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No Child Left Behind

No Child Left Behind

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Published by Paul Richardson
When the standards bind, just remind the politicians you vote and get them to grant waivers.
When the standards bind, just remind the politicians you vote and get them to grant waivers.

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Published by: Paul Richardson on Feb 10, 2012
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02/10/2012

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  No Child Left Behind
Paul Richardson
 
February 9, 2012
 
 
Per the L.A. TimesThe Obama administration has given 10 states a waiver from the
 
federal law known as No Child Left Behind -- once a bipartisan hopeto raise education standards, but now generally regarded as toocumbersome and draconian.The White House announced the first round of waivers for 10 statesThursday morning. The administration had said that it would grantthe waivers because efforts to revise the 10-year-old law have become bogged down in Congress even though members of both political
 
parties agree that the law has problems and is in need of majorchanges.³After waiting far too long for Congress to reform No Child LeftBehind, my administration is giving states the opportunity to sethigher, more honest standards in exchange for more flexibility,´President Obama said in a statement released with theannouncement.³Today, we¶re giving 10 states the green light to continue makingreforms that are best for them. Because if we¶re serious about helping
 
our children reach their potential, the best ideas aren¶t going to comefrom Washington alone. Our job is to harness those ideas, and to hold
 
states and schools accountable for making them work.´First, let¶s look at the No Child Left Behind act requirements. Basically, thelaw required states to show that they had reached 100% proficiency by 2014. This requirement was for ALL students, including the ³Gap´ children
 
(minority and poor). Because the law¶s framers wanted to be able to takecorrective action along the way they called for annual achievement testing
 
to show that at least a linear projection of the progress to get to the goal in2014 was met or exceeded. This annual requirement was termed AYP(Annual Yearly Progress). The consequences for not meeting the AYPconsistently could be many but at the top they meant that the state wouldtake over the school, fire all the staff and start over. The law did have onegigantic flaw. It allowed each state to define proficiency for its students,irregardless of how that matched up with the National Assessment of 
 
Educational Progress (NAEP) or the standards of our best foreigncompetitors. As you would expect that has led many of the states to adopt³weak´ definitions of proficiency. And in fact you can safely say that all
 
states fall far short of the international competition and short of the NAEPrequirements.Now it is true that educators consider the requirements of No Child LeftBehind to be draconian and cumbersome as the LA Times article mentions.Educators are consistent in stubbornly refusing to embrace the changesneeded to really solve our education problems. Of course, they are very comfortable with the status quo in an education system that is run for the benefit of the adults who work there, not the students. They are expert at³playing´ the system to get a continuing, ever-increasing flow of money tosupport new initiatives which preserve the status quo. These always fit the³trying to do the wrong thing better´ category. That is, the weakness of our
 
system is not that it isn¶t being worked correctly, it is that the system itself can¶t work which is why improvements of the scale needed are neverachieved on a broad scale. You have to hand it to our educators for theirability to ignore the facts that all of the countries who beat us in
 
achievement use a different system.Sadly it is the one we used to use in the Nineteenth and early TwentiethCenturies before John Dewey and the Progressives began to take control of our education establishment. Their approach was dumbed down and muchless rigorous in teacher training. The takeover was complete by the late1960s when all high school graduates had essentially been exposed to thenew system for their entire school career. Consistent with that time frameSAT scores plummeted. To fix the problem requires going back to the rigorof curriculum and teacher preparation that existed before. You will hearfrom educators that the current teacher training is more than what wasrequired in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It is true thatteachers back then were typically trained in Normal schools which gave twoto three years of training after high school to prepare teachers. Today allteachers require at least a bachelors (4 year) degree from an educationschool to be certified. There are alternative certification routes but they amount to very small portion of all teachers.The problem with the new teacher training is that it takes the majority of students from the bottom third of their high school graduating class and
 
transforms them into all A students. The ed school diploma (with a few exceptions like U of Virginia and Hillsdale College) is only indicative of ³tuition paid and seat time´ in the ed school diploma mill. The main reasonour ed system does not change to what works is that their human resource;
 
teachers and administrators are all untrained to do it right. That is they have virtually no subject knowledge and the administrators tasked to lead

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