No Child Left Behind is Terrible Legislation…Period.
In a good piece in the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet, Valerie Strauss explains what a mess NCLB is, and the political will to fix it at this point, seems to be non-existent. From the article:
In state after state, as 2011 standardized test scores come in, the number of schools that are labeled failing — but actually aren’t —climbs. States declared failing have to choose among several options that many consider punitive to change the dynamic at the “failing” school.
That No Child Left Behind needs to be overhauled is not a matter of debate among most Republicans and Democrats. That need never translated into action by Congress. Now Duncan is taking unilateral action by offering waivers to states that are moving ahead with the kind of school reform that the administration likes. As for the states that aren’t, well, they are out of luck and will have to keep dealing with NCLB consequences even though Duncan admits the law is broken.
How’s that for a mess?
It is disconcerting to see Education Sec. Duncan using Republican negotiating constructs for his waivers. Duncan is proposing that in order to push what he wants with educators (like having student test scores be part of teacher evaluations), he will dangle the carrot of “waivers” like he dangled the carrot of “money” with Race to the Top in order to push what he views as “reform.” Duncan is very out of touch with teachers, ask a teacher if you know one how they feel about him – I bet you get an earful.
Duncan is in one of those damned-if-you do and damn-if-you-don’t situations: If he didn’t offer waivers, he’d be lambasted; now that he is, he is being lambasted.
But some of the criticism is of his own making: Using the waivers as a way to strong-arm states to do what you want — when what you want has never been shown by research to be effective or — is hardly the way to set a good policy precedent, or help kids in schools, which is, after all, what this is supposed to be all about.
Duncan has been a terrible Secretary of Education. What do you expect from a corporate toad who has never set foot in a classroom? He literally does not know what teachers want and need. When he asks teachers for their input, it is then summarily ignored. Let us hope that this man moves on to other pastures in the future…something tells me that we are stuck with him though.