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NCLB Outrages

NCLB's Flaws Are Not Accidents
Here is a blogger's response to Jay Mathews' recent attack on teachers who complain about NCLB. eSchoolNews's Around the Web today points to an article on in the Washington Post by Jay Mathews entitled "How No Child Left Behind Helps Principals," which comes across as hard-headed and pragmatic, but once you scratch the surface it's as fuzzy-headed and naive as the neo-con dreams of being greeted with flowers and sweets on the streets of Bagdhad. I won't indulge in a point-by-point fisking. Here are the silliest parts:

All (Principal Frey) wants is an assessment system that gets results back to her more quickly, and a reduction in the number of tripwires in the federal law so Bailey's isn't labeled as "needing improvement" just because a few too many of her Spanish-speaking students could not pass their English tests. When Congress tries to revise the law next year, such good suggestions are likely to be heeded. (emphasis mine)
Mathews seems to be operating under the assumption that these and other obvious flaws in NCLB were simply accidents, which a Republican congress will be happy to rectify. Sorry. All the rules in NCLB were put there on purpose, to score political points, with full understanding of their long term implications. These are not oversights, but poison pills for the public school system. Further, Mathews would like you to think that educators opposing NCLB are a bunch of myopic whiners and wusses, who've never had to find their way in the real world of accountability, compared to, say, your intrepid reporter:
To borrow an example from the little world (fellow Washington Post reporter) Marc and I inhabit, many people at The Post are concerned about the recent drop in circulation. Everyone is talking about finding more subscribers. You may have noticed our new advertising campaign. But what Marc and I don't do is brag about our energetic reporting and deft metaphors and denounce the whole idea of measuring our sophistication as journalists by something so mundane as how many copies of the paper are sold.
It is going to take raw, brass-knuckled political pressure to force congress to undo the most damaging and absurd provisions of their creation, the No Child Left Behind Act. Articles like Mathews' that belittle critics of this malformed law and pretend that its most malignant provisions are honest and minor mistakes make it less likely that we'll be able to achieve constructive reform and honest accountability.

— Tom Hoffman



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