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NCLB Outrages

So, Are Gates and Broad Right About the Crisis in Education?

Billionaires Bill Gates and Eli Broad (the infamous teacher-basher of the Broad Foundation) have just announced a $60 million publicity blitz calling for the STRENGTHENING of NCLB. This is their countermove to the growing grass-roots movement in opposition to the authoritarian, corporate standardistas' high stakes testing regime. The two rich boys are recycling the crisis mongering of "A Nation At Risk" to promote the ratcheting up of their version of "accountability" (of the poor to the rich).

Below find a somewhat adapted rebuttal by Martin Solomon to the Gates-Broad claim. This was posted on the EDDRA discussion list. (EDDRA = Disformation Detection and Reporting Agency run by Gerald Bracey.

  • Gates and Broad claim: Over two thirds of new jobs being created require college education or advanced training.

  • Answer: Wrong. At the Center for Jobs and Education Dennis Redovich has been disproving this claim for years. He takes figures from the U. S. Bureau of labor Statistics, showing that in the forecast for the
    year 2014, there will be 10.4 million new jobs requiring no post-secondary education, only on-the-job training and another 2.7 million not requiring a bachelorâs degree but some post-secondary training, while there will be 5.8
    million new jobs requiring a bachelorâs degree or higher.

  • Gates and Broad claim: Seventy percent of 8th graders canât read at their grade level â and most will never catch up.

  • Answer: Wrong. As Martin Solomon pointed out on the EDDRA list, The National Assessment of Educational Progress, the nationâs report card, establishes four categories of educational attainment: below basic, basic, proficient and advanced. The National Assessment Governing Board defined achievement levels as:
    *Basicâdenotes partial mastery of the knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work at a given grade.

    *Proficientârepresents solid academic performance. Students reaching this level have demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter.

    *Advancedâsignifies superior performance.
    Nowhere is âgrade levelâ defined. Some people define grade level as the average of a grade. Perhaps, above basic may be considered grade level. But certainly not proficient which demonstrates âcompetency over challenging
    subject matter.â That is clearly above average. Yet people who would like to denigrate public schools, continue to equate proficient with grade level, which is absolutely misleading and disingenuous.

    In the 2005 NAEP reading test, 71% of 8th graders scored basic or above, Which is a probably a much better picture of grade-level achievement.

  • Gates and Broad Claim: The majority of employers and college professors say todayâs high school graduates do not have the skills to succeed. The majority of high school graduates say they regret not learning more in high school.

    Answer: Correct. Again Solomon pointed out on the EDDRA list, the majority of employers have ALWAYS complained that high school graduates are not sufficiently skilled. This has been said every year since 1845. Richard Rothstein chronicles this constant and
    never-ending criticism of high school graduates in his book, The Way We Were? But things have never been different in America. Rothstein puts things in perspective, however, by pointing out that in 1900, only 6 percent of youngsters graduated from high school and more half failed to get past the eighth grade.

    Ohanian would add that we are now conditioning students to blame themselves for not getting top-notch, well-paying jobs. "The school offered a script for the path to the Global Economy and I messed up." From Pre-K on, we are conditioning students to feel they don't measure up the high standards necessary to succeed in the Global Economy.

  • Gates and Broad claim: âIn 1976, the U.S. was home to 30 percent of the worldâs college graduates. Today itâs 14 percent.â

  • Answer: So what? What does that prove? In the past 31 years the developing world has been, well, developing. That seems like a good thing and again, Martin Solomon observes that maybe Gates and Broad donât quite realize that more educated people in foreign countries will create greater markets for computer software and
    retirement programs. More educated people in foreign countries might create a more stable and less belligerent world. But in any case, it seems silly to blame American education for the educational progress in foreign countries.

  • Gates and Broad claim: âAmericaâs high school graduation rate ranks 19th in the world. (Forty years ago, we were first.)â

  • Answer: Naïve. Neither the United States nor any foreign country knows what its graduation rate is. Here in the U.S. we cannot even agree on how to measure it and we have had widely differing estimates by various groups.
    Gates and Broad claim that our graduation rate was highest in the world in 1967. Martin Solomon observes that this is utter nonsense. In 1967 we hadnât, the foggiest idea of our national graduation rate. Not even an inkling. But more importantly, David Berliner has pointed out that the child poverty rate in the U.S. is higher
    than any other developed nation and we all know that low test scores and dropouts are highly correlated with poverty.

    — Martin Solomon
    EDDRA discussion list


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