Wednesday, March 17, 2010

In Texas, 71% of All Children Left Behind?

Andrew Sullivan quotes an article by former No Child Left Behind Act supporter Diane Ravitch, which among other things calls NCLB "a timetable for the demolition of American public education."

As interesting as that accusation is, and as well in line as it is with my state school board's turning history into Republican propoganda, I don't think it has substance. NCLB was George W. Bush's pet project- or, more apropriately, his wife's. It passed only with substantial Democratic support to offset Republican defectors. The program was likely well-intentioned- merely a prime example of both Bush's complete incompetence and Democratic willingness to do anything to preserve the illusion of serving their educational constituents.

Of course, today if Republicans passed an educational reform package, there would be no doubt whatever that the goal was to eventually destroy public education. The radicalization of that party leaves no doubt whatever of that.

But no, what interests me about the article quoted is this:

Many states claim that large majorities of their students are “proficient” in reading or math, but their claims are refuted by federal assessments (called the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP) that are given to all students in fourth and eighth grades every other year. For example, Texas reported that 85 percent of its students in those grades were proficient readers based on year-end state testing, but, on the NAEP, only 29 percent were.

If this is true, it would- and should- be a major talking point for Bill White against Rick Perry, especially since a lot of Texas' school districts are either in budget deficit or outright insolvent.

Yes, No Child Left Behind is a failure that should be scrapped, not patched (as Obama wants to do)... but it isn't the only failure in our schools, not by a long shot.

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