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Commenters Criticize Spellings After Homecoming

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dh-02_13_08.spellings.jpg

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, at right, is barnstorming states trying to improve NCLB's image. The press coverage of her stops so far has been rather favorable, leaving out some of the voices of the law's most strident critics. See, for example, this story in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

But when the secretary stopped in her hometown of Houston last week, commenters on this Houston Chronicle story weren't buying her message. One pointed out the logical inconsistency of all students reaching grade level if that term is defined as the 50th percentile. Another calls her a name that my sons (ages 10 and 7) like to use on each other, and then adds that the secretary enrolled one of her daughters in a Catholic school. (That's news to me. Send me an e-mail if you know this to be true). All in all, not a good hometown reception.

But I doubt Spellings will be deterred by these remarks. She's been using pseudo-religious language about NCLB's achievement goal, calling it "righteous" in interviews and public appearances. Maybe she'll find comfort in Matthew 13:57.

2 Comments

I think it's really interesting how the tone of reader comments in the Texas article is so different from the San Diego news article. I've noticed that education news coverage in my local paper is either "happy news" that is basically PR like this Spellings visit to a school or "the sky is falling" as in terrible test scores and predator teachers. I'm left wondering why journalists don't include the point of view of those who are commenting in the Houston article.

I want to thank David Hoff for his reporting here. And kudos to Mike in Texas.

In regard to the arbitrary and highly misleading NAEP proficiency levels, Checker Finn comments that he has "never lost much sleep over those controversies". I have never doubted that.

While Finn has lost no sleep, those NAEP proficiency levels have been used quite successfully in countless newspaper editorials and other media pronouncements to paint an unjust and highly misleading portrayal of the performance of our nation’s public schools. Far-removed and clueless editorialists and pundits commonly express outrage with statements such as, “only 32% of our children are proficient in reading” without even bothering to dig a little or ask themselves what ‘proficiency’ actually means.

Researcher Gerald Bracey has documented extensively the problems with the NAEP proficiency levels. One of his more recent articles on the issue can be found at http://www.elladvocates.org/media/NCLB/WPost3may07.html

Finn, along with other tinkle tank opportunists, have benefited greatly from the degradation and scapegoating of our nation’s public schools and teachers, while conveniently diverting national attention away from the societal and economic inequities and dysfunctions which lie at the root of that Golden Goose of private profiteering and opportunism known as the achievement gap.

By the way, I (a mere teacher) use the term ‘tinkle tanks’ to describe that powerful web of think tanks and foundations who regularly malign our nation’s public schools and teachers and whose claims and ‘research’ I believe to be often questionable and highly misleading. Further explanation and a bit of humor can be found here where I first used the term http://aplacetorespond.blogspot.com/2007/10/teachers-dream-legislation.html I think it is a rather fitting term and I admit I hope it catches on.

The United States, probably the most racially and ethnically diverse nation on earth, also has the highest rate of childhood poverty among all the wealthy nations. While our nation’s schools are faced with educating a population of students who present challenges unprecedented in our nation’s history, the many-times-removed–from-the-realities-on–the-ground-ruling-elite rarely have a kind or positive word to say about us. But they have certainly succeeded in their demands for tough-minded education reforms that get results.

Let’s look at some of the results in tough-minded Texas, which served as the model for No Child Left Behind. Remember the travesty of the “Houston Miracle”? Now comes a study, Avoidable Losses: High Stakes Accountability and the Dropout Crisis, showing the direct impact these tough minded policies have had on increasing the severity of the dropout problem, especially among minority youth. “High-stakes, test-based accountability leads not to equitable educational possibilities for youth, but to avoidable losses of these students from our schools.” Readers who may not be aware of the study yet may access a report on it here: http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v16n3/

Sleep well Checker Finn. Though you have finally admitted to the failure of NCLB, you and your ilk contributed mightily to its passage.

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  • Tauna Rogers: I want to thank David Hoff for his reporting here. read more
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