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Location: Sitting inside a TV truck, Somewhere, more then likely in the Southeastern region, United States

I am a grouchy, bald headed old fart filled with opinions and not the least bit shy about sharing them.

Monday, March 19, 2007

No Child Left Behind

Ft. Myers, FL - An on-line forum I frequent has several vehement Bush hater members. Their latest cause for jubilation is that many Republican members of the House and Senate have banded together to overturn the no child left behind act.

Here's part of a Washington Post article on the subject:
More than 50 GOP members of the House and Senate -- including the House's second-ranking Republican -- will introduce legislation today that could severely undercut President Bush's signature domestic achievement, the No Child Left Behind Act, by allowing states to opt out of its testing mandates.

For a White House fighting off attacks on its war policy and dealing with a burgeoning scandal at the Justice Department, the GOP dissidents' move is a fresh blow on a new front. Among the co-sponsors of the legislation are House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), a key supporter of the measure in 2001, and John Cornyn (R-Tex.), Bush's most reliable defender in the Senate. Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the House GOP's chief deputy whip and a supporter in 2001, has also signed on.

Burson Snyder, a spokesman for Blunt, said that after several meetings with school administrators and teachers in southwest Missouri, the House Republican leader turned against the measure he helped pass. Blunt was convinced that the burdens and red tape of the No Child Left Behind Act are unacceptably onerous, Snyder said.

Washington Post - Dozens in GOP Turn Against Bush's Prized 'No Child' Act
Hmmm... School administrators told House Minority Whip Roy Blunt they do not like comparing their students with nationally set minimum standards. The article goes on to quote complaints that affluent school districts feel their districts are "being adversely affected" because "innovative" programs are being replaced by federal mandates.

What a crock!

Over the last few weeks I've had the privilege to work with Japanese crews covering Japanese baseball players in spring training. Japanese (along with many other nation) students of all grades have been routinely out performing students from the United States for several decades now. So I took the opportunity to ask them about the Japanese educational system.

Guess What...

Japanese Children are tested by the government...


Want to know something else?

If the student doesn't pass the test, that student is held back!

Imagine that. A school system that actually requires a student to have a solid foundation in the current material before that student is promoted to the next level. No setting up the struggling students to fail.

But no. The NEA and their membership whined about standards and accountability from the beginning. Let's see if I can remember some of their most eloquent arguments against standardized testing to see if our children actually learned anything in school.
  • Standardized testing stigmatizes the children that fail it.
  • Testing is racist!
  • Standardized testing does not give a true picture of a student's education.
  • "One size fits all" testing does not work.
  • Federal testing is an intrusion on local school board sovereignty.
  • No Child Left Behind is under/not funded.
  • Federal standards limit or eliminate touchy feely experiments like no grades, ignoring bad spelling, wasting classroom time on social engineering, self esteem over all else, etc. (Everyone one that wants to volunteer their child as a guinea pig raise their hand?)

Check out this paragraph from the NEA's own web page on the matter:
Rather than focusing on high stakes tests, NEA's comprehensive strategy calls for measuring student achievement over time through multiple indicators. NCLB takes a snapshot of student performance on two tests on one day rather than delivering a complete portrait of students' needs and achievements. NEA's plan would transform NCLB to assist states and schools in improving overall student achievement while closing achievement gaps.
NEA Website - Fifth Anniversary Presents Opportunity
To Revamp No Child Left Behind Act
Okay, I got it. No pressure, all is right with the world, don't worry about any deadlines or tests, you've got nothing to lose here... Unless all these students are going to grow up to be teachers where there is no accountability, that is no way to prepare a child for real world workplace expectations.

There are many more official arguments but I think you get the idea. They are all bullshit.

I believe all those arguments are nothing more then minor sidebars to the NEA's primary concern about nationwide standardized testing for all public school students. I believe the NEA and their individual state chapters simply do not want to be held to any standard of accountability for the education of students in the public school system.

Standardized testing has already made many school systems and many NEA members look pretty bad. The NEA could use the data from the standardized testing to go to the problem schools, identify the problems and fix them. After all, this is the National Education Association.

Instead, they choose to shoot the messenger. But the NEA doesn't toss that reason out as a problem. The teacher's union is not stupid enough to admit they simply do not want to be held to any standard of proof in job performance. And once again they are proving they will fight tooth and nail to protect their membership even at the expense of education standards.

So the legislative battle is engaged. If these legislative clowns bow to the pressure of the NEA lobbying and letter writing campaign, individual states may be able to opt out of No Child Left Behind.

The next time you are shocked to see public school students from the United States ranking in double digits on the latest and greatest global survey, think back to the war the NEA, the state educational associations, the individual school districts and all those teachers waged on No Child Left Behind.


"America's future will be determined by the home and the school. The child becomes largely what he is taught; hence we must watch what we teach, and how we live."
-Jane Addams

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