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NCLB Outrages

Education Secretary Says Aid Hinges on New Data

And thus will the U. S.
Government apply its General Motors approach to
education: Do it our way our else.
Think about just what this will means in the
hands of these corporate-politicos:
governors must pledge to improve teacher
quality, raise academic standards

By Sam Dillon

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told the
nation’s governors on Wednesday that in
exchange for billions of dollars in federal
education aid provided under the economic
stimulus law, he wants new information about
the performance of their public schools, much
of which could be embarrassing.

In a “Dear Governor” letter to the 50 states,
Mr. Duncan said $44 billion in stimulus money
was being made available to states immediately.
To qualify for a second phase of financing
later this year, however, governors will need
to provide reams of detailed educational

The data is likely to reveal that in many
states, tests have been dumbed down so that
students score far higher than on tests
administered by the federal Department of

It will also probably show that many local
teacher-evaluation systems are so perfunctory
that they rate 99 of every 100 teachers as
excellent and that diplomas often mean so
little that millions of high school graduates
each year must enroll in remediation classes
upon entering college.

Such information, Mr. Duncan’s letter said,
“will reveal both strengths and underlying

The $787 billion economic stimulus law includes
about $100 billion that the Department of
Education has started sending on to states for
spending over two years for public schools,
universities and child care centers.

More than half comes in a $54 billion fiscal
stabilization fund for states. To get their
share of the money, governors must pledge to
improve teacher quality, raise academic
standards, intervene in failing schools more
effectively and carry out other education
initiatives. On Wednesday, Mr. Duncan offered a
detailed description of the information states
must provide to show they are carrying out
those pledges.

The data required includes the following:

¶Student math and reading scores on local
tests, as well as on the National Assessment of
Education Progress, a federal test that is more

¶The numbers of schools declared failing under
federal law that have demonstrated student
achievement gains within the last three years.

¶The numbers of students, by high school, who
graduate and go on to complete at least a
year’s worth of college credit.

Gathering the new information, Mr. Duncan’s
aides said, is part of a strategy to shine a
spotlight on school systems that are not
working well and drive their improvement.

Speaking with reporters in a conference call,
Mr. Duncan inadvertently demonstrated how the
information collected from states could be used
to try to shame educators and public officials
into making changes.

Gov. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, a
Republican who advocates issuing taxpayer-
financed vouchers that parents can use to send
their children to private schools, has told the
Obama administration that he would not accept
some $577 million in educational stimulus money
for South Carolina unless he could use it to
pay down state debt.

Mr. Duncan unleashed a barrage of dismal
statistics about the South Carolina schools,
noting that only 15 percent of the state’s
black students are proficient in math and that
the state has one of the nation’s worst high
school graduation rates.

“Those are heartbreaking results; those are
children who will never have a chance to
compete,” Mr. Duncan said. “For South Carolina
to stand on the sidelines and say that the
status quo is O.K., that defies logic.”

Joel Sawyer, a spokesman for Mr. Sanford, said
the governor had declined to accept some of the
stimulus money because he believed that the
spending authorized by the law would eventually
force the federal government to increase taxes
and devalue the dollar. Mr. Sanford would not
quibble with Mr. Duncan’s portrayal of South
Carolina schools, Mr. Sawyer said.

“What we quibble with,” he said, “is whether
spending an ever-increasing amount on education
will fix the problem.”

— Sam Dillon
New York Times


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