Saturday, November 26, 2005

The First of two must read blogs --

Things are slow news wise right now but two recent posts have caught my eye. This first one is from Jim Horn over at Schools Matter. This post is not from Jim however but from graduate student Judy Rabin and it comments on the biggest news in the NCLB world these days, the "recent ruling by a federal judge in Michigan who dismissed legal challenges to NCLB on grounds that Congress has the right to impose mandates on the states..." Her premise is that this "...should be a clear signal for opponents of NCLB to change strategy."

Her main point, "It is becoming increasingly clear this battle has got to be fought on the grounds that NCLB is a violation of the most basic and fundamental human rights to freedom and is a clear violation of the Constitutional right of due process as stated in the Fourteenth Amendment: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws..."

She uses Chief Justice Warren’s opinion in Brown v the Board to make her point. "...With its embedded stigma of failure associated with standardized tests, what is NCLB doing to the motivation and ability of a child to learn? In effectively negating Plessy, Warren stated, "Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." In 2005, we need to ask if the type of education a child receives also be inherently unequal. The evidence is piling up and has been clearly documented that NCLB, with its punitive consequences, sanctions and emphasis on testing and failure is not only leading to further segregation but is causing intellectual and emotional harm to children. Like segregation itself, it is inherently unjust and causes damage that can never be undone. Increasingly, the most vulnerable and under-funded schools are being turned over to private, for-profit management organizations with scripted, mind-numbing narrow curriculum.

The Brown decision established the doctrine of sociological jurisprudence in education by invoking the Fourteenth Amendment. It's time to revisit Brown and create new frameworks for legal challenges to NCLB on the grounds that it is an inherently unequal and unjust law..."

It is an argument worth pondering.

Post number two comes from Teacherken. In
BLUEBERRIES: our wrong national education policy, Ken discusses educational reform and his view:

"...I ask people to remember this: we have a shortage of qualified teachers currently in our classrooms, we want to improve our public education, and if we are going to attempt to do so, we must acknowledge that reality. We must also recognize, as the first Cuban quote I offered makes evident, that we cannot successfully change our schools without the cooperation of the millions of us already dedicated to the future of our children. That suggests that the voices of educators needs to have more predominant places in our public dialog, and that our role should not merely to be the punching bags for politicians and others looking to score points. We have a responsibility to work cooperatively, but it is unrealistic to expect enthusiasm from those who receive the bulk of the criticism and yet have little opportunity to offer our experience.

And when you listen to our voices, your attitude may well change."

Read the original post if only for the blueberry story that is the title, but for me Ken hits when he states "...
Far too much of the rhetoric surrounding the arguments about educational policy seems premised on the idea that those of us working in the schools do not have the best interests of children at heart. It often has a tinge to it that leads one to believe its advocates think that by using punitive measures and relying on rhetoric that denigrates those already committed to our children that somehow magically the schools can become a place that solves all the national problems of the day..."

When you work in schools with teachers you realize these people are dedicated to children. It is with teachers that reform must start and I believe that the best thing that has come out of the current reform blitz is that teachers and their institutions have become focussed on the best ways of reaching all kids. That said, NCLB still is a terrible law that must go.

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