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NCLB Outrages

FCAT's smoke and mirrors

The Bush brothers' tyranny will soon come to an end. But the cleanup of the chaos and instability caused by their deceptive policies will take many years to accomplish.


by Bill Archer

The News-Journal has kept an open mind on the Bush brothers' attempts at educational reform and has published articles both pro and con on the issue for nine years. After these many years, it gave its studied stance regarding the results of the Bushes' reform measures in a recent editorial ("FCAT highs and lows: Fanfare over good grades can too easily mask learning disparities," July 13) that made me admire its wisdom.

It found that the FCAT (Jeb's Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test) and the NCLB (George's No Child Left Behind Act) did dramatize what research had clearly shown long before either education reform tactics were ever used. Both showed that minority students and those coming from impoverished settings don't perform as well on achievement tests as their more affluent peers. Research found that schools are not the problem. Attacking and harassing schools with arbitrary standards instead of treating the ills of poverty does not solve the problem of academic performance differences.

In the confusion of the Bushes' arbitrary and comprehensive evaluation process, it was difficult for most to see what was really going on in their reform movement. This contrived education reform process was slyly sold as an accountability policy. "Accountability" was the key word used by the Bush brothers that captured the minds of the trusting public that truly wanted educational reform. Little did the public know that the "remedy" was actually a method by which public education dollars could be siphoned into the coffers of "choice agenda" special-interest groups and favored publishing companies that would reap billions in producing test materials. Inner-city schools would be closed and torn down at public expense and "charter" schools would be built to replace them. They would be the new "public schools" staffed by employees of private companies.

Pamela Hasterok's recent article in The News-Journal questioned how schools could make an "A" on the FCAT while simultaneously failing the Adequate Yearly Progress standard of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. One local elementary school made seven As in a row while failing the AYP five times. By NCLB standards, it should have been closed, torn down and replaced. But being located in a posh South Peninsula neighborhood could be the reason an exception was made.

The Bush tyranny will soon come to an end. But the cleanup of the chaos and instability caused by their deceptive policies will take many years to accomplish. Their manipulation of the minds of those whom they ruled will linger in varying degrees for years to come. The damage their policies have created has been far-reaching. The most vulnerable target they chose was our public education system, the engine of our democracy. They knew where the jugular of our nation is located and attacked it mercilessly. Hopefully, we have learned our lesson about treachery and will courageously confront it in the future.

— Bill Archer
The News-Journal
2008-07-27


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