by 2014 regardless of the home life, inate skills, or even level of desire to learn, of that child. A certain percentage of any group will be unable to meet the stated standards. A larger percentage of children will simply not be willing to put forth the effort required for them to do so, and any efforts to bring "pressure" on them and their family is a lot more likely to backfire, bringing ill-will and intransigence to the educational process.

You can only do the best you can do, and the best is not done by federal standards, but by good teachers who care about kids one heart and head at a time. You can't legislate that, and any political leader who thinks they can is either as dumb as a bag of hammers or is so arrogant that they should never be entrusted with power.

Oh and "No Child Left Behind" means exactly that, none left behind. Home school and private school parents beware, the state octopus will soon reach its tentacles out for you. It wants power, and can't abide the large number of people fleeing public schools as the school administrators continue to try to flog their staffs into accomplishing the impossible.

It is amazing the distortions in education that occur when all that counts is one big state test. A lot of schools for example, have made every class into "reading writing and math" because that is what is on the test. Even History and Science teachers are ordered to make their class into reading, writing, or math. After all, that is what is tested!

My last year of teaching, I was ordered to grade English papers given out by the English teacher even though I taught science. The reason was that she could not keep up. In addition, I was to essentially change my own class into a math and English class, even while it went on the books as a science class. In addition, I was not allowed to give "Resource" students an "F" on their report card, even if they openly refused to pick up a pencil. Yet somehow I was accountable if they failed to meet standards on state (fed inspired) testing. This was not just what I was told, this was school policy for all teachers. Did I mention that was my last year of teaching?

That brings me to another thing, the feds say all teachers must be "well qualified". You know what that means? It does not mean that they are actually good at teaching their subjects and that they inspire young minds to acquire knowledge. No indeed, it means they have jumped through "teacher training" hoops. See, instead of getting a well-deserved Summer break, teachers are now expected to go to these worthless classes where morons who may not have every taught children tell the teachers how to do their jobs.

Folks, every state in the union is experiencing a teacher shortage. Forcing your workforce to jump through extra hoops only makes the best of them, the ones who have opportunities elsewhere, leave the profession. The ones that are left are unhappy, but feel they are stuck. Thus, raising the "standards" actually leaves your children with worse teachers, not better ones. Why don't our leaders understand this? Why has all wisdom deserted them?

I don't know, unless they have lost the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of all wisdom. People who lose fear of Him tend to get an expansive view of themselves and what they can do. This leads to arrogance, which leads to bad decision making, which from a distance appears like the leaders are complete morons.

Now they are saying they are going to start cutting off federal money to states who fall behind. Good! Cut it all off. That way states can quit spending all their time, energy, effort and money pretending that they are on track to comply with the act. All those extra educrats we hired to shuffle papers to meet the documentation requirements for NCLB can be offered positions teaching underprivileged children in the Delta how to read. If they don't want the job, then send them packing.

We should get out of NCLB and "just say no" to the federal money NOW. Don't wait for the feds to kick us out, just leave and control our own destiny again. Then we need to put our elected officials to work repealing the thing.

Ok, I feel better now.

The Times article can be found here...

11:12 AM, July 25, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a great article Mark! You rant very well. How I wish we had you to stand up for the teachers to the legislature. I have several points to discuss.
1) The Republicans have been accused by many of helping to create NCLB in order to destroy the public schools and then give vouchers to all students to attend any private school they wish to. HOWEVER, the Democrats, ever enamoured of total federal POWER, embrace NCLB only to gain control over the schools that fail. (Which, of course, will be all of them since 100% of students will NEVER be proficient, no matter how often you beat the teachers.
2) Professional development is, as you said, a total farce. Recently I attended a three-day session with a professor who told teachers that they MUST give up their curriculum and replace it with his. What's his curriculum? Having students spend 80% of their time reading adolescent trade books. Basically, his program is Outcome Based Education (OBE), a discredited system of education that failed in many districts and was given up.
3) Even if NCLB were overthrown tomorrow it would not solve the problem. Arkansas's accountability system is worse than NCLB's and has been legislated in concrete. Even without NCLB, our schools would be subject to many of the same type of sanctions. Ironically, Arkansas gets only about 10% of its money from the federal government, and that is
for special programs. It's amazing to me that states have literally sold their souls to the federal government for a pittance. (30 pieces of silver?)
4) Improved education???? Check out the post on Thursday, July 20 for the answer to that.

9:15 PM, July 25, 2006  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Thank you. Yes the educrats at the various state departments of education (like ours) don't seem to mind pushing local schools around, but when the feds try the same heavy-handed inflexible methods with them they scream like a scalded cat.

4:27 AM, July 26, 2006  
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