Orwell Award Announcement SusanOhanian.Org Home

Intemperate Notes on the Miller-McKeon Discussion Draft

For more comprehensive info on provisions affecting ELL, see Jim Crawford's notes.


I've tried to read the 435-page draft. What a mess. Instead of taking criticisms of education professionals and parents seriously and fundamentally rethinking the law, Miller offers a new coat of paint, apparently trying to cover up the flaws. It has the same effect of spraying a can of RAID® on a termite-infested foundation.

I have made no attempt to be comprehensive or, to use one of the Committee's favorite terms, systematic.

Take a look at the Vermont Design for Education. Written in more optimistic times, it provoked 30,000 teachers to apply for a job in Vermont.

1. They still insist on 100% proficiency by 20014.

2. . . .to ensure all students graduate from secondary school with the education and skills necessary to compete in a global economy.

To compete in a global economy a worker has to be able to second-guess the greed of corporate America. I don't know how high schools educate for this--except maybe to support the Vermont Second Republic.

3. to end the dropout crisis through early intervention and support to at risk students in middle and secondary school.

Are they going to support these students with living wages for their working parents?

4. a proposed new secondary school model design that is based on research-based organizational and instructional practices for improving student academic achievement.

And whose research will the Feds choose this time around?

6. contain coherent and rigorous content (as in rigor mortis)

Look up the definition of 'rigor.'

Harvard law professor Charles Nesson thinks kids would be better off learning poker--and the value of strategic poker--thinking than algebra.

7. Alignment. Alignment. Alignment.

I wonder how many times this term appears in the document. If I were to summarize the document I'd say Alignment Rules. Hail to God Alignment, ruler of all domains.

Do politicos ever read the standards? Here is one of CA's 7th grade standards for history. (One of 11)

Miller's documents says that students with IEPs can have different assessments--but they must be aligned with the standards.

I have had the experience of trying to help 7th graders with IEP master grade level content--at an easier level. That meant forgoing teaching a boy how to address an envelope so I could teach him Washingtonâs battle plan. I wonder which skill members of Congress, in all their pedagogical wisdom, figure will better ready him for employment in the global economy.

Grade Seven.
California State Board of Education
World History and Geography: Medieval and Early Modern Times
7.9 Students analyze the historical developments of the Reformation.
[NOTE: This is one standard among 11.]
1. List the causes for the internal turmoil in and weakening of the Catholic church (e.g., tax policies, selling of indulgences).
2. Describe the theological, political, and economic ideas of the major figures during the Reformation (e.g., Desiderius Erasmus, Martin Luther, John Calvin, William Tyndale).
3. Explain Protestants' new practices of church self-government and the influence of those practices on the development of democratic practices and ideas of federalism.
4. Identify and locate the European regions that remained Catholic and those that became Protestant and explain how the division affected the distribution of religions in the New World.
5. Analyze how the Counter-Reformation revitalized the Catholic church and the forces that fostered the movement (e.g., St. Ignatius of Loyola and the Jesuits, the Council of Trent).
6. Understand the institution and impact of missionaries on Christianity and the diffusion of Christianity from Europe to other parts of the world in the medieval and early modern periods; locate missions on a world map.
7. Describe the Golden Age of cooperation between Jews and Muslims in medieval Spain that promoted creativity in art, literature, and science, including how that cooperation was terminated by the religious persecution of individuals and groups (e.g., the Spanish Inquisition and the expulsion of Jews and Muslims from Spain in 1492).
California State Board of Education

8. (and other school level administrators) certified under an applicable State or national program;

Leaving the door open for Eli Broad and other such ventures who devalue and design end runs around experience working in schools.

9. Each State or consortium of States shall appoint an independent peer review panel to review standards and assessments to establish that the standards are aligned from grade to grade and with what students must know and do to be successful in postsecondary education and the workforce, and that the State assessments are rigorously aligned with such State standards Members of the peer review panel shall includeâ
ââ(1) representatives of small and large businesses;
ââ(2) representatives of institutions of higher education;
ââ(3) widely recognized experts on developing college and work ready standards;
ââ(4) widely recognized experts in educational assessment; and
ââ(5) representatives of parents, teachers, principals, and State and local educational agencies.

IF I accepted the major premise (which I never will), I wonder why there is no expert in child development letting the representatives of business, higher ed, etc. etc. about developmentally appropriate practices. But our current U. S. Dept. of Ed has banned this term.

10. take into account the experience of model programs for the educationally disadvantaged, and the findings of relevant scientifically valid research . . .

The current act, namely Reading First, has made such a mockery of "scientifically valid" that I wonder how politicos still dare use the term.

11. evidence-based interventions

Again, whose evidence?

12. Each State shall make every effort to develop native language øor dual language¿ content assessments that are valid, reliable, and aligned to grade level content standards

Surely they jest. And/or they've lost all touch with reality.

13. ensuring that teachers and school administrators are adequately trained and prepared

It is cheaper and easier to blame teacher preparation than to tackle the real problem of income distribution.

14. The Secretary shall enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study to compare and address the varying rigor of academic standards and assessments from State to State under this title, which may have the result that all of the Nationâs students are not being taught to the same high standards. ( p. 113)


15. analyze and revise the standards used under section 1111 to ensure that they are vertically aligned from grade to grade and with what students should know in order to be successful in postsecondary education and the workplace.

Closely related with #14, this assumes that education is linear. May fleas infect their armpits. Read p. 115--if you dare.

16. involve multiple up-to-date measures of student academic achievement in each subject and each grade level assessed under this Act, including measures that assess higher-order thinking skills and understanding, application and transferability of knowledge, problem solving, analysis, and synthesis

and slices and dices while whistling Dixie.

17. an assurance that the local educational agency will participate, if selected, in the State National Assessment of Educational Progress in 4th and 8th grade reading or language arts and mathematics carried out under section 303(b)(2) of the National Assessment of Educational Progress Authorization Act

Reputable scholars such as Gerald Bracey have been pointing out for years that NAEP is bogus. You can read my reports on actual question on this site and in Substance.

18. implementing a school-wide literacy or mathematics plan that includes hiring literacy coaches or mathematics coaches.

so the coach can make sure every teacher is on the right page in the script of the Evidence-based or proven instructional programs aligned with State standards for all students,

19. Promoting more effective parent and community involvement in schools, which could include programs that systematically engage networks of parents to support student learning.

I wonder if any members of the Committee have read Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed. When I read it, I kept thinking, 'And she doesn't have to go home from her job at Wal-Marts and help kids with their homework.'

20. high quality assessment systems that teachers can use to modify instruction

Teach to the test?

21. classroom technology aids that help target the learning needs of individual students based on past performance;

This data mining is such crap. If a kid puts an apostrophe in the right place on a test, then the computer tells the teacher he's mastered apostrophes and is ready to move on to semi-colons. This statement in the draft reads like it came right out of a PR brochure for a sleazy outfit selling a data-delivery curriculum and assessment program.

22. training in marketable workforce skills

And what are those?
I have an M. A. in medieval literature. This is a hypocritical term with no meaning.

What happens when Congress has exhausted all efforts to blame the school for the failure of some children to thrive? Might they then look at the other socio-economic difficulties? Health care? Housing? Family income? Child abuse?

Again, I recommend reading the Vermont Design for Education.

— Susan Ohanian




This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of education issues vital to a democracy. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. For more information click here. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.