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Don't Give Up the Gains in Education

News Flash! I Tweeted this:

Sticking to his story, @brentnyt calls NYT editorial 'strong'; I call it execrable and wrong-headed. But then, I'm just a teacher.
New York Times editorialist Brent Staples (aka @brentnyt) immediately blocked me from his Twitter account.

Jim Horn Comment at Schools Matter

The NY Times Editorial Board Stays Stupid on Status Quo CorpEd "Reform"

It was only a matter of time until the NY Times would put their full weight behind the extension of our nation's slow motion educational genocide. As intentionally misleading and out of touch as ever, today the Times board of elites offers its latest miseducative opinionating on the ESEA reauthorization scramble.

With the Tea Party House of Representatives pushing hard its version of ESEA that would turn Title I into a massive block grant that states could carve up and pass out to charter operators, there seems to be plenty to make any neoliberal corporation like the Times sharpen up its most poisonous pens. But today's piece of dissembling says not a word about block granting ESEA but, rather, doubles down on in support of another generation of testing accountability as the civil rights issue of another generation.

The Times seems oblivious to the testing boycott that escalates daily or the searing hatred among educators and parents for the Business Roundtable profiteers who lined up for another generation of corporate education welfare. And as always they are oblivious to the facts or pretend that editorials are for making your own facts:

National test data clearly show that since the unpopular No Child Left Behind Act was signed in 2002, academic performance for the country's students has improved and achievement gaps between white and minority children have narrowed.

Horn offers charts from that NAEP 'national test data' (I can't do charts), asking,"Who's lying to whom?"

Meet the New York Times Editorial Board

Andrew Rosenthal, Editor: Son of A.M. "Abe" Rosenthal, a long time New York Times senior executive and executive editor. Andrew Rosenthal is in charge of the paper's opinion pages. B.A. American History

Terry Tang, Deputy Editorial Page Editor: B.A. in economics from Yale University and a J.D. from New York University School of Law.

Robert B. Semple Jr., Associate Editor: educated at Andover, Yale and the University of California, where he received a master's degree in history

Vikas Bajaj, Business, International Economics: bachelor's in journalism from Michigan State University

Philip M. Boffey, Science: A.B. degree, magna cum laude, in history, from Harvard College

Francis X. Clines, National Politics, Congress, Campaign Finance:

Lawrence Downes, New York City, Immigration: B.A. degree in English from Fordham University in 1986. He also attended the University of Missouri School of Journalism from 1987 to 1989.

Carol Giacomo, Foreign Affairs: B.A. in English Literature from Regis College

Mira Kamdar, International Affairs: bachelor's degree from Reed College in Portland, Ore., and a Ph.D. in French literature from the University of California, Berkeley

Juliet Lapidos, Culture: B.A. in comparative literature from Yale University and an M.Phil. in English literature from the University of Cambridge, where she was a Gates Scholar.

Ernesto Londoño, Foreign Affairs: He studied journalism and Latin American studies at the University of Miami.

Eleanor Randolph, New York State, Northeast Region, Media: graduate of Emory University

Dorothy Samuels, Law, Civil Rights, National Affairs: graduate of Bryn Mawr College and Northeastern University School of Law

Serge Schmemann, International Affairs:graduate of Harvard College and holds an M.A. from Columbia University, as well as an honorary doctorate from Middlebury College

Brent Staples, Education, Criminal Justice, Economics: holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Chicago


Teresa Tritch, Economic Issues, Tax Policy: B.A. in German from UCLA and an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University

Jesse Wegman, The Supreme Court, Legal Affairs
New York University School of Law

Brent Staples is Tweeting about the "strong" editorial.


See for yourself.

by the Editorial Board

Congress made the right decision a decade ago when it required states to administer yearly tests to public school students -- and improve instruction for poor and minority students-- in return for federal education aid.

National test data clearly show that since the unpopular No Child Left Behind Act was signed in 2002, academic performance for the country's students has improved and achievement gaps between white and minority children have narrowed. Earlier this month, the Department of Education announced that the nation's high school graduation rate had hit 81 percent, the highest rate ever.

Even so, the achievement gaps remain distressingly wide, and American children are still losing ground to competitors abroad who are much better prepared for college and the new economy. It would be a grave mistake for Congress to back away from important reforms in its reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which was named the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002.

The 2002 law required states to give annual math and reading tests in grades three through eight (and once in high school) to ensure that students were making progress and that poor and minority students were being educated. The most important aspect was that it required the states to improve conditions for children in underperforming schools. But the part of the law that labeled schools that missed performance targets as in need of improvement -- and subjected them to sanctions -- did create serious problems.

This provision failed to adequately distinguish between chronically failing schools and otherwise good schools that missed improvement targets for particular subgroups, like special needs children. As a result, as many as half the schools in some states were listed as needing improvement, seen by the public as "failing," which mystified educators and parents, and generated a predictable political backlash.

Congress missed a chance to fix this problem when it failed to reauthorize the law as scheduled in 2007. Had lawmakers taken up the matter, they could easily have reduced the overemphasis on test scores by giving some weight to other indexes, like advanced courses, the strength of the curriculum and college admission rates. Instead, Congress did nothing and left it to the Department of Education to address the problem as best it could through administrative means.

Although the federal law required only one math and one English test per year, it led to a wave of over-testing that swept this country's schools during the last decade. Some school districts reacted to the fear of being labeled "failing" by adding layers of practice tests, effectively turning education into mere test preparation.

Some schools went even further with testing when the federal Race to the Top competitive grant program pushed states to create teacher evaluation systems that take student test results into account. It's up to the states to fix this problem, perhaps by identifying and discarding unnecessary tests and, if necessary, placing explicit limits on how much time can be spent on testing.

Despite its obvious weaknesses, the much despised No Child Left Behind Act clearly improved public school education. But instead of finding ways to cure the law's problems and build on its strengths, Congress seems to want to retreat from the law's goals. Bills to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, pending in the House and Senate, would relieve states of the responsibility to intervene in a school that repeatedly fails to provide an adequate education. One proposal being considered in the Senate would allow states to end the annual testing, without which parents would never know how well their children were doing.

It would also let local districts design their own tests, so parents would no longer be able to determine how their children were doing in comparison with children elsewhere in the state. Worse still, both the House and the Senate bills would allow states to direct federal Title I poverty funds away from the highest poverty districts and schools where they are most needed.

These bills are being advertised as a way to help the states. But earlier this month, the National Governors Association and the National Conference of State Legislatures jointly issued a detailed proposal for reauthorizing the act that asks Congress to hold the states accountable for preparing students for a competitive workplace.

The state leaders call for more flexibility, but also for Congress to ensure that states design strong accountability systems that set out clear short-term and long-term goals for student improvement; that use multiple measures, including test performance; and that break down student test data by race, income and disability status. Most notably, they want Congress to require states to intervene in districts or schools that fail to meet state goals, fail to educate subgroups of students or have declining student performance over time.

The states, which bear the direct responsibility for educating the nation's children, know from experience that this basic policy tool kit is essential for improving schools. Instead of squandering an important opportunity, Congress needs to listen to what they have to say.

— Editorial
New York Times





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