Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Children Left Behind...

It sounded great..

The quality of our public schools directly affects us all as parents, as students, and as citizens. Yet too many children in America are segregated by low expectations, illiteracy, and self-doubt. In a constantly changing world that is demanding increasingly complex skills from its workforce, children are literally being left behind.

That quote of course was part of the Forward of the President's plan of "No Child Left Behind".

Yet in Ohio and many other states even more children are being left behind than before.

Two years ago in the National Review, Neal McCluskey stated:

No matter how you look at it, federal involvement in education has been a failure.

Further evidence of the lack of improvement in public education in the United States can be seen thru Thomas Fordham Foundations State of the State Standards:

Two-thirds of schoolchildren in America attend class in states with mediocre (or worse) expectations for what their students should learn. That's just one of the findings of Fordham's The State of State Standards 2006, which evaluates state academic standards. The average state grade is a "C-minus"--the same as six years earlier, even though most states revised their standards since 2000.

What's even more distressing is it is being hyped especially here in Ohio that student performance is improving when the reality is the standards keep changing yearly. Which means it is very difficult to compare progress from prior years and while on paper more schools may not be listed in Academic Emergency or Academic Watch the numbers of indicators now that claim to be "Continuous Improvement" are not much different from the bottom two categories. If 1 out of 6 indicators is Academic Watch, it's amazing how the very next year by adding more indicators that 2 out of 12 can be considered Continuous Improvement. While I understand there is "new math" these days that seems to be the same percentage to me.

Ohio's method of funding public education was declared unconstitutional back on March 24, 1997 in a 4-3 decision by the Ohio Supreme Court. The court gave the Legislature one year to remedy the situation. Depending on who you believe it is still considered unconstitutional. Education and funding is a large part of our Gubernatorial race. What most people do seem to agree on is that the increased costs related to meeting the requirements of No Child Left Behind has made it even more difficult for our local school systems.

Even looking outside of Ohio, it does not appear to look any more promising, the Massachusetts Teacher Association:

Three-quarters of all schools in Massachusetts will fail to meet federal educational performance standards by 2014, according to an analysis of student test score data by Ed Moscovitch of Cape Ann Economics. Many of these schools will face increasingly harsh sanctions under the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act, also known as the No Child Left Behind Act.

Not everyone agrees that No Child Left Behind has been a failure, Gary Mathews Superintendent Williamsburg-James City County Public Schools:

For many, the No Child Left Behind Act, signed into law on Jan. 8, 2002, has failed on a number of accounts: a lack of adequate funding; seemingly different interpretations for different states; and an unrealistic expectation that, by 2013, 100 percent of various student subgroups will pass a particular state's test to meet federal standards.

But in my judgment, it has resoundingly succeeded on a more fundamental level, changing American K-12 education forever. Supported by political opposites, such as President George W. Bush and Sen. Ted Kennedy, the act has provided considerable power for the idea that American education is for all kids.

It is not just for white students, and it is not just for those of financial means. The power of No Child Left Behind is found in its belief system and public accountability that recognizes the education of minority, disadvantaged and disabled students. For so long, I'm afraid, many of them were forgotten.

While I agree with Mr. Mathews that NCLB has pointed out areas where our children are not receiving equal educational opportunities, I don't share his belief that these problems will be resolved thru this federal mandate. Identifying need is important but if there is no real action the end result is the same...children who are still left behind.

crossposted at Watchblog....

This post is included in the Carnival of Ohio Politics brought to you by the most wonderful Paul Miller of Northwest Ohio.net


Jill said...

Thanks for this post, Lisa Renee. Sadly, I feel as though the failure of NCLB has become just another talking point about failures in general. Not that it doesn't matter how many failures Bush has piled up, but that NCLB just becomes another broken, burdensome unfunded requirement drives me nuts.

Me4Prez said...

NCLB was a good idea based on a flawed Texas program. They showed improvement, but they also cheated by throwing out some statistics that didn't fit.

Hooda Thunkit said...

NCLB was a bad idea from the get-go.

Those in the Feral Government, I'm sure, have no problems with their children's education, they're probably all in private schools, so the burricrats can't possibly relate.

And Feral unfunded mandates, much like Ron Weasley's memorable taped up magic wand just don't work, but they sure do look impressive on paper.

The Feds (ferals) certainly, and quite possibly the states have no connection with nor expertise in education; that skill lies with the local teaching staff.

I suspect that with equal and LEGAL funding, no matter which school or school system a child attends, children can and will do better, with less people/governments sticking their noses in our children's business.

Set the standards, fund the schools, and stay out of it!

Our teachers and our children will do better if left alone, to do their jobs.

Me4Prez said...

I agree with Hooda again. Have teachers and not politicians or appointees decide what works. I went to a private school because it was the best around, but I also worked 50 hours a week to pay for it and got some help from my grandma. If it wasn't for that, my option would have been an overcrowded school with race and gang issues where drug use was common in study hall.

We had a lot of teachers at my school that worked there for less then they would in a public school because they had all the support and materials they needed. Plus, they had smaller classes and less distractions outside of class during school. Since NCLB, I think the public school I could have went to is doign even worse and that is pretty hard to do