Wednesday, April 15, 2009

No Children Left By Design

In an article by Sam Dillon one day before "Tax Day" the New York Times reports "Education Standards Likely to See Toughening."

No Child Left Behind was one of the few domestic bipartisan accomplishments of the Bush administration full of Republican morality such as fighting "soft bigotry" that was as equally palatable for Democrats and Civil Rights advocates alike.

Although it upped the ante of Federal involvement to an uncomfortable level for many Republicans it was still up to individual states to set the standard and as Daniel L. Whitney says just "git 'er done." As it turns out Republicans were uncomfortable for naught since Mr. Bush failed to grease the wheels of social progress with money.

In Education Week blogger Diane Ravitch concludes that "Obama has given President George W. Bush a third term in education policy" and that "Arne Duncan is the male version of Margaret Spellings." As one may recall outgoing Ed Secretary Spelling planted big sloppy wet compliments on current Secretary Duncan at a ceremony in Chicago at the beginning of the year lauding him as a true reformer... like herself. If Mr. Obama had been interested in changing the way Education in America works this should have been his cue to drop Duncan like Silva dropped Irvin OK OK like Ali dropped Foreman.

Last November Barack Obama appointed professor of education at Stanford’s School of Education, Linda Darling-Hammond as head of his education policy transition team.
Yes! He's got he's got but then in January... he ain't got. She was supposed to develop education policy action plans and proposals for the Obama administration which begs the question what did she come up with and how much of it is in the Obama cocktail for change?
Well I'm not hating on the President. This is the first of many misfires not because of poor choices in leadership and bad decisions but because of the business as usualness of it all and the faint smell of cronyism in the air.

Some people looking at the NCLB(No Child Left Behind) Obama version wonder what all the hub hub is about. Syracuse University professor Adam Banks left a short note on Face book that said,
the problem is that data crunching and standardized testing will *never* improve the quality of education--especially not for Black students and students of color. attempting to decide which teachers are effective and which are not can never be accomplished through students' test scores either. teacher evaluation has to happen through serious in-class observation by teachers who know their pedagogy, know the students and know the communities the schools are in.
Points well taken to be sure.
In addition I suggest that to have any semblance of an informed opinion on how to address this proposed fix and the problem "Savage Inequalities" by Jonathan Kozol among others is a must read.
Many of the failures and inequalities we face are by design and much of the design is by the politics of the haves and have nots. Globalization and heated academic competition from primarily China and Indian (England France Germany, etc have always been in the mix) are causing the USA to rethink how we use, abuse, advance and handicap our human resource.
To not understand that the deplorable living conditions and the educational famine that exists in Chicago's North Lawndale and the South Side of Chicago primarily populated by people of color were created by people with power in business and politics who had and have choices is nothing less than irresponsible if you are from Chicago and the President of the United States.
To not be aware that third world conditions that existed and may still exist in East St. Louis, Illinois were contrived and carried out by businessman is to be woefully outgunned, outnumbered, naive and unprepared to lead this country toward a civil, human, equitable, healthy functioning school system for all.

Having said that there are good things in the Obama version such as putting money behind the fix that Bush didn't do. Equity in in teacher distribution is in the language, subgrants to local educational agencies and "Innovation Fund" accommodations also look pretty good to me as far as causing the education system to no longer be self contained and unconstitutional. One may remember that a number of years ago the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that the way Ohio funds its schools is unconstitutional yet to date the situation still exists. Unconstitutional or not there may not be a rich suburban school that gives my kid a 20 to 1 edge in spending and opportunity if we move from a house tax based funding of schools to something else "more equitable." So tell me what's fair about that!?

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