Tuesday, March 08, 2005

The Case Against "Tougher Standards"and A WORD ABOUT "NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND" - from Alfie Kohn -

"...We must quit confining our complaints about NCLB to peripheral problems of implementation or funding. Too many people give the impression that there would be nothing to object to if only their own school had been certified as making adequate progress, or if only Washington were more generous in paying for this assault on local autonomy. We have got to stop prefacing our objections by saying that, while the execution of this legislation is faulty, we agree with its laudable objectives. No. What we agree with is some of the rhetoric used to sell it, invocations of ideals like excellence and fairness. NCLB is not a step in the right direction. It is a deeply damaging, mostly ill-intentioned law, and no one genuinely committed to improving public schools (or to advancing the interests of those who have suffered from decades of neglect and oppression) would want to have anything to do with it.

Ultimately, we must decide whether we will obediently play our assigned role in helping to punish children and teachers. Every in-service session, every article, every memo from the central office that offers what amounts to an instruction manual for capitulation slides us further in the wrong direction until finally we become a nation at risk of abandoning public education altogether. Rather than scrambling to comply with its provisions, our obligation is to figure out how best to resist." from Test Today Privatize Tomorrow - 2004

I had a new kid move into my classroom this week and another today. In our district we are on trimesters. The trimester ended they day before the first kid arrived. Both of these students are academically well below the rest of the class. The first student is a July baby; came fro a K-1 class with a first year teacher; developed later; good family; she won't be making the grade in second grade. The second student moved to another Southeast Alaskan town from a Midwestern state three months ago and is currently living at the local shelter. There are several kids in the family all on various doctor prescribed meds for ADD, bi-polar etc. Add these to my low functioning esl student who was rescued from an abusive family situation last year and another who can have seizures at any time and the meds used to control the seizures may be causing worse damage and as low functioning as she is she is probably functioning higher than her mother, meanwhile she is the oldest of four and dad just lost his third job in as many months. Add these to my two ADD, LD kids who are just now getting into the process of being identified., and that is 6 out of 24 that I can almost guarantee will not be on grade level at test time. That's 25% of my first grade class and I have it easy compared to some. All of these kids and several others who are on the edge and may or may not make it by test time. And we think we have the best school in town! When that AYP bar is raised next year we won't make it but niether will most of our other schools, and isn't that just what they want?


Darren said...

No, you did *not* just quote Alfie Kohn, who, while a rock star in the anti-testing community, is a nutjob. He'd have everyone attend Waldorf schools if he could.

Darren said...

There's a very strong pro-standards article over at

*If* you want a rational view from the other side....

NO NCLB.org said...

"Nut job" or not what Mr. Kohn said was "...What we agree with is some of the rhetoric used to sell it, invocations of ideals like excellence and fairness..." And you send me to read an article written by "...a consultant with the Broad Foundation and the National Center for Educational Accountability..." two of the organizations responsible for selling the agenda of the Business Roundtable and the rest of the corporate education community. The very ones who drummed up the "Standards Movement" along with the "state" tests the come with it, all with the chief aim of putting more of the publics education dollars in corporate pockets. Sorry we are on opposite sides here, and I am afraid we will just have to agree to disagree.

Darren said...

Exactly what issue do you have with standardized testing? Why should the state and federal governments not have some objective way to determine if they're getting the appropriate bang for their buck? Why should effectiveness not enter into the picture.

Forgive me, but I honestly do *not* understand the mindset that says that governments should just shovel money to us because "we know what we're doing".