More than 50 congressional Republicans have introduced legislation to eviscerate No Child Left Behind. The leave ’em behind lobby wants to let states opt out of NCLB without losing federal funding.

Don’t trust states to grade their own papers, warns Education Gadfly.

Dog bites man, writes Eduwonk. Conservatives want local control; the education industry doesn’t want to be regulated.

The story gets the political coalitions right, and that is what really matters, but unfortunately repeats a few NCLB myths and tells us that “many voters in affluent suburban and exurban distrcts – GOP strongholds – think their schools have been adversely affected by the law” without, you know, telling us if there is any truth to that…

Kevin Drum also notes that many conservatives never liked NCLB in the first place. NCLB is most vulnerable to “self-absorbed suburban kvetching,” Drum writes.

Even at this early date there are suburban schools that have fallen afoul of NCLB, and invariably this produces massive backlash among local parent who are convinced that their school is just fine and they’d better not lose one thin dime of federal funding just because their school fell 1% short of NCLB’s outlandishly complex testing requirements. And as we all know, when suburban parents complain, politicians listen.

Drum thinks 80 percent of schools “are basically OK and could probably be left alone.”

It’s the other 20% — the low-income schools located largely in urban inner cities — that need help. But for a variety of reasons, it’s nearly impossible to target our reform efforts there. So instead we end up with broad brush efforts that waste lots of money and eventually fail because they piss off suburban voters. Bleh.

But why can’t suburban schools meet NCLB goals? Because their low-income and minority students are doing poorly.

It’s not true that 80 percent of schools are doing fine, note Eduwonk and Edspresso.

The Post quotes NCLB critics from the affluent Republican suburbs:

“Once-innovative public schools have increasingly become captive to federal testing mandates, jettisoning education programs not covered by those tests, siphoning funds from programs for the talented and gifted, and discouraging creativity, critics say.”

If the students are doing so well, they should be able to pass tests of reading and math proficiency without test prep.

Edspresso’s Kevin Carey wonders why there are no “examples or data to support those criticisms.”

As conservative Republicans attack NCLB, liberal Democrats who helped write the law — notably Sen. Ted Kennedy and Rep. George Miller — are defending it.

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  1. Walter E. Wallis says:

    If teachers win their war against teaching to the test, can they help me figure out how to get out of engineering to the project?

  2. While I like NCLB and have seen no good alternative proposal, I do think that the cut point for AYP presents a problem. My upper middle class district has set its goals on achieving something like a 98% pass rate this year. That means that the goal can be met by concentrating on the perhaps 5% of our students who are in danger of failing the test — even if we ignore whether the other 95% are making progress.

    While I’m not confident that a “value added” model would be a huge improvement (do students scoring 250 out of 300 possible on the test benefit from being coached to score 255 next year?), the current “passing is all” model seems clearly unsatisfactory.

  3. Dan in MD says:

    As the father of four children, three in middle school, one in high school, let me say this.

    Schools sucked or did not suck as the local people allowed. Now that they are federalized, they tend to suck more (and my father is a retired English teacher who retired because of Federalization. He thought it would be great ie better pay, better benefits. He did not realize it meant he got ONE box of chalk – 12 pieces for the entire year, and if he needed more he had to fill out a form, wait for it to be processed and turn in the stubs of chalk to prove he had used up his chalk.)

    The NCLB has forced the school to raise their standards. However, the two older ones did NOT get the grounding before they were requried to meet the standards, so the schools taught to the tests, and they got more bored….

    Personally, I think canceling Income Tax, making SS Tax voluntary, and getting rid of Property Tax but letting the schools go pay as you go, would work better.

    But that is me.

  4. I’m sick about the whole thing.

    I’ve finally realized that, in the absence of value-added assessment, the only measure I have of my own “high-performing” school is the achievement of our small population of low-income students.

    From what I’ve been able to learn thus far, their achievement is poor. The principal of the middle school is making noises about not meeting AYP — this on per pupil spending of $19,000/yr.

    My middle school can’t teach 40 disadvantaged children spread across 3 grades?

    I’m very tired of hearing that wealthy suburban schools are “fine.”

    They aren’t fine. Scarsdale is said to be one of the best high schools in the country. But how many tutors have parents there had to hire? One of the tutors working in my town told a friend that she estimates as many as 50% of Scarsdale kids (thoughout the district, not just in h.s.) have tutors.

    This is routinely portrayed in the media as a phenomena of rich, grasping parents looking for an edge.

    It’s not.

    These are rich and not-so-rich parents remediating their kids’ schools.

  5. wayne martin says:

    The 2014 date for nationwide proficiency is unachievable. Why anyone would have proposed it, or believed in such a date, defies the imagination.

    Given the state of affairs, no date should be proposed for this milestone.

  6. Apparently Wayne you don’t understand the symbolic meaning of the date. A rule in life in general — and policy in particular — is that if you don’t set a timetable for things to be done, then it won’t even get close to being done. Setting the timetable is essentially setting an expectation; even if the expectation isn’t met, it forces people and institutions to stop dawdling and get to work.

    The 2014 date means plenty. If No Child didn’t have a date, then no one would have ever taken it seriously. The fact that so many are complaining about it — and calling it realistic — is a sign that people are thinking seriously, even if they ought to be thinking seriously about achieving the goal instead of complaining about the date.

  7. mike from oregon says:

    NCLB was/is a great thing … sort of. Yes, it set standards, or was suppose to. Without standards the schools did … well, they did what they wanted and merely passed kids through grades with no one looking at what was going on or asking for results. While NCLB did require states to set standards, the standards were state assigned standards – which are all too often too lax (which is why I laugh when teachers whine about trying to get kids to a level of being able to pass). Public education is lacking respect (both of teachers to students and vice-versa), responsibility (which NCLB tried to institute to a degree), discipline (without this the other two will never be achieved). The ‘progressive’ nature that has been applied to schools has lowered what kids come out of school knowing. ‘Kill and Drill’ does work and gives us kids that don’t need a calculator to know what 4 X 12 is. Phonics works, whole word never has and never will. History is important but is hardly ever taught anymore. Diversity ISN’T important, tolerance of gays (and other non-normal behavior) shouldn’t be taking up classroom time. Public education is pathetic – that’s the present situation of public education in a nutshell.