Columnists Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post and Ruben Navarette of the San Diego Union-Tribune bash Democratic presidential candidates for pandering to the National Education Association by attacking No Child Left Behind and refusing to propose anything but spending more money on the same, old system.
While Barack Obama showed a hint of independence by mentioning merit pay, he abandoned his old position to join the attack on No Child Left Behind.
“Don’t tell us that the only way to teach a child is to spend too much of the year preparing him to fill in a few bubbles on a standardized test,” he says. But, for all the flaws of No Child Left Behind, that bubble-filling has highlighted the achievement gap between rich and poor schools, and between black and white students, and put pressure on systems to address it.
Marcus lists all the education reform proposals the Dems could be pushing but don’t want to touch.
Yes, teachers are an important Democratic constituency, but aren’t parents Democratic voters, too — parents who might welcome a message about accountability and expectations? If, that is, one of the candidates were willing to deliver it.
Navarette also wants candidates to show they’re not puppets and panderers.
For the most part, teachers hate the emphasis on testing. At their convention, some wore buttons and stickers proclaiming: â€œA child is more than a test score.â€ And they really hate having to advertise to the world what sort of job theyâ€™re doing in teaching students of certain racial and ethnic backgrounds.
This suggests that teachers know more than theyâ€™re letting on about which students theyâ€™re serving and which theyâ€™re sacrificing. The law shares the information with the rest of us.
Eduwonk thinks “the bar for Democrats on serious education proposals is getting higher.”
Update: Ronald Brownstein, a liberal LA Times columnist, also is defending NCLB.