Dogma bites results

Education dogma ignores reality, writes Thomas Sowell, pointing to the the fact that young black students “significantly narrowed” the performance gap on federal reading and math tests.

What is especially revealing is that it is the young black students who have made the largest gains while older minority students “scored as far behind whites as in previous decades.”  In other words, the children whose education has taken place mostly since the No Child Left Behind act show the greatest gains, while for those whose education took place mostly under the old system, it was apparently too late to repair the damage.

Yet the official line is that NCLB deserves no credit for the dramatic progress of just the students it was designed to help.

I’m not as confident as Sowell that the elementary improvements will carry forward to middle school and then high school. There are many pitfalls ahead. But I do think the good news has been dismissed too readily. Why so little celebration?

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  1. Miller Smith says:

    Hi everyone!

    I think some accountability from the NCLB law has filtered into how teachers teach. In Maryland we have standards and timetables that are ahead of NCLB. Many schools have been taken over with the entire staff fired or transferred or having to re-compete for their jobs. When our principal made it very clear that our jobs were on the line something happened last year I haven’t seen in a long time: Lots of teachers who really didn’t teach started teaching.

    Even the kids noticed it. They wanted to know why the teachers were so “pressed” academically and why they weren’t allowed to fail. They started getting into trouble for not doing well in class. In the science department we ganged up on one non-teaching teacher and made him leave. His scores were dragging us down (we give all students a benchmark test four times a year in biology to track progress through the year). I reqally mean the guy did not teach. He didn’t even know his subject material.

    Don’t think for one minute that public school teachers aren’t feeling the heat and changing how they do things. Lots of complaints about NCLB come from teachers who sit on their @$$ and now resent that they will actually have to show they are good for something.

    For years I have bitched about teachers who do nothing but show movies all the time. I could count on many teachers showing movies to students at any time of the day and any time of the week. They are either gone or have started teaching.

    Teachers are feeling a change in how people feel about them. Considering the very high property taxes we pay in Maryland, the public is no longer willing to hear excuses.

  2. Mr. Davis says:

    Thank you Mr. Smith! Congratulations for kicking it up a notch at your school.

    We now know that even for teachers fear is a motivator. Let’s make the big leap and see how greed does. Because if we had vouchers, good teachers at good schools would see money flowing in like they never have before. The people in this country want their children well educated. They have lots of money. They are willing to pay for it, if you let them.

  3. There is good and bad with the NCLB Act.

    1) Setting standards and benchmarks, and then assessing progress, is good. There should be accountability in the profession. It is important however that the standards be appropriate and the assessments fair.

    2) The mandated goals however are unrealistic in my opinion. Right now, it is fairly easy to make the gains required. In the next couple of years though, the goals quickly ramp up, and I predict there is going to be a national crisis when less than 10% of the nation’s schools will be able to meet them.

    3) NCLB does not address the biggest problem in education, apathy among the students and parents. At my school we are trying to address this problem by instituting the AVID program (at the middle school level) and a Parent Institute.

  4. Gahrie wrote:

    1) ….. It is important however that the standards be appropriate and the assessments fair.

    Since the NCLB is the result of a couple of decades of successfully frustrating efforts to bring accountability to the profession, no, appropriateness and fairness have to follow the establishment of the idea of accountability with consequences.

    2) The mandated goals however are unrealistic in my opinion.

    Nonsense. There are exceptional schools all over the place that manage to meet and exceed NCLB goals. It’s just that, as an institution, educational quality has never mattered in the public education system. Goals are ceilings to be approached as if they were the summit of Mt. Everest, not floors beneath which no school should ever fall.

    The crisis will come when the real teeth in the NCLB start to bite. It’s all academic until the blood starts to flow. That’s when the crisis will hit.

    3) NCLB does not address the biggest problem in education, apathy among the students and parents.

    Actually, there are two “biggest” problems in public education: failure to dedicate the entire federal budget, along with all state budgets, to public education. That’s the “fully funding” complaint. The parental apathy/student apathy complaint comes right after that.

  5. SuperSub says:

    Unfortunately, the cultural problem is not one the governent can legislate. We can only hope that with the passing of the Baby Boom generation and the rise of X, Y, and Z’ers that social conservatism re-enters the mainstream.