WHY WE NEED A NATIONAL SCHOOL TEST
Comments from Annie: And now a word from Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum[b]…
This piece makes me want to whine like Andy Rooney in a sing-songy, kvetch of editorial exasperation: Ever wonder why stupid people like these guys were given important positions like Secretary of Education?
It is hard for me to believe that these two had the nerve to write and publish such irritatingly shallow and misguided dribble. Consider the statement that summarizes this duet: “The education "establishment" has wrongly insisted that more money (or more teachers, more computers, more everything) would yield better schools and smarter kids; that financial inputs would lead to cognitive outputs. This is not so.”
How dare the “education establishment” say that in order for schools to run well, they need adequate funding, resources, technology, and teachers.
Is anyone else looking for the delete button?
And, the explanation for why idiots like these two “embraced today's other important education reform strategy: standards, testing and tough accountability for schools.” The answer is what??? Why, of course. It is: Friedman’s inspiration that we should have heeded: “monopolies don't work as well as markets.”
But wait. The message of “no more Mr. Nice guy” emerges with a clear point about the contamination of policy when policy has been steeped in “bipartisan” interest...
I see. The benevolent Republicans gave the sneaky Democrats their CHANCE by allowing “individual states to set their own academic standards and devise their own tests and accountability” but, damn it if those sneaks didn’t facilitate such unbecoming behavior as: “playing games with their tests and accountability systems.
Houston, we have a problem.
No one remembers the Paige fiasco, Mr. Ex-secretary, how lucky for you. And, how right you are that LYING about and FUDGING the state high school graduation and drop-out rates when you were superintendent in Texas to PROVE that your standards were exemplary is a LOT DIFFERENT from the school systems scrambling to comply in any way they can with impossible demands and un-meet-able “goals” so their schools won’t be taken over… You accuse them of finding substandard maneuvers to cope with unattainable goals, but, might I remind you that they are actually FOLLOWING the law to the letter?
The act ties their hands and demands them to jump through a hoop using a scissor, a Popsicle, or a Kleenex to free themselves. They choose the scissor and you immediately hit the foul buzzer.
I give Tennessee and Oklahoma each 3 points for self-preservation, but dole out a penalty fine to every state which doesn’t scream out to stop this outrageous NCLB before it is re-authorized or before any more schools, teachers or students are sacrificed in a futile attempt to meet its impossible demands.
Forgive me, but, does anyone else wonder what the heck these two are referring to when they make this statement: “So while the act is clearly starting to get results…” Wait a minute. In the previous paragraph you guys just went ballistic over the sad state of NAEP results and state test results that increased because of bureaucratic ingenuity (which you call manipulation), and say it is not “real progress.”
Okay. Okay…a big finish deserves a nice build up. Here we go: “states [have] entirely too much discretion.”
And this: “[F]ederal bureaucrats have too much control.”
Now, get this: “Washington should set sound national academic standards and administer a high-quality national test.”
Here’s the other part: “Then Washington should butt out.”
And this, my friends is “A new model.”
The explanation of this new model deserves no more than a few lines of babble, evidently, and then we get the REAL point of this loosely thrown together piece of work.
And here it is:” right-thinking Republicans should think long and hard before opposing national standards and tests.”
Now, why did they waste so much ink when they could have easily just said that in the first place? Good grief.
WHY WE NEED A NATIONAL SCHOOL TEST
Washington Post Op. Ed. -- September 21, 2006
by William J. Bennett and Rod Paige
We need to find better and more efficient ways to produce an educated
population and close the achievement gaps in our education system.
Americans do ultimately get themselves educated -- at work, after
school, online, in adulthood -- but a lot of time and money are wasted
in the process.
Ever since the Commission on Excellence in Education declared in 1983
that America is "at risk" because of the lagging performance of its
schools, this country has been struggling to reform its K-12 system. The
education "establishment" has wrongly insisted that more money (or more
teachers, more computers, more everything) would yield better schools
and smarter kids; that financial inputs would lead to cognitive outputs.
This is not so.
Forty years ago the sociologist James S. Coleman made clear that there's
no reliable connection between the resources going into a school and the
learning that comes out. Fifty years ago economist Milton Friedman made
clear that in education, as in other spheres, monopolies don't work as
well as markets. That's why most Republicans and some Democrats favor
school choice in its myriad versions and why many, like us, have also
embraced today's other important education reform strategy: standards,
testing and tough accountability for schools.
But there's a problem. Out of respect for federalism and mistrust of
Washington, much of the GOP has expected individual states to set their
own academic standards and devise their own tests and accountability
systems. That was the approach of the No Child Left Behind Act -- which
moved as boldly as it could while still achieving bipartisan support. It
sounds good, but it is working badly. A new Fordham Foundation report
shows that most states have deployed mediocre standards, and there's
increasing evidence that some are playing games with their tests and
Take Tennessee, for example. It reports to its residents that a whopping
87 percent of its fourth-graders are "proficient" in reading. Yet the
National Assessment of Educational Progress reports that the number is
more like 27 percent. That's a big difference. Or consider Oklahoma. In
one year the number of schools on its "needs improvement" list dropped
by 85 percent -- not because they improved or their students learned
more but because a bureaucrat in the state education department changed
the way Oklahoma calculates "adequate yearly progress" under the federal
So while the act is clearly starting to get results, it is also starting
to suffer from the law of unintended consequences. We can now see that
it gives states entirely too much discretion over standards and tests
while giving federal bureaucrats too much control over how schools operate.
The remedy? As both of us have long argued, Washington should set sound
national academic standards and administer a high-quality national test.
Publicize everybody's results, right down to the school level. Then
Washington should butt out.
States that prefer to cling to their own standards and tests -- and
endure the rules and meddling of federal bureaucrats -- would be free to
do so. Some surely would. But many would welcome a new compact with the
We're aware that many Republicans are skeptical. After all, the
Constitution says nothing about education, and for over two centuries
states have been responsible for meeting the nation's education needs.
But in a world of fierce economic competition, we can't afford to
pretend that the current system is getting us where we need to go.
Greater federal interference is not the answer -- but neither is a naive
commitment to "states' rights." A new model -- standards set nationally,
daily decisions made locally -- strikes the best balance.
We're also painfully aware that national standards and tests are hard to
get right -- and even harder to get through Congress. Another new report
outlines four ways in which this might be done. Several scenarios would
rely on a "bottom-up" approach, with states working together on a
voluntary basis to forge common expectations, lessening the chances that
Washington would mess them up.
This is a conversation that should start now and continue through the
2008 elections and reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act. But
right-thinking Republicans should think long and hard before opposing
national standards and tests. Competently done, they would go a long way
toward assuring America a more well-educated population and a bright
future -- and toward reining in Washington's impulse to micromanage our
William J. Bennett was education secretary under President Ronald
Reagan. Rod Paige was education secretary under President George W. Bush.
William J. Bennett and Rod Paige
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES