Opponents of School Reform Reveal Holes in Their Logic
Ohanian Comment; Here's an ugly little piece: It substitutes name-calling for argument, characterizing the arguments of NCLB and high stakes resisters as "whining or political gouging by opportunistic opponents." This is something, coming from a state run by Jeb.
The Bush administration's No Child Left Behind law has been likened by numerous critics to making judgments of dentists based on how many cavities their patients have. It's as if you're entitled to call a dentist bad if the patients show up needing lots of work, say those opposed to the law's requirement of testing students.
These critics clearly don't know what they're talking about. The purpose of the testing is to see what problems exist and then to see what progress has been made in fixing them. If you had a dentist who didn't check for cavities in the first place or who didn't bother to treat the cavities discovered, you would indeed have a lousy dentist.
Yes, numerous school districts are finding this law a shock to the system, but why should anyone be surprised?
For too long, large numbers of the nation's schools have been unaccountable, free to go their mediocre way, no matter what the harm to students. Test what students learn — the only means of testing the effectiveness of teaching — and some districts aren't going to like it.
Some states are going to be frustrated in having finally to live up to their obligation of really educating — not just pretending to educate — the young people in their charge. Parents should embrace this law, though, because now there is a means of making things better for their youngsters.
Florida, to its credit, has been on the leading edge of the accountability movement; its FCAT program is helping to both pinpoint problem areas and to reward top performers. The state also offers vouchers to students stuck in chronically failing schools.
To be sure, it is a legitimate argument that trying to make everything better too quickly can cause as much disruption as repair. And that's why the administration must be flexible in administering the law.
Recently, it has been. The Department of Education announced the other day that it would soften the testing demands for those students who are not proficient in English, a news account reports.
But what the administration should not do is give up what is most important in this campaign because of whining or political gouging by opportunistic opponents. What it should not do is back off on the goals and overall strategy of a measure that passed with broad bipartisan support, including the support of some Democrats who are now hyperventilating about the law's inadequacies. What it should not do is become something like a truly bad dentist, one who doesn't ask you to open your mouth or, if you do, doesn't do anything about the troubles he finds.
INDEX OF NCLB OUTRAGES