The persistent achievement gaps between white kids and kids of color; between special education students and their regular-ed buddies; between kids who eat free pizza at school and their classmates who dine frequently in fancy restaurants, are hardly new to educators. But the so-called No Child Left Behind law — with its rules that grade and penalize schools based on the test scores of each group of students — has injected new life into the public discussion of the academic divide. While that discussion is rife with criticism of the overemphasis on testing, the question of how to fix the essential problem of the “gap” remains.
What does this mean for educators, who now are charged almost single-handedly with making the problem go away? It means that it’s time to ratchet up the work.
Finn speculates the union has read “the political handwriting on the schoolhouse wall as signaled both by the 2004 election returns and by the union’s reported inability to persuade a single state to join as plaintiff in its long-sought lawsuit against NCLB.”
Still, one reads the fine print and sees that the NEA tiger hasn’t turned into an education-reform kitten. They still rue the “overemphasis on testing.” They still demand smaller classes and more money. The achievement gaps that concern them are “not just . . . between kids of color and whites, but between girls and boys; between gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered kids and their ‘straight’ peers.” (I found myself wondering what’s the data source for academic achievement among transgendered youngsters.)
Although the National School Board Association’s blog touts anti-NCLB lawsuits, Eduwonk says “the real story here is that all the much ballyhooed lawsuits have, at least until this point, amounted to nothing.“