So now that NCLB has hit the reality of the scholastic ability bell curve. What happens next?

In reading articles about NCLB lately it seems that in addition to stories of rampant cheating enabled by the top levels of local school administrations, a lot of the achievement targets set with the evangelical fervor of “no excuses” when NCLB started are not being met with many of the urban schools who have been on the NCLB bandwagon since day one, are they are failing miserably to meet their targets.

In the end it does seem to be a well meaning idea that hit the reality that there is almost no level of in school preparation and enrichment short of adoption into a middle class or wealthy family that is going to turn the majority of poor kids into academic achievers.

I think a number of the progressive notions and assumptions behind the whole NCLB paradigm are coming undone and reality is re-asserting itself. NCLB is stressful, expensive, and resource intensive, and it’s failing to meet its goals.

What happens now?

Work on our nation’s poverty and hopelessness problem?

Wait for the board racists to assert that it is because black people are stupid?

Seriously, nobody in education thought it was a good idea to begin with. It’s not surprising that is isn’t working. I imagine the conservative response will focus on dismantling the public school system and privatising education. This was always the agenda behind NCLB…set up schools for “failure” so you can argue for closing them and move towards replacing them with a set of private schools which offer 1) a pile of business opportunities, especially for expensive private schools that can tack voucher money right on to existing fees and skim all that new government money that used to be wasted educating people for free 2) a chance to increase de facto segregation by race, class and religion in schools and 3) the possibility of the government footing the bill for religious education.

You really think it was all a setup game from the get go?

Of course it was. Bush and his fellow of Republicans who oppose the very existence of public schools are never, ever going to implement a program designed to do anything but sabotage and eliminate them. And the moral issue of it screwing over a great many kids wouldn’t even occur to them. Deliberately sabotaging government institutions was a common practice for them, like they did with FEMA.

I’d really have to disagree. While it’s easy to demonize Bush over this, the privatization section of NCLB was really just a relatively minor part of larger plan to address large scale dysfunction in the achievement levels of poor and disadvantaged kids and poor school performance by holding them accountable to standards. That the standards were proven to be delusional is a problem separate from the original intent.

You’re cute. Privatization was always the goal. The standards were intentional delusional and impossible to achieve. Every kid has to has to achieve these goals! That is just not even statistically possible. NCLB rates schools based on the increase in their performance from year to year. Some schools achieved the highest possible scores in their state’s rating system one year, only to drop dramatically the next year. Why? Because they literally could not improve in the ratings anymore and received lower scores for failing to improve. Tell me that was not a system designed for failure.

With the rhetoric I’m increasingly seeing from the conservatives running for President (“Privatize! Government shouldn’t provide anything that you can find in a phonebook! Privatize, privatize, privatize!”), I can’t really say I’m surprised. These are the same people that want to privatize Medicare - that’ll be a success.

Privatization of our education system would be an unmitigated disaster. That doesn’t mean they won’t try it, to all of our detriment. And I don’t even plan to have kids!

Moving thread from IMHO to Great Debates.

NCLB was a long time coming with large parts of it originating under Bush I and Clinton. Standards are set at the state level (NCLB just says you have to have them, not what they are). Also, a cite for this please:

Unless they reached 100% proficiency in some target, “they literally could not improve in the ratings anymore” does not make any sense…

How would they ever be able to “try it”? The federal government’s contribution to public ed is very minor, they have very little control over how states and localities run their schools. In fact, it is possible to opt out of NCLB. The idea that ‘they’ could somehow privatize public ed is a little silly. Starve it a bit, sure. Get a few bucks flowing towards their weird religious schools, sure. But thats about it.

NCLB was written by people who thought Lake Woebegon was reality. None of them were educators. Now that reality has set in, the thing will be scrapped and some new horror will be foisted upon the educational system.

I think what we need to do is set some basic level of scholastic performance as the national standard, not stellar, just a reasonable level of literacy, arithmetic, scientific sophistication, and general cultural knowledge that a below-average kid could meet if he tried – teachers would know best where to set that level. And make sure nobody is falling below that level before pushing them to go higher. A lowest-common-denominator approach, but there’s no need to choose between that and special attention for the gifted, after all.

Or, was NCLB meant to do what is described above? I’m not clear on that.

That is what NCLB was supposed to do. States created (with teachers and professionals and others) minimum educational standards. Students are supposed to be ‘proficient’ in these standards, they do not need to be advanced or highly proficient. Of course, many students will never be proficient at grade level…

And when you add it the poor statistical methodology that is part of the program, schools don’t have a chance. And never did.

“Standards a below average kid could make if he tried…” - but what if your below average kid doesn’t try? What if he receives zero support at home to try? What if he has undiagnosed ODD and his parents refuse to explore a diagnosis? How can a teacher compensate for a kid who won’t try?

So, was NCLB an effort to achieve something impossible? Or something not worth doing? Or something that should and could be done if done smarter?

Well, I have come around on testing. I used to be for it, now I understand more clearly the limitations of it.

This does not change the fact that some of this was borne out of real frustration with school performance and the inability or unwillingness of many educators to deal with the problem. I live in Virginia - the institution of standards of learning and a testing regimen predated NCLB by several years, and was driven by many of these concerns.

The Obama administration’s efforts to improve education accountability don’t seem to be a stalking horse for vouchers - but they seem to have some education bureaucrats awfully upset. Some states essentially punted on their application for Race to the Top money knowing proposals that included real reform would draw too much opposition to pass in the state.

Michelle Rhee was chased out of Washington DC for her work cleaning up the system there - this galvanized the teachers union into supporting a mayoral candidate that was signalling that he would fire her. Rhee of course was not a huge voucher supporter and was a registered Democrat.

Pinning all of this on Republicans is crazy. Likewise I can’t pin this all on the unions and administrators or Democrats. Can’t pin it all on parents either. If we have a problem with education in this country it is one we all share the blame for and all have to help fix.

Oh, please. I’m supposed to believe that people like Bush and his fellow Republicans cared in the slightest about “poor and disadvantaged kids”?

What about standards movements like those here in Virginia, which predate NCLB, have been fairly well aligned with educational requirements like college entrance exams, have been supported by both parties, and seem to have improved educational outcomes over the past fifteen years.

Standards are fine. They by and large work. The major blind-spot in NCLB is right there in the title: No Child. 100% compliance was mandated from the get-go. You had to get every single student above the standard level or they took over your school. If they had tried something like that when I was in high school, I would have punted the test just to fuck with them. What do I care what happens to the school after I leave? Also note that the standards applied to Special Needs students of every level as well. And people are surprised that Admin cheated? The goal was impossible by definition.

And what does that have to do with “Bush and his Republicans”?