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Wednesday, December 14. 2011
How "No Child Left Behind" shortchanges the smart kids
Sol Stern in City Journal:
Posted by The Barrister in Education at 13:27 | Comments (9) | Trackbacks (0)
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From the get-go I called this scam "No Child Gets Ahead". When you get down to it that is the real purpose of most so called "progressive" programs. Everyone's achievement level has to be the same and since pulling the bottom up is next to impossible we have to pull the ambitious and harder working types down.
A nation's strength is assured by the treatment of it's best students, not by it's least capable. Steve Sailer contributed this observation in one of his articles about NCLB: A report prepared for the Campaign for Educational Equity by Richard Rothstein, Rebecca Jacobsen, and Tamara Wilder sums up the absurdity of NCLB in its title: "'Proficiency for All' – An Oxymoron." They point out:
"In its administration of NCLB, the U.S. Department of Education barely acknowledges this human variability. … Under NCLB, children with I.Q.s as low as 65 must achieve a standard of proficiency in math which is higher than that achieved by 60 percent of students in Taiwan, the highest scoring country in the world (in math), and a standard of proficiency in reading which is higher than that achieved by 65 percent of students in Sweden, the highest scoring country in the world (in reading)."
We could go on and on with this, but if the creation of this nonsense is considered (the involvement of Ted Kennedy and George Bush, the Younger), what kind of an expectation should we have?
One survives a Progressive education. The brightest are able to sustain the least harm. The weakest are its eternal victims.
Funny thing is, that research 130 yrs ago revealed that 10-yr olds were unable to determine unprogramed relationships that they could at 5 yrs old after a few years of "education." The rote automatic education does more to damage students creative abilities than it does to prepare them for the world.
This has been a problem for 40 years as the education bureaucracy adopted the industrial model for education. That failed and our kids get a substandard (in world terms) education. I sent my five kids through private schools for this reason. I wish I could afford to send my grandkids to the same schools. I went to Catholic schools in Chicago, which lacked a bit in high school (No calculus in high school) but taught me the English language. Vouchers would save inner city Catholic schools in those midwest cities and that would save a generation of black kids.
This is the point of public education in general and NCLB specifically. We need to equalize outcomes, in this case by ensuring that all public school graduates are equally stupid, rather than ensuring that each student can excel in his/her individual strengths.
Heaven forbid that we offer vouchers so that the stupid uninterested parents can have a say in the schooling of their children.
While I agree with the first few comments, I hasten to add that genius, and most original accomplishment, tends to come from the self-taught, the autodidacts. Our best favor to the bright students may not be to refit the schools to them, but to tell them to get what they can from school, learn to play the get-along game because it will be useful, but learn to teach themselves.
Hence, more science fairs, more math teams, more puzzle-solving, geocaching, OM/DI/robotics, more writing (or art, or speaking) with an eye to non-school use.
Gearing the schools to the bright, in fact, may encourage them to feel entitled and special more than they already would upon recognising that their fellows cannot keep up. Pushing their work to the outside, unprotected world teaches them there is always a faster gun - a good lesson to learn.
AVI ... I agree with you on this. I'm now 83, and I served a term in the Chicago school system when I was less than eight years old, just after they decided to institute "progressive education." Up to that point in my life I had done very well in school, partly because I came from a family of teachers-and-preachers, who did a lot of supplementary teaching of us, my brother and I, at home. But when the "progressive" teachers instituted their new system, with its cute little "goal books" in which we could enter our achievements, which we were to attain at our own speed, I damn near flunked. As a busy, bustling active little girl I didn't need to be held back -- I needed to be urged on, because the world was so full of distracting new ideas and things to do, that I didn't want to concentrate on one thing, learn it, finish learning it and then move on to the next thing. I wanted to do everything at once.
If I had a child today [and believe me, that would be some kind of miracle] I probably would enter her in a well-run Catholic grade school, or a school for gifted children, and then see to it that she did her homework along with all those extra- curricular readings and writings she wanted to do on her own. Then she could make it into college with a solid foundation in the basic human skills... reading/writing legible and clear English. understanding world history and American history, a knowledge of what we used to call Civics, which apparently modern teachers don't want to bother to teach, and good basic math skills. I would also want her to read S. I Hayakawa's Language in Action, so that she would understand how important semantics is/are in understanding the world about her.
Throwing money at the wrong side of the bell curve started well before NCLB. "Special Education" spent hoards of money on the lower side of IQ. What advances society? The brightest or the slowest? You only need to look at politicians to see which side was lavished with money...small wonder we can't find chad-free voters or politicians.
When you find yourself in agreement with the teacher's unions, you might ask yourself, how did I get here? There is a universal truth you best get a grip on; NCLB brought the pot to a boil. Vested interests and crony corruption are deft at obscuring this connection still. Teacher test cheating parties and the like have demonstrated all the ills that parents have been fighting in obscurity, as the system designed. IDEA put the notion of teacher accountability on the table and NCLB enshrined it. Why is Jeb Bush still relevant? His brother, GWB, ran on the education card all the way into the White House and Jeb could do it too. Florida is the only state that took compliance to NCLB seriously and they have the measurable gains to prove it, and the subsequent school choice momentum. Recently their Attorney General revised language per their courts to get a measure on the next election ballot to allow state dollars to religious schools. Even now, nearly ten years on, most states are not in compliance with NCLB let alone IDEA, and on the EdWeek blogs teachers openly mocked it with tales of glee at Obama being elected for now they would no longer need to flout and hinder NCLB for Obama would kill it. Shameful.
How schizophrenic must school districts be to force learning measured by the individual (testing to IEP) but resort to backdoor machinations now for a common standard curriculum? While I see a need to amend NCLB or simply hold IDEA as the model and measure teachers who purport to be effective on the affects, I can see nothing but moral bankruptcy in allowing states NCLB waivers that exclude assessment for students with disabilities. Furthermore, the very fact the last comment listed here and allowed to stand unanswered is of jealousy over sped dollars is vile.
As for shortchanging the smart kids, this paragon of a teacher gamed the system to make it so instead of reinforcing a virtuous work ethic, and the valued minority parents allowed it to happen. As a nation, we are $15+ trillion in debt, but I hardly find comfort in pointing the finger at the pro-life community, let alone positive societal co-operation along American principles. Let us have the conversation about personal responsibility, parental rights, and lack of minority intellectual curiosity.