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NCLB Outrages

What’s Good for Children (sic)

Ohanian Comment:Here they go again, beating the drum for the Business Roundtable. As people read this editorial, they should think of the business imperative that got us into Iraq; they should think of Halliburton, Enron, Global Crossing, and all the other shoddy business practices that defraud the American public.

Kathy Emery makes a great point about how encouraging people to act individually undermines the whole point of strategizing and organizing for people power. And if you wonder why I'm not posting news about Jonathan Kozol, this is why: He won't sign the Educator Roundtable Petition, but he will solicit media attention for his personal semi-fast.

Individual actions, noble or not, are not going to save public schools. What we need is People Power. We need to work together to demonstrate to corporate America and its political flunkies that we're as mad as hell and we're not going to take it any more.

Don't drink the tea.
Don't ride the bus.
Don't give the test.
I am also posting the good letter that Joanne Yatvin wrote to the Times (which was ignored by them) responding to a similar editorial last week.


To the Editor: New York Times the No Child Left Behind Law may appear to be the long sought path to educational equity. But to the children, teachers, and parents who live with its demands through 13 long years it is an exercise in logical perversity and perverse logic.

Logically, you can frighten and force people into doing what you think is best for them. Perversely, what outsiders think is best is often the worst for those involved.

The American public has been telling Washington decision makers for five years that NCLB harms children, especially those most vulnerable, and drives the best teachers out of their profession. But like George Bush with the Iraq war, Congress refuses to listen and pushes on relentlessly, demolishing the art of teaching and maiming the hopes and abilities of children.

Worse, NCLB is killing the spirit of American education that used to be the finest in the world.

Sincerely yours,
Joanne Yatvin
President, National Council of Teachers of English

Kathy Emery, San Francisco Freedom School, Comment:
Hello education advocates,

Below is an editorial from today's New York Times. Here is the "news" article from yesterday which the editorial is responding to.

In the editorial: notice editorial endorsement of business roundtable's "concerns" (and a bit of defensiveness about how it is not all about cheaper high tech labor, which it really is)

In the "article:" notice slant of article -- civil rights groups oppose multiple measures!!!!

I was in a workshop once led by Diane Piche -- she was teaching working class parents of color how to use NCLB to get a "better" education for their children-- to individually advocate to get their children into better schools -- using the transfer provision. It was a PICO/ACORN national conference in Philadelphia put on in 2003 by Temple University's Center for Public Policy. I raised the concern that encouraging people to act individually undermined the whole point of the conference, which was brainstorming how to create people power (organize collectively) to get more equal distribution of resources (around housing, education, health care, safety and immigrant rights) -- my point was met with stony silence, then some disengenuous BS. While the Center for Public Policy apparently no longer exists, Diane Piche is alive and well and making news for "all" civil rights groups.

Oh, and don't forget (tag at end of Shemo's article) teacher unions only care about their pay--so they have no credibility (like the BRT does).

Just thought you all might be interested in my take on this. It has implications for strategy and tactics.

America's business community was an early advocate of reform and a prime mover in the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002, which required the states to improve public schooling for all students. With Congress gearing up to reauthorize the act, business leaders are rightly raising their voices in an attempt to prevent the teachers' unions and their political allies from weakening this important law.

Corporate leaders have complained for years about job applicants who don't read, write or think well enough. Faced with poorly educated workers at home-- especially in science-- American companies are increasingly looking abroad, not just for lower-paid workers, but for workers with the training and skills to compete in a globalized economy.

With those concerns in mind, the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executives from the nation's largest companies, spoke out forcefully this week. At a House hearing, the Roundtable's president, John Castellani, cited troubling provisions in a draft reauthorization bill that would allow schools to mask failure in teaching crucial subjects like reading and math by giving them credit for student performance in other subjects or on alternate measures of performances.

Mr. Castellani voiced strong support for the accountability principles underlying the original law and warned that the draft would allow too many schools to "game the system" by hiding the records of underachieving students. The provisions, he warned, would weaken the process by which schools are identified as in need of improvement and would replace a "transparent accountability system" with a tortured and confusing one. As such, the new system could cover up deficits that the current law has clearly exposed.

The draft, the work of the House Education Committee chairman, George Miller of California, contains some good reforms as well. But those ideas would be wasted if states, schools and teachers were not held accountable for the quality of the education they provide. Not only do America's businesses need better-educated workers, the country needs better-educated citizens as well. And America's children all deserve a sound education.

— Editorial
New York Times


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