Posts tagged ‘No Child Left Behind’

February 25, 2014

The Myth Behind Public School Failure

by Dean Paton | Published February 21, 2014 by Yes! Magazine

Until about 1980, America’s public schoolteachers were iconic everyday heroes painted with a kind of Norman Rockwell patina—generally respected because they helped most kids learn to read, write and successfully join society. Such teachers made possible at least the idea of a vibrant democracy.

Since then, what a turnaround: We’re now told, relentlessly, that bad-apple schoolteachers have wrecked K-12 education; that their unions keep legions of incompetent educators in classrooms; that part of the solution is more private charter schools; and that teachers as well as entire schools lack accountability, which can best be remedied by more and more standardized “bubble” tests.

What led to such an ignoble fall for teachers and schools? Did public education really become so irreversibly terrible in three decades? Is there so little that’s redeemable in today’s schoolhouses?

Read more: http://www.yesmagazine.org/issues/education-uprising/the-myth-behind-public-school-failure

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December 11, 2013

The Children Left Behind

BY Debbie NathanPublished October 28, 2013 by In These Times

Excerpt:

But, as the experiences of Leo, Sonia and Yanderier attest, No Child Left Behind has not helped. Instead, it has done inestimable damage to countless young people nationwide, a disproportionate number of whom are Latino. As a result of testing every child, many low scorers have been kicked out of school.

In New York City, from 2001 to 2004, thousands of struggling students were counseled to leave high school and enroll in adult education and GED classes, so they would not have to take exams whose pass-fail rates figured in the way the New York City educational system was evaluated by the federal government. In Birmingham, Ala., in 2002, school officials admitted they had kicked out 522 students and told them to get GEDs—again, to raise Birmingham’s high-stakes test scores. In Orlando, Fla., over two years, one high school “transferred” 440 academically weak students out of school and into GED programs—and almost all of them simply dropped out. Then there was Houston, where assistant principals and deans worked as “bouncers,” collaring weak students in the halls and ordering them to the office. There, they were kicked out of school and told to find alternative education. The school district did not follow up to see if they’d done so.

In city after city, most of the adversely affected were students of color.

As word spread about NCLB-related misconduct, these young people came to be known as victims of “push-out,” a policy that education-rights activists vigorously denounce. In 27 states, including Texas, students have the right to remain in public school until they turn 21, and banishing them to GED programs is illegal.

Even so, the practice has continued. In El Paso, as recently as three years ago, hundreds of other Latino young people were illegally diverted to GED programs. The crime has been covered by Texas and national media, but reporting has concentrated on the law-breakers, with little attention paid to the damage done to the students who had been pushed out. That’s why I went looking for Yanderier, Sonia and Leo.

Read more: http://inthesetimes.com/article/15738/the_children_left_behind/

November 6, 2013

Corporate school deform vs. education justice

By Dana Blanchard | Published November 6, 2013 by The Socialist Worker

FROM RESISTANCE to high-stakes testing to a more assertive voice from teachers’ unions, big-money corporate education “reformers” are encountering significant new resistance. Now is the time for teachers to step up our defense of public education, both by highlighting the destructive impact of the so-called reforms and by building on the emerging alliance between our unions and the communities we serve.

This article attempts to summarize some of these important shifts and highlight places where our side can organize and push back, starting right now. The prospects for teachers unions in the struggle ahead will be the subject of the second part of this article.

It’s difficult to exaggerate the damage done by the education reformers. I’ve been a public school teacher in California for 12 years–a time that coincides with implementation of the federal government’s misnamed No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law.

NCLB unleashed the current wave of corporate school reform: the use of standardized testing to punish failing schools and evaluate every teacher’s effectiveness; the increase in privately run charter schools claiming to be an “option” for students in “failing” public schools; and a massive growth in for-profit textbook and testing enterprises that feast on funds from school district trying desperately to make yearly progress targets–goals that move further and further out of reach each year.

At the same time, I’ve seen a whole generation of new teachers who burned out early from the prospect of teaching under the gun of standardization and the lack of job security from perpetual cycles of budgets cuts in public education. Meanwhile, teacher farms like Teach for America place more and more young people in the front lines of education without adequate preparation, only for them to leave the profession for better jobs with less collateral damage.

But recent cracks in the corporate education reform monolith have given rise to new hope. New studies validate what teachers have known all along–top-down, punishment-based reforms don’t work. They don’t work for creating a profession that people want to dedicate their lives to, and they don’t work for the students who are most underserved by public education.

Read more: http://socialistworker.org/2013/11/06/corporate-reform-vs-education-justice

August 21, 2013

What we know about schools — but choose to ignore

By P.L. Thomas | Published August 19 2013 by The Answer Sheet

Excerpt:

This comprehensive analysis of research from Brunsma replicates the message in Flock of Dodos—political, public, and media messaging continues to trump evidence in the education reform debate. Making that reality more troubling is that a central element of No Child Left Behind was a call to usher in an era of scientifically based education research. As Sasha Zucker notes in a 2004 policy report for Pearson, “A significant aspect of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) is the use of the phrase ‘scientifically based research’ well over 100 times throughout the text of the law.”

Brunsma’s conclusion about school uniform policies, I regret to note, is not an outlier in education reform but a typical representation of education reform policy. Let’s consider what we know now about the major education reform agendas currently impacting out schools:

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/08/19/what-we-know-about-schools-but-choose-to-ignore/

July 25, 2013

Public School Teachers: New Unions, New Alliances, New Politics

By Michael D. Yates | Published 24 July 2013 by truth-out.org

The U.S. working class was slow to respond to the hard times it faced during and after the Great Recession of 2007-2009. Finally, however, in February, 2011, workers in Wisconsin began the famous uprising that electrified the country, revolting in large numbers against Governor Scott Walker’s efforts to destroy the state’s public employee labor unions.  A few months later, the Occupy Wall Street movement, which supported many working class efforts, spread from New York City to the rest of the nation and the world. Then, in September 2012, Chicago’s public school teachers struck, in defiance of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s attempt to destroy the teachers’ union and put the city’s schools firmly on the path of neoliberal austerity and privatization.

These three rebellions shared the growing awareness that economic and political power in the United States are firmly in the hands of a tiny minority of fantastically wealthy individuals whose avarice knows no bounds. These titans of finance want to eviscerate working men and women, making them as insecure as possible and wholly dependent on the dog-eat-dog logic of the marketplace, while at the same time converting any and all aspects of life into opportunities for capital accumulation.

The public sector is still, despite the effort of capital to dismantle it, the one sanctuary people have against the depredations of the 1 percent. Through struggle, working men and women have succeeded in winning a modicum of health care and retirement security, as well as some guarantee that their children will be educated, all irrespective of the ability to pay for these essential services. They have also found decent employment opportunities in government, especially women and minorities. The public sector, then, is a partial barrier to the expansion of capital in that it both denies large sums of money to capitalists (social security funds, for example) and protects the workers in it from the vagaries of the labor market.

Read more: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/17756-public-school-teachers-new-unions-new-alliances-new-politics

July 21, 2013

Video: Study Links High Stakes Testing to Higher Incarceration Rates

Published July 19 2013 by The Real News Network

July 2, 2013

The solution to US public schools is not corporate America

We’re slashing K-12 funding and teachers and then turning our schools over to private operators. This is hardly good ‘reform’

By | Published 24 June 2013 by guardian.co.uk

Excerpt:

This crisis, which has persisted as disparate local debates, may soon coalesce into a national conflict. The schools hurt the most are those that have long been underfunded, segregated institutions struggling to educate poor black and Latino students. But today’s cuts are reaching into working- and middle-class towns and suburbs, and turning schools across the country into dreary, boring, arts and creativity bereft boot camps for standardized test preparation.

In Seattle, hundreds of students and teachers refused to take or administer high-stakes standardized tests. This after Atlanta schools superintendent Beverly Hall and 34 others were indicted as part of a investigation that concluded a culture that accepted “no exceptions and no excuses for failure to meet targets” was at the root of widespread test cheating.

In New York, mayoral candidates have made the criticism of Michael Bloomberg’s school reform agenda a centerpiece of their campaign. In Philadelphia, mass student walkouts have protested the “doomsday” budget and hunger strikers are pledging to refuse food until more than 1,200 aides critical to school safety are rehired.

Most importantly, striking Chicago teachers created a new model for defending public schools in 2012. Educators received widespread public support after building strong community coalitions, and making it clear they fought not only for parochial job interests but also for fair funding, rich curricula and for schools as community institutions.

The reform movement perceives economic crisis as an opportunity to exploit for political gain. But the movement may have overplayed its hand, as increasing numbers of students, parents and teachers identify education austerity with the bipartisan prophets of “school choice”.

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jun/24/us-public-schools-budget-crisis

June 29, 2013

Why America’s Teachers Are Going Badass and Why Canada’s Need to Consider Doing the Same

By Robert Green

This article appears in the Fall 2013 edition of ‘Our Schools / Our Selves’ published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Following in the tradition of the Arab Spring and ‘Idle No More’, the latest political movement to come to life through the internet’s social networks features a growing number of America’s teachers. Calling itself the Badass Teachers Association (or BAT for Bad Ass Teachers) this Facebook group has shot up to over 17,000 members in a little over a week. It also organized its first mass action: a phone-in campaign calling for the removal of Arne Duncan as federal secretary of education.

Created by Priscilla Sanstead, a parent activist in Oklahoma, Dr. Mark Naisson, an African American Studies professor at Fordham University in New York and Marla 1002816_4381114426306_418079495_nKilfoye, a teacher and parent activist from Long Island, BAT’s mission is:

To give voice to every teacher who refuses to be blamed for the failure of our society to erase poverty and inequality. BAT members refuse to accept assessments, tests and evaluations created and imposed by corporate driven entities that have contempt for real teaching and learning

On his blog, Dr Mark Naisson begins his description of what it means to be a badass teacher as follows:

Badass Teachers teach, love and nurture children everyone has given up on, in good times and bad, children with disabilities, children who have been kicked out of their families, children who can’t sit still, children who have seen unimaginable horrors, children who are homeless, children who are under constant stress, along with children who have happy lives, and happy families. They teach and love them all, and protect and defend them from physical threats and the threat of tests and assessments which humiliate them and destroy their love of learning.

While some may be surprised to see so many teachers speaking out in such a direct fashion, for those that have been following the horror show of corporate education reform that has transformed the US education system over the last decade, such action seems long overdue. This corporate education reform agenda was first introduced on a national scale by George Bush’s ‘No Child Left Behind’ and has since been accelerated by Obama’s ‘Race to the Top’ legislation. It has been promoted vigorously by various foundations financed by millionaires and billionaires like Bill Gates and through slick high budget documentaries like ‘Waiting for Superman’. Though its particular manifestations vary from state to state it tends to feature the following three elements:

  1. attacks on the collective bargaining rights of teachers
  2. use of standardized test results (‘performance indicators’) to determine school funding and/or teacher pay (‘merit pay’)
  3. promotion of semi-private charter schools with non-unionized teachers, usually via a discourse focused on the notion of ‘school choice’

    read more »

June 17, 2013

Fighting for Our Classrooms, and for the Human Beings Inside Them

By Richard Eskow | Published 16 June 2013 by Truth-out.org

It seems as if the same battle is being fought in every aspect of American society. On one side are the forces of egalitarianism, economic opportunity and self-determination. On the other is a well-funded and entrenched elite bent on hijacking our media, our political process and our institutions for their selfish ends.

Sadly, the classrooms of this country haven’t been spared.

Means and Ends

The Wall Street crowd wants us to think of education in terms of means – which usually means finding ways to spend less – rather than ends.  But when it comes to education, the “ends” are our children. And the means we choose for them, either consciously or through indifference, reveal who we really are as a people.

Perhaps that’s why a new ‘education declaration’ has attracted signatories as diverse as author Dave Eggers; Prof. Robert Reich; education reformer Diane Ravitch; Larry Groce, host of NPR’s Mountain Stage; economist Lawrence Mishel; Prof. Theda Skocpol; and a number of other prominent political, academic, cultural, religious, and educational leaders. (You can sign it too.)

Read more: http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/17004-fighting-for-our-classrooms-and-for-the-human-beings-inside-them

June 6, 2013

New data shows school “reformers” are full of it

By | Published Jun 3, 2013 by Salon.com

In the great American debate over education, the education and technology corporations, bankrolled politicians and activist-profiteers who collectively comprise the so-called “reform” movement base their arguments on one central premise: that America should expect public schools to produce world-class academic achievement regardless of the negative forces bearing down on a school’s particular students. In recent days, though, the faults in that premise are being exposed by unavoidable reality.

Before getting to the big news, let’s review the dominant fairy tale: As embodied by New York City’s major education announcement this weekend, the “reform” fantasy pretends that a lack of teacher “accountability” is the major education problem and somehow wholly writes family economics out of the story (amazingly, this fantasy persists even in a place like the Big Apple where economic inequality is particularly crushing). That key — and deliberate — omission serves myriad political interests.

For education, technology and charter school companies and the Wall Streeters who back them, it lets them cite troubled public schools to argue that the current public education system is flawed, and to then argue that education can be improved if taxpayer money is funneled away from the public school system’s priorities (hiring teachers, training teachers, reducing class size, etc.) and into the private sector (replacing teachers with computers, replacing public schools with privately run charter schools, etc.). Likewise, for conservative politicians and activistprofiteers disproportionately bankrolled by these and other monied interests, the “reform” argument gives them a way to both talk about fixing education and to bash organized labor, all without having to mention an economic status quo that monied interests benefit from and thus do not want changed.

Read more: http://www.salon.com/2013/06/03/instead_of_a_war_on_teachers_how_about_one_on_poverty/

April 29, 2013

The Coming Revolution in Public Education

Why the current wave of reforms, with its heavy emphasis on standardized tests, may actually be harming students

By | Published April 25 2013 by Salon.com

It’s always hard to tell for sure exactly when a revolution starts. Is it when a few discontented people gather in a room to discuss how the ruling regime might be opposed? Is it when first shots are fired? When a critical mass forms and the opposition acquires sufficient weight to have a chance of prevailing? I’m not an expert on revolutions, but even I can see that a new one is taking shape in American K-12 public education.

The dominant regime for the past decade or more has been what is sometimes called accountability-based reform or, by many of its critics, “corporate education reform.” The reforms consist of various initiatives aimed at (among other things): improving schools and educational outcomes by using standardized tests to measure what students are learning; holding schools and teachers accountable (through school closures and teachers’ pay) when their students are “lagging” on those standardized assessments; controlling classroom instruction and increasing the rigor of school curricula by pushing all states to adopt the same challenging standards via a “Common Core;” and using market-like competitive pressures (through the spread of charter schools and educational voucher programs) to provide public schools with incentives to improve.*

Critics of the contemporary reform regime argue that these initiatives, though seemingly sensible in their original framing, are motivated by interests other than educational improvement and are causing genuine harm to American students and public schools. Here are some of the criticisms: the reforms have self-interest and profit motives, not educational improvement, as their basis; corporate interests are reaping huge benefits from these reform  initiatives and spending millions of dollars lobbying to keep those benefits flowing; three big foundations (Gates, Broad, and Walton Family) are funding much of the backing for the corporate reforms and are spending billions to market and sell reforms that don’t work; ancillary goals of these reforms are to bust teacher unions, disempower educators, and reduce spending on public schools; standardized testing is enormously expensive in terms both of public expenditures and the diversion of instruction time to test prep; over a third of charter schools deliver “significantly worse” results for students than the traditional public schools from which they were diverted; and, finally, that these reforms have produced few benefits and have actually caused harm, especially to kids in disadvantaged areas and communities of color. (On that last overall point, see this scathing new report from the Economic Policy Institute.)

Read more: http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/04/the-coming-revolution-in-public-education/275163/

April 19, 2013

CJAD Teacher Panel Discusses Grade Inflation and Bill 88

Teachers Catharine Hogan and Robert Green discuss the pressures to inflate grades that have resulted from Quebec’s Bill 88 with CJAD’s Tommy Shnurmacher:

Click here to listen

 

April 6, 2013

Bill Gates Dances Around the Teacher Evaluation Disaster He Sponsored

By Anthony Cody | Published April 4, 2013 by Education Week’s Living in Dialogue blog

No one in America has done more to promote the raising of stakes for test scores in education than Bill Gates.

Yesterday, Mr. Gates published a column that dances around the disaster his advocacy has created in the schools of our nation.

You can read his words there, but his actions have spoken so much more loudly, that I cannot even make sense out of what he is attempting to say now. So let’s focus first on what Bill Gates has wrought.

No Child Left Behind was headed towards bankruptcy about seven years ago. The practice of labeling schools as failures and closing them, on the basis of test scores, was clearly causing a narrowing of the curriculum. Low income schools in Oakland eliminated art, history and even science in order to focus almost exclusively on math and reading. The arrival of Arne Duncan and his top level of advisors borrowed from the Gates Foundation created the opportunity for a re-visioning of the project.

Read more: http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/04/bill_gates_dances_around_the.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-FB

April 4, 2013

Atlanta test cheating: Tip of the iceberg?

By Valerie Strauss | Published April 1, 2013 by The Answer Sheet

It would be easy to think that the Atlanta cheating scandal by adults on standardized tests is the worst we have seen, given last week’s startling indictment against former Atlanta schools superintendent Beverly Hall and 34 others under a law used against mobsters.

But you shouldn’t.

In the past four academic years, test cheating has been confirmed in 37 states and Washington D.C. (You can see details here, and, here, a list of more than 50 ways that schools can manipulate test scores.)  The true extent of these scandals remain unknown, and, as Michael Winerip of The New York Times shows here in this excellent article, it is very hard to get to the bottom of these scandals. In Atlanta, it took the will of two governors who allowed investigators to go in with a lot of time and subpoena power.

Atlanta, in fact, is the tip of a national test-score manipulation “iceberg,” according to Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, or FairTest, a nonprofit dedicated to ending the misuse of standardized tests. The cause? Pressure by politicians on educators to boost standardized exam results “by hook or by crook” to meet the requirements of laws that purport to promote student achievement but don’t.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/04/01/atlanta-test-cheating-tip-of-the-iceberg/

March 31, 2013

Quebec Ignores Warnings About Data-Driven Education Reform

By Robert Green

The last week has seen some alarming developments with respect to the myopic focus on success rates and standardized test results that has been at the heart of US education reform since the introduction of George Bush’s No Child Left Behind law.

This is a testThe first development is the indictment of 35 Atlanta educators for their participation in a massive fraud scandal involving teachers and administrators colluding to change answers on standardized tests. The district superintendant Beverly Hill has been charged with racketeering, theft, influencing witnesses, conspiracy and making false statements. She could face up to 45 years in prison. The New York Times quoted teacher and whistle-blower Jackie Parks as stating that “the cheating had been going on so long, we considered it part of our jobs.”

The second development was the release of a survey by The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) indicating that the situation in Atlanta was far from unique. The survey found evidence of score manipulation in at least 37 states. “Across the U.S., strategies that boost scores without improving learning — including outright cheating, narrow teaching to the test and pushing out low-scoring students — are widespread,” said FairTest Public Education Director Bob Schaeffer. “These corrupt practices are inevitable consequences of the politically mandated overuse and misuse of high-stakes exams.”

In its analysis FairTest identifies over 50 ways that schools ‘cheat’ in order to manipulate results on high stakes standardized tests. These include:

read more »