Business Administration Education Guide

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

no child left behind... and those that are, are forgotten

This op-ed by Secretary Spellings appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on January 14, 2007.

Above all, the law put American resolve behind the revolutionary idea that "every child can learn," setting a goal of 2014 for all students to be able to read and do math at grade level. This has proven especially beneficial to disadvantaged and minority students.

The results can be seen in schools such as the American Indian Public Charter School in Oakland. More than half of the student body demonstrates limited proficiency in English, while 83 percent qualify for free lunch. In 2004-05, 70 percent of sixth-graders scored proficient or better in the English-Language Arts portion of the California Standards Test, up from 36 percent two years earlier. For math, the numbers rose from 48 percent to 78 percent.

Thirteen- and 17-year-olds may not have shown as much improvement as nine-year-olds. But that is precisely because reformers have focused their energies on the earlier grades.

Well, of course the education establishment is protesting. These results suggest that the Bush approach is feasible after all, and this would mean that their opposition to results-based testing is going to hold less and less water with parents. But it's all BS, both sides, along with most of U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling's speeches and public appearances.

Yes, there are good arguments for not focusing only on teaching to the test. After all, civilization has given emphasis to test scores for eons, and the resulting inflexibility and lack of imagination, in the modern era, has a less vibrant cultural life. Japan, has only recently begun to be an exporter of culture (rather than an importer) in the last couple of decades, accelerated just over a decade ago with the beginning of Japan's period of economic stagnation. Taiwan's bursts of cultural experimentation have also accompanied sputtering in the economic engine. Nonetheless, Americans will probably find some sort of balance, hopefully, but also doubtfully.

What is most worrying to the public school teachers' unions, of course, is that this implies what The Economist refers to as "inconvenient reforms". That is the heart of the issue. Why? Because the unions are more interested in their own existence, than in the welfare of they're members and everyone it affects. Politics!

In response to the charge that the results are less obscurely positive for the older age teen groups, there is not only the point made by The Economist, that "refirners have focused their energies on the earlier grades", but that this is the wise thing to do.

First, 13- and 17-year-olds are at a later stage in life, when they are less likely to absorb new things at school due to the variety of social pressures, high school problems and general teen angst.

Second, by focusing their energies on the 9-year-olds, reformers are paving the way for better 13- and 17-year-olds four and eight years later.

Why would improvements among 9-year-olds sbe more important? The fact that you ( a 9 year old "minority") has done better than expected might encourage you to have more self-confidence, and disregard the tired old stereotypes that unbelievably still exist and are even unconsciously promoted throughout communities, some reinforced by older "minorities." When you're 13, or 17, you'll still retain that self-confidence, knowing that you can beat the historical trend. With so many things working in your favor, and at the same time not working against others, what you end up with, a year from the test, is a confident group of 10-year-olds. In two years, a confident group of 11-year-olds…and so on and so forth.

This former of Governor of Texas is not so stupid as some like to make him out to be, he just acts that way so that we refuse to believe that anyone that stupid is actually in control. It's a great ploy that is working. His minions such s U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling's is just additional puppets for him and his cronies to puke out lies and double talk.

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