Dear Jim Vick,
Your assessment of the situation is RIGHT on! Our students are dropping our of schools if not physically than mentally and emotionally out because of the insanity of the NCLB Act and high stakes testing. Spellings can make all the "spins" she wants to. It is obviously that Spellings is out of touch with reality, doesn't understand what true learning is all about, watching our for her back by playing the "party line," or maybe just plain ignorant. But, I suspect her actions are a combination of all of the above.
It is so sad that Secretary of Education Spellings does not "get it." If she does understand, then it's sad that she does not possess the ethics, morality, or courage to say, "But, the emperor does not have any clothes on!"
Thanks you, Jim Vick, for your wise, considered, and courageous letter to the editor regarding the the Houston miracle, which is not a miracle at all, but more of the same propaganda.
Not afraid to use my name,
Yvonne Siu-Runyan, Ph.D.]
Published in Hartford Courant
Ironic 'No Child' Proposal
April 27, 2008
I have to chuckle at the irony of U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings and the Bush administration proposing a single nationwide methodology for the computation of high school graduation rates as an improvement to the No Child Left Behind Act [news story, April 23, "'No Child' Regulatory Changes Proposed"].
NCLB was based on the "Houston miracle," the supposedly miraculous turnaround of the Houston, Texas, school district (then led by Rod Paige, who would become Mr. Bush's first secretary of education) that included dramatically increased standardized test scores and greatly improved graduation rates as the result of a program that used disincentives and incentives based on those test scores.
Multiple investigations have shown that Houston's dropout rates actually increased after high-stakes testing and NCLB-like disincentives had been implemented.
Where's the irony? If the provision Secretary Spellings is proposing had been in place at the time of the Houston miracle, that miracle might very well have been seen for what it was - an abysmal failure - and Congress would have been far less receptive to a program based on it. In other words, there would probably be no NCLB to improve upon.
The writer is a public schoolteacher in Hartford.