Two Comments on the Draft Reauthorization
Here are two comments on the proposal for changing NCLB being floated by Representative George Miller, chairman of the House education committee.
Deborah Meier Comment:
I read the "summary of the draft" fairly quickly. I'm trying to figure out in what ways it's an improvement. It is based on all the
same ideas: testing is good (the more the better), achievement = test
scores, standards = test scores, the "gap" can be completely resolved (just in a few more years; it adds 3 to test scores and 5 for
Portfolios are only mentioned as a tool for ELL or special ed. The phrase "multiple assessments" can count for maximum of 15-25% and
seems mostly to refer to similar test-like tools or
mathematical/statistical formulas re graduation rates, attendance.
And top-down alignment to state programs, standards, curriculum is
reinforced again. It spells out that systems such as Nebraska's are
not allowed--it seems to me.
It removes loopholes that currently work both for and against good
practice--such as reducing the N size of a subgroup to a maximum of
30--no matter what the size of the school. In a school of 3000 (for
example) that would be a tiny tiny group--1/100th. In a small school
of 300 it would be a tenth. There are high schools in this country
where it translates to 1/200th!
What could they mean by reducing "nonacademic barriers"? Like
equalizing income? Providing for state-wide health insurance for all
children? Providing quality summer experiences?
Alignment is the God.
More and more NEW regs--like the one about no low achieving (or is it
just no one period) can be taught by a novice teacher or a
teacher-out-of-field for more than one year in a row, matching teacher
to student, etc. is a bureaucratic nightmare. The assumption is that
low-achieving schools are purposely hiring novices??? What happens
with multi-age classrooms? Suppose a principal thinks teacher X is
best...and parent agrees...but...
That "scientifically proven intervention" junk.
Why is turning into charter an "intrvention"? Is there any
"scientifically proven" evidence that becoming a charter produces
better scores, graduation rates, etc???? Or is this just another sop
to the charter pressure groups--some of whom come close to
privatization (and some don't).
Watch out for the Reading mandates.
And what is the model of comprehensive school reform "based on
Chicago's reform model"?????????
Is this mandating the redistribution of teachers in districts, and
essentially prohibiting school's from engaging in their own hiring
practices (unless they are a charter school?)
I hate being pessimistic, or maybe unrealistic. But I'm not even sure this isn't a one step forward, one step back.
Jim Horn Comment:
If Fairtest and FEA put their money behind saying no to reauthorization, by 09 the horrific intent of NCLB will be so crystal clear that that even those adamant privatization-deniers will not be able to deny any longer.
With systems like Fairfax County now on the chopping block, and with more and more prosperous school boards and superintendents and parents seeing their own futures in jeopardy, the political will to make serious changes to ESEA in 09 will be hugely incentivized by then, and Fairtest and FEA might actually be invited to take part in that discussion.
Placating and appeasing this crime against public education will not make it any better. The charterites, the voucherites, and the ed industry who are pushing for reauthorization don't give a shit what you think about in terms of "improvement" of this reauthorization. You can save your breath.
Only a public outcry, protest, and votes, from those who would save public education, will bring the end to this madness. If the right-wingers could bring down immigration reform, the sane and the humane can bring down this crime against children.
We need to stop acting reacting like Democrats, and start acting with the same political fury that has made the wingnuts so successful.
Deborah Meier and Jim Horn
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