Hysterical paranoia never goes out of style

Eduwonk blasts an ad in the Boston Globe that claims No Child Left Behind “will close the majority of American elementary schools, or will allow them to be taken over by the state or profit-making businesses.” And end civilization as we know it. According to the ad, NCLB:

*Shifts control of most aspects of education from states to Washington ideologues
*Drives students and teachers out of schools and encourages lying about the facts
*Limits and proscribes educational research
*Bases all decision-making on test scores
*Labels effective schools as failing and effective teachers as unqualified
*Controls who may teach and how they teach
*Mandates archaic methods and materials
*Uses blacklists to banish professionals, institutions, methods, and books
*Punishes diversity in schools
*Is unconstitutional

Eduwonk responds, “Well, they got one right.  It apparently does encourage lying about the facts.”  

Education Week’s story reports that the anti-NCLB ad was placed by a group led by Ken Goodman, an emeritus University of Arizona education professor who’s a whole language advocate.

The story quotes Andrew J. Rotherham, director of education policy at the Progressive Policy Institute, which runs Eduwonk.

“Hysterical paranoia went out of style after the primaries, when John Kerry [prevailed],” Mr. Rotherham said. “Ads like this hurt the cause of people seeking changes in No Child Left Behind, rather than help it,” he added. “Your average person sees an ad like that and is going to smell weirdness, not reasoned debate.”

Come now. Hysterical paranoia never goes out of style.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Da C Man says:

    Apparently by “Mandates archaic methods and materials” they mean the tried-and-true methods in place before the onset of pedagogical fads based in education school technobabble. Yes, old math sounds very archaic, indeed.

  2. Mark Odell says:
  3. dhanson says:

    NCLB does have some significant problems, including too great a reliance on a handful of standardized tests and the potential to punish schools for uninvolved parents (see Joanne’s entries on Rayola and her mother).

    That all schools will successfully educate 100 percent of children is a utopian goal that can be envisioned only by people far more optimistic –or illogical– than cynical old me. There are too many factors outside of school control that NCLB doesn’t allow for.

    As we approach 2011 and 100 percent mandatory success, the parts of NCLB that work and the parts that don’t will stand out clearly. That may pave the way for a revised version of NCLB that serves our children and schools more efficiently.

  4. Mike McKeown says:

    Mark Odell notes that NCLB does place federal conditions on spending federal money in state and local schools. This does not necessarily mean that schools are constrained, but they are constrained if they want the money. This probably also addresses constitutional questions, once we grant that the feds can send money to the states for education at all.

    This phenomenon is not new. Through the 90’s, the National Science Foundation’s Education and Human Resources division, under the leadership of Luther Williams, ran a number of programs designed to bribe school districts into revamping their math and science programs to reflect the philosophy and methods of discovery learning (e.g. what has come to be called “fuzzy math”). The money from programs like the Urban Systemic Initiatives and the Urban Systemic Programs was a relatively small fraction of a district’s total budget, but was marginal money and therefore highly leveraged in the districts. Among other things, it empowered a new Systemic Initiative administration that could hold the budget gun to school boards that did not like the direction of program implementation. If the board wanted to stop using a fuzzy math or fuzzy science program, all the educrats had to say was “If we do that, we lose the money.”

    I don’t have direct knowledge of what happened in reading, but it would not surprise me to find that there were similar ‘literacy’ programs run out of departments other than NSF that contributed to the rise of Whole Language in schools.

    To close, NCLB does not shift control to Washington ideologues, it allows, as did many programs before, school districts and states to choose to shift control of some aspects of school policy to people in Washington, some of whom may be ideologues, all for the sake of getting a few percent more money than they can get locally.

  5. mike from oregon says:

    A couple of quick points:

    1) NCLB is a federal program, it exists because (for the most part) the educational system has done a very poor job educating the kids.
    2) Like most federal programs it comes in like a bulldozer, rolling over most everything in it’s path; and it’s as manuveurable as the Queen Elizabeth II – it’s slow to turn and takes a long time.

    Overall, I prefer NCLB to what we had prior to it. The fact that the fellow who posted the ad is a “whole language advocate” – speaks volumes to me.

    Finally, I love Joanne’s final comment, “Hysterical paranoia never goes out of style.”

  6. Jack Tanner says:

    I love

    ‘Drives students and teachers out of schools and encourages lying about the facts ‘

    I’d like to see any part of NCLB that encourages lying. It seems like that’s more of a personal choice.

  7. Jack..clearly, accountability for test scores encourages lying about them. Similarly, accountability for financial results of the part of executives encourages corporate malfeasance, and the expectating generals to be victorious encourages war crimes. Thus, if we have a society with no accountability for anything, then no one will do anything bad.

    (/sarcasm)

  8. John Archer says:

    Kind of ironic for Mr. Rotherham of PPI to say that hysterical paranoia went out of style, as his fellow Democrats embrace Michael Moore at the Democratic National Convention.

  9. Jack Tanner says:

    David – fortunately for me my Dad straightened me out on that point when I was a young boy – strangely though many adhere to the sarcastic reasoning you present – my kids often present me with the ‘so and so made me do it’ defense which is always rejected in the home court of law.

  10. If you are going to lie, facts are just the thing to lie about.

  11. Mike in Texas says:

    “*Shifts control of most aspects of education from states to Washington ideologues
    *Limits and proscribes educational research
    *Bases all decision-making on test scores
    *Controls who may teach and how they teach
    *Mandates archaic methods and materials

    NCLB does all of this, and parents across the country should be outraged that politicians in Washington are trying to gain control of their local school districts.

    Of course, when educators such as myself point these things out we are labeled as lazy and incompetent.

  12. Mike in Texas says:

    “I don’t have direct knowledge of what happened in reading, but it would not surprise me to find that there were similar ‘literacy’ programs run out of departments other than NSF that contributed to the rise of Whole Language in schools.”

    Actually, whole language is not a new concept at all. Do a little research on it and you can find articles about it dating back to the 1920’s

  13. Mike in Texas:
    When educators like you “point these things out”, educators like me don’t consider you lazy or incompetent–just wrong. Whatever its faults, and I find only a few, NCLB is the best thing to happen to education since the white board replaced the chalk board.

  14. Mark Odell says:

    Mike McKeown wrote: This does not necessarily mean that schools are constrained, but they are constrained if they want the money.

    In theory, schools are not constrained. Government educrats always want the money. Therefore, in practice, schools are constrained.

    This probably also addresses constitutional questions, once we grant that the feds can send money to the states for education at all.

    And if you grant that, then you can try and see how many impossible things you can believe before breakfast.

    To close, NCLB does not shift control to Washington ideologues, it allows, as did many programs before, school districts and states to choose to shift control of some aspects of school policy to people in Washington, some of whom may be ideologues, all for the sake of getting a few percent more money than they can get locally.

    In other words: NCLB shifts control to Washington ideologues. QED.