Friday, September 30, 2005

Louisiana Awarded $20.9 Million No Child Left Behind Grant to Assist Damaged Charter Schools, Create New Charter Schools

Ed. Dept press release, September 30, 2005

Louisiana has been awarded a $20.9 million No Child Left Behind grant through the Charter Schools Program to help reopen charter schools damaged by the hurricanes, help create 10 new charter schools, and expand existing charter schools to accommodate students displaced by hurricane damage, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced today.

"President Bush and I are committed to making sure these students get a quality education wherever they are and this funding will get Louisiana students back in school," said Spellings...

Note money most likely headed for the private sector, not the one place where public money is needed right now which is, and was the public sector, as in public schools.

No school nurses left behind --

Here is an interesting article about some side effects of NCLB:

From Salon, September 29, By Laurie Udesky

School nurses -- once available every day in most public schools -- have virtually disappeared as a full-time presence in many schools around the country. At the same time, chronic illnesses among schoolchildren have mushroomed. Although there are no precise figures, experts say anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of schoolchildren suffer a chronic health condition, many of which require treatment during the school day. In West Virginia schools, for example, more than 16,000 children required healthcare plans in 2002, more than double the number six years earlier. These illnesses include life-threatening asthma and food allergies, diabetes, seizure disorders and cancers as well as mental health problems like severe depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

It's well-known that the academic testing demands of the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind program has forced many already financially strapped school districts to make deep cuts in music, art and physical education. There's been little outcry over the impact the legislation has had on school nursing -- perhaps because few parents realize that a school nurse may be at their child's school as little as once a week, if at all...

...Sanfilippo's worries are well grounded. Mistakes are more than three times as likely to occur when an unlicensed person and not a nurse is responsible, according to a 2000 University of Iowa survey, whose results were reported in the Journal of School Health. Unfortunately, the vast majority of school employees handing out medications have no medical background, the report continued. The randomized national survey of 649 school nurses in 49 states showed that more than 75 percent of school nurses had to delegate medication administration to school staff lacking medical training, referred to as "an unlicensed assistive personnel..."

Thursday, September 29, 2005

No Child Left Behind does disservice to educators --

Here is another column that I wish i had wrote. I quote it here in full:

By Jim Dunn

I just read the latest reports on school testing. You need a full command of the alphabet to wade though the entire test list: MAP, AYP, NCLB, SAT, PSAT, ACT, and on and on.

With all the testing we do, I wonder when the kids have time to learn? And do they only learn what will be tested?
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) is the main report; and, sure enough, our public education system is under attack again. Brothers and Sisters, I don't want to step on toes, but I can't dance to the same old tunes today. NCLB needs reform, now!

Just for the simple fact that NCLB reduces the meaning of public education to numbers on a page collected on one day of the year; we ought to be screaming that this is wrong. Just because it mandates change, but fails to fund the change, we should be outraged.

When we read that federal law now mandates the required remedial work be done by third party private companies - and not by districts themselves - forcing huge amounts of public funding into the private sector, our manure meter should go off the chart.

But most of all, when we see NCLB sets our schools up for failure, calls for all children to fit cookie cutter molds, including those in special education and those just learning the English language, we need to be opening our windows and yelling we are mad as hell, and we aren't going to take it.

How dare bureaucrats who know nothing about how the brain works, how children learn, how culture is transmitted or how true learning is measured be permitted to mandate tests that will ensure our schools, students, and teachers be branded as failures.

No child is being left behind now simply means our education system is no longer going anyplace meaningful; when you are going nowhere, nobody is left behind.

Honestly, do you think a student who moved into your school system and speaks no English should score average on the first English reading test he has ever taken in his life? Do you think your entire school should be labeled as NOT MAKING YEARLY PROGRESS for that student?

Special education students already suffer in school. Some of our kids have damaged brains, some have chemical im-balances in their brain that are NOT THEIR FAULT.

Do you think that child should be expected to perform as well on a test as the students who don't have such challenges? Do you think a disabled child should read the local newspaper and learn he is the reason his entire school was labeled a failure? It simply doesn't pass the fairness test.

Our democracy is based on public education, and today's attacks on our public schools make me wonder about our morality. It is way too easy to squander our opportunity to help children on meaningless debates of pointless, unsolvable issues instead of digging into the immediate problems we can do something about like clothing the poor, healing the sick, feeding the hungry and ministering to children. It isn't the smog in the air that worries me; it is the meanness, barely concealed hostility, and utter loss of civility in the air that is choking the life out of us and our schools.

NCLB is not just going away.

The relentless pressure to stack 'em deep and teach 'em cheap is not going away.

The continual search for a magic bullet that will miraculously cure all that ails public education with little effort and no cost is not going away. Neither are vouchers, political opportunists, over simplification of issues, and freedom from religious zealots who would dictate freedom's limits based on personal views.

The marketers and advertisers, the pandering politicians, the money worshippers and the greedy are coming after your kids by attacking your schools, teachers, and administrators. They intend to leave no child behind.

©Sun-News of the Northland 2005

I disagree that it won't go away. We must unite and make it all go away and get back to giving all of our kids the high quality, free public education that they deserve!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Here is another right on editorial from Pennsylvania, this one from the Patriot News Sunday, September 25, 2005, via Penn Live.

The author nails it at the end:

We have no quarrel with the basic thrust of No Child Left Behind. It seeks to raise the level of academic accomplishment in the nation's schools and hold those accountable that fail to do so.

But this is a Herculean task that comes down to helping one child at a time to overcome whatever educational, social, physical and mental difficulties he or she may face on the road to becoming an educated individual. This task, to succeed, begins long before the child shows up at school to begin kindergarten. Parental instruction and encouragement, plus pre-school education, that launches the learning process early and readies children for the challenge they face when they reach school, are critical.

It's wrong to put all the pressure on the schools to get it right. As parents and citizens, it is in our own best interests to give those schools that are making every effort to improve student achievement our support, encouragement and help.

Likewise, in our concern for the shortcomings of a few, we shouldn't neglect to recognize and commend those who performed at or above expectations. Congratulations to those students and schools that met the challenge.

Jack here again, Lately I have been reading that even though there is a huge outcry against NCLB there is little chance of getting rid of it or even of changing it very much. We must rid ourselves of this attitude. There is everything wrong with this law and we must either drastically change it or rescind it.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Lawsuit against No Child Left Behind misdirected --

This week's Advocate is out. As usual lots of required reading.

This is an editorial from Pennsylvania that gets it right. This is so right on I print it in entirety from The Tribune-Democrat
Published: September 23, 2005 09:10 am

Connecticut currently is suing the U.S. Department of Education for the unfunded mandates that are part of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).

But such lawsuits fail to address the fact that full funding for the legislation, which supports more high-stakes standardized testing, does not guarantee that students will be more successful in school.

Instead, we need to re-evaluate the goals for the legislation and redistribute funding accordingly.

Annual testing of children in grades 3 to 8 is a hallmark of NCLB, and many states have acknowledged that the policy is not cost-effective, as the price of testing and related components of the legislation exceed the money received from the federal government. If districts do not meet the annual cut-off scores to demonstrate that students are making adequate progress each year on the tests, they risk losing federal funding for their schools.

The legislation, however, does not reflect the reality of many children’s lives.

During a recent visit to a rural school in the northern tier of Pennsylvania, I found that about half of the children in grades K-3 are living in poverty. The district anticipates that 80 percent of these children will not finish high school. These numbers are alarming, and will have long-term consequences for the commonwealth. Other parts of the state and nation are following a similar trend.

As school and community infrastructures crumble in many districts, and as jobs that pay a living wage are becoming more difficult to find, increasing the amount of standardized testing does little to improve the day-to-day instruction of individual children in public schools. This is not the purpose of standardized tests.

Most teachers do not need standardized tests to determine which children may be struggling the most. In fact, teachers are readily able to identify students who may be at risk for dropping out of school without reviewing their standardized testing profile. Teachers know which children need more support with their school learning, and they have high expectations for these children. Yet, those I’ve talked with wonder why we need to spend so much money to tell us what we already know. Wouldn’t the money be better spent elsewhere to support the children in our public schools?

If, as a society, we are truly interested in ensuring that all children can meet with success in public schools and become well-educated citizens in our democracy, we need to be sure their basic needs are met before we put demands on their school learning. As the number of children living in poverty and without health care reaches record-high numbers, we need to re-examine the blithe claim that we will leave no child behind.

Connecticut’s lawsuit is clearly misdirected. We do not need more money from the federal government to pay for standardized testing and related instruction to improve test scores. Instead, we need more support to care for children in America’s public schools.

The work of advocating for children needs to come from communities such as ours. We need to insist that our legislators direct funding not toward the already wealthy testing companies and schools where children easily pass standardized tests but to the well-being of the neediest children in our state.

We need to all be held accountable for the welfare of our children, rather than expecting that children should be held accountable to academic tests that may guarantee federal money for their schools but are meaningless in the scheme of the very real and pressing problems they face each day.

Jacqueline Edmondson, Ph.D., is associate professor of education and teacher-education coordinator at Penn State.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

AREVA MARTIN: 'No Child Left Behind' Strands Young Hurricane Victims --

By Areva D. Martin, Esq.

...School records and test scores have been destroyed, leaving school officials concerned about how to insure that students are placed in the correct grade and receive the appropriate services.

Ordinarily, parents or caregivers would be able to assist in reconstructing much needed school records, however, many parents have been separated from their children and worse than that, thousands are completely distraught by the eyewitness accounts of death and destruction caused by the storm. Indeed, watching dead bodies float in infested waters for days on end has taken its toll on local residents. Some reports suggest that over 150,000 children from counties in Louisiana and Mississippi may be unable to return to school for at least half, if not, the entire 2005-2006 school year...

...In the midst of these harrowing events, school districts in
Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama that accept children from the devastated areas are being assured that some of the federal funding requirements of NCLB, will be waived in order to expedite the enrollment of students. According to U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings in a NPR interview, the federal government will issue waivers to those districts that assist in providing classrooms to those students who are displaced. This waiver, amongst other things, will include allowing students to be bused and allowing displaced teachers from New Orleans and Jefferson parishes to work in other states.

However, Secretary Spellings confirms in a recent NPR interview that this “flexibility” does not extend to school districts throughout the nation that enroll students that have been displaced. The presence of students in some districts, according to Secretary Spellings, is not sufficient for the suspension of accountability requirements of President Bush’s NCLB.

Secretary Spellings' pronouncement is similar to the President’s response to the entire New Orleans tragedy: too little and too late. It is absurd for the federal government to vow to assist families in finding schools to enroll students, yet be unwilling to give those schools all, not just some, of the tools needed to really provide the assistance. To force schools to meet the stringent requirements of NCLB is absurd. Many of the students that will be enrolling in schools throughout the nation have absolutely no idea how long they will remain in these schools, many will have no school records, and almost all, will be so traumatized as a result of the last two weeks’ events that performing at any level will be a complete miracle...

...If the Bush administration is really serious about doing everything within its power to assist the Hurricane victims, and particularly the children of the torn region, at the very least, it must be open to the possibility of reviewing on a case by case basis the waiver of the stringent requirements of NCLB for any school district throughout the nation that opens its doors to the tens of thousands of displaced students....Providing all the aid that the families in the Gulf region need and require is not simply a matter of choice, but a national imperative. And as the families and leaders of Louisiana and Mississippi struggle to put their lives back together, hopefully, the enrollment of their children in schools will not become yet another burden to bear.

Areva D. Martin, Esq. is managing partner of Martin & Martin, LLP in Los Angeles, where her practice includes civil litigation with an emphasis on special education, disability discrimination and labor and employment litigation. She represents families in IEPs, mediations and due process hearings and can be reached at 213-388-4747 or www.

This article was originally printed in the Los Angeles Daily Journal on September 13, 2005.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

To what question is more testing the correct answer? --

Another gem from Susan O'Hanian. It is a long article, and unfortunately, so are my quotes.

...These “softly-bigoted” critics, as it were, point beyond the soaring
rhetoric of NCLB to the demonstrable consequences of these unattainable
goals for poor, immigrant, and disabled populations.

They stubbornly talk about the crushing effects of repeated failures for
an increasing number of schools and schoolchildren, who are routinely
left behind in the wake of a policy stamped with the “hard racism of
unachievable demands.”

...Regardless of which side one takes in this debate, it is clear that 100
percent proficiency in reading and math, even if achievable, will not
end achievement gaps -- no more than it will end income and opportunity
gaps, which are the primary sources for the achievement gaps to begin
with. That is unless we are willing to place a ceiling on achievement at
the basic level of proficiency that NCLB performance goals call for.

That hardly seems likely in the current testing scores arms race that is
sweeping America, as parents and communities use the available resources
they can muster to accelerate their own children’s advantages, thus
moving them on ahead of those we insist are not to be left behind...

...Another problem that has emerged since standardized testing was kicked
into high gear by NCLB involves a disturbing and continuing trend toward
school resegregation and the resulting homogenization of school populations.

It did not take NCLB to begin the resegregation of American public
schools. That process started in the 1970s as a result of a number of
factors, not the least of which were some critical federal court cases
that struck down or watered down federal desegregation orders.

These cases climaxed in 1992 with Freeman v. Pitts, when the Supreme
Court effectively relinquished federal jurisdiction to intervene in
situations that result in de facto segregation.

We are now beginning to see how NCLB is contributing to this troubling
trend of resegregation.

In a recent op-ed piece in the Oregonian, Carol Berkley, a teacher in
Portland, passionately protests the test-induced phenomenon in Portland
that threatens years of conscious effort to integrate the city’s
neighborhoods. Test scores in Portland are now having an impact on
property values and home-buying patterns.

Because schools with sizable minorities are finding themselves
increasingly on the watch list for failing to meet adequate yearly
progress (AYP), students in these schools, both white and minority, are
given the opportunity to transfer to other, high-scoring Portland schools.

This creates a brain drain and leads to white flight from the
watch-listed schools in integrated neighborhoods, while it discourages
new families from moving into these neighborhoods if they can afford to
buy elsewhere...

...Research from California also shows how a high-stakes testing policy,
when combined with requirements to dissagregate data, could discourage
diversity in schools. A 2003 study of California elementary schools
found a strong correlation between socioeconomic status and test scores.
That is hardly surprising, but the study also found that the number of
subgroups in a school significantly affects the odds of meeting AYP.

Regardless of a school’s socioeconomic status, there is a decreased
likelihood for schools to meet AYP as the number of testing subgroups
increases. Thus, there is a clear incentive to discourage the presence
of populations that are likely to threaten a school’s chances of making

Even as pressures mount, testing targets rise, and more schools fail,
there seems to be no quenching of the thirst for more testing in
schools, with all its purported benefits for those whose suffering will
be lessened if they survive the treatment.

Now we see the education industry and many corporate leaders arguing for
more testing in the high schools as a way to somehow bring about an end
to the exporting and importing of high-tech labor. On the face of it, it
would seem that this problem might be more readily solved by decisions
of corporate CEOs than by struggling high school students, thus making
more “reform” altogether unnecessary.

Perhaps there is a dawning realization that blaming the schools for
botched economic policies may constitute successful diversions that mask
more insidious agendas.

But as a basis for school improvement or for democratic ideals, these
testing solutions may reflect, in fact, a dangerous and cynical
expression of an oppressive form of social engineering paraded about
under the banner of economic and cultural liberation.

Jim Horn is assistant professor of educational foundations at Monmouth
University in West Long Branch, N.J. He also hosts the weblog, Schools

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

The Seven Deadly Absurdities of No Child Left Behind

by Gerald W. Bracey from Susan O'Hanian

Briefly here are the seven:

1. The law uses the phrase scientifically based research 111 times and demands that such research support any educational programs that a school or district adopts...But there is no scientifically based research or any research to support the laws mandates...Indeed, research argues against the use of such high-stakes testing as an instrument of school reform. Tests that serve as useful monitors lose their credibility, validity and value when high stakes are attached...

...2. NCLB lacks research support because NCLB depends solely on punishment. As schools fail to make the arbitrary AYP, the law imposes punitive, increasingly harsh sanctions. The law follows the grand tradition of the beatings will continue until morale improves.

3. Even those who think punishment can motivate people would never use it as NCLB does. It punishes the entire school for the failures of the few, often the very few...Schools thus have 37 opportunities to fail, only one to succeed.

4. The law demands that all students must be proficient in reading, math, and science by 2014. In his 2003 presidential address to the American Educational Research Association, testing expert Robert Linn projected it would take 61 years, 66 years, and 166 years, respectively, to get fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-graders to the proficient level in math. Alas, Linn's projections are wildly optimistic...

...5. As a consequence of #3 and #4 above, California projects that by the deadline year of 2014, NCLB will label 99 percent of its schools failing...A September, 2005 study estimated a 95% failure rate for six Great Lakes states, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.

6. Any school that fails to make AYP for two consecutive years must offer all students the option to transfer to a successful school. Thus, if a school's special education students or English Language Learners fail to make AYP two years in a row, the school must offer all students the choice option in spite of the fact that the school succeeded for the other 35 student categories...

...7. This is the biggie: Schools alone cannot possibly accomplish what NCLB demands. But this is what NCLB mandates. It commands schools, all by themselves, to close the achievement gap between affluent and poor, majority and minority. This is ridiculous. The gap appears before kids reach school...One study found that the three-year-olds of professional mothers used more words when interacting with their mothers than mothers on welfare used in interacting with their three-year-olds. That's right, three year old kids in one group used more words than adults in another group...

Some of my favorite stuff comes toward the end of the article...

...Some have always viewed NCLB as yet another Bush administration Orwellian Double Speak program doing the opposite of what its name implies like Clean Waters, Clear Skies, Healthy Forests. Behind the cover of its idealistic-sounding moniker, No Child Left Behind really intends to increase the use of vouchers, increase the privatization of public schools, transfer large sums of public funds to the private sector, reduce the size of the public sector, and weaken or destroy the teachers unions (two Democratic power bases). It is working...

...Although children and their teachers lose under the law, the testing companies have benefited mightily from it. F. Peter Jovanovich of the mammoth Pearson Education looked at NCLB and said, This reads almost like our business plan. Then-Educational Testing Service vice president, Sharon Robinson, reportedly called the law The Test Publishers Full Employment Act. The law gifts testing companies over $2 billion annually.

The hot properties currently, though, are those that provide tutoring and other instruction that the law designates as Supplementary Educational Services. Nationally, some 1800 providers can collect as much as $2 billion dollars a year. And, while the law holds public schools accountable for making progress or not, it visits no such sanctions on these private companies. The test preparation and tutoring companies have no obligation to prove that their programs actually work and no scientifically based research supports the contention that they do. No one is looking at the results of the Supplementary Educational Services. U. S. Department of Education spokespeople are on record saying that they merely want to create conditions such that the market [for providers] can be as vibrant as possible. (In fact, such services were not a part of the original plan. That plan called for vouchers to send students to private schools. The supplemental services were added when Congress rejected the voucher provisions. If FEMA had responded as quickly to Katrina as the administration turned to vouchers as part of its Katrina repair program, Michael Brown might still head the agency).

An enduring mystery of NCLB is that prominent Democrats such as Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and George Miller of California supported its passage. In spring, 2004, Senator Kennedy and Representative Miller received information, both by email and postal service mail, explaining the logic of the outcomes described above. Senator Kennedy did not respond. From Representative Miller's office, a staffer emailed a single sentence: "I certainly hope not." From such a response one must conclude that Congress is not giving NCLB the critical scrutiny it requires.

The current law mandates annual testing for all children in grades three through eight in reading and math with science to be added in 2007. It also requires testing in one high school grade, to be decided by each state. President Bush has proposed extending the testing through the high school years. Given the chaos that the current law is producing in the lower grades, Bush's proposal constitutes the domestic equivalent of invading Iran.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Paige, former aides join consulting firm --

from USA Today posted 9/17/2005 1:44 PM

Be sure to check out the new Advocate posted by Joe Thomas yesterday. Necessary reading as always.

WASHINGTON (AP) Rod Paige and his former top aides at the Education Department have organized a consulting group to offer high-dollar advice on policies they helped create and later enforced, including the controversial No Child Left Behind Act.

Paige, who resigned as education secretary 10 months ago, has agreed to be chairman of New York-based Chartwell Education Group.

It is not unusual for Washington officials to become consultants after leaving government. But this venture involves virtually an entire leadership team from President Bush's first term.

"We're pretty confident that we're heading into a place where there's a void," said John Danielson, Paige's former chief of staff and the new company's chief executive officer...

...Danielson confirmed details about the company in an interview with The Associated Press. At least three other former Education Department managers have signed up:

William Hansen, the No. 2 department official under Paige, is known for expertise in higher education. He held several positions at the department, including transition team director for Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney after their election.

Susan Sclafani, who, like Paige, came to Washington from the Houston Independent School District. She was Paige's chief federal adviser on matters of vocational and adult education.

Ron Tomalis, who had a pivotal role in enforcing the No Child Left Behind law as acting assistant secretary over elementary and secretary education.

Patricia Sullivan, director of the Center on Education Policy, said Paige's team did not have a reputation in office for showing the flexibility that many potential clients may want.

<>At the same time, she said, "they provide access, in terms of relationships with the White House, Capitol Hill and Congress, and access to knowledge of the bureaucracy. I can't think of a person who knows the workings of the Department of Education more than Bill Hansen." (Italics are mine.)...

...By law, former senior officers may not engage in business dealings with the agency for at least one year from they date they departed, a restriction that would still apply to Paige and Sclafani. Danielson said the company is not a lobbying firm and will not seek business with the government.

In practice, however, that line between lobbying and consulting is often unclear, said Kent Cooper, co-founder of the PoliticalMoneyLine website.

As is noted often here, there are no surprises here, are there?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

U.S. Department of Education Accepting Applications For Teacher-to-Teacher Training Corps --

from Ohanian:

Ohanian Comment: Looks like the U. S. Department of Education is going into the in-service provider business. Your tax dollars at work. I am the proud owner of a "Banned in California" T-shirt. Some years back, the California State Board of Education put out a call similar to the one below for literacy expertise. More than twenty experts from around the country who professed tenets in keeping with a holistic approach all received the same rejection letter. Rumor had it that Marion Joseph vetted applications for "wrong names" in the bibiographies. The last I heard, Joseph, a former member of the California State Board of Education, was working on the California implementation of the Federal Reading First legislation.

Rejection by California isn't trivial. It means that no district may hire us to offer our expertise. Only "approved" experts are acceptable. I forsee the same thing with the little list the Feds are compiling.

And it is looking more and more like a national curriculum for reading.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Days may be numbered for vocational education -

By LAURA CLARK/The Ukia (California)Daily Journal 9/12/05

This is what Bill Gates and his cronies are trying to sell us. That all jobs in the futre will require a college education. This is a crock! This woman is way more on the mark:

Vocational education is the subject area that serves most of the students in the average high school today, but the future of this "alternative to a university" looks bleak, according to a local board member of the California Industrial and Technology Education Association.

In addition to serving on this board, which represents all the vocational teachers in the state of California, John Chocholak -- who retired in June from Ukiah High School after 30 years and does consulting work with the California Department of Education -- also serves on the Equipment, Engine and Training Counsel Board, which is a national board of about 77 companies that makes "everything from lawn mowers to road graders."

Hence, it's safe to say this Voc Ed supporter has more to offer than just an opinion on the subject.

"When Delaine Easton was (state school) superintendent she said about 17 percent of the students in high school eventually go to a university, and that leaves about 83 percent of the students who will never see a university and therefore need to be in an educational program to train them for non-university type jobs," said Chocholak, who taught precision machining and first-year auto shop at UHS and taught advanced ROP courses in those areas through the Mendocino County Office of Education.

"Most of the occupations today in the United States do not require a college degree," Chocholak added.

These job occupations today require more academic background than ever, but a college degree is not what they require, he said. What they require are more specific kinds of hands-on-skills, he said.

"For example, a machinist today will work with machinery that is controlled by computers. Now, he still needs to know all the trade skills a machinist needs to know, but he has to have a greater math background so he can do the programing on these computers; but he doesn't need a college degree to do this work. So even though his academic education is more in-depth, he also has to have more in-depth trade skills," Chocholak said.

Chocholak feels the No Child Left Behind Act -- signed by President George Bush on Jan. 8, 2002 -- takes away a student's choice.

"The No Child Left Behind Act, a federal program, is now requiring all schools in the United States to prepare all students to go to the university. When you are preparing all students to go to the university then you are leaving out what I call choice. Students should be able to choose whether or not they want to go to the university, or would prefer to seek a position, or trade, that does not require a university type of education. You give them choices of course there are some required classes they need to take and I think it's wonderful a student has to take two years of a foreign language, but two years of a foreign language isn't going to help a student get a job and earn a living in this town," he said.

Yet, the average high school is not built for trade skills, it is built to send students to the university, he said.

Asked the future of Voc Ed, Chocholak said: "It's likely very grim, because as all aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act are being installed in the school system. There's no room left in the school day for a student to take vocational classes."

"We are watching automotive programs close up and down the north coast," he said. "If the federal government pushes the No Child venue it will eventually force the closing of our programs at the high school. ... It really has to do with the graduation requirements. For instance, today if you are a student who is going to one of the UC colleges, you really don't have time in your schedule to take a vocational class because the courses you take are pretty well predicted for four years. Every period is taken up for four years to get you into the UC system.

"No Child Left behind will require all students to take those courses, even if they don't want to go to a university. The state has signed on to that plan. It is policy and they are following through on it now," he added, guessing it will happen over the next five to 10 years.

"The master plan" of the No Child Left Behind Act is to move all vocational studies to the community college, Chocholak said. Which is poor planning, according to Chocholak, who says doing so would kill vocational education altogether.

"What would happen if the first football experience was at the community college level? On its face it sounds ridiculous. Nobody would do that because it would kill the game. What if we started music at the community college level, or art, or English, or science? So what is going to happen to vocational education is, if it starts at the community college level, it is going to die," he said.

"This is a big crisis, a very big crisis, some people are tying to minimize it, but I feel like the Titanic has hit the iceberg and everyone is saying the ship is safe, but we all know what happened."

"It does not bode well at all. It's not a bright outlook. I think we need the university system and I think we need to send our best there. I am not saying we don't need the university system. I am a graduate from a university, but we really need to uphold and keep trade skills in our system (too)."

Unless of course, one wants to totally destroy public education.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Look at Iraq and Hurricane Katrina - Why Should We Think NCLB is Good for Schools? -

This is a press release for a new book, which might be worth a read. It's by

Debra Craig, ... her newly released, sassy-titled book, 'Why Is the Teacher’s Butt So Big? Plus 111 Other Mysteries of Public Education' hopes to become the touchstone of the new education revolution in America. Her first target: Deconstructing No Child Left Behind

Sounds like a plan to me. Here's some more...

"While I believe the government had good intentions when they passed this bi-partisan legislation, the basic premise of NCLB is very flawed," Debra elaborated. "It's truly absurd to think that EVERY child, regardless of race, background, motivation, biological ability, parental support, or lack of parental support is able to become "proficient" or even "advanced" on some artificial and arbitrary state assessment test given at the end of the school year. I don't know if there's anything we can say all people are proficient at except maybe breathing and even then, people with asthma might want to argue that statement."

Debra also thinks if children are all able to obtain some assigned government standard, then why stop there? "Why doesn't the government come up with a No Adult Left Behind program mandating that all adults earn a minimum income of $50,000 a year. Look at all of the problems that would solve in our society."

She also is upset that the government thinks schools are "leaving behind children" because of race. This Southern California teacher agrees that an "achievement gap" exists in schools, but disagrees it's because teachers aren't teaching to certain subgroups of students. "It's ridiculous to think teachers aren't teaching to all students. The achievement gap isn't about race, but about socio-economic levels.

The premise of NCLB is alot like blaming the leaders of all those poor black folks in New Orleans for the destruction of Katrina. Those with means got out of town everyone else got left behind. Sounds like our education system to me. Maybe we, as a society do need to give everyone the means to get out.

Monday, September 12, 2005

More on Reading First

This from Education Week By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo Published: September 7, 2005

(Also be sure to check out the new Advocate. Good reading. Lots of important stuff.)

Basically this is a short recapitlation of the reports noted here a couple of weeks ago. The last few paragraphs give a flavor of what's going on...

The No Child Left Behind Act, which authorized Reading First, was bound to give a competitive edge to offerings that most closely reflected the program’s tenets, said Robert W. Sweet Jr., who helped write the Reading First legislation as a senior staff member for the Republican-led House Education and the Workforce Committee. He recently left his government post to return to the National Right to Read Foundation, an organization that promotes phonics instruction.

“All of these things are commercially driven,” Mr. Sweet said, referring to initiatives to improve education. “There are some people, some groups, some universities who have been involved in trying to promote research-based education long before the Reading First program came about,” and may have had an advantage.

But Susan B. Neuman, the former assistant secretary of education responsible for the Reading First program’s launch, said that she and others working on the $1 billion-a-year initiative had hoped it would open up the marketplace to new and innovative reading programs reflecting the latest research on how children learn to read. Instead, she said, Reading First led to tinkering with commercial products that had been around for years.

And more money for publishers with connections.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Failing Students, Rising Profits

<>by ANNETTE FUENTES [from the September 19, 2005 issue of The Nation]

Read this. through NCLB schools all over the country are dumping their lowest performing students on one particular for profit school that does not have to show AYP. the results are good profits for the company. The schools do better on the tests and the lowest performing students are still the lowest performing student. As usual with NCLB, everyone's a winner but the kids.

CEP's Richardson says the proof of his company's success is that districts keep renewing their contracts. The question is how success is defined. Public schools have strong incentives to remove the lowest-performing students from their classrooms and make them CEP's problem, especially since the passage of No Child Left Behind. "CEP was a way to get around NCLB," said Mitchell. "If you move these kids from the regular school program, you automatically decrease the dropout rate and get a gain on your test scores. So you contract those kids out; they're in a separate environment, but they aren't counted in the total."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Can We See the Racism of Testing Now?

This by way of Susan Ohanian from Jim Horn's School's Matter Tuesday September 6:

As California legislators ring their hands about how to avoid a lawsuit from disablility groups regarding the inherent discrimination of the proposed high school exit exam, perhaps they will consider these questions: Is Poverty a Disability? Does Poverty lead to large numbers of failures on these tests? Are these tests not a most useful tool to continue the racist oppression of failure and disenfranchisement that is packaged and sold as the way to bring about equality?

Consider these stats:
Of the 10 states with the highest percentage of blacks, 9 have high school exit exams. Five (*) of these ten make up half of the states that use a test to make promotion decisions in elementary grades.

Mississippi (1989)
Louisiana* (1991)
South Carolina* (1990)
Georgia* (1994)
Maryland (1982)
Alabama (1985)
North Carolina* (1982)
Virginia (1986)
Delaware* (No HS Test)
Tennessee (1986)

Of the 10 states with the highest percentage of hispanics, 8 have high school exit exams. Five (*) of these ten make up the other half of the 10 states that use a test to make promotion decisions in elementary grades.

New Mexico* (1990)
California* (2006)
Texas* (1987)
Arizona (2006)
Nevada (1981)
Colorado (no test)
Florida* (1979)
New York* (1980)
New Jersey (1985)
Illinois (no test)

Of the 10 states with the highest percentage of whites, only one (Minnesota) has a high school exit exam. None uses a test to determine grade promotion in elementary grades.
Maine (no HS test)
Vermont (no HS test)
New Hampshire (no HS test)
W. Virginia (no HS test)
Iowa (no HS test)
North Dakota (no HS test)
Montana (no HS test)
Kentucky (no HS test)
Wyoming (no HS test
Minnesota (2000)

The 10 states with the lowest graduation rates (Greene, 2002)--you guessed it. All of them have high school exit exams, and 9 of them have had exit exams for more than 10 years:

Georgia (1994)
Nevada (1981)
Florida (1979)
Arizona (2006)
Tennessee (1986)
S. Carolina (1990)
Mississippi (1989)
Alabama (1985)
North Carolina (1982)
New Mexico (1990)

Food for thought, don't you think?

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

No Child Left Behind could hamstring states

This from the Mobile Register. September 5, 2005

Children from the New Orleans public schools are coming from a system that performed dismally, in both education and administration, long before Hurricane Katrina. An unknown number of them may prove to be well behind their peers in their temporary or permanent new towns and cities.

On top of these challenges, these entering students may have suffered physically as a result of hurricane evacuations, and all can be expected to have suffered emotional trauma. All have experienced disruption in their education.

Under these circumstances, which were never envisioned when President Bush initiated No Child Left Behind, school systems should not be expected to meet the performance standards required under the act by each state, for the duration of this school year.

No Child Left Behind requires that performance standards be set by each state and met by each school regardless of the income levels, race or special-education needs of the students enrolled. Requirements, usually based on standardized testing, vary by state.

Not every state will absorb significant numbers of homeless children displaced by Hurricane Katrina, but those that do take on the burden should not also have to contend with a set of standard performance requirements at the same time.

Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education should make it clear that school districts enrolling Katrina refugees are eligible to receive federal funds under the McKinney-Vento act, which authorizes funding for the education of homeless students. Already, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has softened the requirements for participation in school feeding programs through the end of the month.

No Child Left Behind was based on the proposition that public schools must properly educate each child regardless of circumstances. But these are extraordinary circumstances, and in the current emergency, No Child Left Behind works against school districts that will take on the task of educating the homeless children of Katrina.

Will DOE have that much compassion? I doubt it.

Monday, September 05, 2005

More on the Reading First Special Reports

There are several other thngs that I could have written about but because both of these (See below) reports are rather long I feel the need to touch on some highlights. But first I must tell you all that Joe over at SUAT has posted a new advocate. Check it out!

Now, about Reading First, the Bush administration's reading grants that are tied to NCLB. Reading First is based on the flawed work of the National Reading Panel report. Which has been documented in many other places, but from this report,

The 14-member team spent two years reviewing existing research on reading and concluded that the most effective reading instruction involved phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency and comprehension.
Lingering Doubts

The goal of the panel, according to member Timothy Shanahan, a reading researcher at the University of Illinois-Chicago, was “to end a war.” In broad policy terms, it did just that. With the advent of Reading First – passed as the centerpiece of George W. Bush’s signature education reform package in 2001— national reading policy would rest firmly on the shoulders of the NRP. But the report also sparked lingering doubts on the role commercial publishers played in framing the debate.

Panel member Joanne Yatvin, then a school principal in Oregon, wrote a minority opinion that accompanied the NRP report. In an interview, she said that Reading First should not have been based on the panel’s findings. “The National Reading Panel did a partial job,” she said. “There were too many topics of concern and interest and traditional involvement in the teaching of literacy that were never examined.”

She also noted that the NRP report expressly cautioned against commercial programs because of their rigidity.

Others noted discrepancies between the 449-page final report and a 32-page summary that most non-specialists read. For example, Elaine Garan, a literature-based theorist and professor at California State University-Fresno, noted in her 2004 book In Defense of Our Children: When Politics, Profit, and Education Collide that the NRP summary said, “Across all grade levels, systematic phonics instruction improved the ability of good readers to spell.” The full report, on the other hand, said: “The effect size for spelling [for children in 2nd through 6th grade] was not statistically different from zero ... [Phonics was] not more effective than other forms of instruction in producing growth in spelling.” Skeptics also noted that the summary was written in part, and promoted by, Widmeyer-Baker of Washington, D.C., the same public relations firm that represents curriculum publisher McGraw-Hill. Widmeyer-Baker also produced a video about the panel that showed students using McGraw-Hill’s Open Court Reading program.

Concerns about commercialization heightened in early 2002, when ED introduced Reading First to states in a series of Reading Academies. Presenters flashed a series of slides that gave examples of programs that would meet Reading First’s requirements for core, intervention and supplemental programs. The programs highlighted included Harcourt’s Trophies, Houghton Mifflin Reading, and Open Court Reading — now among the most widely-used texts in Reading First schools.

Regardless of whether anyone had a financial interest in the programs cited, the academies left the impression on many in attendance that ED had endorsed such programs. In its second of its four applications for Reading First funds, Louisiana, for example, gingerly referred to some programs as being “on the USDOE list.” The concerns were so widespread, in fact, that then-ED Secretary Rod Paige wrote a letter seeking to assure states and districts that there was no such list.

The Outsourcing of Technical Assistance

Despite its size—roughly $1 billion a year, $6 billion total by 2007—and ambitions, Reading First had a remarkably small staff at the department. In addition to an assistant, the program essentially consisted of two people: Director Chris Doherty and Sandi Jacobs, a senior reading specialist. Susan Neuman, a well-respected professor known for her groundbreaking research on reading difficulties among inner city students and ED’s new assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education, was another visible presence in the early days of the program.

ED had designed Reading First so that the bulk of heavy lifting fell to outside corporations. In fact, Reading First may be one of the most-heavily outsourced programs in the history of the department:

*A contract for $4 million went to the American Institutes for Research of Washington, D.C., to monitor states for compliance with the program.

*Two contracts worth $14 million and $3.4 million were awarded to the RMC Research Corporation of Portsmouth, N.H., to provide technical assistance to states on Reading First. After first overseeing consultants directly, RMC ceded primary responsibility to three ED-funded regional centers located at universities in Florida, Oregon and Texas.

*An additional contract went to RMC to oversee the creation of an eight-member assessment team at the University of Oregon that reviewed 29 tests for use under Reading First...


Critics of Reading First’s implementation say the roots of the problem lay with the program’s structure. Within a year of meeting with Scott Foresman and Voyager to discuss ways to make their products adhere to SBRR, the department designated the designers of those companies’ products as leaders of the SBRR advocacy effort for states and districts involved in Reading First. Kame’enui and Simmons were named co-directors of the Western Regional National Reading First Technical Assistance Center at the University of Oregon. Vaughn became the director of the Central Regional National Reading First Technical Assistance Center at the University of Texas.

In addition to their work on the upcoming basal, Kame’enui and Simmons had worked on an earlier intervention program for Scott Foresman. The pair, in addition to Vaughn and Roland Good, another University of Oregon professor, helped design one of Voyager’s most successful products, Voyager Expanded Learning.

ED officials declined to let reporters interview Kame’enui, who is serving through 2007 as the commissioner of the National Center for Special Education Research, about possible conflicts of interest surrounding his role in Reading First. But financial disclosure statements he was required to file upon joining the department indicate that his association with Scott Foresman was quite lucrative. He earned between $100,000 and $250,000 in royalties last year, according to the documents, although it was unclear whether the funds stemmed from the upcoming basal or the earlier intervention work. Simmons and Vaughn both indicated that they receive no royalties from Voyager, but were paid fees as research advisers.

Spokespeople for Scott Foresman and Voyager declined several requests to answer questions for this article.

In addition to his work for Scott Foresman and Voyager, Kame’enui chaired Reading First’s assessment review team and, with Simmons, co-authored a widely used “Consumer’s Guide” to help states and school districts select programs under Reading First. In her book, Garan describes a presentation she gave in which she used color transparencies to explain the “vested financial interests of the ‘scientific researchers’ and their connections to government policy.”

“When I came to Edward Kame’enui,” she wrote, “I ran out of colors. He has financial links at so many levels.”

What is happening here is similar to what has happened in Iraq with Haliburton. Reading first has been out sourced, out sourced to some of the same people that were on the NRP. Some of these same people serve on the commitees that accept or reject the states reading first grants and the grants do not get accepted until you unclude the right programs, theirs, into your reading first grant. The reading porgrams of schools all over the country are being highjacked by a few well placed individuals who themselves stand to mke a lot of money from the programs.

That pretty much sets the stage for the next report which explains why DIBBLES is the number one tool in the country for accessing reading skills and strategies. Once again we see similar stratgies describe above this time pointing specifcally to the University of Oregon and many people connected to DIBBLES. Please try to read these reports. These are important.