from a public HS teacher (Gov't, Religion, Soc. Issues), who is eclectic (Dem-leaning) politically and Quaker (& open) on everything else. Hope you enjoy what you find here.

Saturday, January 31, 2004

My first content post.... this will be on education. It is one reason I support Howard Dean, but that is not my main focus.

No Child Left Behind is an atrocity. There is only one good idea in the entire bill, and that is the disaggregation of test scores by subgroups. When one test purports to be a measure of schools, systems and teachers it will fail to be an adquate measure of the performance of any of them. The real purpose of tests should be to provide feedback: if I give a test and many of my students have trouble with a particular groups of questions, there are two possibilities (a) the questions are confusing or poorly framed, and/or (b) I didn't do a very good job of teaching it. In either case, I need that feedback quickly so that I can adjust instruction FOR THOSE STUDENTS. Under NCLB you have one set of high stakes tests towards the end of the year, which probably will not be scored in time to make any remediative instruction for the students that do "poorly." That lack of meaningful and useful feedback is a sufficient diqualifier for me. Furhter, the law requires testing in reading and math for children as low as 3rd grade, and anticipates possibly adding tests for Science. Given the statkes for schools and shool systems, you will see an elimination of art and music and social studies, none of which are tested, and science until it is tested, in order to concentrate on raising test scores. That will deny children in schools that do not perform well access to the fullness of what a good education could be.

Of course, all of this is meaningless in one sense, since the clear intent of the Republicans who pushed for this law is to gut public education - already we see Republican legislatures in Utah and Viriginia moving to opt out of receiving Federal education funds so that they do not have to conform to the the testing requiements of the law. Of course, that will mean eliminating the Federal Title I funds (which some conservatives have always opposed) from schools that even with those funds often have insufficient money to meet all the needs of their students.

Those Democrats like Ted Kennedy and George Miller who could snookered by Bush on this, hping that by agreeing to his demands they could get more money for education, should be ashamed of themselves.

Like the attempts to pack the Courts with people from the totally inappropriately named Federalist Society (ironic given some of the opinions written by John Marshall and the writings of Hamilton, Madison and Jay), this education law is a brazen attempt to strip away the social progress of the last 70 years of the 20th Century - remember, many of these people think the New Deal was the worse thing that ever happened to this Country.

And don't forget - Karl Rove's political hero is Marc Hanna, the architect of the election of William Mckinley. Of course, Hanna made one big mistake, and that was changing running mates for the election of 1900. But then, (a) he didn't know an anarchist would kill McKinley, and (b) he probably had no idea that T. Roosevelt would actively go after the Trusts, or create the first real environmental movement in this country.

That's enough for this post.

Since I have not figured out how people can post comments on this, rude remarks are welcomed at kber@earthlink.net Please make sure that your title line begins with teacherken so that I will know that you are a real person, otherwise either you won't ettrough my spam filter, or if you do, I may delete your mesagge without opening it.

Peace all!!
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