Running against NCLB

Scrap No Child Left Behind, wrote candidate Bill Richardson in USA Today.

At Quick and the Ed, Kevin Carey wonders why Richardson didn’t apply his education ideas to his home state of New Mexico to lift its rock-bottom test scores.

On the GOP side, candidate Fred Thompson, running as a local-control man, says the feds should provide string-free education funding to states, if they give “objective” tests to students.

“No Child Left Behind — good concept, I’m all for testing _ but it seems like now some of these states are teaching to the test and kind of making it so that everybody does well on the test — you can’t really tell that everybody’s doing that well. And it’s not objective,” Thompson said.

It’s objective. The problem is that state already have the flexibility to make their tests easy to pass. With more flexibility, pass rates will approach 100 percent.

He said his message to states would be, “We expect you to get objective testing done and publicize those tests for the local parents and for the local citizens and suffer the political ramifications locally if things don’t work out right.”

What ramifications? Every kid will be above average.

Carey is unimpressed with the candidates’ clarity of thought.

For more on the politics of NCLB II, go here and here.

Andrew Ferguson laments the “big-government conservatism” of NCLB, while Ken DeRosa thinks George Miller should stop whining.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. OK..Let’s stipulate that schools and teachers need to be held accountable. Some sort of standardized testing and achievable goals are appropriate.

    But what are we going to do to make the students and parents accountable? Because frankly, at this point student motivation and parental responsibility are the two biggest problems I see in education.

  2. gahrie, I think you have the causation backwards.

    Generally speaking, students who are learning tend to be motivated to learn more, whereas students who aren’t learning tend not to be motivated to learn.

    That’s why the burden of motivation should be placed on the schools until they can show that the teaching is effective.

    Effective teachers rarely, if ever, complain about student motivation because it is much less of a problem for them. Which is not to say that the conditions in most schools are conducive to effective teaching, especially at the middle and high levels, because they aren’t. But these are conditions that are within the school’s power to change so the burden should remian on them to fix existing problems.

    As far as parental responsibility goes, parents should be responsible for getting their kids to school on a regular basis. 180 days a year of seven hours a day schooling is ample time to educate most students in the absence of additional parental support.

  3. 180 days a year of seven hours a day schooling is ample time to educate most students in the absence of additional parental support.

    So why assign homework then?

    If it’s assigned, does anyone away from school have an obligation to assure the homework is done?

  4. So why assign homework then?

    That’s a good queston to which there is not a good answer yet at the k-8 level at least.

    For high performers, homework may be a good idea since more practice (with few errors) should be beneficial But, for low performers, homework may just give more opportunity to practice errors. this is especially the case where parents can’t or won’t help with homework.

    There are many factors outside a school’s control. Parental support is one of these factors. So it would seem to me that any instructional program that is going to rely on parental support as a prerequisite to teaching is doomed to failure in neighborhoods where that parental support is not readily forthcoming. Wasn’t one of the original justifications for starting a government run public education system to educate the kids of parents who weren’t capable of or care to educate them on their own?

    The argument in favor of homework would be more persuasive if there was evidence showing that homework was a necessary component of an effective education. If anything, the evidence shows that the most successful instructional programs for lower-performers do not assign homework, but rather have all independent work be performed in school under the supervision of a teacher. If the parents aren’t reliable, it’s best not to design your instruction so as to rely on the unreliable.

  5. Richardson is right but for all the wrong reasons.

    NCLB is designed to fail the schools, 100% of them. Every public school in the country will eventually be labeled a failure.

    What is also designed to do is make a lot of politically well connected people, i.e. the McGraws, stinkin’ rich with public money.

  6. That certainly explains why Ted Kennedy sponsored NCLB and John Kerry voted for it. Their antipathy for the public education system is legendary.

    gahrie wrote:

    > OK..Let’s stipulate that schools and teachers
    > need to be held accountable.

    What stipulate? Accountability is hardly a controversial idea anywhere but the public education system. Most people live with accountability, accept it although that’s hardly necessary, and even become nervous in the absence of accountability.

    I’ll go you one further: it’s the lack of accountability that explains much of what ails the public education system. Teaching skill is an unimportant quantity because the difference between a good teacher and a bad teacher isn’t measured.

    The torrent of edu-crap that inundates the public education system is made possible by the lack of accountability.

    Since no one’s measuring what works there’s no value in what works. It’s open season! Any goofy idea that gains adherents is just as good as an idea that gets the job done and there’s never a drought of goofy ideas.

    This isn’t rocket science. If the school isn’t accountable for results in aggregate then the people who make individual results possible aren’t valued.

    What other outcome is possible? That the people who’d make good results possible, if the results were measured, would be valued even if the results of the application of their skills aren’t? What sense does that make?

  7. Mike’n’Taxes said:

    “Every public school in the country will eventually be labeled a failure.”

    Most of them are in fact failing, so I guess you’re accusing Bush of wanting truth in labelling. Right?

  8. Ragnarok,

    The truth is different from the way you see it.

    As far as Ted Kennedy goes, I guess when he was growing up poor in a ramshackle house he yearned for a good free education.

    Whooops, he grew up rich and privlidged, surrounded by others just like him. So why would anyone expect he would look out for anyone but himself.

  9. It doesn’t matter whether Kennedy grew up rich or poor.

    The purpose behind NCLB was to put an end to the widespread misuse of Title I money.

    Even among the traditional supporters of unionized labor and tax-supported everything – that would be Teddy Kennedy, John Kerry and a whole slew of generally left-of-center reps and senators – there’s liable to be a tedious insistence that you abide by the rules of the pork they’ve sliced for you.

  10. Sure it does Allen. By sponsoring NCLB Kennedy was looking after the interests of his rich compadres. After all, poor people don’t elect presidents. Even Miller has a long list of contributions from the rich and powerful.

  11. > Sure it does Allen.

    Sorry, it doesn’t. Remember all those other names associated with NCLB? Kerry and the rest of the tribe that weeps crocodile tears for the poor? They signed onto NCLB in droves as well.

    I suppose that if all those politicians are tools of the ruling elite, the capitalist exploiters of the working class, then what we need is a dictatorship of the proletariat. That ought to fix everything, hey?

  12. Claire Boston says:

    So long as children themselves are not being held responsible for learning, things aren’t going to get better. Yes, parents need to accept responsibility for their children’s behavior, too. And schools have a large part of responsibility as well. But the primary person responsible for learning is the child him/herself. And our education professionals are spending a serious amount of time, money, and effort to teach these children that they have rights and privileges, but no responsibilities.

    When a child is failing school, because he/she doesn’t care and puts forth no effort, what happens? The education establishment and often parents, too, starts making excuses. “He comes from a poor family.” “She is a minority.” “His family is dysfunctional.” “She speaks English as a second language.” “He’s going through a tough time.” All excuses, and all because those in authority simply can’t bear the idea of actually following through on their standards/promises/threats and actually holding children accountable for their actions – for learning.

    So what are the kids learning? Well, that they don’t have to work very hard or do much of anything, because those in authority will see that everything’s taken care of for them.

    Want to know the real reason why black kids do so poorly in school, irregardless of their social and economic status, and why Asians do so well, also irregardless of their social and economic status? Because it’s not class or family income that determines success. It’s not discimination or lack of diversity.

    Asian parents EXPECT their children to achieve in school, to get all ‘A’s, and there are consequences when that doesn’t happen. Black parents tell their kids that school doesn’t matter, that whites won’t let them succeed anyway, and that by doing well in school they are ‘acting white’, a contemptuous comment. Asians glorify professional and economic success. Blacks glorify gangsters and thugs, rappers and bad behavior. Expectations set the tone, and the kids achieve just what they’re expected to achieve.

    Throwing money at it won’t every solve this problem. The cultures are the cause and they are considered ‘untouchable’ by the left who worships the image of multiculturalism and decries any value judgments whatsoever. And lest someone feel ignored, consider also that most hispanic/latino groups also place more cultural emphasis on family than on professional or economic success. I think there was a study on hispanics that broke them into two groups – recent immigrants and third-plus generation Americans. Interestingly, there was a broad and significant difference, with the recent immigrants being closer in achievement to whites and Asians, while the long-time Americans were closer to blacks in their performance. The small sub-group of black recent immigrants also has higher achievement than American blacks, again on a par with whites and Asians.

    Cultural attitudes and expectations override government diversity programs effortlessly, and so long as they are ‘sacred cows’ not to be touches or examined, the racial disparities in education will continue to be a matter of skin pigmentation rather than the true cause – behavior and expectations.

  13. Andy Freeman says:

    > But what are we going to do to make the students and parents accountable? Because frankly, at this point student motivation and parental responsibility are the two biggest problems I see in education.

    If schools can’t succeed, regardless of the reason, there’s no point in paying for them.

  14. Andy Freeman says:

    I note that MiT is still unwilling to go outside the public schools to do better. If he’s correct, he’d get rich and students would be better served. (There’s nothing stopping him from adopting any of the features of public schools that he finds important.)

    Yet, for some reason he’s unwilling to do good.

  15. Not me Andy. Here in Texas the constitution guarantees every child a free public education. It says nothing about corporate welfare schemes for CEOs with no experience in education but who want to dabble in it at the public, and children’s, expense.

    Of course, it also says nothing about setting up special schools that can take public money but not take all students and throw out those who don’t meet their standards, but somehow the “reformers” have gotten those into Texas, so there’s always a chance YOU could open a school.

  16. It says nothing about corporate welfare schemes for CEOs with no experience in education but who want to dabble in it at the public, and children’s, expense.

    MiT, I hope the irony of that statement is not lost on you.

  17. There is no irony, KDeRosa, unless you intend to compare me to corporate CEOs with no teaching experience who want to dabble in education.

    Wouldn’t surprise me of course, after reading about you calling George Miller a whiny bitch (and shame on you Joanne for calling attention to it AND waterering it down)

  18. Andy Freeman says:

    Huh?

    I may be wrong, but hasn’t MiT said that he could do better with the same than existing Texas public schools for the same money? Hasn’t he also said that he could do better with those kids than “private schools” for the same money?

    If either, or both, of those are correct, it’s interesting to note that he’s unwilling to do so. That is, he’s unwilling to do good and make more money. Curious.

    However, I could be wrong. So, I’ll ask – Can MiT do better than existing Texas public schools with the same kids for the same money? Can he do better than the private schools that he decries with those same students with the private school money?

    I’ll be surprised if he says no to either question.

  19. Andy Freeman said thusly:

    “That is, [MiT]’s unwilling to do good and make more money. Curious.”

    No, quite understandable. If Mike were to do a better job than the current public schools, he’d place their students at a disadvantage. And that wouldn’t be fair, would it? Better to all fail together, I think.

  20. Claire you had a really good analyze of the education situation. I always thought it was funny, if the students do well it was the result of the teacher, if they do bad it was the result of the parents.

    Personally I think school will continue to fail the student until someone gets the bright idea that teaching is a talent like artist, a composer, or singer.

  21. Depends on what school you’re talking about of course, since no two are the same.

    What I HAVE said in the past is I could run a fantastic school if I got to play by the rules the charters have, selective admissions, no open enrollment policies (bad grades or bad behaviors? Toss ’em out! Mom and Dad won’t volunteer at the school? Toss ’em out!)

  22. MiT, you don’t know how much I’ve missed your unique brand of non sequitur laced arguments.

    unless you intend to compare me to corporate CEOs with no teaching experience who want to dabble in education

    So are you saying you know how to educate all those kids who are presently failing your state test? Besides throwing them out of the MiT charter school.

  23. KDerosa,

    I don’t have the arrogance to claim I know how to reach every student. However, I will claim I know more about teaching than a bunch of politicians in Washington.

    Like it or not, students come to schools with a huge variety of needs and problems. A one size fits all solution like NCLB has not helped and has actually hindered education in the US, which, as you know, I feel is the law’s real intention.

  24. Andy Freeman says:

    I note that MiT hasn’t answered my questions – he’s just said that he hasn’t said anything relevant before.

    (1) Does MiT believe that he could do a better job than Texas public schools do with the same students and the same money as Texas public schools? That’s a yes or no question.

    (2) Does MiT believe that he could do a better job with public school kids with the money that he thinks that private schools get? Again – that’s a yes or no question.

  25. Yawn! I’ve answered this question sooooo many times over the years I’m bored with it.

  26. Must be a little bit frustrating then to realize that there are so few people who are impressed with your broken-record repetition of the usual misrepresentations about charters, NCLB, testing and damn near everything that might upset the status quo apple cart. It just hasn’t been a very good decade for you all around.

    Charters have built up momentum while those stalwart defenders of business-as-usual, the unions, were busy trying to slay the voucher dragon. Now, with better then 4,000 charters the fight is on to yank off the obviously political limitations placed on them.

    There’s hardly a state with charter-enabling legislation that hasn’t hit its cap. And in every one of those states the desperate fight is to keep the cap in place.

    It’s an interesting spectacle. A seemingly endless parade of poor, mostly black, parents who are desperate to get their kids out the schools that ruined the parent’s lives and there’s the lobbyists from the state board of ed organization and/or the union whispering in the reps ear about how important it is *not* to listen to those plaintive stories.

    Maybe you could take some time out of your busy schedule of combing union web sites for rationalizations to come talk to some of those parents. I’m sure they’d love to hear all about those corporate CEOs and how terrible those nasty, old charters are. You could tell them that if only they weren’t such lousy parents, their kids such lousy students and you got paid more, everything would just come up roses. I’m sure there’d be high-fives all around for revealing the secrets to the success of the public education system.

  27. Ahhh, the evil teachers union speech! I was wondering when somone would drag that out.

    Once again, for what it is? The 100th time? The evil teachers unions dont’ exist in Texas. No collective bargaining, no right to strike.

    As for charters we all know how successful they’ve been in Ohio, where they’ve been in place for more than a decade. Oh wait, they aren’t! I believe the accepted figure is 57% in academic watch or emergency.

    http://www.ode.state.oh.us/GD/DocumentManagement/DocumentDownload.aspx?DocumentID=22750

    So much for those hotbeds of education reform!

  28. Mike,

    Can you point me at the relevant page in the 962-page PDF doc that you link to?

    And why confine yourself to Ohio? What about the rest of the states?

  29. Rags,

    I don’t have tme or the inclination to look through all 962 pages, feel free to do so yourself. After 20 pages or so there are the report cards for the various charter schools, so you can see the information for yourself. Most are not doing well at all.

    BTW, I love all the cheesy names they give the charter schools to make them sound cutting edge. My favorite is the “WOW! Learning Academy”

  30. Most are not doing well at all.

    What’s your point, Adam Smith? That not all business enterprises are successful?

    No one is forced to go to a failing charter school and, hopefully, that school will close due to its underperformance.

  31. that school will close due to its underperformance

    Hopefully is the operative word. In reality it very seldom happens. Most are closed for financial misdeeds.

  32. Andy Freeman says:

    I see that we’re back to MiT and his evil twin. One denies saying anything relevant to my questions about whether MiT could do better and the other refuses to answer on the grounds that he’s answered many times before.

  33. Yes, Mike, I see you’re running true to form.

    You quote a figure (57%), and offer a link to a massive PDF doc, but you won’t tell us where that figure is quoted?

    Typical.

  34. Most are closed for financial misdeeds

    That strikes me as an improvement of the status quo already.

    I would suspect the demand for bad charters won’t subside until a) there is an increase in good charters, b) thre is an improvement in public schools, and c) the information on same is made readily available to parents.

  35. http://www.ppionline.org/documents/Ohioreport_0201.pdf

    Page 21

    Percentage of schools on
    academic watch or in
    academic emergency status 58%

    Trust me, you’ll love the study. It was done by a pro charter group and even includes excuses fabricated by caroline Hoxby, who has been the subject of mass ridicule for her sloppy research.

  36. Oh, forgot to mention, from the same site, same chart, percentage of public schools in academic watch or emergency, 10%

  37. Ah, Mike, so that first link weren’t the right one, were it? As usual (Allen’s pointed this out several times) you can’t even get the link right.

    But here’s whut yore second link says:

    “Hoxby used state assessment tests to do a
    nationwide comparison of charter school students and
    students in the nearest comparable schools. She found
    that charter school students outperformed students in
    comparable district schools in most states. But in Ohio,
    she found no difference in reading, yet found that
    charter students were approximately 9 percent less likely
    to be proficient in math, compared to similar district
    students. When charter mathematics results were
    compared to the nearest public school with similar racial
    compositions, there was no significant difference in
    performance.”

    Did you forget the bit about “…She found that charter school students outperformed students in comparable district schools in most states.” ?

    Kinda puts a spoke in yer wheel, don’t it, Mike?

    Dishonest, Mike! Very bad, Mike! Tough crap, Mike!

    But I suppose I shouldn’t have expected anything better from a unionoid; you guys can’t teach, can’t spell, can’t make an honest argument – but them’s what the union insists on, ain’t it?

    But you can sure walk a mean picket line!

  38. Nope, I knew the research in from Caroline Hoxby was in there, and if the charter folks are pinning their hopes on her than its tough crap for her.

    Her research has been thoroughly ridiculed, such to the point she doesn’t even bother to submit it for peer review b/c she knows she be laughed at.

    And for the record, I don’t currently belong to a union, or even a teacher’s association. I couldn’t strike even if I wanted to, its against the law for teachers in Texas to do so.

    Nice to see you can still throw insults when you can’t win with your arguements.

  39. BTW, how do you compare state tests with tests from other states? Apples and oranges, which is probably why Hoxby didn’t have her research peer reviewed.

  40. Hmm, this is getting to be quite amusing. You say Hoxby is a bad researcher:

    “Nope, I knew the research in [sic] from Caroline Hoxby was in there, and if the charter folks are pinning their hopes on her than [sic] its [sic] tough crap for her.
    Her research has been thoroughly ridiculed, such [sic] to the point she doesn’t even bother to submit it for peer review b/c she knows she be [sic] laughed at.”

    Why then do you rely on her data?

    Similarly, you attribute your 57% claim to Document A, but when pressed you present Document B. Correct? So your initial reference was bogus.

    Come, come, Mike! You can do better than that!

  41. Mike said:

    “BTW, how do you compare state tests with tests from other states? Apples and oranges…”

    You’re comparing charters to regular public schools within a state, so it’s apples to apples. Or if you insist, oranges to oranges.

    N’est c’est pas?

  42. I don’t contribute the 57% figure to Hoxby, its from the Ohio Dept. of Education. Laziness on your part for not reading the 900 page report (can’t say I blame you if you didn’t) or trying to pass a lie off as the truth?

    Charters and public schools in Ohio take the same assessments. Kids in different states do not.

  43. Btw, my initial figure was posted at:

    http://schoolsmatter.blogspot.com/2007/09/white-hat-charter-meltdown-continues.html

    I didn’t quote it as it mentions part of the analysis coming from the NEA, which you would have not believed.

    HOWEVER, now you have the info from the state of Ohio. I noticed you dodged the issue of 58% of charters being in trouble while only 10% of public schools being so.

    Where’s the innovation? Where’s the market driven forces running those bad charters out of business? Where’s the oversight from the state?

    Go ahead, explain away the 48% disparity.