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Monday, March 14, 2011

No Child Left Behind (Sigh, It Had to Come Up Sometime)

Recently, Arne Duncan, the Department of Education Secretary, said that under the current NCLB law, almost 80% of our schools would be labeled failing. 

From the AP via the Times today, here's what President Obama said:

"That's an astonishing number," he said. "We know that four out of five schools in this country aren't failing. So what we're doing to measure success and failure is out of line."

Cue the chorus of angels.  Really, Mr. President? 

There's more:

But he said improvements are needed in measuring student progress and labeling schools that fall short. He called for measuring creativity and critical thinking along with math and reading skills, and for rewarding good teachers while showing little leniency for bad ones.

And, of course, what about the majority in the middle?  Because there are not just "good" or "bad" teachers.  

Obama's call for a rewrite of the education law appears unlikely, at least by his September deadline. The House education committee's Republican chairman acknowledged the need for improvement but called the president's time line "arbitrary." 

Obama has met several times this year with a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers leading efforts to rewrite the law. Both Republicans and Democrats agree that an update is needed; they disagree on the federal government's role in education and on what's the best way to turn around schools with a history of poor performance.

The President's last word and the public's?

"We cannot cut education. We can't cut the things that will make America more competitive," Obama said.

Education is one of Obama's better issues, according to recent AP-GfK polling that found nearly two-thirds of the public, or 64 percent, approve of his handling of the issue.

A majority of the public also views the education law unfavorably. An AP-Stanford poll last fall found that two-thirds of the public either thought the law has had "no real impact" or had made schools worse. 

24 comments:

seattle citizen said...

"...So what we're doing to measure success and failure is out of line."

Obama is just now figuring this out? Arne Duncan has not been forthcoming with relevant information for the president? What a surprise. Obama (and lots of other politicians, left and right) are being misled by the reformers, or are intentionally going along with them for political points, campaign contribtitions, and votes? That REALLY surprises me.

Chris S. said...

I've heard mention several times over the last week of letter-writing campaigns to Obama. This would seem like a good time to start drafting, now that they are acknowledging chinks in the armor...

Chris S. said...

As a matter of fact, I've got one wadded up in my backpack. I probably wrote it in 2009. I bet it's still extremely relevant - nuthin' has changed.

Anonymous said...

If education "reform" obama is anything like what the guy did for the banksters - after they wrecked the economy

and what he did for the "health" insurance companies - after they wrecked healthcare

we might as well just send out tax dollars directly to Teach For Awhile, Principal For Awhile, and Superintendent For Awhile.

Had Hope For Awhile

Gruntled said...

I know it's not how y'all like to view things around here, but it's possible this could be a good thing. Just saying.

kprugman said...

To be competitive, what the US oughta do is rewrite textbooks, align them with Singapore textbooks, and stop promoting students that can't pass classes.

kprugman said...

By today's standard or any standard, our students can't be competitive with whatever pretense of knowledge is being taught in classrooms, online or in school. The present reform has been so vindictive toward critics that presently very few are willing to speak openly.

Bring it on - I dare this bunch, including Obama, to have their way with public education - this ransacking is a betrayal of public trust and a mistake that will cost all of us dearly.

Anonymous said...

FYI:
SEA passed the SEE backed resolution that was proposed tonight calling for the end of the MAP test in the Seattle Public Schools!

MAPsucks said...

Anonymous said...

"SEA passed the SEE backed resolution that was proposed tonight calling for the end of the MAP test in the Seattle Public Schools!"

Gee, that's nice. Only it's three years too late and $$Millions too short. SEA leadership were the biggest cheerleaders for this dog.

dan dempsey said...

MAP Sucks,

You have that right on SEA cheerleading for MAP. WEA and SEA leadership is worthless when it comes to members concerns and seemingly anyone's welfare except the welfare of paid union leadership.

Try This

kprugman said...

Arne also said Washington's school system was illogical - that's why he supports Gregoire's plan...does anyone really believe either Duncan or Gregoire are sincere in their belief that they can save education from ... themselves?

This is like pork voting for more porkbarrel. How about building some more pyramids like your last State Superintendent.

Arne uses rather non-descript academic? vocabulary like 'illogical' and 'bad' whenever he 'talks' about education. I wonder how well he actually spells?

In a similiar vein, my colleagues and I were discussing more than one principal's inability to write even coherent classroom observations based on 5 minute walkthroughs. Teachers are after all college-educated, although treated most of the time like 'high school waitresses' as per our principal, a recent member of o.d.

The teachers at my school are beginning to compile a list of observations along with the teacher's rationale for each lesson.

I find that the Alliance and its supporters are more than just arrogant, they are dishonest and insincere.

Unless the administrators in question can show some improvement, we will likely vote to
make our own observations public at a board meeting.

We are in complete agreement - bring it on...its one thing to imitate Plato, but quite another to be one.

It was no surprise to us that our administrators backed away and riffed, not a single teacher. In our last contract, we negotiated an mou for a 31:1 cap - which not only kept class sizes lower, but protected the jobs of our new teachers. District enrollment did not go down as the district predicted wrong.

End this reform or its members will clearly get a bashing at the polls.

kprugman said...

Why would a union (SEA) approve a model that jeopardizes their own members' professional careers, unless the union leadership was in bed with the board.

It is like teachers in Wisconsin voting with their Governor to give up collective bargaining. Would you, could you sign a 100 page contract of which 96 pages were written by your employer with absolutely no input from the union.

Who sits on the school board, perhaps an executive that happens to sit on another board that sells insurance or healthcare plans?

kprugman said...

In this country, the monkey business keeps going like a Duracell commercial - even when you got them hanging by their toes - they keep right on talking and always they got their hands in the till. These have got to be some of the most expensive words that taxpayers have ever paid for.

Money is not like water. Water trickles down, but money always flows up.

Nancy Willing said...

I spent an hour on the phone yesterday with a retired NYC special ed teacher who left feeling that she was being forced to commit fraud. Her pupils were severely limited in function yet she was supposed to test them. Some of these high-school aged kids couldn't even hold a pencil much less perform on a test.

Inclusion is also driving a Delaware teacher friend of mine crazy because the 4 special ed kids in his 5th grade classroom can't possibly be receiving the huge amount of extra attention they need every day.

Another example is a woman who teaches in a local elementary school. We have a large Asian population because of our University and it's ELI programming. The elementary has a special ELI program but this teacher feels that the children in her class are getting ripped off because there is so little extra help for them.

If the teachers in these cases are punished under the system for underperfoming testing scores, then it isn't any wonder that we'll be losing them from the profession in droves.

Eric M said...

That's exactly why this SEA vote was SO important.

It was passed in spite of vociferous objections and attempts at watering down with amendments by SEA leadership.

It was teacher activists in the membership asserting themselves and winning a majority vote of the rank and file.

It was a SEA-change. And look for more.

Anonymous said...

Eric M

I think you are wrong. This was the goal of the SEA leadership all along.

Parent who knows.

MAPsucks said...

Eric M.

I hope you are right. I saw WEA and SEA leadership extolling the virtues of MAP even before MGJ went to her first NWEA board meeting. I also observed MGJ and her broadies crowing how the SEA couldn't complain about MAP since they were complicit from the beginning. Hard to take the high road when you're in the ditch.

Stu said...

what the US oughta do is rewrite textbooks

Hey, that's what Texas is doing! Of course, they're actively changing historical facts and aligning things with a political agenda, but they're rewriting textbooks.

stu

Melissa Westbrook said...

Gruntled, I would love for NCLB to be overhauled and so yes, it's a good thing the President sees that it isn't working. But he sure took his time (and you wouldn't know it by Arne Duncan's work). Also, the Republicans are dragging their feet (even though they also don't like it).

We could argue how hard to hold the SEA to their actions. It should go on the record that they supported MAP initially. However, I think when you do learn more about a subject, experience firsthand, it is fair to give them credit for saying "this is not what we thought it would be." That's called admitting a mistake.

I consider this a big move and I hope to see parents follow suit shortly. I think the ball is now in the Seattle Council PTSA's court. If they choose to do nothing, then individual schools should take a vote and one by one, tell the Board to pull back now.

Anonymous said...

To see the resolution in its' entirety, see: SEA Calls for Elimination of the MAP Test in Seattle Schools.

It's my understanding that leadership did not vote.

Anonymous said...

Correction: Some leadership did vote. Olga did not vote because apparently she usually doesn't but only clarifies the issues as necessary before the vote and Jonathan Knapp voted "No". He proposed an amendment that didn't pass.

anonymous said...

OMG! In a letter dated 3/15 from Dr. Enfield to SPS families

"In the coming weeks I will be in the community listening to your comments, questions and concerns.
Additionally, I will continue to have an open door policy so you can offer input directly on how we can continue to improve. Beginning on Thursday, March 24th, I will be holding open office hours from 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. at the John Stanford Center, 2445 3rd Avenue South. I encourage you to make an appointment to come and meet with me. Please contact Venetia Harmon, vlharmon@seattleschools.org to schedule a time."

This is progress!

kprugman said...

Stu, there is a publisher and a sponsor for every political agenda. The nctm is sponsoring math programs that have produced no meaningful gains in achievement and in fact have lowered student scores everywhere. The gap between whites and minorities has increased three fold. Non english speaking minorities now outperform english speakers. Nctm remains silent because they have nothing more to add to rhe debate. It would make th re m appear like fools.

Maureen said...

I consider this a big move and I hope to see parents follow suit shortly.

I believe that MAP discussion is on the agenda for the next Site Council Meeting at TOPS (April 13th).