Friday, October 05, 2007

Neo cons turn against NCLB

Here's a new article by two former NCLB supporters, Frederick M. Hess and Chester E. Finn, Jr., "Can This Law Be Fixed? A Hard Look at the No Child Left Behind Remedies" --,filter.all/pub_detail.asp

The authors continue to place great (and, in my view, unwarranted) confidence in "standards-based reform." But, to their credit, Hess and Finn are open to rethinking their pro-NCLB position on the basis of real-world evidence, which foreshadows the chaos likely to ensue without fundamental changes in the law. If only the so-called "civil rights" groups were willing to do that, the politics of reauthorization would look quite different.

Here are Hess and Finn's concluding paragraphs:
"A Looming Wreck?
"NCLB began with the noble yet naïve promise that every American student will attain proficiency in reading and math by 2014. While there is no doubt that the percentage of proficient students can and should increase dramatically from today's approximately 30 percent level, no educator believes that universal proficiency in seven years is a serious goal; only politicians promise such things. The inevitable result is cynicism among educators and a compliance mentality among public officials.

And, an opinion piece by Diane Ravitch.
Get Congress Out of the Classroom
New York Times Op. Ed. Column -- October 3, 2007
by Diane Ravitch
Despite the rosy claims of the Bush administration, the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 is fundamentally flawed. The latest national tests, released last week, show that academic gains since 2003 have been modest, less even than those posted in the years before the law was put in place. In eighth-grade reading, there have been no gains at all since 1998.
The main goal of the law — that all children in the United States will be proficient in reading and mathematics by 2014 — is simply unattainable. The primary strategy — to test all children in those subjects in grades three through eight every year — has unleashed an unhealthy obsession with standardized testing that has reduced the time available for teaching other important subjects. Furthermore, the law completely fractures the traditional limits on federal interference in the operation of local schools.

I did find them interesting.
This is not about supporting Chester Finn nor Diane Ravitch.

Note what the say. Finn says NCLB is a "civil rights manifesto", it threatens hard won accountability gains - so it should be amended.

Ravitch apparently wants a better test, a single nation wide test. She is not opposed to the current over testing, just stop those states from being too easy in their own testing.

The Forum for Education and Accountability offers a better response: the "NCLB's rigid, mechanistic, sanctions-based approach is doing more harm than good. The modest changes in the House Education Committee's discussion draft and those apparently under consideration in the Senate HELP Committee will not solve the problems. Minor tinkering won't fix the law's reliance on high-stakes testing, unrealistic achievement targets, and punitive mandates.

This brand of accountability sets up a majority of American schools for failure. Repeated studies have shown that most schools in most states will not make AYP (see link to report, below). Over the next few years, the result will be to weaken public support for public education. It could pave the way for privatization schemes that will leave increasing numbers of children behind. More generally, the chaos created by NCLB will intensify voters' cynicism about the federal government's ability to play a constructive or even competent role in social policy."

So, for me no cheers that Finn and Ravitch have taken a critical stand. They want to be consulted as insiders to write a more rigid accountability stand.
This reminds me of Ravitch's pernicious role in California. She was one of three who wrote the History /Social Science Framework in 1987, and currently in use. She defined what multiculturalism is, a neo con version, very Euro centric.
That is what these three are doing here. They are joining the chorus in opposition to NCLB in order to be selected to sit on the panels to draft a new bill or new language.

Duane Campbell
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